Not everything is what it seems. This is one of our favorite sentences. Stereotypes are made to be broken. Meet Mitchell @umodelsnyc, a handsome model & skillful herpetologist, whose carrier is the perfect example of an unusual combination.
Being a herpetologist isn’t the most common job. Can you give us a short description of this branch of zoology?
Although I do not hold a degree in Herpetology, I am self taught from years of reading, workshops and conferences. In addition, I have travelled all over the world to study and photograph endangered species. (My full-time occupation is modeling).
You were focused on reptiles from the beggining or on wildlife in general?
Feathery, furry, slimey, scaley — If it breathed and lived outside, I was fascinated as a kid. As I matured, my focus grew towards reptiles and even further narrowed with my passion of geckos, which is my specialty.
Which one is your favorite animal/reptile? And why?
The one and only Uroplatus pietschmanni! Yes, that’s the Latin for a cork bark, leaf-tailed gecko. It is an endangered gecko species of Madagascar that looks like a cartoon drawing of a piece of wood – and a quite cute one! It’s mind blowing that nature created such an odd creature.
How did fashion come into your horizon?
The past five years has went full circle. After shipping hundreds of my geckos to breeders across the US, I arrived to NYC to begin my modeling career. I was scouted in my hometown of Acworth, Georgia. After a few challenging years of establishing myself in New York City, I now have the time and freedom to focus on reptiles as well.
Do you consider modeling a hobby or it’s more like a second job?
Neither. Modeling is my sole purpose of being in New York City and gives me the flexability and freedom to travel, write, photograph and study reptiles.
It seems that these two fields, Herpetology and fashion, don’t really have common elements. You can give us a more nuanced opinion, being involved in both of them.
Believe it or not, the correlation between the two are closer than you would think. The environment, including global warming, is going to be one of the greatest problems we must deal with in the years to come. Fashion, in the past years, has had massive impacts on nature and the environment. Thankfully, poaching for furs and skins has subsided, but pollution and forest clearing for massive factories will always be an issue. By making a name in fashion, I will have the contacts and publicity to be a voice for conservation. The dynamics of my situation allows me to reach and influence people in the fashion industry while having a strategic place and passion for the environment.
What is your message to our readers?
This may sound cliche, but discover your passion and follow your dreams! Finding what truely inspires you allows you to inspire others.