Picked out by a talent scout at a fashion show, Junaid Ahmed never dreamed of becoming a successful model at just seventeen but having shot for brands such as Nivea and Clearasil he is well on his way to becoming a well-known young male model. In addition to being very successful in the field of fashion, Junaid is also very passionate about improving the way in which teenagers are portrayed in the media and aims to try and promote the positive portrayal of young people within the media. I decided to interview him on his aspirations, thoughts on teenage portrayal and how his modelling career has changed his life!
You were scouted by an agent at fifteen, was modelling your initial career plan before this?
Before I was scouted to become a model, it wasn’t the career choice I had in mind at the time. Modelling and fashion all seemed exciting at the time, which is why I attended the Clothes Show [where Junaid was scouted] however I never thought I’d have a successful career in it.
You meet amazing teams of people and they treat you like celebrities!
You have already achieved some fantastic things during your career, including a campaign for Clearasil. What do you enjoy most about shooting/filming for these adverts?
Since my career took off the opportunities I’ve had have been amazing and I’ve been honoured to take part in some amazing commercial and photo shoots! The best thing I love about shooting for these commercials is the people you meet and spend 10-12 hours working with on the shoot. You meet amazing teams of people and they treat you like celebrities! I also love seeing the finished product whenever I film for a commercial!
What are you currently doing aside from modelling – are you still in education?
Aside from the modelling I am still in Education. I am in my first year of sixth form (year twelve) and am currently studying Drama, Media & Sociology.
We hear lots in the media about the pressure for girls to be slim, especially in the modelling industry. Do you think this ‘ideal’ is translated into male modelling – or do male models need something different?
With male modelling I think there isn’t really a lot of pressure to be slim. You either have a body for fitness modelling or a figure for fashion and catwalk modelling. For girls there are so requirements you need to match in order to model!
Many teenagers have high aspirations and are working hard to be successful but this is rarely shown in the media!
I understand you feel passionately about how teenagers are represented in the media in today’s society. How do you want to go about changing this?
Definitely! I feel that my career as a model can help change the stereotype of teenagers as it highlights that not all of us are involved in crime or cause problems on the streets. I’m getting on with my life trying to show that it’s only a selected percent of teenagers which are this stereotype not the whole of us. Many teenagers have high aspirations and are working hard to be successful but this is rarely shown in the media! Hopefully my story can inspire others to follow their aspirations, acknowledge this and push to go about changing this stereotype too!
Why do you think teenagers are given bad press so often?
I think teenagers are given bad press as they make interesting headlines! They are targeted by the media, as they are seen as young and without a voice.
You are obviously extremely determined, as you have achieved such a vast amount at the age of 17. What advice/inspiration could you give to other aspiring models?
I’m a very determined person and am so proud of what I have achieved at my age! I would say no matter what continue working hard. Don’t be too disheartened by rejection, just keep trying. I have been rejected by many agencies but it never stopped me as I’m now signed by five! Otherwise if you need any other advice regarding agencies you would best suited for just tweet me on Twitter @modeljunaid and I will help you out as much as possible!
I personally believe that if you are passionate about achieving something you should start as soon as possible, whatever age (hence why I started my blog). Do you agree with this or do you think young people need to focus on what they really want before diving head first to get it?
I did this with modelling and I believe you are never too young to follow your dreams. If you are certain with what you want in life and you really want it then go for it! If you have determination and are definitely sure with what you want, who’s stopping you. If you don’t try it you don’t know what you can achieve!
What do you hope your story will tell others about following your aspirations?
I want others to see that I’ve worked hard and hard to get where I am today. You always have to start from the bottom to get to the top!
What has been your best experience since modelling – and why was this?
The nicest experience has to be shooting commercials for 12-14 hours a day and then sitting round a friend’s house and seeing myself appear on the TV! Watching my friend’s reactions makes me feel amazing!
Have you had any negative press or moments of doubt? I understand the modelling industry involves a lot of knock backs. What advice could you give to someone who has had lots of knock backs and finds it hard to pick themselves back up again?
I have had many knock backs. I’ve been told my look isn’t right, or I’m not what an agency wants many times. You have to be thick skinned and take everything on board. The advice I’d give is pick yourself back up again try harder and never doubt yourself. Continue to work make sure your attitude is right and you have a succeeding attitude and never give up. Keep yourself determined and think about the end result if you can’t pick yourself up, put a positive head on and just bounce back try again prove them wrong and continue fighting for your dreams.
Where do you hope to be in 10 years time?
In 10 years time I hope to see myself as the UK’s top Asian Male Supermodel and the busiest working Asian model in the UK.
Thank you ever so much to Junaid who kindly answered my questions! I hope this is helpful to any aspiring models, or those who are interested in teenage portrayal. Clearly Junaid is a very passionate and determined individual who thrives from success! I wish him all the best of luck with his future ventures! Please note; the photographs used in this article are not my own and do not belong to me. I do not take credit for them. They are purely used for reference purposes only.