How I Became A Male Model – My Story

How I Became A Male Model - The story of Male Model Jonah Taylor

Male Model Jonah Taylor

Believe it or not, I haven’t always been the perfect male model. I mean, of course I have always been really really ridiculously good looking, but I didn’t start getting paid for it until the past decade or so.  Though the previous statements about my looks aren’t true (I am unattractive), I do have a remarkable story to share with you about how I became a male model and following your passions and your heart so you may one day end up doing what you love.

It began one day in Gulf Shores, Alabama, while on spring break with my family and some of my best friends.  A couple of my buddies and I had just finished peeing off the balcony of our penthouse (I was 17 and a serious loser).  It was just after this point that I ran into my father.  He asked me for the first time a question that I had never considered before.  He asked, “Hey son, besides being an idiot, what is it that you want to do with your life?”  Humbly, I told him that I really hadn’t thought much about it, that I really didn’t know.  Then he surprised me (this is where it gets serious).

He said, “Son, I want you to dream, dream of something that you could do for the rest of your life and be passionate about it.  Take a few days, take a few weeks, take a year!  I want you to take the time and literally dream of something that you love to do and can make a good living at it.”  My father knows, only because I have told him, that this is one of the most inspirational moments in my entire life.  One of those dare to be great moments that shape what you will do and who you will become.  I was impressed.  This was the first time I felt like I had a goal, something to achieve.  He threw me one last piece of wisdom when he added, “Once you have figured out what it is that you want to do, I want you to take a step, whether big or small, toward that goal everyday.”

I was impressed again.  It was this kind of wisdom that was going to help me become somebody someday; not just working some corporate desk job making good money while hating every weekday morning and Sunday night (I really loathed Sunday nights).  This was going to be my plan toward doing something that I was completely passionate about.  I was going to love my life instead of tolerating it.  “It doesn’t have to be leaps of faith everyday.  It can be as simple as looking something up online, or making a phone call.  Just do something everyday toward your goal,” my father concluded.

Jonah Taylor modeling

One of my first photo shoots when I was 17.

I enjoyed the rest of my vacation; had fun, lost sleep and brain cells, not much was expected of me.  Finally I made it home.  This was when I started putting all this new-found wisdom to use.  I thought about it for a couple of days, and then a couple of weeks.  It wasn’t until about 3 weeks later that I figured it out.  Modeling!  Modeling was something that I had always wanted to try, something that I knew I would love doing.  I enjoyed being in front of people, acting, and wasn’t shy around the camera.  I wasn’t any good at it, but this was something that I could enjoy doing and make a good living at it if I was successful.  So the first step was accomplished.  I had found something that I was passionate about, and could make a good living at it.

My next move was to take a step each day toward my goal.  In the beginning, steps were quite numerous and I had no problem doing so.  I knew nothing and had a lot to learn.  So everyday I would look modeling stuff up and research my craft.  I also began to workout.  I was skinny, but still lacked abs somehow.  I weighed as much as my friends, but did so without owning a single muscle.  So I decided that one of my daily steps would be to start kicking serious A word in the gym.  I had no idea that this would help catapult me as a model later on.

I did a few jobs here and there and even tried a few modeling conventions to see if I could land a big time agency to kick-start my modeling career.  None of this prevailed and I was left to my small town agency in Michigan.  I would even compile all my pictures and measurements and send them out via email to every single agency in NY as well as the bigger markets that I could find.  Still nothing.  Most never even responded.  It wasn’t until I was referred by an agency to a man named Michael Evans.  He ran his own agency, but was struggling.  I talked with him a number of times, I definitely annoyed him.  I wanted to find out what he could do for me, if anything?  He said he could help me, he would take me under his wing and get me out there.  The only problem was, he lived in Baltimore and I lived in Michigan!  What was I going to do?  After much debate and counsel, I decided to move to Baltimore and give it a try.  I figured, if it doesn’t work, I can always move back home.

So I moved out to Baltimore and tried to learn as much as I could from Michael.  But after a while, I noticed that I wasn’t getting anywhere.  I was working at a Holiday Inn to pay my rent and eating cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I wasn’t getting any modeling jobs or exposure.  This went on for about six months.  Then the skies parted.  Then I met Bryce.  Bryce Buell was one of Michael Evans’ earliest finds.  He was an incredibly successful model, traveling back and forth from Milan and doing numerous modeling jobs here in the U.S.  Meeting Bryce was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.  Bryce and I quickly became friends.  He basically put me on the fast track toward knowing what I needed to know and doing what I needed to do.  He got me photographs, modeling jobs, and ultimately, the agency in NY that allowed me to travel the world as an international model.  I was Zoolander!  I modeled in Beijing during the 2008 Olympics for 3 months.  I shot in the Olympic stadium, walked the Great Wall of China, I even learned a small bit of Chinese.  From there I modeled in Taipei, Taiwan for 4 months, shooting for Esquire and Pierre Cardin as well as commercials for Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Wrigley’s Airwaves Gum, and Blackberry.  I also made trips to Hong Kong, Seoul, and Japan, doing jobs for prestigious clients such as Levi’s and Dolce & Gabana sportswear.  All this happened because I had faith, which led me to Bryce.

Jonah Taylor Modeling for Esquire in Taipei, Taiwan.

Jonah Taylor Modeling for Esquire in Taipei, Taiwan.

After all that I moved back home for a while.  I needed some good family time.  I now do most of my modeling in the Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Philadelphia markets where I currently live.  It is not as extravagant, but it does fit me well and it keeps me busy.  I owe all my success to my father for daring me to dream, and Bryce Buell for being a perfect mentor to me and literally paving the way.  No two people have influenced me more when it comes to modeling.

The bottom line is, no two people will take the same exact route to fulfill their dreams, even if their dreams are the same. But it is like my father said, think of something that you could do everyday, get paid well, and love every minute of it.  If you do this, you will understand just how great life really is.  You must have faith and you WILL become a professional model.



  • Bryce Buell

    Reply Reply March 2, 2012

    Thank you Jonah for the kind words. All true of course. There are others that I have tried to mentor but the reason Jonah made it and other did not is simple – Jonah did EXACTLY what he needed to do to make it. There was no arguing, there was no dissent – there was a required action I need him to complete and he did it. Some even required a bit of money, a small self-investment as I like to call it – and he raised the money and got it done.

    Jonah, for those who have not met him personally, is the most enthusiastic and positive person I have ever met. I think that I have learned more from him viewing the world as a glass that’s half-full than any wisdom I have imparted to him, and I’m a decade-and-a-half his senior.

    Jonah knows the formula for success – he’s done it. I gave him the map but he had all the tools. Now he is giving you the map and ultimately it is up to you to follow it. Best wishes to you all!

  • Very nice piece! I’d been wondering how you got started. And it’s good to see that you credit your helpers and mentor!

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