The Model Mayhem interview: Lauren Calaway
Lauren Calaway is an agency represented beauty and fashion model based in Los Angeles. Despite being only 5’2, Lauren has featured in countless online and print campaigns, proving that with the right combination of looks, talent, hard work, and marketing skills, it’s possible to achieve success even when you don’t fit the industry standards. She’s dubbed the Travelsize Supermodel and has the portfolio to back it up (see more at LaurenCalaway.com).
We spent an afternoon with Lauren, where we discussed her modeling career and much more, in addition to her work as founder and publisher of Nouveau Magazine.
MM Edu: Tell us about your background and how you got started modeling?
Lauren Calaway: I originally started at age 14 doing beauty pageants. I grew up in Texas– it’s all about doing pageants there! Pretty soon I realized I hated doing them. Too much of the standing and smiling, little girls wearing too much make up, etc. And I thought it was boring. Eventually, I ended up dating a photographer, but for some reason that photographer told me that he didn’t want me to model. So, anyone that tells me not to do something, that is when I have to do it! I started doing makeup and helping him with different things behind the camera, styling, etc. Then I realized that modeling looked so much easier and more fun. So, I asked myself, why wasn’t I doing that? Anyway, we broke up and I pursued modeling full time.
MM Edu: Since then you’ve gone on to build a successful career despite the fact you don’t meet the usual height requirement for a model. How has that apparent limitation affected you?
Lauren: To this day it affects every single casting, with every single agent, and every single agency, and even every small job that I come across. The industry has such a limited perspective, and today, especially with Photoshop, I don’t think it should matter if you’re built proportionately. I am very, very fortunate because I have long legs for having a small body. So, depending on the angle, in photos I look more like I’m 5’8” or 5’9” and I thank God for that every day. But, despite that some people don’t even care. I’ll go into jobs and it will be a beauty casting, literally where they won’t even see your body, and they say, “Well, you have to be 5’8”, if you’re not 5’8” then we can’t even see you.” To me that’s so ludicrous.
Model: Lauren Calaway; Photographer: Jeffrey An
MM Edu: I was surprised when I first read on your profile that you’re only 5’2”, as you certainly appear taller in photos, can you give some specifics on how you compensate for a lack of height?
Lauren: When I first started out I studied and studied all these different modeling poses and I’d watch a lot of America’s Next Top Model. While Tyra Banks might be a little psycho, she also makes some great points. For example, if you put things closer to the camera, like if you push your hips out then your hips are going to look gigantic in proportion to the rest of your body. So, if you want your legs to appear longer you’re going to have to put your foot closer to the camera and then it will lengthen out your legs. You’ll notice that sometimes, well I don’t know if people notice it, but my feet will be placed closer to camera. This helps to elongate my legs. (Or I am always on my tippy toes.) It’s not always obvious, but I’ll push them out further and angle my body back so that it will kind of stretch it out and appear longer. You have to be very careful with this to make sure all of the proportions photograph properly. I do recommend practicing and taking a few photos with a photographer friend.
MM Edu: So, in other words, being technically strong as a model, understanding posing and learning about angles, is your way of trying to find an edge?
Lauren: Exactly! You have to find something to give you that edge if you don’t have the standard model structure. That’s why girls that aren’t as pretty as other girls, or may not have all the components for sizing or height, they’ll be a lot better posers because they’re not given that guaranteed (easy) ride that girls that fit the “model standards” are. They have to fight a little bit harder to get the job.
Model: Lauren Calaway; Photographer: Scott Ford
MM Edu: You also have a unique marketing angle that plays on your height. Tell us about the “Travelsize Supermodel.”
Lauren: I went to college for marketing and PR, and I’m so happy that I did because I’ve been able to use that throughout my career to really help. I started on Model Mayhem, which is all about marketing, networking and building yourself as a brand. As a model you’re really a small business, and I don’t think a lot of models realize that there’s a lot of time, money and marketing strategies you have to put into it. I was working with this photographer in South Carolina and he always used to give me a hard time about my height and he coined the term “Travel Size Super Model” because he thought I was this great model but he never worked with girls under 5’8”. It was a rule he had and he just didn’t do it. He even wrote on his profile “You’d have to have something that blows my socks off for me to shoot you over them.” But I was determined and I did (you can probably see the trend with me and challenges).
After that I thought, wow, that’s actually brilliant! Instead of trying to lie and say I’m 5’8” and then show up to the casting and I’m not, which will only cost you the job, I figured I might as well have fun with it. I’d say, “Hey, you can get something that no one else has – you can get me for a cheaper price (this was when I was starting out), get the same look that you need and not have to pay an agency.” Since then I coined myself as a super model, even though at that time I hadn’t really done anything, but you know it seemed to work. It’s kind of stuck now and it’s funny because I see a lot of people using it. That’s why I put the little trademark at the end. I even bought the website and eventually I’m going to do something with it, maybe when I retire. I really want to help girls that are shorter and talk about how posing can help. I’ll take pictures of different poses for shorter girls but also be brutally honest and say if you’re not proportioned properly, don’t focus on anything that’s out of this range because it’s just not going to work. Modeling is about being brutally honest and critiqued and if you can’t handle it then you’re not meant for this job. I’ve had people tell me that my eyes are two different sizes, I have only one good side, (which is my left haha), my fingers are too stubby, I’m too skinny, I’m too fat; literally you hear everything. Eventually, you have to laugh it off and just roll with the punches.
MM Edu: You’ve been modeling 10+ years now and are used to hearing things like that but what was it like when you were younger?
Lauren: Well, at 14 you’re still growing into your body and you’re still developing. I personally think, especially as someone who started so young, that you shouldn’t be able to start until 17-18. At least by that age you have some sort of identity about yourself and your body. You don’t have these warped perspectives on how your body should be. You have this whole thing of “Eating isn’t Chanel” and that’s not appropriate, not for a little kid. They have no frame of reference; they don’t know that not eating is not okay and that in fact it’s really dangerous. But when you’re surrounded by that and you have photographers, casting agents and all these people saying things like that, are you going to know anything else when you get older? I don’t think so.
MM Edu: You’re right and I think it’s true that there is more of a movement at the moment to limit under age models, and I know they all say they won’t do it at fashion week, and then they do and apologize for it. What do you think of the recent changes to limit underage models?
Lauren: I think it’s all PR. If you read it closely, all the little things that they write, it’s worded so that somebody who kind of understands the game knows the loopholes. For example, it implies that if we don’t know you’re underage then we can’t be liable for hiring somebody underage or if we don’t know they’re anorexic then we can’t be liable for hiring someone who is anorexic… It’s almost like saying we’re going to try not to do these bad things. I hope that someday there is union where girls will have to have a BMI that’s close to normal as opposed to 80 lbs at 5’8. I do think it is a modeling epidemic that really needs to be addressed.
MM Edu: What do you think of The Model Alliance?
Lauren: I think it is the beginning of something great. Models need a union or someone to protect their working rights. Regulate their working hours, breaks, meals. It is going to be a tough road, but at least we are starting to pave a path.
Model: Lauren Calaway; Photographer: BJ Formento; Makeup Artist: Daniel C
MM Edu: It sounds like you really want to use your experiences to help other models. What other advice do you have for models just starting out?
Lauren: I have so much advice, which is why I charge people, but I think one thing people don’t take into consideration is, know your market. LA is an incredibly commercial market. If you go out and you’re shooting nudes every day and then somebody from Asia goes to hire you, they’re going to Google you and see all of your nudes. Do you want to be branded that way? Do they want you representing their brand? You have to take that into consideration, it’s not just what you want or just what you want to shoot – What is your market? What is your end goal? Am I doing these for some fashion magazine or am I doing these just for portfolio building? Because if you’re using them just for portfolio building you can’t use those except very particular markets. They can also be taken off the web and used on a porn website in Russia. I’ve seen that happen a million times to people. So, the main thing is you have to know your market and watch where your photos end up. Know what you’re trying to accomplish. Are you trying to do commercial, are you trying to do fashion, etc?
My thing was that I wanted to do makeup and fragrance jobs (which are also the highest paying jobs). I knew that I wanted this and constantly asked–where can I go to accomplish this goal? The answer was LA because so many makeup companies are in LA, and they don’t judge you so much on your height, and so that’s what I wanted to do. I think people get wrapped up in shooting with a photographer depending on how popular they are with social media, instead of thinking–what am I going to get out of this test shot? Am I going to get a shot where hair is covering my face and I’m not wearing any clothes? Most models make all their money from their face, so if you can’t be recognized is it really worth it? So, think about what you’re really gaining, yes it’s a beautiful photo but think about it and balance that out. Instead of just shooting everything you want, shoot what you need to make your book as strong as possible. You have a sample size shoe, shoot a lot of “potential shoe campaign” shots for your book. Then market that to clients. Your book should say, this is me, this is my business and I can guarantee that in 20 photos or less you’ll get one of these amazing shots. It isn’t all about art, it is about making money first.
Model: Lauren Calaway; Photographer: Jon Santana
MM Edu: Did you have this vision when you started or did it evolve as you gained more experience?
Lauren: I was very fortunate to work with Jerry Avenaim when I first started and he gave me a lot of really great advice. My book wasn’t that great, it was still in development, but he told me that when you show your book to somebody you need to have 20 photos or less and every photo needs to be impeccable because it’s that one bad photo that they’re going to remember. They look at the worst photo because you have all of these great photos but why did you put this one in here? And why is it you chose the other ones but you also have this? That was very insightful because until then I was including photos that I was in love with and not thinking about what somebody else might see. Also, putting my photos on Model Mayhem was a good too because I could see what other people liked. Sometimes it’s so opposite–you think people are going to love a particular shot and then you put it up and it has one comment for a year. You just never know and it’s good to get those outside perspectives.
MM Edu: Have you become better at recognizing what other people look for, especially commercially, for your book or do you think it’s just too hard to look at your own work?
Lauren: I think you’re obviously biased because it’s so hard to not be critical about yourself. You’re going to see the things that nobody else sees, like, “oh, I have that scar on my knee and even with the lighting I can tell and I can see it.” Everybody does that and you’re naturally a little bit harder on yourself. But, I think I’ve gotten better at seeing what casting directors and clients want, because after all they’re the ones that matter, at least to me nobody else matters. It’s about getting the job. At the end of the day, modeling is incredible, but I need to be able to pay my rent and have a car and all of these things are very difficult on most models’ income, especially in today’s economy.
Know your market, or what you could be booked for. For example, I’m not going to be booked on look books or swimwear because I have a massive tattoo and I am not 5’8”/sample size, but I have a ton of beauty shots that I can market to makeup, hair, nails, etc. type clients. But I don’t have any of my campaigns in my book because I don’t want to be branded. They’ll turn you down because you’re not somebody new. The modeling industry is always about new, new, new, with a new fresh face. So if they look through your book and there you are branded by a campaign, or something like that is in there, it can put them off. If not, they’re like, “oh wow, she’s got these great campaign-worthy shots… Take her!” Magazine spreads are always good to have as well.
MM Edu: Let’s talk a little about being agency signed versus freelancing. When were you signed and how did that change things?
Lauren: Well let’s see, I first signed in 2010 and I was so excited because it was the first agency I met with, but I kind of cheated because one of my friends owned the company. He didn’t guarantee the spot but he did get me the meeting. They said they would take me and I was just mesmerized and thought I’m going to be huge and it’s going to be the best thing ever. So, I signed with them and they were horrible. They didn’t even know who I was; they kept calling me and saying I wasn’t going to castings, even though I was going, and they would call me by a different name, etc. I thought to myself, I don’t think they even know who I am. That’s obviously a problem but I stayed with them long enough to learn basic things. Eventually I got dropped from them, I guess because they thought I was someone else who was not going to castings, and I was so devastated. Even though they were so bad it still hurt because with any job it’s easier to find another job if you already have a job. I was so torn up about it but then I had the determination that said, “alright, now that I have seen the jobs that come through with an agent compared to gigs I could find on the internet…I’ve got to find an another agent. I’ve got to find somebody who believes in me as much as I believe in myself.”
After that I must have hit every agency in LA about 500 times, not literally. I would do online submissions, send them postcards, and bombard them until somebody would write back. And that’s the thing, it’s not that maybe they don’t like you, it’s that you’ve got to show them your face–show them that you want this and that you have new pictures every time you submit–show them you’re doing things and why they should take you on. I think a lot of people will just go to an open call, and to me open calls are terrible as they have so many options there. But I think that hitting them constantly really makes a difference. So, if you do an open call you should try the other methods too, like sending in your comp card and submitting online. Submitting online is a great way to show more than just–this is me. It’s better to show them the complete package. It may be that they just don’t have space at the time on their board to take on more girls, but you need to be ready when they are.
MM Edu: People often mistake modeling as being easy but you’re very honest about the determination and perseverance it requires to be successful.
Lauren: People in today’s society want things fast and easy, in fact they want it so fast and without doing any work. I mean look at all the diet pills out there and what do they really say? You don’t even have to change your diet, just take a pill and lose the weight! That’s not how it works in real life. If you want to make it as a model you have to realize that you’re always working. I work 7-days a week, 24-hours a day! There is not a day I’m not working, even when I’m on vacation. I don’t think there is a day that I’ve technically been on vacation. You just have to have that ambition because there will always be somebody younger, somebody that wants it more, and if you’re not fighting for what you love, then what are you doing it for?
MM Edu: Do you love any one genre of modeling more than another?
Lauren: Definitely, I would say beauty shoots are my favorite. People think it’s so simple but there are so many little things that go into a beauty shoot. Everything is under such a microscope as opposed to fashion, where you have so many things to focus on–you’ve got the dress, you’ve got your legs, you’ve got your body, your movements, your hair, etc, and you can add all these different elements to it that can distract people in case maybe the face isn’t the perfect expression. But with beauty they notice every little thing, like if an eyelash is out of place. I remember when I did the Stila campaign it took 2 1/2 hours to do makeup on one eye. ONE EYE! 2 1/2 hours! Then when I went to shoot they said, no, no, this doesn’t look good and I went right back for another hour. I mean that’s insane because it’s a literally a shot of just your eye, which is so small, but it took that long. To me that kind of mental endurance is so much of modeling too. It’s not just how good you are at posing, it’s can you shoot swimwear in February? Can you wear layers and layers of jackets in summer and still make it look beautiful and sell it to somebody who is going to buy it that winter?
MM Edu: What do you consider your career highlights so far?
Lauren: Probably Bare Minerals. I think I started crying tears of joy when I got the call from my agent that I got their campaign because I thought there is no way I’m going to be able to book this. The job was in San Francisco and I remember sending in digital after digital after digital through my SF agent. It’s tough because you can’t actually meet the client and show them your personality, so it’s a little bit more difficult. But then I got an email and my agent told me I had gotten it. I had to read it three or four times because I got paid a ridiculous sum of money for about a 20 minute shoot. I did get booked the entire day but they only shot me for 20 minutes and were like, “you can go, that’s it.” That was the whole thing! They had obviously studied my face and my work because when I got there they knew where they wanted my face, my eyes, and they had everything down to a t. So when I got in there they just positioned me and bam they were done. I’d say Old Navy was probably my second favorite because I never believed I would book a clothing company. I just assumed it was all for the tall girls. When I got them and found out they had a petite division I was like, alright now, I need to find more clothing companies that have petite divisions!
MM Edu: So you sort of stumbled upon their petite division? Is that now a target market for you?
Lauren: Definitely. I didn’t even think about that until I booked Old Navy, because you never hear about petite lines and a lot of times they don’t even market them. It’s something you see if you go online as a sizing option but it’s not really advertised. After I worked for Old Navy I definitely bombarded my agents and found more information about who has petite lines and who we should target more. You should also see what your look matches, for example if you’re hard edged and go for Old Navy it’s probably not going to work out.
Model: Lauren Calaway; Photographer: EmagineItStudio
MM Edu: If you could shoot with or for anyone, who would you choose and why?
Lauren: Ooh, that’s a good question… I’ve always wanted to shoot with David LaChapelle. That would just be insane because it would be some kind of crazy elaborate set and I could be a character. That’s one of the things I’ve always loved about modeling, but you rarely get to do it, which is you kind of become somebody else.
I’d probably also say if I could shoot for Chanel that would be amazing. Hopefully they would give me some extra bags and stuff too. They wouldn’t even have to pay me. I’d be like okay I’m good!
MM Edu: You have quite an eclectic list of hobbies, everything from DJ, painter, writer, actress, makeup artist, wardrobe assistant, photographer and retoucher. That’s quite the list but one in particular stands out… fire dancer!
Lauren: You know it’s funny, I have it written on my business card and when people see it it’s usually the first thing they notice, they’re like “FIRE DANCER!?” I didn’t realize so many people didn’t know about it, haven’t heard of it, or even seen it. I was at folk festival in Kerville, Texas, aka middle of nowhere in Texas. It was probably 2 AM or something like that and I was just wandering around all these hippies. Then I kind of saw this glow and I was like a moth to a flame. I went right to it and I saw them and the way they danced with the fire with absolutely no fear whatsoever. Some people had poi and some people had fire fans, which you hold onto with your fingers, other people had staffs and they’re rolling it around their necks, and hula hoops. I was so intrigued and mesmerized, so the first thing I said is… “you have to teach me!” I had to know how to do this and I did, I picked up some fire poi, which are two chains with Kevlar wicks at the bottom and they’re 2-4 inches, depending on your size, and their incredibly heavy once you add the oil and the flames. I loved it so much and when I first came to LA I did celebrity birthday parties and stuff like that. But it’s a lot harder to get away with in LA than some other places I have lived. In Austin I used to perform for a bunch of coffee shops and they’re all into it. They loved it but LA is still a little wary because of insurance and fire in buildings. I guess I was always secretly kind of a pyro at heart and my favorite times are when I just close my eyes and base everything from the feeling of the fire on my body. It’s the craziest sensation!
MM Edu: Do you intend to pursue any of those interests further, perhaps as a post-modeling career?
Lauren: Definitely, 100 percent! I’m about to hit my model shelf life, which is another thing you need to be honest about. I am 25 now (not that it is even old), but, I want to be able to age and not think about it, if that makes sense, to be able to embrace my wrinkles and not criticize every single one. I want to have tan lines, and I want to be able to cut my hair without calling my agent! There are so many things that I want to be able to do and just to be able to age. For so much of my modeling career I’ve been compared to a 14-16 year-old models, so I have to make sure that in some ways I still look the same age. You’re constantly using skin products, working out and eating right, and it just kind of breaks you down every year. You just get more tired, you’re getting older and it would be nice to be on the other side of the camera. As an artist, you should always be evolving.
MM Edu: It seems like more and more models are moving into acting, is that something that interests you?
Lauren: I always thought there was a chance I would like acting but it just never happened. I have no desire to act whatsoever. I’ve done commercials, music videos, fashion videos (one was actually in the La Jolla Fashion Film Festival), so I feel like I’ve done a lot, but I just don’t know, something about acting doesn’t appeal to me. I don’t think I’m as in touch with my emotions as you’re supposed to be; don’t ask me to scream, cry, or any of that stuff. I put in my best effort but I can’t do it. I feel silly. I have the worst memory ever. I have to make grocery lists. I have to write down stuff. I have a whiteboard at home because otherwise I’ll just forget. So memorizing lines is a nightmare for me. They would always give me pages of lines and it’s just a disaster.
Model: Lauren Calaway; Photographer: Mark Sacro
MM Edu: You mentioned Texas earlier, is that where you’re from originally? When did you move to LA and what brought you here?
Lauren: I left Texas in 2008 and I moved to Charleston, South Carolina. In 2009 I moved to New York, and then I moved to Los Angeles in 2010.
It was kind of a combination of things that brought me here. You know when you hit at a fork in your life and you can take option A or option B? I could have gone down one path where my life was very structured and I knew where it would go–or, I could take option B and put everything on the line and move to LA. I decided to go with option B and moved to LA. I just packed everything up and came here to give it a try. I figured LA is all about sinking or swimming and I was hoping I would at least float.
MM Edu: Do you feel you made the right decision?
Lauren: It was definitely the right decision. In terms of work, LA is not as height biased as they are in New York but it was also a lifestyle choice, like having the beach so close. Plus, the commercial market is a little more accessible and doesn’t mind aging either. It just felt like it was the right time when I moved to LA. I was 22 and I could still go into castings but they were like, “hey, you have to start thinking of an exit strategy.”
MM Edu: What do you miss most about Texas?
Lauren: I was raised in Wimberley, Texas (I bet most people have no clue where Wimberley is). It’s a little, itty bitty town but I feel like Austin is more of my home as I moved there a long time ago. I miss that people don’t really care what you wear or who you are and everybody says hi to each other. Everybody knows each other. And in Austin, they’re just a bunch of over-educated hippies to be honest, where everyone goes to UT or Saint Edwards, which are both really good colleges, but they decide to work in regular stores because that’s just what they want to do, despite having a Master’s degree. I mean any of them can change their mind but it’s just a different way of life–it’s slower, the cost of living is lower, and fire dancing is allowed! The music there is incredible too. My Dad plays the guitar and I was raised with the blues and Stevie Ray Vaughn. I also miss the large art community, which is what I do and probably why I fell in love with Austin so much.
Model: Lauren Calaway; Photographer: Sarah Ford; Makeup Artist: Sparkle Tafao; Styling: Alyssa C
MM Edu: You’ve traveled extensively for work. Do you enjoy that aspect of the job?
Lauren: I remember when I started out I was all about what jobs I can book somewhere else. It was about traveling and–where can I go? Your flight and hotel is paid for and it’s basically like a vacation, especially when you’re younger and it’s all so new, and you don’t have as many things tying you to a place like when you’re older. So, I used to love it, it was my biggest obsession. But now I want to be home as opposed to traveling. I would love to take real vacations but I rarely get time. It usually has to be driving distance so I can get back if my agent tries to call me, because so many things happen at the last minute and if you’re inaccessible then to job goes to someone else. You never know what’s going to happen and it’s hard to plan anything, so taking a vacation is okay if I leave for two or three days. But even then I have to book out of my agency for three days. You’re always thinking about work on your vacation anyway, so you never really unplug. It’s also why I plan on retiring this year or the year after, then I can maybe take a real vacation. I’ve noticed when we do go on vacation we’re thinking–Who can we shoot with here? Where can we shoot? What can we do here? I guess it’s great that you love it so much but at the same time you don’t stop and say, “Oh wait, that’s my job and this is my vacation.” That’s why I think I should go on a cruise because then I can’t use my phone, I can’t do these things, and there is nobody to shoot with.
MM Edu: Let’s talk about your magazine. What is Nouveau and how does it differ from other magazines?
Lauren: I launched it for two reasons; one being I’m secretly a dork at heart and I love computer programming. I bought InDesign and realized, “oh my gosh, I can make books and magazines!” My boyfriend was leaving for work and I said, “I want to start a magazine,” and he said, “yeah, yeah.” But by the time he came back I had made a prototype and I was obsessed with the idea. He saw I was serious about it and I think he was a little taken aback. The second reason is, obviously being a model for so many years, I have some firsthand experience with people not giving credit; I mean you might get a first name, or a stylist, or assistants left out, there is always someone lost in the mix and to me that’s not very fair. I feel it’s taking away from what they’ve created. They can say “I’ve made this,” but if there is no proof–you can’t put anything in your book unless there is a name on it because someone is going to say “I did it” and somebody else is going to ask, “well, why isn’t your name on it?” So I just thought it was time to give those people a spotlight, even if it’s for 15 minutes. That’s why I have interviews in there for models, photographers, stylists, wardrobe, etc, and it’s sometimes people who are unconventional. I covered a model who is 5’2” but she’s been in Vogue and has been represented by Elite. It’s all these people who have made it that are hopefully examples to look at and read their interviews and learn how they got there, because so many people wonder, how did you get to this point? Or how did you market yourself? There are people in each issue that talk about where, why, how and what they did to succeed, and what were the best and worst things about it.
MM Edu: Who is your target audience?
Lauren: I like to think that it’s for everybody, that everyday woman who likes looking at beautiful clothes, or that young girl who dreams of being a model or maybe somebody in our industry. I want it to not only be global, but universal. I feel that having no limits, on location or your target audience, is the way to succeed. It’s not only great from a marketing perspective, but hopefully our pictures get out to everybody and give them their 15 minutes. Everybody seems to want to know about behind the scenes and who shot that Vogue cover, and I find that fascinating.
We have celebrities on each cover. I feel that opens up our market a little more too, but it’s so funny because I did get a lot of backlash from our industry from going down the path of putting celebrities on each cover. But then when I sit them down explain it and say, well if you owned the business and you wanted to make money, what would you do? Who are you going to target? Are you going to hit these 400,000 extra people that you wouldn’t have with some model who has 30,000 Facebook fans (and that’s if she’s awesome)? Even some of the biggest supermodels have maybe 100,000 to 300,000 fans that follow them. They’re on every billboard out there but people don’t know their names. People don’t care to know their names, they just want to see their pretty pictures. But with celebrities people know them and want to buy whatever they are in.
MM Edu: What have you learned about the publishing industry?
Lauren: I think the biggest shock and surprise is how many times people want to sue you. That’s just been so pleasant! Literally after our first issue, we already had a battle and that was just too much. You know you just you have to pick your battles, there were so many times where we were in the right, and the right end of the legal battle, but I decided to let it go because it’s not worth it. Is it worth it to tie my company up in all these legal issues and cripple it financially and spend so much time where you might be late on an issue because of it? To me it was not worth it. I mean I’m angry and I’m emotionally tied to it, but I had to let it go. It’s definitely been interesting and hard, for example when people assume they’re going to get published because they know me. That’s kind of been hard. This is something I want to turn into a real brand and not just fill it with pictures of myself, my friends, and just make a showcase of my/our work. It’s just not what I want. It needs to have people from all over who submit the best editorials. At some point I would like to have somebody who helps me with it too because right now I’m doing this all by myself.
MM Edu: How often is it published?
Lauren: I put it out bi-monthly, which I didn’t realize was so ambitious. I had no idea. I thought two months is plenty of time and the first one was no big deal, you know because you spend so much time getting it just right. Immediately after it comes out I don’t even look at the magazine. I don’t look at the fan page. I don’t look at anything. I just have a breather because it gets to the point with each issue that comes out, and the more content that we add, and the more advertisers we add, and the celebrities are obviously really stressful, that each time it gets a little more compounded. I think we’ll add some interns or something to relieve some of the pressure for the next issue. Our cover shoot with Stacey Dash was shot literally a week before the magazine came out, and we got the pictures maybe around three days before it was supposed to be released. Quick turnaround!
MM Edu: Do you shoot the covers?
Lauren: No, I have my friend Mark Sacro shoot it. He’s my go to guy for our covers. He does incredible work and I trust him entirely.
MM Edu: What’s on the horizon for you and the magazine?
Lauren: There are definitely some big things, especially with the magazine, that I hope will come to fruition but I never say it’s guaranteed. The celebrities are definitely going to get bigger though. I hope to stop modeling in the next year or so and hopefully make the complete transition to photographer/editor.
Model: Lauren Calaway; Photographer: Jeff Linett
MM Edu: And finally, you’ve been on Model Mayhem since 2006. Can you tell us what the site means to you?
Lauren: Yeah, my MM number only has six digits! I still can’t believe I’ve been here since 2006. Well, I remember when you guys had a two week process to get approved, and I was so worried for those two weeks thinking I wasn’t going to be accepted. Anyway, MM definitely gave me a market. I mean let’s be honest, I was in Texas. The only potential modeling market is in Dallas and I was 4 ½ hours south. There was no way I could go back and forth, but Model Mayhem put me in direct contact with photographers, and sometimes they were huge photographers. So you could be a nobody and connect with someone who shoots celebrities, and you could just start talking with them. That’s how I met Jerry and I got to shoot with him and that was really great because it finally gave me legitimacy in my wannabe resume and helped me book more jobs. MM helped me build my portfolio, because otherwise I would have probably had my mom taking pictures or something. Everybody else was still on MySpace but on Model Mayhem there was a direct market and you could find jobs on Model Mayhem. You might not be making a lot of money but at least you’re making something, depending on what you want to do, and that’s how you can build a career.
MM Edu: I can’t think of a better way to end our interview. Thanks again for taking the time to stop by MM HQ.
Lauren: It was my pleasure, thanks for inviting me!