Gone are the days of waiting in line for three hours to get casted as a model, it’s now happening through IG DMs like it did to James Edward. It wasn’t in his life plans, but during lockdown James decided to take a leap of faith and sign to the modelling industry, and the rest is history. Balancing modelling, social media and a degree in biomedical science, James has been keeping busy. Today, we caught up with him to talk about his journey in the fashion industry, the rise of social media as a tool for models and his plans for the future.
Hey James, how’s it going? How did you start your day today?
Hey! I’m on holiday right now with my family, so I haven’t really done a lot. We went into town to ride bikes. It’s been a pretty chill morning.
Having never considered modelling as a career path, were you hesitant to sign a modelling contract when approached by Milk management in 2020?
I thought it was a joke at first. When the guy DMed me saying “Hey, we’ve seen your profile, we love your love, we’d love to hop on a call and start this whole process”, I didn’t think it was a real thing. Yeah, it turned out to be real, and the whole experience was very surreal. At school there was a fashion show with a few guys creating a collection and I walked in it. At the time people were like “you should do some modelling”. I applied to some agencies in lockdown because I was so bored. There was nothing really going on at all and nothing really came back from it. I think the images that I sent off my mom took them in my bathroom in terrible lighting. Then just out of nowhere I got this message and it was just like “whoa”. I just went for that because it was really cool.
What was your initial career plan?
When I was younger, I always dreamed of being a professional tennis player. My grandma started making me play tennis at 4. Then obviously, things started to change when I got to 16 and I realised that I wasn’t going to be good enough to make it because I mean, only the top one person from every five years makes it. So then I thought about doing biomedical science for a while, but then I realised I was scared of hospitals and blood, which are obviously two pretty major issues.
@james____edward These are based on stereotypes, obviously not eveyone dresses the same #idk #holiday #fashion ♬ original sound – Drew Mercado688 – Ellaine's bf
So you got scouted during the peak of covid. How did that impact your modelling debut?
It was quite messed up. My first modelling shoot was just the most bizarre thing. I remember going to Barcelona and we had to do COVID tests then we flew back home and had to isolate. COVID made the whole process tricky, because there was less work. Brands were obviously trying to reduce the number of people on set. It was quite a difficult period.
Alongside your modelling work, you’ve also been growing your presence on TikTok, with over 1 million followers now. How did you get into that?
I feel like there’s two different stories that intertwine into one. So the first was that obviously, I finished school straight off the back of COVID, I got extremely bored, saw other people posting and I wanted to take part in what I saw. On the flip side of it, when I first signed with Milk, they were really keen for me to grow my platform. Instagram has changed a lot since but if you had 10,000 followers on Instagram, you could be paid double the amount for more than a work day. I was doing it already and I was bored and I was skateboarding at the time, so I just threw it all into one and just went for it. As soon as I had that backing, that was the reason that I was doing it, I didn’t really give a shit anymore about others’ opinions and just did it.
Your TikToks include style videos, skincare tips and haircut evolution. How do you get inspiration for posts?
It’s kind of a reflection of what my interests are. I’ve always been quite interested in my hair. I started shaving my head when I was around 16. So that’s kind of been an incorporation of that, with skincare. I’ve suffered from acne for the last three years. I try to take inspiration from things that might interest me and put my own twist on it.
What does your schedule look like when it comes to creating TikTok content? Do you plan each video weekly or is it more of a spur of the moment thing?
I know a lot of creators that do it sporadically, and it always really stresses me out when they do that. Sometimes there’ll be an off the cuff moment where I’m like, “okay, I have to make a video on this now, let’s do this”. Generally though, I plan out. I think of what I want to post for that week, and then plan out each day and then film when I can film the videos. Doing University actually makes filming content quite tricky, because I don’t always have loads of time. I can produce better videos when I plan somewhat. I think people don’t really gauge how much time someone actually spends on videos. The longer you take on a video, generally, the better it is.
@james____edward hopefully this works 🤞 @Dr. Gabriela Clinic Polska #skin #acne #acnetreatment ♬ BEST INTEREST – Tyler, The Creator
The fashion industry is known to be very hush hush and the incorporation of social media figures has been slow but it’s turning around. How have you found the reaction of the industry to your social media profiles?
I think people are starting to change their voice and opinions. The way that social media content creators, it’ll always be looked down upon. It’s really quite refreshing to see brands that are actually having to be like, “okay we should incorporate this”. It’s a really exciting time for myself. Previously, people were just getting brushed aside by brands. Going forward. It’s really interesting to see how all these brands are going to incorporate these partnerships. I mean, sometimes I think it works, sometimes I think it doesn’t. It’s changing faster than ever before and that’s really exciting.
Do you think it’s becoming more and more vital for those wanting to break into the fashion or modelling industry to have a strong presence on social media?
I don’t necessarily think it’s the case because no matter what you look at it, especially if you’re trying to break into the modelling aspect of it, there’s always a need for new faces and people. Okay, maybe having a social media presence can help you get jobs if you’re already a model. I have friends who are booking campaigns through the fact that they also have an added social media profile. It’s then a two in one: the brand gets the model and they get the added exposure. But you don’t necessarily have to have a social media platform. There’s so many good looking people out there that are gonna book campaigns, shows…
What are some goals you have for your career, whether that’s in modelling, social media or any other field?
What I want to do and what I want to achieve is always changing. Things can change so quickly. A year and a half ago I’d almost given up posting on social media. Yet here I am. I’m just trying to keep as many doors open as possible. I’m doing an acting course this summer to try and get back into something that I haven’t done since I was 16. That’s something that potentially could be on the horizon. As long as I’m enjoying it, that’s where I’m gonna take it. And I’ve still got university to finish.
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