It’s well documented that fashion-based reality television shows often lead to short-term fame followed by long-term obscurity. The original cool kid, Tyra Banks’ America’s Next Top Model, has often been criticised for building up the hopes of contestants with a lucrative modelling contract prize, only to lead to non-existent careers. Has anybody seen Adrianne Curry in the past five years?
The most recent season of ANTM, cycle 21, was arguably more infamous than it was famous. From Denzel Wells’ beard weave to Mirjana’s recent tragic murder, the series seemed to attract plenty of attention for undesirable reasons. The breakout star of the season, Chantelle Winnie (or Winnie Harlow, as she’s known on social media), shuns her time on the show when doing interviews. In fact, her publicist bans questions about it altogether.
What the media has failed to give attention to is the fact that America’s Next Top Model had its first male winner. Keith Carlos, an ex-NFL player with a body that we suspect is chiselled from marble, took home the crown and glory.
As is the nature of America’s Next Top Model winners, he hasn’t been hugely visible since his time on the show. This, however, may speak more to the nature of male modelling. Male models are rarely superstars or household names. Rather, as noted in our interview with top Toronto male model Paul Mason, it’s more about the slow burn. It’s about making a steady income that actually peaks more often after the age of 30. This is counter to the female modelling world, based on ageism and petering out long before 27.
It’s for this reason that we have great hope that Keith Carlos will do just fine in the male modelling world, long after #ANTM falls off the air. Well, that and he’s beautiful and we genuinely want him to succeed. We sat for a chat with the male modelling superstar-in-the-making…
Vv Magazine: What have you been up to since ANTM? Any major campaigns or projects you’d like to highlight?
Keith Carlos: Since winning, I’ve built a legit team, been doing a lot of hosting, going to red carpet events, interviewing to build my brand, preparing to relocate to Los Angeles, and got a movie role in the upcoming film, Another Hollywood Tragedy, directed by Eric Kim and Lori Marr.
What benefits have you seen from being on America’s Next Top Model and winning the show?
The benefit of winning [America’s Next Top Model] is a higher selling point when being pitched for other opportunities. There was also a major increase in my social media following. I’m able to leverage a lot of other jobs by being on ANTM.
Do you keep in touch with your cast mates?
My cast mates and I are one big family. We are on group chat and speak daily to keep everyone aware of what’s going on. We recently lost one of our sisters, Mirjana Puhar, to a tragic murder. We all comfort each other in dealing with that. Her death actually made us all closer as an extended family.
What city are you based in now?
I’m based in Atlanta and Los Angeles.
Who are your favourite people that you’ve met so far in the fashion community?
My favourite people I’ve met in the fashion industry are still my [America’s Next Top Model] mentors Tyra Banks, Miss J, Kelly Cutrone, and Yu Tsai.
Do you still talk to Tyra? How is she as a model mentor?
No, I don’t speak with Tyra. She was great as a mentor on the show — I learned a lot from her as she has a strong business mind that I admire.
Do you feel like you have been treated differently by the media as the first male winner of ANTM?
Yes, I have been treated differently by being the first male winner. It’s a big deal that I broke barriers and shined more light on male modelling as an African American man. Not only am I the face of ANTM, I inspired males and females all over the world to go after their passions. Something I try to impart into everyone is to never settle, and only those that see the invisible can achieve the impossible.
What differences do you find as a working male model compared to your female peers?
The main difference is that as a female it’s more competitive and they get paid more. Male modelling –depending on who you’re dealing with– has a lot of egos and your success is based off of who you know. Your network is your net worth. Having a strategic plan for your career with the right people with connections in your corner will put you in a better position to be successful.
If you had any advice to a model starting out, what would it be?
My advice to a model starting out would be learn your self inside out — physically and emotionally. Get in the mirror and learn your angles. Learn your lighting and what works best for your bone structure, angles, and skin tone. Be determined; don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve what your mind believes because faith outweighs all.
What can we expect from Keith Carlos in 2015?
You can expect a grooming process from myself. Sharpening all my tools and talents to land that major role or campaign to put me in the A-list. I would like to be the face of some major brands and land some big endorsement deals that put me in equity positions. I would like to participate or sit front row in some fashion shows for fashion weeks around the world. But overall, I’m going to continue to grow and build my empire from scratch.
What did you love most about Keith Carlos on America’s Next Top Model Cycle 21? Let Vv Magazine know in the comments below or follow us @ViewTheVibe.