15 Proven Tips to Modeling Success from Fashion Supermodel Michael Lewis

Learn how to break into modeling and become a successful fashion model with expert advice and helpful tips from actor and fashion model Michael Lewis:
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ClaimFame was lucky enough to sit down with 27 year old model Michael Lewis and hear how he rose to fame:

Michael has been in the entertainment industry from the past ten years. He has modeled for brands like Armani, Lee Cooper, Samsung, Apple, Century 21, GANT, Macy’s, Michael Bastian and more. He was chosen by the TV channel “E!” as one of  “The 25 Sexiest men in the world” (next to George Clooney and Brad Pitt!) and appeared on numerous commercials, TV shows and international campaigns — not only for fashion brands but also for electronics, sports, liqueur, cars, watches, yachts and more.

Since the day he started modeling, which happened by accident (someone spotted him while he was playing basketball in his neighborhood), he says he has gained valuable experience and learned a lot about the world of modeling.

He admits that the fashion and entertainment industries can be shallow, undermining and frustrating at times, but it can also be very luxurious, upscale, cool, and plain ol’ fun if you work with the right people (and get paid, of course). Here are some tips for success he has learned along the way and wants to share with the ClaimFame community:

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1. The Extra Thing

Before I start sharing some of my knowledge, know this: Modeling is not a job for everyone. You may think you look good and you have what it takes, but 99% of the time that just ain’t enough. You may look good and have a great smile, but in this world there is something else you need that will push you up the ladder and get you recognized in the field.

 It’s called “THE EXTRA THING,” or “ADDED VALUE.” That “extra thing” is something that cannot be described. Either you have it or, you don’t. Do you have it? Don’t worry, you will find out if you have it or not in when auditioning for a commercial or going on casting call. The Casting Directors are usually not afraid to tell you to your face what they think (even if you’re standing there  almost fully naked with just your underwear on) and in the long run the truth will help your career.

2. Timing and Effort

 I am big believer in TIMING and EFFORT. Most of the time you would work for free and spend your time doing less rewarding work to make money. It’s like being an intern, just that you actually don’t get paid at all. This is not a waste, it’s  INVESTING by making an effort to improve yourself and your skills and wait for the right time to succeed.

3. Keep Your Day Job

Please remember: before you even start going on castings and auditions, if you have a second job that you can rely on, stick to it. It’ll keep you sane. One thing models don’t have is a schedule. It’s very easy to get lost in thoughts. Don’t let that happen. Keep yourself busy at all times. For example, I do sports and I read a lot. Books are my best friends. 

4. Connections Never Hurt

 If you are born to influential family with well-connected parents then congratulations: you’re lucky. Use it, don’t abuse it. Friends who have good connections are also helpful. Use them wisely. Networking is very important, especially when you’re starting out.

Michael Lewis for Century 21

5. Love Thy Agent

 It’s very helpful to have a modeling agency that pushes you to go to auditions. Remember: For every one they accept, they deny hundreds. If they agree to represent you, then most likely they believe in you and want you to succeed. 

6. Adapt, Don’t Change

 If your agent(s) tell you to gain weight \ lose weight \ cut your hair \ change your style etc. I suggest to first listen, and then try to understand if it really fits YOU. This world has a tendency to change people. If you want to succeed, you need to stick to your own ground. If you are open to changes, then be my guest and embrace them. Just remember – BE YOU. This job is about ADAPTING, NOT CHANGING. 

7. Health Comes First

Working out, staying fit and eating right are some of the most important things for a model. I can’t tell you what would be the right diet for you, but I recommend you try many options to find what makes you feel good and positive. Blood tests and advice from your doctor can help you find the right routine for you. In my opinion being super skinny and not eating is not sexy. Staying fit is much more healthier. Sports will keep you moving and will also release the endorphins needed to stay sane! 

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8. Visit Your Agency Often & Don’t Forget to Smile!

Go visit your agency often. They get inspired by you if you come to say hi a couple of times a week. Try to find the fine line between being a friend with your agent and staying professional. Always say hello with a smile when you come in and when you leave.

9. Shake or Hug?

 Always remember to keep it professional with the people you work with. I am a firm believer that you need to know when it’s right to shake someone’s hand, when it’s ok to give them a high five, and when it’s right to give a loving hug. Know how to read between the lines. 

10. Make People Feel Comfortable

 This job is a lot about making people feel comfortable when they’re next to you. Smell good and dress nicely when you go to an audition. Obvious? Well, I’ve seen people who don’t…

11. Confident vs. Arrogant

When in an audition, try to stay as true to yourself as possible. Everyone loves CONFIDENCE. Just PLEASE distinguish between being confident and approachable to being COCKY and irritating. There’s a big difference: Being arrogant and cocky is not having confidence, it’s the opposite – Trying to impress.

12. Play Well In a Group

 Often you’ll be in an audition with other people in the room who will compete with you. The attention of the casting agents will be spread out and there will often be a some competition on being in the spotlight. I actually love these auditions. Why? Because I’ve learned to adapt very fast. In group auditions, everyone usually try to show off and impress. However, I recommend to wait for the exact right moment to shine and leave the best mark.

I see it as a game and I enjoy it. Many of the “big” jobs I got were after auditioning together with other people in the casting room. The purpose of these type of auditions and casting calls is to see who operates best in group dynamic and has a presence that stands out. That will be your greatest test. Feel the moment, blend in and shine!

13. Know What You’re Going For (And Dance)

Before entering an audition you have to FULLY READ the description of the job and know what the casting agents will be asking you to do. Many times they will write things like “need to know how to dance” or “have an extra skill.”

Having an extra skill will definitely help you a lot. Dancing is debatable though. If you can’t dance, you can always just shake your booty and smile (I did it a couple times, it worked).

That said, sometimes you will also be asked to do things which you are not comfortable with. Being confident is also knowing when to say NO. Its better to say “I am not comfortable with that” than to embarrass yourself. 

14. Leave your problems at home

Leave your problems at home and don’t bring them with you. No one cares what’s going on in your life outside the audition room. Modeling to me is much like acting. I get ready before I walk into the room and I leave the same way. 

15. Lower Your Expectations

My last advice is the most important one – Never EVER expect a positive answer. You will just get disappointed. Whether it’s a big project or not, it’s easy to get excited and feel like you “nailed it.” Unfortunately, this world is very unpredictable. That’s why I recommend having a second job, reading books, staying active, and spending time with the people you love.

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Modeling is a tricky business. On the one hand, it has a mysterious way of pulling you down and beating you up when you least expect it. On the other hand, it can be fulfilling, rewarding, and give you a chance to travel the world, meet interesting people and have CRAZY and exciting experiences. But at the end of the day – it’s only a job. So, stay sane, work out, live well, adapt, embrace, listen, get involved (but not too involved!), eat right, drink (sometimes, and stay on your feet while you do!) and always remember – enjoy the ride!


Michael Lewis is represented in New York City by Innovative Artist for acting and commercial work and by RE:Quest Model Management Agency for print, as well as by agencies in Italy, Germany, Spain, France, and England


This post is part of ClaimFame‘s tutorial series “Casting Essentials – everything you need to know to get started and find success in showbiz

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