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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Interview with Paul Fisher About His New TV Show "Remodeled" on CW

I love my job because not only do I get to participate in fun shoots, shows and projects, I get to network with some amazing people. A while back I did a feature on Paul Fisher, who has represented some of the industry's top supermodels...well, he's back and with a new TV show that is actually premiering on the CW tomorrow, February 1 at 9PM (PST). "REMODELED" gives people an inside look into the industry from Paul's perspective as he and his crew aim to completely change the modeling world from the inside out.

I had the opportunity to interview Paul and find out more about his mission and the steps he's taking to reach his goals...

DD: After leading such a long, successful career in the modeling industry, why have you decided to take action now to change things? What prompted you to take things into your own hands through projects like "Remodeled?"

PF: It was not an easy decision to allow the cameras into our business. I started on a journey with my team to empower and connect hometown modeling agencies in 150 cities around the world. These agencies are the ones who are and have been discovering the stars of the modeling world. Our company, The Network, gives agencies in secondary markets the tools to create a star they discover.

More importantly, I wanted to create an environment that was safe for young people entering our business.  What better way than to become the largest modeling network in the world, which I think we are now. I wanted to bring health and wellness to the modeling industry and to stress the importance of giving back (social responsibility and volunteering) to the models.

DD: In your opinion, what do you feel are the three most common mistakes local agencies make when it comes to representing their models?

PF: First, they often give away their power. They don’t realize the magnitude of what they can do - that that they can accomplish great things for their talent. They have the power to not just discover talent, but to create a star. Usually, they just do not realize they have this power. I try to help these agencies see if a major designer or magazine thinks a kid is the bomb, they don’t care where the kid comes from or who they have to call to book the kid. So why not develop the stars you discover, instead of giving them away to bigger east or west coast agencies?

Second, most agents big and small let successes go to their head. It is our egos, telling us we are so called "power agents," that tell us a model succeeded because of us. If a young person is suppose to become a great model, I believe it will happen, no matter what. We need to keep our egos in check.

Finally, local agencies sometimes don't put a model's photos in front of the right people. The job of an agent is "if" they think a potential model has "it," they need to introduce the model's photos to as many "top" people in the industry that they know. And then, pray someone freaks out about the kid. If they do, Bam! You have a star. Not brain surgery.  Just have the "belief" to start at the top! Versus at the bottom. One booking can create a star if handled properly.

DD: You have an extensive history in working with high fashion models/supermodels. Will "Remodeled" only focus on agencies and the fashion world or will you also be spotlighting agencies with commercial/print, petite, plus size, teen divisions?

PF: Great question. You will see an episode on a teen division, what we call a New Faces division, but I don’t want to give too much away. It's reallllly cool. It focuses on an agency in the Midwest who needs to re-focus its energy on new faces. There are some elements of the show where we deal a little bit with commercials and commercial print, but overall, it is more focused on high fashion. Kaela, one of The Network's New Faces, was featured in our first episode and is a plus size model - but by the way, I HATE the phrase "plus size." I would rather call it "curves," or "healthy women." Plus size suggests some "above normal" size, which is grossly inaccurate. 

DD: What are supermodels missing today that makes them so different from the supermodels of the '80s and '90s?

PF: When the Conde Naste & Hearst publishing companies took away the covers of their magazines from models, and instead, 11 months of the year, chose only to use celebrities on their covers, it made it much harder to turn a model into a true household brand name. How many supermodels can the average public name today? Giselle? Kate Moss? Adriana Lima? These aren't even the stars of today's world. And that is my point... The day of the true supermodel has come and gone, and only will come back when the magazines put models on the covers at least four times a year instead of once a year. I also think today's "currency" is social media and we at The Network see a void in models capitalizing on their online presence / followers. We are starting to assist our models to monetize and build their online brand.

DD: What has been your biggest challenge in trying to transform the modeling industry for the better?

PF: I have learned that the only way we know if we are on the right path is if a path is full of challenges. If this is true, which I believe it is, me and my team are on the right path. Many challenges. Transforming one's business is one thing; try being a part of transforming an industry. An industry, by the way, that is controlled by some very serious, smart, gifted, and very rich people.

To be a part of this change, I need to create a platform that can unify a voice, A voice of change.  I felt by having the largest modeling network in the world, people would start to listen to us. We are just beginning, but we are gaining steam.

Right out of the gate, one of the issues was, if there were only five agencies as a part of our Network, it wouldn’t really be a Network. So we had to go from zero agencies to twenty agencies very quickly. Then, twenty agencies to forty agencies... Now, The Network is a community of modeling agencies from all over the world. Our agencies share models with each other and work closely together, which has never been done before in this industry.

Finally... financing. It's easy to find financing for a modeling business, if you don't care where the money comes from. A lot of rich guys want to be around the most beautiful people in the world. It was hard to find people who believed in our mission to create an army of "role models" - to bring health, wellness and giving back into the consciousness of models all over the world. That was tough.

DD: What is your definition of the "next generation of supermodels?"

PF: The next generation of supermodels are models who transcend our business, like Andrej, the model who works as a male and female model. Also, models who use their modeling as a "stepping stone" - a platform, to build their brand, like Ala, Tyra and Heidi. Use modeling to get your name out there, and then monetize that name into a brand. That is the new supermodel - a business woman. I also think models who build their brand and online following are very smart; they can alter trends and take advantage of the ability to create and influence a following. 

DD: How long do you think your mission will take to have an effect that will be noticed (and implemented) on a larger scale within the industry?

PF: My dream is to be sitting front row at Calvin or Chanel show within the next two years - designers I admire so much - and see them using sexy, beautiful girls with curves vs "kids" weighing 110 pounds. We as company are in a rush, but it is impossible to predict how quickly we will have an impact. We think what we are doing is very important because it deals with how young women all over the world view themselves. We are speaking of important issues - body issues, depression issues, eating disorder issues, etc.  I hope an effect will happen tomorrow and the next day and the next day... I hope our show Remodeled resonates with people, I hope people get addicted to it, and I hope our viewers and fans will take away from it the desire to never settle and the desire to be great.

DD: If "Remodeled" wasn't on your plate, what would you be doing with your time/career/experience?

PF: Well you have to know that Remodeled is a show about our business, The Network, Our company oversees a community of modeling agencies around the world. Our day to day business involves teaching, training, and giving these agencies the tools they need to truly create stars. We also have an online magazine for our agencies, our models and the public, www.networktalent.com, which has incredible articles on fashion and health, videos and blogs from our models around the world, and live chats with me, other Remodeled stars and Network experts.

The Network, our company, has approximately 50 modeling and talent agencies around the world, and together, our agencies represent more models than any other agency or network of agencies in the world.  Our agencies represent approximately 12,000 models in total, many of whom are quite successful, working for brands and campaigns such as Versace, Calvin, Prada... the very best.

DD: What has been the feedback from your peers within the fashion/modeling industry (other agencies, models, photographers, etc.) about your mission to "Remodel" the industry?

PF: Mixed feelings, I think. I have asked most of my close friends and peers to hold off judgement until they see at least six episodes. I feel the show gets cooler and cooler and cooler. I am very proud of the show.  I am very humbled that The CW Network, Sony TV and Fly on the Wall Entertainment would think I was an interesting enough characture to do a show about.  I have received some calls, emails and text from people who really appreciated my straight-forwardness; others loved the rawnesss and the fact that it is real. Then again, some modeling school friends weren't too happy with me because of last week's show, when I let people know my feelings about modeling schools. 

DD: The whole issue as to whether or not it is acceptable/okay to "pay" agencies for things like development classes, workshops, training, photoshoots, etc. continues to be hugely debated. In your professional opinion, what is your take on the whole notion of paying agencies for such services?

PF: Being a model is like opening your own business. They are business's unto themselves. There is NO business in the world that you can open without any 'startup' money whatsoever. There is always a cost to open a new business. Each model should look at it that way. There are costs... but those costs should not really involve "training," per say. Photos, yes, absolutely. Composites, a portfolio or two, an online portfolio, things like that... Just have good digitals of yourself taken and have your photos seen by real agencies. Period!  go to thenetworktalent.com  a good way to get scouted, by real agencies…

But should it cost thousands of dollars? No. Could a good set of test photos in certain cities cost $500? Yes. Could you pay $30 or $40 a month to have an online portfolio at an agency so they can market you to clients? Absolutely. The last thing we want to teach young, so-called pretty people is that if you are pretty, people should just give you things for free. When success is earned, and appreciated, it will last. Don’t get me started!

DD: How does your "tough love" demeanor gets results?

PF: My job is not to be everyone's best friend. I have an incredible staff who are experts and former power agents from the top agencies in the world who are very nice.. Very, very nice. My job is to assist agencies to reach their maximum potential. To push them to "want" to become great at what they set out to do in the first place, which is create stars and earn a good living in a tough economy. Tough love, passion, intensity... I know my style is not for everyone. But I mean what I say to these smaller agencies: "Become great." We are only in this physical world for a short time; why not be great? Really great. While you are here...

DD: What would your response be to those in the modeling industry that think things should stay as they are?

PF: In my opinion, people are either part of the solution or part of the problem. People either have a desire for the self alone or a desire to share with others. If one cannot see the responsibility that our industry has, they are blind. We have youth in our hands. That is a huge responsibility. We put out images into the world that young people think are real, and these same kids judge themselves based upon these images. This is a huge responsibility. Models used to be 8% under the normal girls weight 20 years ago. We are now 23% under. You tell me.


FionaAlanna said...

I've seen the first couple episodes of Remodeled, and I already love it! I love the new and more realistic modeling shows that are popping up, as opposed to ANTM (which a I still like, but for different reasons). Cool post!

Margaret Storm said...

Remodeled is an amazing show! Paul Fisher is so inspiring- him and his team are a riot and so entertaining!

Sheva said...

Love you Dania & LOVE Paul, Remodeled & The Network! GREAT INTERVIEW!!