Residing in Ventura, California, an hour north of Los Angeles, 22-year-old Raleigh Mendez stays in shape by surfing, swimming, running and lifting weights for his modeling career.
His favorite hangout spot in the city is C Street, the place where he frequently surfs. When he’s not at that spot, he prefers hanging around with his friends in their houses in LA. Mendez stated that he’d rather have a small group of friends hanging out rather than going to a club.
As a model, his style is mainly surf-themed since he was born and raised in a beach town. He is often seen wearing flannels, skate shoes and jeans—walking around with a messy hair. According to Mendez, he loves doing his job because he gets to say that’s he’s a model, attend fantastic parties, and acquire insane connections with people you’d never dream of making anywhere else.
How did your modeling career start?
Some lady came into my work, a wine bar, and she asked, “Why are you here and not modeling?” People have told me that before, and so in June 2018, I decided to reach out to a few agencies and send them my headshots. Wilhelmina got back to me and I signed.
What has been your favorite shoot to date? Why?
One of my favorites shoots was for this athletic clothing company, Winners Collective. We went around all over Laguna Beach and pretty much just messed around all day while the photographer shot me
Do you have any hidden talents?
I taught myself how to juggle this past Christmas. I am still practicing that hahaha.
What’s your favorite city to visit?
My favorite city to go to is Budapest, Hungary.
Do you ever get shy in front of the camera? How do you handle it?
For the first two months, I was self-conscious in front of the camera because I didn’t see how the pictures were coming out until the post-production was done. As a result, I felt stiff and awkward. To remove this insecurity, I would practice poses and stuff like that in front of my mirror at home. The secret to doing well is just being able to let go of fear, being yourself, and most importantly having fun.
Is modeling an easy job or more strenuous than people realize?
It is very stressful. Castings are time-consuming and you’re sitting in a room full of beautiful people, which can get intimidating. Then, you have to face a casting panel who are looking for a certain look, and they are really good at keeping a poker face. You never know what’s going on until you get a job in your email from your agent, unless you get a direct job because a company picks you out from your agency’s website. Those are blessings. You get more and more of those the longer you’re in the game.
What’s the biggest misconception about the male modeling industry?
That you have to be submissive to high-ranking people to get to where you want to go. Just know your boundaries and what you’re comfortable with, and people will respect that. When you are unsure, that is when people will take advantage of you.
What is your greatest strength as a model?
I stopped caring what people will think, and I just let myself show. Therefore, I would say that being confident with myself would be my greatest strength as a model.
Five things you can’t live without?
My camera, surfboard, skateboard, the sauna at my gym, and my skin care products.
Was modeling something you always wanted to do or did it just kinda happen?
It was something I thought would be cool, but i never really pushed for it until people kept telling me to be a model. So it just happened.
What’s your favorite band/music at the moment?
Music like The Smiths and Prefab Sprout.
Give us 5 facts about you people may not know.
I’m a photographer, a Puerto Rican, I can gulp a water bottle in one sip, I’m pretty introverted but I can socialize if that makes sense, and I write poetry.
If you weren’t modeling what would you see yourself doing?
Photographing waves more.
What is your advice to aspiring models?
Practice. Follow the three P’s: passion persistence, patience. Nothing comes easy. You have to work hard. When times seem like they aren’t going your way, keep pushing.
Featured Image Courtesy of Renz Gonzaga