Here at The Underwear Expert, Pablo Hernandez has been one of our favorite models for a long time. He was doing exclusive photo shoots with us back in the early days of the site. For a while, he was even the face of The Underwear Expert in advertisements! Pablo stopped by our headquarters the other day and we seized the opportunity to catch up. Always willing to dive into a serious conversation, Pablo didn’t linger with small talk. Instead, the model chatted with us about the pressure models face to use steroids and human growth hormone, the initial hesitation of his family to accept his work as a model and the line between looking up to someone and envying them. Check out our exclusive Pablo Hernandez interview below, then revisit some of his work in the photos after the jump.
The Underwear Expert: How was your new year?
Pablo Hernandez: My new year was good. I spent the holidays back home with my family in Miami. It was nice.
UE: What does your family think about your modeling?
Pablo: At first it was a little bit of a shock to my close friends and family to see me half naked in my underwear all over the internet. But once they realized the career I was building for myself and that I was in demand, they were proud of me. They realized that it’s just underwear so I’m not as embarrassed to show my mom a photo of me half naked as I was two years ago.
UE: How about your friends back home? Are they mostly supportive or is it awkward to talk about your work?
Pablo: No not at all. My friends are very supportive. They’re like, “we knew him before he was half naked!” They’re very supportive of every decision that I’ve made in my career, whether it’s underwear modeling or shooting a short film or acting or commercials or whatever it might be. They’ve been supportive in every single way so I’m very thankful for that.
UE: Can you talk about what you do to stay fit? What do you do at the gym? Nutritionally?
Pablo: Well, nutritionally I try my best to stay away from sweets… although I have a huge sweet tooth, and sometimes I just have to give in. I don’t drink soda. I don’t eat fast food. That’s pretty much it. I try to stay away from anything artificial. I’m not one of those guys who try to starve themselves to have that fit body. If that’s what it means to have a fit body then I’d rather not model – I’d rather not do anything that I do – because I can’t starve myself. I have to eat. You know, I’m like a fat kid at heart.
And in terms of fitness and exercise and whatnot, I try to walk a lot. Like, taking the subway for example: if it’s just one or two stops away, I’ll just walk so I get an extra 10 blocks in. As far as the gym, I try to go at least five days a week and try to just stay in the habit and not miss more than two consecutive days at the gym. Then you get lazy and complacent and it starts to feel ok to not go to the gym.
UE: So really, you’re not doing anything exceptional. You’re just living a healthy lifestyle and you’re doing it well.
Pablo: Right, exactly. I don’t go crazy. I don’t do steroids. I’ve never done anything like that. I don’t condone that. I don’t think that’s setting a good example. I think a lot models I’ve known, they are on steroids and HGH and things like that. And they’ve recommended it. I say that I’d rather be a smaller framed, fit guy than this big muscled guy that is cheating to get there. Because ultimately, when you ask me, “how do you have that body?” what would I say? “Steroids?”
So I try to be as natural as I can. Maybe some protein shakes. Maybe creatine. Nothing too extreme. Extreme is never good.
UE: Would you say that there’s a lot of pressure in the modeling industry right now to use human growth hormone or steroids?
Pablo: Oh yeah. Absolutely. There are a lot of magazines that I’ll never be on the cover of because I’m just not big enough. The only way I could get big enough that they would want me on that magazine cover is if I did steroids or human growth hormone. And I refuse to. It doesn’t have anything to do with height. You could be 5’5” but you just got to be this big muscle-bound guy and I’m never going to be that unless I do steroids. I’m not going to put anything into my body that would set a bad example for people that look up to me and want to have that fit body that I have.
UE: What do you say to people who do look up to you – who might be interested in becoming a model themselves?
Pablo: You know, I never thought that I would be a model. I never thought that I would be able to achieve all the things that I’ve achieved or accomplish all the things that I have in this short amount of time. So I would never tell anybody that they can’t do it for any reason. You can do it if you believe in yourself. If you think you can do it, then I’m sure you can. That’s what I did. I know that I’m not the biggest. I know that I’m not the smartest or the best looking. I know there’s always going to be someone out there that’s better than me in every way, but I believed in myself. My goal was to be better than myself yesterday. It wasn’t to be better than someone out there.
If there’s someone out there that’s doing what you want to do, then take example from them. Try to follow in their footsteps but don’t envy. Never envy someone that is at a point in their life where you want to be! Why envy them? Why not look up to them and try to learn from them?
I’ve been known to reach out to a lot of people that I look up to and compliment them as opposed to envying them. I think that when people get caught up in envy and all these negative thoughts and emotions, they lose track of who they are and that’s when they stop succeeding. My success has been based on positivity and faith and belief in myself.
UE: You mentioned that you’ve reached out to people that you look up to. Could you name someone that you consider a role model?
Pablo: Oh yeah. Actually, there’s a model named Leo C. His real name is Leonardo Corredor. He’s done some stuff for Papi underwear. I’ve had the opportunity of meeting him. When I started modeling, and even before I started modeling, I would see his work and I’d be like, “this guy does not take a bad photo.” But I heard a lot of envious people talking shit about him.
Then one day I said, “I’m going to reach out to him and tell him that he’s been one of my biggest motivators in really believing in myself and believing that I can do this.” He replied to me with so much humility. He’s just such a nice guy and he said that he loved my work, as a matter of fact!
UE: So what’s next for you? What’s your next big project?
Pablo: Right now I’m just kind of trying to find myself again. I reinvent myself. I don’t want to keep doing the same thing for too long. I really want to get into a lot more [video]. I think a lot of people have this perception of me based on static images. They’ve created who Pablo is based on a photo. I’d like for people to know who I am based on my voice and seeing me on camera.
I also just had a fashion editorial in Bella magazine here in New York. It was really cool! It surprised my family and my friends – they were like “oh he wears clothing.” And I’m like, “yeah I’ve got a face too!”
Photo Credit: Sensitif, Thomas Synnamon, West Phillips