I'll admit it... I'm a little embarrassed that I watch America's Next Top Model, but I love it and I'm not big into watching reality TV shows. For me, ANTM is the exception because it captures the reality of the modeling world... or at least I think it does. Models sometimes get a bad rap, but anyone who watches this show knows that it's not an easy industry to deal with...So that got me wondering what life is really like for one of these ANTM models.
I got together with Chris Hernandez, one of ANTM's top male model contestants from its 20th cycle, and grilled him about the modeling/fashion industry and his opinions on reality TV.
Q: What's your take on the fashion industry?
"The fashion industry has changed with the emergence of social media. It used to be about your book, looks and modeling skills, the ability to sell whatever it is you are modeling. Now it's more about how many followers you have following you on social media."
Q: What was your experience like on America's Next Top Model?
"It was a great experience and I learned a lot and got to meet some great people. It was definitively stressful, but what competition isn't? I am very glad that I was given the opportunity to be part of ANTM."
Hernandez said the only bad part was that he learned that reality TV isn't always reality television.
Q: How did you get into modeling?
I started modeling because of my grandmother. Ever since I was a little boy, she would dress me up in different costumes/outfits and I would pose for the camera to obtain candy. From there, becoming a model was natural. I feel more comfortable in front of the camera than anywhere else, besides my bed, that is.
Q: Do you feel the show helped with your modeling career and success in the fashion industry?
"ANTM and Tyra Banks taught me a lot about modeling and myself. I don't think that ANTM has changed the industry, but it has helped me in my career. The show put me in a spotlight that has allowed me to become recognizable and get jobs."
He says ANTM has changed his life in the way that it gave him the ability to reach and inspire people all over the world.
"I was able to get my story out there and show that no matter where you come from or what you have gone through, there is always hope and there is no such thing as dreaming too big. "
Q: Any advice you would like to give to others starting out in the modeling industry or thinking about a career in the fashion industry?
"Only advice I have is if you really love something and enjoy it, never give up. I'll share a story with you. I got told "NO" by a lot of top agencies because of my acne (sebaceous cystic acne) at first and I thought there was nothing that I could do. I said to myself if only they could Photoshop or airbrush me. I felt ugly; there were days I wouldn't want to go out because I was embarrassed. People would stare. It was horrible and made me feel horrible. Regardless, I never gave up. I got discouraged for a bit, sure; everyone does at times."
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Eventually, Hernandez signed two top agencies in the world, VNY Model Management and Major Model in NYC. He says he's also constantly working on himself, by following a very strict face regimen and diet.
"Now I have fans and people that support me, so not only do I feel like I would be letting myself down but others as well. I don't want to discourage my supporters. I want to help them, inspire them. I want to be that guy that never gave up dreaming and saw it through."
Bottom line: Hernandez said if you love something, don't let it go but rather fight for it and show that you want it and deserve it most of all. If you believe in yourself, others will too.
You can like Chris on Facebook www.facebook.com/ChrisUnwrapped or follow him on Instagram & Twitter: @Iam_ChrisH