Editorial: Fitness,Runway and Fashion Model 'Hansel Tran' Talks Exclusively for OTS Magazine.

by - 12:08:00

Fashion, fitness, runway model, and current winner of 'Mister Fitness SuperModel World 2023' -Hansel Tran takes the cover story of OTS Magazine‘s March 2024 digital edition lensed by photographer Milor Tran, and styled by Kye Nguyen.

In this interview, he talks about his journey as an international fashion, fitness, and runway model, as well as some of his most notable achievements and goals.

Read his very insightful interview below
Fitness and Fashion Model 'Hansel Tran' Talks Exclusively for OTS Magazine.
Hi Hansel, Please fully tell us about yourself and your background
Growing up As a skinny Vietnamese American, I was bullied, even by my own siblings, they would call me Hien Chopstick, but now I’m more like a hotdog. I took no remorse in my heart, but I did not accept it, I decided to change for myself. My family grew up as poor war-torn refugees and did not believe this career path would be respectable or fortuitous. Even now I pursue a financial career to support my dream of not just modeling , but role modeling to become the best version of yourself. No matter where you come from, Rich or poor.

Congratulations on being named the "Male Model of the World Fitness Supermodel 2023"! How does it feel to emerge victorious from among the top 40 competitors from various nations throughout the world?
Thank you for having me for this interview. I remember it felt invigorating to be able to represent both of my mother countries internationally; the United States and Vietnam. A competition that aligned with my passions was a no-brainer. I had to do it. Although, I remember I was a bit lonely realizing that my other friends/ fellow contestants couldn’t share the victory with me. The vigor slowly died down and I knew I was proud but not satisfied. I continued to find new opportunities to gain better awareness and representation for not only Vietnamese but Asian Americans as well. It was nice to achieve a small milestone that validated this show business journey as a rewarding step forward. 

It's amazing to know that even while pursuing a major in Finance in Chicago (USA), you still had a great desire for modeling work. Where does your motivation come from and when did you discover you had a passion for modeling? 
When I was invited to be a model at a runway show in Chicago, the whole experience just felt right. Why not? I believe you should gather as many experiences to grow and perceive our world better. The passion really solidified when I had the opportunity to attend the Asian World Film Festival in California two months later. I saw the lack of accurate Asian representation we have in Hollywood and it was there I decided then to endure the journey for contribution for Asian Americans in the media. 
I believe we should all be a part of something larger than ourselves.
Fitness,Runway and Fashion Model 'Hansel Tran' Talks Exclusively for OTS Magazine.
Can you share any insights about what it’s like to be a fitness model that people may not realize, or understand from the outside?
I'm glad you asked. The current fitness model industry is saturated with body dysmorphia and superficial influencers. Audiences from the outside who have little familiarity are easily subject to unrealistic standards and expectations on what the ideal physique looks like. People who swear to be health influencers are juiced up on performance-enhancing drugs, and performance-enhancing photoshop skills. Thus the wild west that is fitness modeling is born. I advise people outside the industry to not hold themselves to unrealistic expectations and keep in mind fitness modeling is different for everyone. I'd say 70% of an individual's fitness journey is their eating habits, find out what types of foods work for you, and give yourself a real trial period complemented with an exercise regimen. 

In an interview, you expressed your desire to use your American upbringing and education to benefit Vietnam. How will you go about doing this, and what drives you to do this?
Major world powers around the world look to western influence to model and base their economy and sometimes even culture around. Although we are not a perfect model, America has built a very successful economy throughout the centuries. I believe in order to grow at the smallest level, you have to comprehend your peers' personalities and motivations. Opening yourself to new possibilities and thought processes will help you understand the world better. I want to use what I have learned in western culture and try to assimilate it into Vietnam. In order for Vietnam to catch up to the world powers they must understand how other powers operate and adopt some aspects. Whether it’s in media , education, or business development, taking what you have learned and going back to your home country in order for them to thrive is something that has always driven me. I hope many of my peers who had the chance to study abroad return to their root countries and help their infrastructure develop.
Fitness,Runway and Fashion Model 'Hansel Tran' Talks Exclusively for OTS Magazine.
Has the body-positivity movement, which promotes self-acceptance regardless of one's body shape and size, affected your fitness goals?
Reiterating a previous point, the fitness industry is familiar with body dysmorphia, and setting unrealistic expectations for yourself. I believe you should have role models to look up to, but be careful and never compare yourself 1:1 with them. Comparing yourself to a previous version of yourself is something I think has helped with my self-acceptance. Growth is growth, no matter how minor. I believe If you choose to pursue fitness goals it is about your individual journey, not someone else's. What is a person if they don’t strive to make themselves and the world around them a better place? 

In your opinion ; What is Self-Love? And how can you inspire others to love themselves more and stay authentic to their true personality?
Self love is about appreciating how far you have come and how far you will keep going. Accept that there are a lot of things that are out of your control, but you can control how you react to them.  

How do you empower others through your work as a model and a person of influence?
I feel like I’ve been fortunate to be able to relate to a lot of people and have had a myriad of social experiences. I grew up in a small town, my family struggled when they came to America, I continue to endure tough love, and I have to work a real job in order to pursue my dreams. My ability to empower stems from the attribute that I can relate and sympathize with a large number of people. I’m just a kid who grew up in a small town with big dreams.
Fitness,Runway and Fashion Model 'Hansel Tran' Talks Exclusively for OTS Magazine.
Can you tell us about the people who may have influenced your life and career?
My Aunt, she influenced me to move to Vietnam and was the only one in our family who supported my dream in the entertainment business. An Incredible, class-act woman. She succeeded as a woman in a culture that devalues the working woman and makes it very difficult for women to advance in business. Yet she still did and is very successful amongst our family. The most relentless, formidable, ambitious person I have ever met. Richard Wolnik, my close friend who actually bought me my first modeling shoot as a birthday present. He knew if he invested in me I would actually do it, and I have to thank him for it years later as I continue. Have you seen Captain America? At first, a small guy with dreams and a heart of gold to stand up for others. No one cared about him until he physically transformed, but the good inside him amplified even more. Even with the new spotlight on him, he’s still the same kid inside and his personality remains constant. I like to say that’s why I relate to Captain America the most. 

Do you remember your first experience in front of the Camera? 
I remember my first photo shoot. I was thrown right into the frying pan. We shot about 14 different outfits, poses, and looks not including headshots. shirtless, formal, underwear, outerwear, you name it. It took 6 hours. Thank you to Joem! My first photographer. Honestly, I don’t remember anything else other than I had no idea what I was doing, ( I still do not). The model is only as good as his cameraman/director.

How big a role does modeling play in your life?
A pretty large role. It motivated me to be more than just a pretty face and that genetic gifts should be built upon instead of leaned upon. It inspired me to pursue the entertainment business and pursue the highest form of this focus. Let whoever your audience is and keep subverting their expectations; surprise them.

Who or what is your biggest motivation in life?
The little kid inside me, I made a promise to him that I would succeed in the future regardless of what I did and make my mom, and dad's family proud. Chasing my dreams on the purview of living my best life. Looking back knowing I pursued my goals to the best of my ability and I did not cause anyone harm in the process. My biggest fear is being an old man filled with regret that I didn't at least try my absolute best to achieve everything I wanted to. 
Fitness,Runway and Fashion Model 'Hansel Tran' Talks Exclusively for OTS Magazine.
Do you get to travel a lot for your work? If so what’s your favorite city that you have visited?
Ooo, honestly Bangkok, everything is easily accessible and there are unlimited food options from around the world inside their malls. Their malls blow every other mall out of the world, even Dubai, they just make sure they make every aspect the highest quality. Also, the amount of tourists and expats makes it feel like the very center of the world. Everyone is living and thriving in unison.

What Would You Consider the Most Important Components of Your Style? Do You Feel You Have a Signature Style as a model?
 I guess my signature style is blending men's high/classic fashion with sportswear. Hard to say. Signature style is tough to develop since I take a lot of inspiration from styles that have been done already. I believe in dressing appropriately for the right occasion, yes, but you should always try to push the norm in an acceptable professional way. I actually find my closet houses different types of cool jackets.

If you could change one thing about the fashion, fitness, and modelling industry, what would it be? What would you improve?
I feel like more high fashion designers and runway producers should cater more models towards more muscular dominant men. A man should look like a man; strong and assertive. I take inspiration from the Greek statues of the gods and idols of old. I feel like all the depictions of males from those periods depict what models should always pursue. I also wish the majority fitness industry would stop lying to their clients, falsifying their experience and appearance. 

What excites you the most about walking the runway and being in front of the camera?
For Runway the whole ambience is mesmerizing. From connecting with a different personality with the clothes you model to walking in sync with the music. It is a very surreal experience when done right. I guess the only difference with a camera is I look at editorial photos as a way of expression to try and portray my emotions and the environment. I want to thank the people behind the camera because they direct and see everything. A connection with them produces the best content IMO.
Fitness,Runway and Fashion Model 'Hansel Tran' Talks Exclusively for OTS Magazine.
What is the most challenging part of being a model?
Challenging the fine line between fitness model, and high fashion model hahaha. Mostly hoping I fit into clothes and I am able to capture the image a designer or stylist wants to the best of my ability. Picking when to not conform to certain standards in order to express yourself the best is a challenge as well. 

What are some of the biggest hurdles you have been faced with as a model and how did you overcome them?
Starting out on my own. Beginning my career out I didn’t sign to an agency, I did all the networking, marketing and legwork myself for 2 and a half years. The fashion scene in Chicago is limited and living about 40mi/60km meant a lot of driving and sitting in traffic to do one or two short, rare gigs. I was fortunate to have met many mentors to advise the routes and opportunities I should take. Now they are becoming scarce and the next step for me is to apply for an agency. The biggest hurdle is getting over the fact that models do not make that much money as they used to, and you have to find an additional source of income. It will be slow at first but if you know you have talent and promise then it is just overcoming the hurdle of time and consistency. 

How has your perception of the industry changed over time?
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows. A lot of work has to happen behind the scenes even to capture an ephemeral, small moment in time. Everyone behind the scenes works equally or even harder than the person in front of the scenes. I just want to thank everyone who has helped and supported me in modeling and show business. During the competition, I would like to give a shout-out to the make-up artists from Kye Agency who got up early with me, and Mốc Nguyen camera crews that stayed up late. Many times having lack of sleep and time to eat to be under the big lights. It’s very easy for people to critique the industry without realizing how much attention to detail the model caters to. 
Fitness,Runway and Fashion Model 'Hansel Tran' Talks Exclusively for OTS Magazine.
What do you consider your biggest professional success so far?
Taking the leap of faith to continue my dreams in an almost completely foreign land. I sacrificed my entire old life to build a new one. Almost like a homage to my parents but not even close to comparing their sacrifice. If I stayed in the USA I would not have been able to work with the world’s first Bitcoin insurance service and lead them in developing business all over Southeast Asia. I would not have been able to become an international model without being here and winning the Mr. Fitness SuperModel World Title

What are some of your latest and upcoming projects?
In Vietnam and Thailand, I am Currently raising money for a crypto insurance company that’s being acquired by large hedge funds. I hope to also merge them with similar companies in South and create more limited partners.  As for show business, Hopefully, wrap up the end of the Mr Fitness Supermodel World reign this year with a bang. Also preparing an attempt to transition into acting and singing projects this summer but first I have to aggressively re-learn Vietnamese to do so.  Dreams don’t happen overnight but that isn’t an excuse to not start.

How do you prep for a shoot from an exercise and nutrition perspective? Any tricks of the trade? For how long?
Usually a week before or less gives me enough time to prepare. A great piece of advice for all current and aspiring models is mitigate inflammation as much as you can. Try sleeping enough the days leading up to the shoot. Depending on your body, you should eat high protein and moderate carbs, but stay away from saturated fats. Workout in the morning of the shoot and be sure to drink black coffee beforehand. It Helps your metabolism work faster and to sweat more. Small sips of water throughout the day and simple carbs your body easily digests. A banana or two, a cup of white rice, are two examples I personally use. 
Fitness,Runway and Fashion Model 'Hansel Tran' Talks Exclusively for OTS Magazine.
What are you doing when you are not working?
Even when I’m not working, I’m working. The price and sacrifice you pay to chase your dreams haha. I love going to the gym the most because it’s my escape from everything and I can do it anywhere, in any city. In a journey of uncertainty and uncomfortability, you treasure the old comforts/habits you have. For me, it’s headphones, caffeine, and iron. I miss my family all the time so I talk to them when we have time. Here in Vietnam, I get to see my Grandmother, Aunt, and extended family more. 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start fitness modeling? And to our readers looking to get in shape? 
The hardest part is starting, but it gets easier as you continue. Learn along the way, do not stay stuck on mistakes as it’s the quickest way to learn what works for you and what doesn’t. If you’re serious about it, seek a professional/coach. You may not need one forever but everyone has to start somewhere. Save time by asking for help. Consistency is key! Make small adjustments and do not set unrealistic goals. Listen to your body. 
Follow Hansel Tran on Instagram to keep up with his modelling journey.
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