Interview: RJ King, Model
“YOU know RJ KING?!?!” “Have you worked with RJ King?” “You know who would be perfect for that shoot? RJ King!” It only took two or three such comments for me to catch on, after which I started referring to my younger interns as the “RJ King Fan Club”, and began to test my theory. “Do all the girls who work here love him?” I asked his supervisor at Splash—where he was, at the time, working regular shifts. “It’s constant flirting,” he confirmed. “They don’t get anything done.” I was soon sold on the fact that, if young RJ was not indeed the official heartthrob of the local high school set, he was—at the very least—to the Galleria boutique what Jerry Jerrod was to Raw (rando “SATC” reference; I do that…); the store never saw more plaid skirts (it’s a private-schoolgirl hangout, no?), or cougars. More recently, just days after he moved to NYC to build on the modeling career he started in STL (he’s currently signed with Re:Quest Model Management), I was shoot shopping in Kirkwood and overheard a super-cute teen worker talking about her friend who spent New Year‘s Eve in Times Square. “RJ King?” I asked. “How did you know?” Wild guess…
A genuinely-sweet, modest and adorably-handsome boy with a matching reputation, it’s safe to state that 18-year-old RJ (a De Smet graduate) is being heavily-cyber-stalked by his hometown entourage this week—his first New York Fashion Week, in which he is walking a number of top shows. Still, he somehow made time on Thursday (Day 1 of my fave month in all of the year—when factoring in London, Milan and Paris Fashion Weeks, that is) to give me the lowdown on his jam-packed first month-and-a-half in NYC, his good genes and the day he was discovered—which included a bit of flattery, which so happens to be the key to my heart. He certainly has a way with the ladies…
JM: Were you “discovered“? Who first told you that you should be a model?
RJK: I was discovered while working at Splash in the St. Louis Galleria—by an awesome, sexy lady by the name of Jill Manoff. She asked me if I was a model, and—when I told her I wasn’t—she gave me her email and had me send her some digitals. I worked off and on for a while before moving to NYC.
JM: When/why did you decide to move to NYC? What was the official move date? What do you love most about the city? What do you miss most about STL?
RJK: I decided to move to New York after visiting a friend in October, and visiting some agencies while I was here. A week after I left, I was being flown back out to meet with Calvin Klein; that’s when I realized that something could actually come out of this. The official move date was December 30; I wanted to be here for NYE! I love the fact that it’s constantly changing. It’s inspiring in so many different ways, and the energy level is unlike any other city I’ve been to. I miss my family and my bed and my niece, Layla, and nephew, Mozart (they’re my sister’s dogs).
JM: I know your sis, Megh, modeled; did she live in NYC? What were some of her career highlights? Did she give you any advice about the industry? Any other models in the fam?
RJK: She skipped New York, and went straight to Milan. She was signed on a three-month contract, and hated it so much that she left after four weeks. She came back with a different outlook on what she wanted to do with her life, and swears that she wouldn’t be where she is today if it weren’t for that experience. She was highly encouraging when this opportunity presented itself to me. It’s completely different for guys in the industry, and the New York market is much different than that in Milan. Coincidentally, one of her first jobs was for Calvin Klein. No other models in the fam, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t be! My other two sisters, Julie and Caitlin, are ridiculous athletes and play soccer at Auburn University. My sister, Julie, was just named an Academic All-American!
JM: What have been some highlights since you started modeling in NYC? What mags/editorials/etc. have you modeled for?
RJK: I moved here when a lot of guys were in Milan and Paris for shows, so it wasn’t too difficult to book jobs. Some of the editorials I’ve done this month have been for i-D Magazine, Wonderland Magazine, Essential Homme, Fantastic Man and New York Times Magazine. I also shot a catalog for a Japanese and Korean brand.
JM: What shows have you already booked for New York Fashion Week?
RJK: So far, I’ve booked DKNY, Rag & Bone, Riviera Club, Loden Dager, Bespoken and Band of Outsiders. I think that’s it so far…? Still waiting to hear from a few clients! Unfortunately, because of conflicts, there are a couple other shows that I won’t be able to walk in.
JM: How would you describe your look? Your style? What do you typically wear on a go-see?
RJK: Tough question. My style usually reflects my attitude and mood. As for my look, I look like RJ King! I don’t want to look like anyone else. To a go-see/casting, I wear a long-sleeve t-shirt or button-down with jeans and boots. Keep it simple; that’s what clients like.
JM: Do you have a strict diet/workout routine? Any specific musts (water, sleep, etc.) for staying so model-perfect?
RJK: No strict diet! That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be, though. I drink a lot of water, but—as for what I eat? Whatever I feel like. My workout consists of a lot of ab/core exercises. My sister’s trainer from school wrote me a crazy routine for Fashion Week, and it’s been busting my ass.
JM: What would you consider the ultimate modeling gig? Who would you most love to work with?
JM: What advice would you give aspiring models?
RJK: Stick with it! Don’t take it, or yourself, too seriously. Set a reasonable goal, and stay focused and determined. Nothing is impossible.
JM: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
RJK: In 5 years, when I’m 23…I see myself continuing to follow my dreams. Where that will take me, only time will tell.
“RJ’s King‘s Favorite Things“:
Book- Sh*t My Dad Says
Magazine- The New York Times’ T Magazine
Song- Where Is My Mind? –Pixies
Band- Right now, I’ve been Listening to Billy Joel and Florence + The Machine.
Quote- Anything that’s thought-provoking.
Designer- Karl Lagerfeld
Model- Andrej Pejic
Food- Chicken Nuggets