In my profession I live the life of an Agent. Fashion parties, Calvin Klein contracts, fighting. 60 hour weeks. I talk for a living and I can talk a lot. In those in between moments in my personal life I am a seeker of life experiences. I love the Fashion Industry but escaping from fashion and the models is an important part of my life. The people that know me well know me not only as a dedicated agent but as a carnal aesthete, an aficionado of imaginative travels, and a foodie. When I get away I travel to often remote places far away from the fashion civilization as we know it. I’d rather be in the jungles of Central America over St Tropez; Nashville over Ibiza. A hammock is paradise for me. But a faraway place can also be the rock shrimp tempura at Nobu. The simplicity of life in these places and the interaction with its people centers me and allows me to contemplate the important things in life. In this solitude it also helps me re-appreciate the human connection that is so important. I’m always able to bring these lessons back to New York to order to get to know and understand my talent better and their needs. Because it isn’t always about money but letting them know that you care. A great agent understands the talents emotional needs as well as their financial. My life is a unique one. It’s the sum of all of these things along my journey that defines who I am.
I started out scouting girls in Northern California while I was still in college. I got into the business by accident, uncertain of what I wanted to do but knowing that I wanted to do something that my fellow students weren’t studying to be. I met a girl at a concert who introduced me to a famous Model Agent. He told me that he would teach me how to look for girls. I said “okay.” It was his influence, personality and eye among others who shaped my early eye for the business.
I confess my ambitions weren’t monumental. All I really wanted after college was to work at one of the top model agencies in the “big city” that was San Francisco. Loaded with enthusiasm, I was dismayed when no one would hire me after numerous attempts. I moved to San Francisco anyway and in order to free my time to look for girls during the day, I took my two University of California degrees and got a job as a busboy.
Wanting to be in the “Hollywood” of LA, what better place to be in San Francisco than the “restaurant biz.” I was hired at Joyce Goldstein’s legendary restaurant Square One. I had no experience in a restaurant but I had enthusiasm (and 2 degrees) so they gave me a shot at picking up dishes. I was a great busboy. I scouted girls during the day and in the presence of culinary greats allowed me to learn about Panna Cotta, charmoula, single malt scotches and Brazilian Vatapa. I became versed in the exquisite art of culinary Elysium which still stays with me in my insatiable appetite to try new things and entertain my epicurean cravings.
I quickly discovered that while my bible was Vogue, the girls I was finding weren’t commercial enough for LA. So I began to cold call agencies in Paris and Milan, waking at 5am in the morning to introduce myself telling them I was a scout. In the pre-email days yes I sent polaroids in the mail! The first person to call me was Marilyn Gaultier in Paris wanting to know who I was and that we should meet. After she hung up I had to sweep my jaw off the floor. The next day Metropolitan’s Michel Levaton, who discovered Claudia Schiffer, called me. He gave me every one of his phone numbers across the world from his house in Paris to his house in St Barths. I loved it but I as a scout I couldn’t manifest the visions I had when I first found the girls. I had to be an Agent.
I had begun to send submissions to the New York agencies so I asked a bunch if they would interview me. In 1995 I got offers from a few of the women’s agencies but what stood out was the ambitious energy of a very young DNA Models and it was here where I got the opportunity to contribute to building an agency. We built it fast. The mens division had just lost agents so I was placed in the “Heroin Chic” era men’s board where I knew little about the men’s market. Cool ugly looking dudes. The funny thing was that the first model that I actually brought with me to New York was a fellow bar back at one of the restaurants that I worked at in San Francisco. One of my finer moments of my career was booking The GAP for him and seeing a billboard of it over the restaurant where we both worked. Funny, once in New York, the San Francisco agencies quickly gave me the attention I always wanted (Today they are some of my dearest supporters and that model is one of my oldest friends).
I never really knew how I was going to get along on the men’s side, not understanding the look of a male model and much more interested in female beauty, but once I began to connect with the guys, I realized that there was a common ground with them that enabled me to communicate with them eye to eye and gain their trust enabling me to make things happen quicker. That communication between model and agent is the key to success.
In 1999 seeking the next level of personal growth and talent management I moved to Wilhelmina Models. I never saw myself as a big agency guy but 11 years later, when I look at the board and see the faces on it, I see my own eye. I am proud of this. To this day I’m still not sure how I got so deep into the men’s business but I have faith in the idea that I must be pretty okay at it. While the look of the female models continues to be my true passion, I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity in making my mark on the men’s business in my own unique way. It has help create the agent I am today. I still and always will balance my time on the table scouting both guys and girls.
This site isn’t just about models. I love what I do and I seek inspiration in everything. I find it in everything from the models that I represent, the places I travel to and of course the great meals along the way. Amongst my many experiences, I have booked billboards in Times Square, been to Tom Ford’s final Gucci show in Milan and I have been a main character on a TV show (VH1’s “The Agency” plus more). One of the things I’m proud about is my unique palate for life. I’m here to introduce you to it. And to teach you to be better as both a model and a person. Time is not my friend though and in order to teach you I will often sacrifice gentleness. Life is tough but truth is all powerful. I invite you to experience the everyday high as well as the heartbreak in my life as an Agent. I come to you as one of you. I am Citizen Model Agent. And I love you all, you pretty things.
Greg Chan is a Director at Wilhelmina Models in the Men’s Division, an Agent in Wilhelmina Celebrity as well as a Scout for high fashion men and women.