Paul Fisher might not be a household name, but you certainly know the people whose careers he has launched. After starting his own modeling agency out of his apartment with a $10,000 investment from his grandfather, Fisher went on to grow it into one of the most powerful agencies in the world. He is credited with creating more stars than any other agent in the history of the modeling industry. Think I’m kidding? Fisher has represented such clients as Naomi Campbell, Carole Alt, Carre Otis, Stephanie Seymour, Kimora Lee Simmons, Brooke Burke, Nicky Hilton, Eva Horizigova and hundreds of others. Rather than rest on his laurels, Fisher is a man on a mission to recreate the fashion industry with an emphasis on strong and healthy, rather than the wispy and willow-thin models that have been the standard for the past two decades.
Mike Parker – You’ve been involved with the modeling industry for a number of years now. What are the most striking trends that you have seen emerge over the past decade or so?
Paul Fisher – One of the alarming trends is the weight issue. In the 1980s and 90s we had strong beautiful women as models. They weighed 130 to 140 lbs. Today the normal model is 118 lbs and is 5’ 11.” The images that our industry is putting out is not healthy. The insistance of designers to have what we call ‘hangers’ scares the hell out of me.
Parker – Tell me about your initiative, The Network.
Fisher – I had three missions for The Network. First I wanted to empower agencies in smaller markets. For so many years none of the major models came from major markets. They came from small markets, but the small market agencies didn’t get any credit for it. Once the model started to make a splash she was snatched up by a major market agency and the small market agency was left with little or nothing. We want these agencies to believe that they can create stars and get the credit for it. Second, we want to create a safe environment for young girls and boys who are entering the industry. Third, we want to aggregate social media accounts under one umbrella. Think about it: if you have 30,000 models with 5,000 followers each, that creates a huge impact. With that kind of clout you and force the industry to take responsibility for the images they are putting out.
Parker – The Network promotes the new ideal of using “the average-size woman” as models. What exactly is an average-size for a woman?
Fisher – I’m not sure there is such a thing an an average-sized woman. To me average means healthy. One of may dreams is to go to a fashion show and see strong, healthy women walking down the catwalk. Healthy is the new skinny.
Parker – What challenges do you encounter on the reality TV show, Remodeled?
Fisher – When Sony heard what i was doing they came to me and wanted to do a show about it. My kneejerk reaction was, ‘Absolutely not.’ I care about this industry, but I wasn’t really interested in promoting myself, so I was hesitant. But my partners felt like it could accelerate our mission and our brand.
It’s been a challenge. My spiritual teachers tell me that if your path has no challenges you are on the wrong path. When you try to bring some kind of light into the world you will encounter challenges. Doing the show is tough. It usually takes me a year to build up an agency, and I’ve been asked to do it in four days for the show. I have to reprogram the minds of our agency heads, to make them believe they can produce stars.
Other modeling shows that are on television; they never made a kid into a model. The designers don’t look at those kids as real models. The kids on our shows are real models. Our kids won’t be in a Starbucks six months from now, selling coffee. They will be working in the industry, because they are special. Some of them are very famous, or are destined to be famous – not becuase of the show, but becuase of who they are as people.
Parker – The modeling industry focuses a lot on women, but there are a lot of men involved in the industry as well. What advice do you have for guys who might want to try their hand at professional modeling?
Fisher – There is a reason there is a bigger focus on women. Men are not on the cover of magazines. Magazines use male celebrities instead of models, so it’s hard to create a male model brand. It’s a simple factor of supply and demand. I advise guys to consider using modeling as a career starter that can lead into other career fields. Use it as a launching pad to move into acting. The women’s market skews younger, the men’s market skews older. Women can make more money, but their modeling career is typically shorter. Men make less money, but may be able to work for a longer period of time.
Parker – Last words?
Fisher – Knowledge is power. Don’t waste precious time in your youth. Study the industry before you get involved. Check out The Network website. There are lots of resources there that can help you as a model. You can follow the path of other models.
The Seven Questions
1. What’s your favorite sound?
Fisher – The voice of my spiritual teacher.
2. What makes you happy?
Fisher – When my sister, Deborah, who has been struggling with cancer told me she is clean of cancer.
3. What makes you angry?
Fisher – People not taking responsibility for their mistakes.
4. What is the secret of success?
Fisher – To believe. To have 100 % certainty. To not allow doubt into your mind.
5. If you could have dinner with anyone in history, living or dead, who would it be?
Fisher – Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, author of the Zohar.
6. What is the epitaph that is written on your tombstone?
Fisher – “A flawed man that did his best to share with the world and give back to the world.”
7. When you get to heaven, what is the first thing you want to hear God say to you?
Fisher – “You were a good man. I want to reconnect you to your grandfather.”