Exclusive Interview: Fashion Male Model Of The Month-Joel Ramirez Gets Real About Life As A Model .

by - 20:52:00

We had the pleasure of interviewing High Fashion and Runway male model Joel Ramirez.
In this interview, Joel talks about his life and experiences as a model and how it's changed his life.
NYC fashion photographer, Visual art videographer, and Digital marketer Seth London captured the amazing model Joel Ramirez, exclusively for OTSMAGAZINE UK Interview.
Hi Joel, Please introduce yourself to our fans and readers, telling us more about you and your personal lifestyle.
Hey Everyone, my name is Joel Ramirez and I’m super excited to introduce myself to the UK! Can you tell I’m failing the commonwealth accent as we speak? Haha. I’m Dominican living in the big city, NYC. I am an art lover,  bookworm, gamer, a father of two, you can say my lifestyle can get hectic at times but it’s all fun. Fitness is a big part of who I am so I’m always active. I’d like to think I’m funny… And nothing beats a good cup of tea.
Haha, I think I could hear a little accent when you said 'and nothing beats a good cup of tea.'
So how did you first get into modeling? And how long have you been modeling?
lol. I started modeling back in November 2016, so it’s been a crazy, fun, and rewarding 6 years. A stylist friend of mine saw potential in me. I was inexperienced, and bashful, but also determined to do something I’d take pride in and he had set up what would be my first ever photo shoot with a super talented photographer from Japan and a Celeb makeup artist. I started sweating profusely 10 seconds after the camera was pointed at me, but we somehow made it through and got some starting images. That was only the tip of the iceberg but the rest is history.
Before we go on I would like to ask, how has the global pandemic affected you?
The pandemic was rough. It only added more angst in a time of uncertainty. Whether I could go exercise, spend time with friends and family, or procure enough work to keep afloat, it was like a huge break on the momentum. Here in NY, the closures began two weeks before several shoots and my birthday. From one day to another my busy schedule was replaced by an idle life. Though some good things came of it; I wrote a book, got to know myself better, and fostered unexpected friendships.
Aw, I am glad to see that you were able to turn a negative situation into something positive and beautiful. So, When did you first have any inclination that you might be model material?
When I first had an inclination that I might be model material was when I was a young boy. I look in the mirror and catch an angle of my face and I believed I resembled the people I saw on TV. As I got older people would also bring such things to my attention, they’d ask if I was a model or say that I should become one. One time a sweet old lady came up to me when I worked as a Cashier for whole foods and told me to walk into an agency. She claimed that the last time she told a girl to do that she became a huge model. Well, I don’t know about a huge model but if I could say anything to all those people that noticed that shy boy, it’s THANK YOU!
Becoming a model really introduces one major condition into your life which is “Consistency”, Do you think this theory is accurate or not?
Absolutely! Consistency is the foundation of anything and modeling is no different. If I wasn’t consistent with knocking on doors, getting to know people, showing up on time(early that is), I wouldn’t be here right now. Consistency also means exercising regularly, sticking to my skincare routine, eating the right food, and practicing kindness as much as possible.
Where are your roots – The best thing about/to do in your hometown?
My roots lie within my Dominican upbringing. I was born a U.S. citizen to Spanish-speaking parents. I grew up in Washington Heights, a neighborhood full of Latinos and Dominicans where it felt like a little slice of my country of origin. The best thing to do in a city so vast and culturally diverse as NYC is to explore it. I love taking walks in the park, cycling, hitting the downtown scene, and dining out.
What do you consider your biggest professional success so far?
My biggest professional success so far has to be a 6-day shoot for an Eco-resort, Kasiiya. It was an all-expense-paid trip to Costa Rica, where I  got to try all the amenities including kayaking, snorkeling, and paddleboarding. After hustling for years, it was a dream come true to finally be flown out and experience something completely new.
Has fashion always played a role in your life? If so, how?
Fashion has always played a role in my life. During my darkest times, it helped express my mood and state of mind. I have been through so many styles people wouldn’t assume a man of color would go through. I’ve had a side bang, Mohawk, blonde, orange, and even blue hair at some point. Safe to say I burnt most of those pictures, haha! 
Lol, Why? I would have loved to see at least the Mowhawk!
What do you think about the state of fashion today? 
The state of fashion today is ever-changing and I love it. There are so many styles that are in now that it’s hard to go wrong. People are more open-minded about what’s acceptable today. Though I admit sometimes fashion can be a little over the top. Here in the city of dreams, there’s always something someone’s wearing that is interesting to look at.
What is the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done?
The most spontaneous thing I’ve done was pause in the middle of the street and sing “Stop in the Name of Love” to the oncoming cars. I was a teenager, it was a dare; forgive me, haha.
Did you discover any new passions while in quarantine?
Yes!! Food, food, fooood! The most fun thing I’ve been doing is exploring my culinary skills. It’s been going great(as in I didn’t poison myself or anyone yet.) From baking to air frying, traditional or keto, and inventing cocktails, it’s been a fun journey, and I am surprised with how good it’s all been coming out. I am most proud of my cheesecake recipe and baked salmon which has built quite the rapport among family members. I’m drooling already just thinking about it.
How has your perception of the industry changed over time?
My opinion of the industry has changed drastically over the years. Before I became a model, I used to think it must be 'The life'. When I’d look at cover models I assumed they must be well off, fulfilled and everything came easy to them. Now? I know the reality. Behind every photo, every model, every magazine is a team of dedicated creatives, giving their all to create something magical. When I see a cover now, I see the hardworking model, the makeup artists, the photographer, the agents that put it together. It’s bittersweet. It’s truly WORK and sometimes all people see is a “pampered” model. The truth is we all work really hard to get to where we are.
I absolutely agree, in a nutshell (Don't judge a book by its cover). Joel can you please describe your personal style – Favourite Brands/Fragrance?! 
My personal style- Fashion, for example, is in constant flux. Because my style reflects my mood, it can change quite suddenly. For the most part, I’m chic, sophisticated, guy next door type but I can go urban to a full-on rocker look. I love this about myself because it’s like being different versions of myself. My favorite brand is Express, it just goes in line with my chic fashion sense without being too hard on the wallet. Favorite scents are usually light and not overpowering but a big fan of Sauvage by Dior.
Is there any brand you would love to model for?
I don’t mean to brag, but I already did. The work is ongoing with this client and it is internal at the moment so it’s on a hush-hush level for now but they are one of the biggest fashion brands to ever exist and they were the first job I booked after signing to my agency, VNY Models
Marc Jacobs and Calvin Klein would be next because those are the classic brands I’ve seen since I was little and modeling for them would be amazing!
Do you have any special Talents?
I love writing, singing, and cooking. I’m such a sucker for a good read that I’ve been inspired to pen my own novel. Think about it, you can create worlds and inspire others through writing. Don’t doubt the power of articulation. I’ve written two novels so far, I hope to publish them eventually.
How do you keep in shape?
I keep in shape by eating right, meaning, I limit the amount of sugar and salt I consume, I include as many greens as possible and generally bake over fry. I exercise regularly and use any excuse to stay active. The elevator’s taking too long? Stairs it is! Cycling, group fitness, dancing, and lifting are some of my favorite ways to pass time.
The world is obsessed with beauty routines, so do you have one?
I do have a beauty routine! Although I believe less is more because whenever I use too many products, I break out. So I stick to exfoliating every few days, cleansing and moisturizing daily; nothing more. I’ll occasionally treat myself to facials(cause we all need a little TLC) and even less, micro-needling.
What keeps you feeling positive and motivated especially during these difficult times filled with uncertainties?
Being hopeful of the future keeps me motivated and positive. The trick is you have to plant the seeds to look forward to the trees, otherwise, you’re just dreaming and that’s all it’s gonna be. When all else fails, blast some BTS and start shaking; that always works for me.
Photographer|JULIA SARIY @julia_sariy Stylist| ANA @heliosuranus
Lol! You remind me of myself a lot, I love it. Ok, I have to ask this question, and please correct me if I am wrong but I noticed most brands and potential agents hesitate to contact or collaborate with a model lately especially if the person has fewer than 5000 followers, Do you think it’s fair that social media is a big part of these models’ jobs today?
Hm... I don’t think that’s completely true. I’ve seen models with only 300 followers be signed and working. It all boils down to their look and if they’re bookable. If you find an agency that believes in you, the rest will follow. But it is fair because we are the future and it makes sense that fashion is incorporating technology and social media. If I never posted photos on my platform, I would’ve never had that initial exposure that got me where I am today. Even this interview came about because of social media. It’s a game-changer, it’s totally fair. People are getting opportunities they never had before.
What do you consider the most common stereotype about male models?
The most common stereotype is that we’re egocentric and hyper-masculine. I noticed sometimes we as men, don’t’ move as much as female models do because we become so stiff from trying to be the hot ‘mystery’ guy. Once I let go of that type, I’ve been having so much fun and moving effortlessly, which in turn, produces better images. Confidence is key.
Is there anything you would like to change about the modeling industry if given the opportunity?
Yes. It needs to be more inclusive. We’re on our way but more still needs to be done over the way we handle talking about different body types and who can model or not. I’ve heard designers call a girl 'fat'  simply because she didn’t fit the dress when she wasn’t at all and that kind of talk is so detrimental to mental health.
What advice would you give to aspiring male and female models out there?
The advice I have for aspiring models is to be realistic and never give up. Continue to work on yourself and your relationships. The more everything goes well and makes sense outside of fashion, the better model you will be. I say be realistic and understand you’re not likely to become an overnight sensation, that takes time and handwork, and feeding into that will hinder your growth. Do what makes you happy so you can breathe life into whatever you do.
What are your plans for the future?
My plans for the future are to travel more, meet new people and pick up on more hobbies. I want to live a full life, having done many things so that there’s nothing to regret at the end of the road.
When you look back to the start of your career, what would you say has been the biggest hurdle you had to overcome and how did you do it?
The biggest hurdle I’ve had to overcome throughout my career was myself. You are your worst critic and that couldn’t be any truer in my case. Mentally, I always thought I wasn’t doing my best, but I challenged those negative thoughts by doing things that built me up. I’d exercise to feel good about my body, hang out with friends, and engage in activities I enjoy like reading and drawing. Still a work in progress, but I’ve come a long way.
Photographer|ANNA GARBOWSKA @anka_nyc , Stylist|STASI BEREZOVSKAYA @stasi.berezovskaya
What are some of your latest and upcoming projects?
So my latest project/goal is to break into acting. It’s the real reason I began modeling. I wanted to shed those layers of shyness to one day be able to face the camera as I am--devoid of shame, filled with pride and acceptance of myself in the form I’m in. I’ve been partaking in small film projects to get a feel and so far I love seeing myself speak and move. Acting on film is so exciting. I don’t expect anything overnight of course, but I know one day I’ll see myself on TV. Stay tuned!
What is your philosophy?
My philosophy is laughter is the best medicine and to never let anything or anyone dim your light.
Who would you look to for inspiration when you feel low?
This one is hard to answer. Everything and everyone. I get so elated and inspired by good news. The best thing my mom taught me is to never feel envy but joy for others' accomplishments. I can look to anyone, whether it’s a friend or celeb, if you can succeed so can I and if I can succeed so can you. When you realize everyone hits a low at some point, it helps to know you’re not alone in that feeling. We are all spiritual beings having a human experience and the goal is to find happiness, so when I feel low I do something that makes me feel connected to others.
Joel your response right there got me feeling emotional right now and happy because you just quoted one of my favorite sayings 'we are all spiritual beings having a human experience', we must never compare ourselves to anyone because we all have different destinies, I tell people to choose collaboration over competition always because we all rise by lifting others up in any way that we can.
We truly wish you so much joy and success in your career moving forward and we can't wait to see you on our TV screens someday soon.
Photographer|JULIA SARIY @julia_sariy Stylist| ANA @heliosuranus
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