Featured photo credit: John Tona
Modeling is a career not many women choose, it may seem like a scary and competitive field, and you may think its probably full of diets and just workout, sometimes even surgery. The media often portrays an unrealistic bar for women all around. But have things changed in the past few years? What does it take to make it as a model in a city like New York? This week I interviewed Pro Model Myrka Irais who gave me insights on what it’s like to work in this industry.
What has been your main inspiration to get into modeling?
So basically ever since I was in the womb I wanted to be an actress, but at the age of 17 a lady that was the head of a Mexican parade became friends with my mom and she asked if I wanted to join so I did. I didn’t know anything about it, but we had a coach, it was a really nice experience. I didn’t win because I was very young and I learned that beauty pageants are based more on the pull you have rather than judging itself. I gained experience and exposure and I met photographers with whom I did other things after that.
Was this experience overwhelming for you?
I was definitely nervous, public speaking is a challenge. We had to do a presentation and wear different outfits.
Working in New York, how easy is it to get a job here?
It’s very hard and competitive. Everyone comes here to become a model and an actor. If you don’t have representation and you do freelance is very hard. This industry is very shady, many people do free work, photographers “can’t” afford your rates at times and try to play games.
Photo credit: Dan Roldan
How many gigs you get in a week or a month?
You gotta do a lot of networking, if you work for an agency they send you to castings where they take your pictures and take your measurements, but even then you might not get chosen. There’s weeks where I have a lot of gigs and a lot of castings to go to, so it really depends. I would say it’s about 3-6 gigs per week.
Are these gigs enough to support you financially?
Not really. I’ve had a second job for a while, right now I don’t. But for the most part I’ve always had one, and a lot of models that I know also have one. I’ve always worked in restaurants, they pay well, but it can get complicated with casting schedules. Unless you are super famous, those are the models that are getting the big paychecks.
How diverse are the models applying to most of the jobs?
Every casting is different, if I get called to a casting it’s gonna be one that caters to me, so I will see a bunch of other Latina girls. They won’t call me in if they are looking for a white girl. But I will say that obviously white girls have the advantage in NYC, Latinas are always perceived as too sexual or too exotic.
Photo credit: Sebastien Parsons
What downsides have you found in this career?
The industry puts so much things into your head and it has brought my self-esteem down a lot of times, that you always have to look and dress a certain way, specific measurements and have a specific body. I have seen girls been rejected for being to short or too tall.
Have you had any cosmetic surgery?
No, but I used to want to. I realized for NYC you don’t need it. Unless I was trying to do a playboy work, but that’s not what I am into. I’m not doing it regardless.
Have you been signed with an agency at some point?
I was with two agencies that were scams, this is something I would advise girls to be careful with. A good agency will never ask for money, and they will sign you for about 3 years and get 20% of all your earnings. Scam agencies will get you photo shoots that you pay for and you get nothing.
What was the most fun experience that you had while modeling?
Every experience is unique, one of the last shows I had was called Downtown Fashion Week and it was fun modeling for a lot of Latino designers, some of them upcoming artists.
What was one of the worst experiences that you had?
I’ve had plenty, but there was this one time in a fashion show and it was the worst treatment I’ve ever received as a model. One of the girls that was there that seemed to be a make up artist was rude and yelling at all of us. The show wasn’t even paid. And this lady was putting her hands on people and one of the girls confronted her and asked her to not touch her.
Photo credit: Pryor NYC
Did you leave?
I didn’t leave, but I was very uncomfortable and it was an intense experience.
What was the most uncomfortable outfit you wore?
I didn’t really have to wear anything uncomfortable yet. I used to be shy obviously and I wouldn’t be comfortable in my own skin, I would do more girly things and now as a grown up I’ve done sexier stuff.
Do you remember what was your favorite outfit so far?
One time I did a show for an Ecuadorian designer, her name was Gigi Carnett. They were wedding gowns, and I was in love with the dresses.
Photo credit: David Cheng
I’ve been to fashion shows where I get to keep what I model, some gigs give you gift sets, and we get make-up too.
Once you make it to the big leagues, you travel a lot since it’s a big part of it and go to beautiful locations and wear amazing clothing.
How do people react when you tell them you are a model?
A lot of times I don’t tell people, I’ve had times when I meet a guy online and if he sees one of my pictures, a lot of times people ask me if I’m a FAKE HUMAN. They ask me to send them selfies to prove that I’m not lying to them, that is crazy to me. Also, a lot of people tell me I don’t look the same in person.
Do you think these people are intimidated?
They just don’t trust me, they may feel insecure about themselves and they don’t always understand the aspects of this career.
Photo credit: Pryor NYC
Is that why we see people working as models and actors mostly dating people in the same line of work?
Yes, I’ve had boyfriends getting jealous over me tagging a photographer on social media. Or because I did a certain job.
What’s the difference dating men in the same line of work and outside of it?
I dated a man that was a model and actor and he was great, we had a good connection. We had the same aspirations, but there was also a jealousy vibe even there.
What is your main modeling dream?
First and foremost, I’m working very hard to get signed into a legit agency. And once that happens I want to do a lot of fitness stuff, I wanna be in Sports Illustrated, that’s my main goal. And be on a big billboard on Times Square. A lot of people dream of being famous, but I do what I love and I just want to be proud of myself. I try to not think about the money, but the rewards career wise.
Who do you look up to as inspirations?
I love Ashley Graham, she’s a plus size model and a host. She has opened doors for plus size modeling, and now they have so many types of modeling broadening the spectrum. I also admire this girl who was in America’s Next Top model season 23 her name is Tatiana Elizabeth, we used to work at the same restaurant. She was struggling to get into a big agency and now she’s signed everywhere and doing great at only 23 years old.
What would you say to other people that also work in the industry? What things are annoying for a model?
If a photographer gives you directions is ok, but if they ask you something you absolutely don’t want to do like weird poses or nudes it get’s very annoying. Sometimes they persist on an inquiry and I end the shoot.
Have you ever been harassed at work?
One time this photographer I was about to work with send me his ideas and it was pornographic. He didn’t even want to pay me, and I won’t do that even if I get paid. He then apologized but tried to flirt with me. I think a lot of girls still don’t want to speak about it because they are scared. If you are doing a shoot with someone you don’t know is better to bring a friend along and be safe. I also do research on the new people that I work with and make sure they have a good reputation.
“You can’t wait for the angels to come down and make things happen, you have to work for it.”
What advice would you give to starting models?
You definitely need to sit and think about what you really wanna do. Be realistic and choose your market. I could probably do fashion and runway but I don’t have the height for it, but I can do commercial, fitness and print which pays more than the runway anyway. You need to build a portfolio and invest for it. You can’t wait for the angels to come down and make things happen, you have to work for it. It takes a lot of work, pressure, and rejection is the biggest issue you deal with so you need thick skin and you have to not let things affect you. If an agency didn’t want you, you go to the next one. I’ve met a girl that came from Beijing to NYC last week and she barely spoke English and she went to 5 agencies in one day. If you want something you just gotta work really hard at it.
Have you made any sacrifices for your career?
You do have to make sacrifices, money wise you have to invest on your image and get headshots, classes, and do a lot of fitness. I always wake up early.
Tell me about your acting career
I wanted to be an actress before a model, I enjoy both but acting is my number one passion. Acting is just as hard and competitive. In acting you can be discovered even in later years, which is not the same for modeling. Is not only about learning lines, there’s a lot of work put behind it. Once I am where I want to be as a model I will go more into acting, a lot of the same agencies of modeling also have acting agents within so that helps a lot.
How would you define yourself as a model?
I love doing shoots at the beach with a tropical vibe, I want to do more sensual stuff like Calvin Klein and Victoria Secret.
Photo credit: Dan Arru
“I would be an FBI agent, because they are super sexy.”
What would you do if you were not an actress or model?
I would be an FBI agent, because they are super sexy, if not I would be a Dentist because I have a tooth fetish and I’m obsessed with teeth and smiles.
Photo credit: New Association
What are you listening to?
I love music, I can listen to salsa and then I can go to Trap music. I love Rock as well, Mexican music. I don’t like Country music.
Do you have a type of man?
Goal oriented, outgoing and charismatic but most importantly he will support my career and my vision.
I love Thai Food.
Oscar de La Renta, Michael Kors, Gucci, Tommy H.
I don’t like that human being. I didn’t vote for him.
Orange Juice or Pineapple Juice?
Pineapple, makes the fluids of your vagina taste good.
Pancakes or French Toast?
Seafood or Red Meat?
Rice Or Potatoes?
Rancheras or Rap?
Showers or Bathtubs?
Nightclubs or Bar?
Thank You Myrka
Thank you babe.