Monday, December 14, 2009

009 - SnowBo Joe

The weather in the North East can be unpredictable which can be a bad thing.  It can also be a good thing.  It all depends on how one feels about the weather.  This week's Joe, Joe Kang Lee, loves the snow.  When I asked him about hobbies, he told me about just one - snowboarding.  With the lack of snow in the Scarsdale, New York area, in which he lives, I tried to contact Joe over this past weekend to ask if he had had the opportunity to snowboard yet this winter.

This Joe was originally concerned about not hearing back from Joe but was happy to hear his reason.  "Sorry about the delay. I was in Vermont this weekend on a snowboarding trip. I'm actually still on my way back home right now... yes!  I had my first run at Killington."

Like the weather, life, too, can be unpredictable as is the case with how Joe began his modeling career.  It all started back in high school per the suggestion of his American History teacher, Rashid Silvera, who was one of the first African-American male models to be on the cover of GQ Magazine.  "His agency was looking for Asian models to shoot Japanese fashion for The New Yorker magazine and so he asked me to participate.  I had a lot of fun then and recently I decided it might be fun to pursue on the side!"

As for how the industry is different today for Joe, now 24, than when he started at age 16 he says "I was very young and new to the scene back then and very eager to learn.  I had an amazing time and I've got to say, not much has changed.  The only thing that is different now is that with the receding economy, there are fewer ad campaigns - IE - jobs for models.  It's been easier for some models and harder for others, but I think it will soon change.  People are always looking to shop and buy things - it's the American spirit!."

Joe, who is 100% Korean, acknowledges Mr. Silvera's contributions stating that "he was definitely one of the pioneers in bringing diversity to GQ."  Perhaps one day Joe will continue in his teacher's footsteps and also grace the cover of GQ.  Currently, Joe is part of the Global Recess campaign and can be seen on their site -  Global Recess is a new fashion line started by model and entrepreneur Erica Emarie Wiltz who was featured on Project Runway - Season 6 as well as its sister show Models of the Runway.

Speaking of the runway,Joe starts training this week to model at Abercombie & Fitch's flagship store on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue.  He has also recently had a photoshoot for the Michael Anthony winter collection.  As for the ultimate modeling gig. "I think an early inspiration for me was the Abercrombie and Fitch models.  I'd love to be a part of their campaign - they could definitely use some diversity in their print!"  With a live modeling gig at AF, that print job might not be far behind.  Joe is also a big fan of the Calvin Klein campaigns.

The snowboarding sure helps keep Joe's 5'10" frame at 160 pounds but what does he do for the rest of his workout routine?  "Haha, Oh boy - I always get this question.  Back in college, I used to work out religiously - a lot of free weights with a focus on building muscle.  My school had a great gym so I was in there practically every day.  Now, my focus is more on definition so about once or twice a week I run the roads of Scarsdale for about 30 minutes."

And that school that Joe mentioned was Boston University and its School of Medicine from where he holds BS in Human Physiology and MA in Medical Sciences degrees.  Joe is currently waiting acceptance to medical school which he hopes to start in the Fall of 2010. 

Until he gets his name on the roster of a medical school, Joe will stay on the roster of his New York City modeling agency - CESD, where he will continue to gain modeling experience.  His favorite thing about modeling is "meeting new people, creating art and getting paid to do it."  He will also stay at his job at a Dermatology office in Manhattan, where he will continue to gain medical experience. 

On the day of our photoshoot we met at the infamous clock at Grand Central Terminal.  Joe will continue his daily commute to Grand Central but unlike the day of our photoshoot, Grand Central is now in full holiday spirit, complete with a laser show and projected snowflakes.  I wonder what thoughts go through Joe Kang Lee's mind as he looks at those giant snowflakes while waiting to board his train.

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