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Kaylan Morgan approaches modeling the way a professional athlete approaches a game. He works hard, gives the job his all and hopes that luck goes his way. He values professionalism and confidence. The model has appeared in campaigns for Jean Paul Gaultier, N2N, Lord & Taylor and other well-known brands in addition to 2xist, for which he is currently the face of a new campaign. Based in New York city, the 28 year old Morgan is blowing up in the modeling world. He stands at 6’2″ in 11.5 size shoes. His dark brown hair and focused gaze ensure that his work stands out above imitators. At heart, however, Morgan just loves to compete and he’s seeing where this modeling ride takes him. In our exclusive Kaylan Morgan interview, we talked with the model about how he got his start, what it takes to succeed and where he gets his confidence. Plus, we have a gallery of our favorite Kaylan Morgan photos after the jump!
UE: You grew up in New Orleans. What is your family like?
Kaylan: Yeah I grew up in New Orleans with three brothers and one sister – all rough and tough guys. We pretty much grew up in the woods. It was an awesome place. I played lots of sports, rode street bikes, dirt bikes, ATVs. It was just kind of the boy’s dream.
UE: I read that you race Mustangs!
Kaylan: Yeah, actually I do. I still have a Mustang Cobra. I started off with a Trans-Am. It was my first car. I was fifteen and I got an ’89 Trans-Am GTA. I started from there. I built three or four Trans-Ams and moved on to Mustangs and started racing. I still have one just for keeps. I haven’t raced in a while, although I have one hidden in a garage in California.
UE: Could you talk about how you were scouted? Some sites have said you were scouted during a construction job.
Kaylan: That’s not entirely true to be honest with you. I’ve done every type of construction there is from driving 18-wheelers to building houses to being the foreman. Everything. I moved up to California after Katrina. My brother models–he begged me to model. He had it set up with the scouts at his agency. One day he tricked me into coming to the agency. He was like, “hey, why don’t you come out to San Francisco.” So I go to San Francisco and next thing you know he pulls up in front of the agency and they’re sitting there waiting for me! Two days later I was on the front cover of a magazine that pays a couple grand and I was like “alright, we’ll see what happens.” So far, it’s been good. I don’t know where that whole construction thing came from.
UE: When did you move to New York?
Kaylan: It wasn’t that long ago – maybe two years ago.
UE: What do you do in your free time here?
Kaylan: In my free time, I pretty much just skateboard a lot. When I came to New York I had to find something to do so I started longboarding and that became my race car.
And just going to the park, playing sports – I’m more of an outside person. I always have to be doing something physical.
UE: Ok, let’s talk about modeling. You’ve done a lot of different shoots including campaigns for perfume and for underwear. Could you talk about the differences between shooting a perfume ad and an underwear ad?
Kaylan: Well when you’re modeling for a fragrance, it just feels high-end. You walk in there with a different attitude. You’ve just gotta impress, you gotta be confident. You gotta out-perform anybody that’s there, including all the expectations you have for yourself. I dunno though, I guess I go in with the same mindset for every job.
The 2xist campaign – the last underwear one I did – was, of course, all body. So you go into it thinking to yourself, “body, body, body, body” to make sure you’re on point with everything.
UE: We just saw the first photo from the new 2xist campaign for Speed. How did you like the underwear?
Kaylan: I loved the underwear. I’m wearing a pair of 2xist underwear right now. They’re super comfortable.
UE: Will you be doing more work for 2xist in the future?
Kaylan: I’m hoping so. This month, assuming everything works out, I will be doing another campaign. Tomorrow I go take digitals and we’ll see what happens.
UE: Can you talk about your work for N2N Bodywear? You did some photos in singlets and long underwear. Is that stuff you would wear in real life or is it kind of weird to put on for the shoot?
Kaylan: It was a little weird to put on for the shoot. Of course, you’ve gotta play around with stuff like that. At the end of the day, it’s a job. Right? As long as you’re around professional people it’s good. They’re looking at it in a professional way and they’re just thinking, “let’s get this great shot.”
UE: How do you feel about nudity?
Kaylan: You know, I don’t mind nudity, but it’s got to be shot in the right way. I don’t like raunchy nudity. It’s gotta be in a beautiful light. It’s gotta be pictured more as art, not “oh let’s go turn everybody on.” It’s more like, “let’s go look at a beautiful picture and then maybe in the end let’s be turned on.”
UE: So as long as it’s artistic.
Kaylan: And you’re with the right crew. You’ve got to feel comfortable. My philosophy is that at the end of the day, you have to feel good about yourself. You have to feel good when you wake up in the morning and when you go to bed at night.
You know, in this modeling industry, you can definitely get away from yourself. So I’ve definitely done great in my career to make the right choices where I do wake up in the morning and feel good.
UE: How does your family feel about your modeling? You said your brother models. Are your parents supportive?
Kaylan: Oh they love it. They love it. I grew up in a small town. I was definitely a big fish in a small town. I knew everybody and anywhere I went, everybody knew me. So, you know, everybody always had big expectations for what I was going to do. I grew up in a super strict society, but when they see [my photos], they go, “ok, that’s just Kaylan.” They really support it, truthfully.
I get all kinds of calls from people back home like, “awesome job!” And I never thought I would get that call from this person, but I do.
UE: Could you talk about what you do to maintain your appearance? What do you do to stay good looking and healthy?
Kaylan: Well, a large part of it’s mostly genetics. But it’s just trying to stay in the gym and trying to watch what I eat. When I do hit the gym, I have a great workout. So I’ve been afforded the luxury of not having to work out that much, but when I do, I get great results.
UE: Do you have any advice for fans of yours who might want to become models?
Kaylan: Yeah, it’s a great industry and a growing market, but you need to know what you’re getting into. You have to know that it’s a lot of hard work and it’s a lot of time that you’re putting in. Of course, you get to see the world and see all these great things, but at the end of the day it’s still a job.
UE: Do you find yourself struggling to find free time?
Kaylan: There have been some times I’ve had to request off and be like, “leave me alone! Give me a minute!” It’s definitely demanding. It’s physically and emotionally demanding. No matter how you feel, you have to walk in there and be at your best. You have to look your best, be your best, and show good character and good personality – what people want to hang out with.
If I can give anybody advice, it’s just when you walk in there you have to be fun. You can be the best looking model in the world, but if you can’t have the confidence to walk in there and give them that personality then no one wants to work with you. That’s ten hours of being boring. It’s about having the whole package: the personality, the looks, the attitude. And just be truly confident. You’re not over doing it, but you want them to know that this guy’s ready to work. He’s ready to do what he’s here to do.
UE: Where does that confidence come from?
Kaylan: Well truthfully, my parents. My dad. It comes from always having a larger group of people around you growing up, and then people start to look up to you. When people start to look up to you it’s kind of like, sink or swim. You can be that person that says, “You know what, I can step up to that occasion and give you some good advice and show you the right way.” I decided at one point in time that I was going to be that person.
Be confident in yourself. Walk with pride, act with pride, shake your hand with pride.
UE: That’s good advice. One last question – do you have any Valentine’s Day plans?
Kaylan: Naw. Not at the moment. You know, I’m working on it. I met a beautiful girl. We’ll see what happens.
For more information about this brand: 2xist
Photo Credit: 2xist, Jean Paul Gaultier, MensUnderwearStore, Yu Tsai