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Interview with modeling agent and 'Remodeled' star Paul Fisher

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Paul Fisher is one of the top modeling agents in the world and has represented some of the biggest names in the business. In his new show, Remodeled, the CW is documenting his ability to help small agencies recognize and retain their potential stars. TheCelebrityCafe.com’s Melissa Goldstein had the chance to talk with Paul about how he got his start, his new show, and the unique look that designers are searching for. TheCelebrityCafe: You’ve discovered some of the biggest names in modeling, how did you get started in the business? Paul Fisher: It’s funny, I’ve done over a hundred interviews and I don’t think anyone’s asked me that question. I was a young kid going to school in Santa Barbara. I was 21 years old and I had a 3.96 grade point average with 12 units left and I was watching American Gigolo and me and my friend thought we could pick up women so we drove down to the Beverly Hills Hotel to pick up women. We didn’t pickup any women, but I did meet a rich, powerful guy who had this dream to open up an agency in New York and I couldn’t even spell the word vogue. I moved to New York City and pretended I was an advertising agency. I stole top bookers from these big agencies in New York and opened up a modeling agency. I failed the first time because I did it for all the wrong reasons. I just was crazy about girls and my intentions were completely wrong. But what happened through that process was I fell in love with the art of creation. I fell in love with taking a young kid that’s 15 or 16 years old and watching her develop from this shy, innocent kid into this great little model. The transformation process really resonated with me. I went back to LA, borrowed ten thousand dollars from my grandfather, and opened up a modeling agency in my studio apartment. I called it “IT” because I couldn’t even afford stickers and I had to write it so many times that I had to come up with a very small word. One of my first kids, Jennifer Gimenez, was 14 years old, and after having dinner with Bruce Weber, Bruce booked her, cut off all her hair and she ended up a month later on the cover of American Elle magazine. And she was the youngest kid ever to be on the cover of Elle. Then Carrie Otis knocked on my door and she had never really modeled before. I took her pictures and I sent them to Vogue. They put her on the cover and then I sent the same pictures to Marciano and they got her the Guess campaign. And all of the sudden people thought I was a great agent. It was really weird. TheCelebrityCafe: What are the most common misconceptions about the modeling business? Paul Fisher: I sit in front of parents every single day and I say, “Do you really want your kid to be a model?" and I ask why. And they say, “Because it’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s incredible.” Really? Your daughter is 16 years old; she just waited an hour to meet a photographer. She finally gets to meet him and he then he goes, “Next.” Do that five times a day, twenty-five times a week, a hundred times a month, twelve hundred times a year. Now bring your daughter, at the age of 16 years old, to New York and have her act sexy and be sexual in front of a photographer. A fun business? Exciting business? Getting rejected about your physical appearance 24 hours a day? Living in a bubble with the other most beautiful kids in the world and comparing yourself to those kids, it destroys these young kids. It’s very, very damaging to these young kids. I don’t actually suggest that any young kid models. TheCelebrityCafe: How do you think your new show Remodeled will help the industry? Paul Fisher: You know when I first started, and when I found Carrie Otis, I was in my studio apartment. To become a famous model you had to be with these big modeling agencies in New York. At the time, there was Elite, there was Ford. But I hope when people see this show they realize if you look at the top models today none of those kids come from New York City. None of them have a stamp or a passport that says New York or Brooklyn or Queens or something like that. They come from small little towns all over the world. And those agencies in those small towns are kind of getting screwed and I say that very, very respectfully. They find the kids, they don’t really make any money off the kids, they don’t get any credit for the kids. I am hoping what this show shows is two things. I don’t think ever in the history of television people have ever seen how we truly, truly create these kids. And some people call it a reality show and maybe the CW doesn’t like what I’m about to say but it’s not a reality show it’s a docu-series. I had one rule with the CW don’t tell me what to do; don’t tell me what to say. Let me do what I do and if you guys want to document what I do then you can do that. So I hope that people can actually now see the trials and tribulations of what the kids go through. I also hope that not just people that own modeling agencies around the world watch the show, but people that own small businesses. They can really learn a lot from it. It just happens to be modeling agencies that I’m transforming and remodeling, but it could be a locksmith, it could be an accountant. These are simple business practices 101. TheCelebrityCafe: How do you find the agencies that need a makeover? Paul Fisher: I got a team of people and some of the biggest agents in the world that actually work for me that go from city to city. People ask me all the time do they pick you or do you pick them? They don’t pick me; I pick them. First of all, out of my 50 agencies that I manage around the world, 48 of them of them are actually owned be women. So I’m looking for women agency owners. I don’t really like dealing with heterosexual men, even though I am, because I am trying to create a very, very safe environment for young women that are entering our industry, and young boys that are entering our industry. So we have a team of people that go around the country, and actually go around the world. We try to find incredible women who have a dream of making people famous. TheCelebrityCafe: What are the biggest mistakes that agencies make in representing their talent? Paul Fisher: Well, I think the biggest mistake is that they don’t believe. They don’t believe they have the power. When you find the next Christy Turlington, when you find the next Gisele, or the next Karlie Kloss, or the next Arizona Muse or some of these kids, why are you giving away your power? People think oh, if Paul Fisher puts his stamp of approval on somebody that kid’s going to become famous. That’s not true. It’s in the kid’s DNA. It has nothing to do with me. Believe that you have the power to make somebody famous. If you got a great kid, send the pictures to Vogue. Send the pictures to Victoria’s Secret. Take a shot. Don’t show them something that’s not going to resonate with them. But if you find a great kid, hold onto your power. TheCelebrityCafe: What are you looking for in a model today? How have the requirements evolved over the years? Paul Fisher: Wow, you know everybody says agents actually pick the kids that are going to be famous. Really what our job is, our job is to try and figure out what designers think is beautiful in the given time in the moment in history. What does Calvin Klein, what does Donatella, what does Marc Jacobs, what does Zac Posen, what do they think is incredible. Our job really is to get inside their heads and understand what are they looking for. And then try and find kids that match what they’re looking for. TheCelebrityCafe: Are they all looking for something different? Paul Fisher: Yes, that’s a great question and the answer is 100% yes. In these tough financial economic times, the clients, they want kids that can resonate with other kids all over the world. Great photographers, they like something special, something different, some thing that stands out. And when you walk down the runway, they’re looking for those kinds of kids too. They’re looking for those kids that really pop. They have something very special, big huge lips, big huge ears, something - a gap in their teeth. Something that makes that kid look different than everybody else so their product, their brand stands out. TheCelebrityCafe: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received and how have you applied it to your own life? Paul Fisher: That’s an easy one. Well, two things. One, I met Eileen Ford many years ago and she said one thing to me. And she was somebody I looked up to as a young person going through this business. Eileen Ford said to me, “Paul, treat a star like a star and you’ll never have a problem.” And that resonated with me big time. The second thing that sticks in my mind is - I’m a student of the Kabbalah Center and my teacher, the Rav, he says to us all the time, “Believe and you will see.” And I say that to my kids all the time. If you believe that you could do the cover of Vogue, if you believe you could do Prada, Gucci, Calvin then just believe it. Just believe it with every fiber of your being. Don’t have a backup plan. Don’t let doubt into your mind. Have 100% certainty. If you believe something with every fiber of your being then I believe that you will see that and the universe will open up the door and you’ll be able to walk through it. Go to the The Network and learn everything you ever wanted to learn about the modeling industry and watch Remodeled Wednesday nights on The CW at 9:00 pm.