Throughout 2012, we have seen some incredible underwear models. There have been new faces that surprised everyone with their sudden rise to fame, and there have been established veterans who have continued to impress with the style and skill we’ve come to expect from them. While we went through all these names and faces from underwear campaigns, magazines editorials and portfolio updates, one name kept showing up: Colby Melvin. The Andrew Christian model has an amazing story, and he’s become a fan favorite thanks to his charm, good looks and attitude. His success has been satisfying to watch as he traveled to new cities, gained more recognition and started new ventures. For all of these reasons and more, we are naming Colby Melvin the 2012 Model of the Year.
To celebrate Colby Melvin’s fantastic year, we put together a gallery of our favorite photos from 2012, all featuring our favorite southerner. We also talked with Melvin about his year, his boyfriend, his biggest successes and what he plans to do in the future. Read our special “Colby Melvin Model of the Year” interview below, then check out the gallery after the jump.
The Underwear Expert: You said in a previous interview with us, “I don’t even really classify myself as an official model. I’ve been modeling less than a year!” Would you still say that?
Colby Melvin: Absolutely. You know, modeling, whether it’s for Calvin Klein or Dolce and Gabbana, I don’t classify myself like that. I classify myself as a personality. Yeah I’m in pictures, but it’s about something bigger. I want it to be for a greater purpose, for the community. Yeah, I am technically a model but I want to be a role model.
The Underwear Expert: You’ve done several shoots with us at The Underwear Expert. Does one stick out as a favorite?
Colby Melvin: It’s gotta be between the Splatter one and the one at the locations in New York. Gabriel Gastelum is a good friend of mine. That was supposed to be with Brandon but he was sick that day (who knows what that would’ve turned out like?). That was an amazing shoot.
And then going to New York. Being with Rhea Litre, who is a great friend of mine, was great. It was my first time in New York and being able to do those things was huge. Standing in my underwear in Times Square in New York was like an “I made it moment.” I feel completely blessed to have all of these amazing opportunities. It was a highlight moment for my modeling career and my life.
The Underwear Expert: That leads nicely into the next question. You’ve had such a huge year. What sticks out for you as the highlight of your year?
Colby Melvin: There are so many highlights. I guess the highlight of my year is moving to LA. I’d never been here. I was kind of looking for some direction in my life like “what’s next.” I was there, then I went home for a week and then I bought a one way ticket back out here. I took a risk and believed in myself.
That and, of course, Brandon. I didn’t expect to meet such an amazing boyfriend. I was going to stay single but then this amazing guy comes into my life.
The Underwear Expert: Much like you, Brandon is fairly new to the modeling world. What do you think has made him so popular?
Colby Melvin: Aesthetically it’s his eyes. I think it’s this sweet and innocent and sexy look; he’s got this angelic innocent look but he’s strong and butch too. I don’t know, I guess that’s what I like anyway.
The Underwear Expert: Are there any Andrew Christian models that you see and think, “This guy is great. He should get more attention.”
Colby Melvin: Cory Lee. He’s been modeling since he was 18. Some of his work is truly phenomenal, even beyond Andrew Christian. I think that given more attention he could be one of the top models.
The Underwear Expert: You’ve talked about your own experience coming out to your family before, and you’ve talked about how you want to influence other people and be a role model. Did you have role models that you could look to while you were taking that journey?
Colby Melvin: Part of the reason I’m doing what I’m doing right now is because I saw the role models in the gay communities. Places like L.A. have a lot of areas and groups you can look to for support, but for people like me from a small town we had the internet and the media. We saw porn stars. Now you see people like Anderson Cooper.
This is why I’ve tried to be a role model. It’s about giving back to the community and being a good person. I want to move away from the whole bitchy and dramatic personality that’s often portrayed where it’s like being drunk and partying. I want it to be about being kind and giving and a good person. That said, one of my biggest role models is Ellen DeGeneres. She’s never been known for being dramatic. Sure she’s come out as a lesbian but she has bridged the gap between gay world and straight world. People look past the homosexuality and accept her as her.
The Underwear Expert: You are a big activist in the fight for marriage equality. Have you followed the news about the Supreme Court hearing cases against the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8?
Colby Melvin: Yes, absolutely I have. It’s very exciting to me because, I think for the first time ever, this is a major issue. This is our biggest opportunity and greatest chance for equality. It’s great that people are actually waking up and that it is an issue and it is affecting a large portion of the population.
The Underwear Expert: In his victory speech, Obama referenced that “whether you’re gay or straight, you can make it in America.” How has he done, in your opinion on gay rights issues?
Colby Melvin: You can ask Brandon, my boyfriend: I had tears of joy when Obama won because of what it means to the community. He’s openly supporting us. I appreciate everything he’s doing. I appreciate that he’s trying not to alienate the rest of the country. He’s the president and there are still a lot of people who are against this so he’s not going to come out like “woooo!” I think what he’s done, simply acknowledging our community, is the best thing we could ask for.
The Underwear Expert: It’s one thing to come out to your friends and family and say, “I’m gay,” but it’s a much stronger statement to come out and then become a gay icon. Has that complicated relationships with friends and family who were initially supportive?
Colby Melvin: Not at all. Actually my friends and my family have become even bigger supporters. They say how much they appreciate the route that I took. I just do every day what I can to help people. I get messages from kids that are 12 and from men in their 50s and 60s and they are talking about coming out and how they want to be activists and it’s really amazing to be getting these messages every day. My family sees how happy I am and I’ve literally never been happier and that’s the message I want to share.
The Underwear Expert: You came out first to your mom 2 years ago this month. She’s obviously been a big influence on you. Does she still influence you now that you’ve taken such big steps?
Colby Melvin: I threw myself into this world and it’s been a whirlwind. She’s always there for me supporting me 100%. She has always been my biggest supporter and she’s never once wavered from that. She tells me how proud she is of me. She really is my biggest fan. It’s really cute. She’s the best mom in the world.
The Underwear Expert: Some models, like Daniel Garofali, for example, have branched into journalism and writing. Does that interest you?
Colby Melvin: That’s what I’m doing now. I literally spend my days curating news, writing some of my own stuff. It’s constant emails and phone calls. That’s kind of what I’ve had to shift my work to, trying to build my Colby Melvin brand. Full Frontal News, that’s what’s going to be my full time job. You know, I’m not hanging up my underwear just yet, but this is definitely my big focus.
The Underwear Expert: A lot of guys look up to you. Do you have any advice for people that want to become models?
Colby Melvin: I’m asked this all the time and I always say I wish I knew. I’m still trying to figure out how it happened to me. By everyone else’s logic, you have to have this certain body and you have to have this certain height. I said no, I’m going to do it anyway.
Ultimately I would say believe in yourself, love yourself, and don’t ask other people what you need to be.
Photo Credit: Andrew Christian, Gabriel Gastelum, Aydin Arjomand for The Underwear Expert