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Tuesday 17 October 2017

'Modelling is something that pays, but it is a lonely life' reveals top Irish male model

Irish model Samuel Homan tells Joanna Kiernan about the dark side of the industry and his bakery dream

5 Mar 2015; Samuel Homan. Ranelagh, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
5 Mar 2015; Samuel Homan. Ranelagh, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
5 Mar 2015; Joanna Kiernan with Samuel Homan. Ranelagh, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn

Samuel Homan is a hypnotising beautiful man. It is not hard to pick him out in the crowd as I arrive somewhat frazzled and stuffed up with a very unattractive cold to our interview.

He is aware of his looks in a very practical sense, there is no toying around or any false humility about it; the man knows he is pretty and it is a surprisingly refreshing trait. Chiselled though he may be, however, there is no accompanying oversized ego.

Samuel (30), who grew up in Rathfarnham, has spent the last five years travelling around the world modelling. He is represented by 11 agencies across the globe. Yet, he is quick to point out that modelling is far from the glamorous lifestyle many view it as.

"It sounds glamorous, but most of the time you're wrecked," he smiles into his coffee.

Within moments of meeting Samuel it becomes clear that modelling is more a means to an end to him than a passion.

"I don't really know a lot of models who are passionate about modelling," he grins. "For a male model there is a hell of a lot of waiting around and a lot of downtime, so if you don't have hobbies you are going to be really bored. It's not like you work every day."

Samuel has been single for almost four years, but he is dating, though a little unsuccessfully if the date he tells me about two weeks ago is anything to go by.

SamHooman.jpg
5 Mar 2015; Joanna Kiernan with Samuel Homan. Ranelagh, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn

"She was crazy," he confides with a giggle. "I had to leave. I had to eventually say to her 'look I'm going home because you're trashed and abusing me and I need to walk away from this; I'm going to hit the nail on the head right now, so have a good evening and be safe!'"

A conversation with Samuel is an unusual mixture of hilarity and razor-sharp, unapologetic honesty.

He is home following his most recent four-month stint in London, to stave off 'the loneliness' of the industry for a time.

"I was always lonely in London, you don't make a lot of friends in the industry, you make a lot of acquaintances," Samuel says.

woodwork

Samuel is now taking some time to reconnect with family friends and his eclectic mixture of interests; he is talented in woodwork and creates both functional pieces of furniture and sculpture and is also a keen pastry chef and baker.

"I like do things that keep my hands busy, just something that stimulates me as opposed to just standing there and getting my photograph taken all of the time. I write a food blog and I am working on my first recipe book at the moment," he tells me. "I do a lot of gluten-free recipes because I'm a coeliac and my mother and my brother are as well and my dad is a diabetic, so I grew up with that. I don't do the gluten-free thing as a fad diet, I think if you can eat gluten, eat it.

"I still do the modelling as well, but I just came back because I got really lonely," he admits, with searing honesty.

"I was unhappy being away from my family and friends. So I'm back and forth between here and London still and New York and Milan and all of the rest, but I really needed to come home."

In Ireland - where Samuel works with Morgan, The Agency - he says the modelling scene is a lot kinder, safer and more straight-forward, but to bag the big jobs, male models in particular, will often need to venture abroad where the industry can be a darker place entirely.

"I remember the first time I lived in America, I was living with boys and girls and I realised 'my god, the girls' minds are so screwed up'"

Samuel reveals. "In Greece, I was blown away by the dirty old men; they'd come in and say 'Do you girls wants to come on my boat?' and the girls would be like 'yeah!' and I'd grab them and say 'here, can I just warn you, do what you want, but you're about to go on a boat with older men, who you don't know.

"What happens when you get out into the water? You can't get off the boat.'

"Probably one in three of the model industry girls that I have met have been raped," Samuel adds. "There are drugs and there is alcohol and there is advantage being taken - it's crazy."

Male models must also contend with a certain seedy side to the industry.

"I have had to tell people, 'I am very uncomfortable with you doing that, please stop it' and I have been told, 'I own this town, you'll never work again' and I have just thought, well fine.

"They'll probably win, but at least I said no and not 'OK' which many others, who didn't know any better or weren't comfortable enough in themselves, were not able to do."

market

Samuel knows his market. He is a 'commercial boy,' as he puts it and has been the face of some major ad campaigns for a number of big name brands including Gant and John Lewis. However, competition for jobs is fierce.

"In London I lived with my friends - three lawyers and an accountant, so it wasn't so bad, but when I lived in New York, for the two periods I was there, I lived with 15 people in models' accommodation. My room had two bunk beds, so it was proper Zoolander style," Samuel laughs. "They are all kids and they don't give a shit, the house is a kip and there is food everywhere. You think these people are beautiful and then look clean and then you see where they sleep and live and it's just a sh**hole.

"It was hugely competitive too. I am a 30-year-old man, I am not a boy anymore so I get that will fit in to different categories," he explains.

"So if I am 'the look' that a client are looking for then they are going to hire me and that's cool, I'm not very competitive, but then you'd be sitting down with all of the other boys in the house and they'd be like 'why didn't I get that job?

"Why did he get it? He isn't even that good looking! He doesn't have a six pack!' Lots of them get into it just thinking 'I am extremely good looking' so they come into it with massive egos."

Samuel's start in modelling came out of the blue. He was studying for a Culinary Arts degree in DIT, when his then girlfriend sent a photograph of him into a modelling competition.

"I won the competition and she then sent my picture to an agency here and they rang me and asked if I'd be interested in modelling. I hung up the phone," Samuel remembers.

The agency eventually rang back and Samuel agreed to go into the offices for a chat.

"I agreed to give it a go and left my degree and went to London and I have been working since," he says.

From London, where Samuel signed with his mother agency, Premier Model Management, he has flown around the globe over the next five years with his modelling career taking him from New York and Milan, to Mexico, South Korea and many more destinations along the way.

It can be, he admits, a very well paid job, but there are also periods where work can be less abundant and pay cheques need to stretch further than one might hope.

"I get a lot of time off, but I am still getting paid well enough to be able to live and I'm not into extravagant things," Samuel explains. "A model will probably make a normal minimum wage at the end of the year, you may get paid a month's wage working for one day, but you might not work for two months," Samuel adds. "Everybody seems to think it's an amazing job where you make f**king thousands."

The rejection is yet another occupational hazard.

"It's 97pc rejection and 3pc success and you have to not take it personally," Samuel smiles. "It's really hard. I used to be fat, I used to be 17 stone at one stage and I find it really hard to stay slim because my body wants to be a certain way and I am trying to fight it to be another way. I eat, don't get me wrong, but I work out in the gym a lot to keep in shape and if you put on even a couple of pounds you will be told to lose it."

Eventually, Samuel hopes to get out of modelling and settle in Ireland. He would love to open his own bakery.

fitness

"I can go on modelling as long as I stay in good fitness and the clients want me," Samuel says. "I love that about it, but what I really want to do is open up a bakery. Modelling is something that pays me, but what I really want to do is bake."

Samuel credits his mother for his love of baking.

"I was always interested in what she was doing," he tells me. "She was great when we were kids, nowadays some parents are like 'here's an iPad stop talking to me!' but when we were growing up my ma kept us entertained; we'd make Rice Krispie buns and she'd always make us themed birthday cakes.

"Every Christmas she would make the Christmas cake and let us stir it and make a wish into it, it was lovely," Samuel smiles. "I have always baked while I was travelling and look at the different bakeries around the world," he adds. "I love the idea of baking and the fact that there is a science behind it and that if you f**k up, you have to start again."

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