Are you ready to find your niche in the modeling industry? Do you need a little inspiration? Well, look no further because Lola Chél, founder of Model University is here to help.

Meet the Dean of Model University

Briana Janay: “When did you begin your modeling career?”

Lola Chél: “So, that’s always really a very good question to start with because just like anything else there’s always layers. The traditional answer as far as career wise, like where I’m at right now, doing it full time it’s been like three years including this year. If we’re talking about the first time I did anything model related oh we’re throwing it all the way back, like a good, solid decade.

Briana Janay: “Ok ok, it’s been a good ten years.”

“What kind of model do you identify yourself as?”

Lola Chél: “I am a fashion and beauty model. So, anything having to do with clothing, cosmetics, hair, skincare, that’s what I do.”

Briana Janay: “I love looking at your pictures and your videos, and it doesn’t matter how glamorous the shoot may be you always find a way to make sure your natural beauty glows. I love that about you!”

Lola Chél: “That’s a really good testament because that’s literally why I started modeling. Traditionally speaking when I embarked on like, ‘I think I want to be a model; I want to freelance, like five years ago…even today you don’t see anybody who’s darker than a brown paper bag, who has naturally curly or kinky hair at the top of the modeling industry. You just don’t, you just can’t name one super model off the top of your head, and that’s the problem.”

Meet the Dean of Model University (continued)

Briana Janay: “You can’t and that’s why I said I have to tell you, because I’ve noticed it’s something you don’t see a lot of even today with all the natural sisters.”

“So, I know you have your baby, Model University. What made you start it?”

Lola Chél: “Starting Model University, honestly it was a lot of vision and then a whole lot of God to be quite honest with you. I don’t think people realize that everything you go through is for a reason. Like, it might not make sense at the time. It might not have gone to the success level you wanted it to, but everything that I’ve done in my life, especially related to modeling has helped me to form Model University.”

“A lot of people don’t know this but when I first got into modeling I started a modeling troupe, actually here in South Florida, okay. It was Urban Modeling Troupe, and it was founded at FIU, and I was one of the founding members. So, I got like immersed into it. So, I’m talking like shows, techniques, stylists, and everything. My second semester because I was a founding member I actually was brought on to teach models. Before the start of my freelance career I was starting to teach models techniques, teach them runway, and teach them how to pose. So, I had like a good two years of teaching models in person before I even thought about Model University.”

Meet the Dean of Model University (continued)

“I started to realize that there were still models that I’d come across that didn’t have things that I thought was general knowledge. Like, what do you mean you don’t have a model bag, you just show up and you’re not prepared? What do you mean you don’t know what type of model you are? How are people supposed to book you for things that match you or what do you mean you don’t know your market? All of the small essential details that I feel like every model should know… I was coming across people in this industry who had no idea and they were just doing, and then they would get frustrated.”

“So, I was just like man I started this year on high, it was great. I was applying to travel for work at least once or twice a month; and I was like man this is the perfect time to start putting things out there for other models. I guess God was like, okay, bet. March came, and I had to be home. So, that’s what kind of got me going with the university.”

Briana Janay: That’s dope that you started your own modeling troupe! I’m familiar with that, I went to Cookman, and they had Faces and Epicurean. Of course, they all have their own style, very dope!”

How to become a Money Making Model

Briana Janay: “Being that you have Model University is there a set criteria for someone to begin your courses?”

Lola Chél: “No, that’s the thing, I’ve been a champion of this like ten times over. Anybody can be a model, and that’s a good thing and a bad thing. On a positive note, there is a niche and market for everyone, no matter where you are or what you look like. Whether you think that you’re pretty, pretty ugly, or if you just think you’re ugly. There is space for you inside the industry. If that is what you want to pursue it is my job to show you the best path for you, and give you options on how to achieve that.”

“I have a model orientation. It’s literally like a regular university. You have orientation which is free just like a regular college. Even though they try to sneak that into a fee somewhere down the line. The model orientation is actually really really free. I get that question a lot. It gives you a base for figuring out if this is what you want to do. I give you information that shows you how anybody can become a model. I also give a free quiz on how to find your modeling need that’s best for you in under two minutes. You get all of the links to my podcast that is specifically for models, and shows that give guidance.”

“I have a lot of resources inside the orientation. So, if you really don’t know if you want to actually pursue it that’s what you can take for free, and get some good clarity. “

How to become a Money Making Model (continued)

“From there, if you want then you can step into the course. I recently launched Model Money, the real introduction to the university. It walks you through how to make money as model in one week or less. Those are the essentials that I think every model should have when comes to now you actually wanting to make money off of your passion.”

“If want to go from a hobby to hustle, that’s what I made Model Money for. Just pay your one-time fee and you get unlimited access to it. It’s more intensive, because then I walk you through the basics. I walk you through agency representation, portfolio development, and finding the money in your market. I go through all of these things as we step through the program. Following that we start getting into bachelor leveled curriculum inside of a program I have called Model Mastery. That’s where it’s like you know how to make money, now let’s teach you how to make a career out of this.”

“So, yup it’s like a real university. You start with the orientation, it’s free. If you feel like this is what you want to do, and you want to go from hobby to hustle you can hustle your way into Model Money. That’s going to be your associate’s degree. Once you feel like you want to go from hustle to career, then you can step into your bachelor’s with me inside of Model Mastery. I will walk you through, in depth, everything that you need to learn about how to be a professional model.”

How to become a Money Making Model (continued)

Briana Janay: “Wow, that’s great. You have it set up from the orientation to the degree.”

“You kind of already touched on it, but I was going to ask you if you believe anyone can become a money making model, no matter what their physical appearance is?” So, I’m not even going to have you answer that one.

Has the Pandemic Brought a New Era of Modeling?

Briana Janay: Do you see a new era of modeling evolving as we continue through the pandemic?

Lola Chél: This is just like my class, you know you went from orientation, background to the associate’s, and now we’re in the bachelor’s.”

“Modeling has been evolving for quite some time. Falling just short of a history lesson it went from something that was for the rich and wealthy, and then for socialites, and then literally just pretty people, and then it went for an edgy look. Now, it’s more lucrative to everyday people. What people don’t understand is that commercial modeling is the most lucrative form of modeling. When we get into the new era of modeling following the pandemic, what’s really going to end up changing is, I think three major things coming from my professional perspective.”

“One, how you get talent and how talent is acquired, we are in a social age, so there are a lot platforms that showcase castings. There are opportunities and jobs all over social media that don’t require you to have an agency. You won’t have to be limited to having an agency represent you to get great jobs. That gatekeeping era is slowly but surely receding. Before it was like social media is an option. Now, virtual is the option and social media will forever be one of the number one ways to virtually connect.”

Has the Pandemic Brought a New Era of Modeling (continued)

“Two, what’s required for you to actually apply to these jobs is going to changed as well. Your need of use for technology is going to have to step up. Before the pandemic nine times out of ten you would have a client or somebody from the major office fly down to do the casting. You’d get your call time or get wind that the casting is happening at this time and this place. Or, if it’s a cattle call you might be there for hours, plural. That whole process is not gone, but it’s not present as much because the pandemic.”

“Now, how you apply is really by having super strong photos. That’s going to be the basis on if they’re even going to entertain you. Knowing how to work your zooms, so that when you get a call back you know like, this is my framing and this is the light I need to have. I need to make sure I have a solid background, make sure it’s quiet, and they can see and hear me. I need to know my lines. If it’s a non-speaking modeling gig I need to know the face to do my profile. Or, you’re going to have to get really good at self sufficients and virtual calls or call backs. That is going to be something that is different. So, how you’re going to apply to these opportunities whether you have an agency or not it’s basically the same process.”

Has the Pandemic Brought a New Era of Modeling (continued)

“Number three, what’s really going to change is the model’s amount of leverage inside the industry. With the previous two, even though their different they have different guides to a model’s ability to shape their own career. I think that’s the number one reason why Model University is doing so well, because I’m literally walking models through the power that they have. As I was telling you before about my “origin story”, when I first started I wasn’t agency represented. I didn’t know how to apply to an agency. So, I used social media to show that there was demand for my look. You can use your own platform to showcase your strengths, what you can do, collaborate with people, and put out good quality work; and then turn around and pitch yourself to major brands.”

Has the Pandemic Brought a New Era of Modeling (continued)

“You can make money doing promo and virtual campaigns for them. It gives the models a new era where you can literally craft your own career. I think during this pandemic it’s only heightened it. That’s literally what I’m teaching models how to do at Model University, because I see it. I see it because I am it, like that’s how I live my life, and how I pitched myself during the pandemic. It’s how I stayed afloat during the pandemic. I had a personal brand and I was able to pitch myself, model for brands, and get paid, because I knew my skills. This is the new wave, if you don’t know how to go out and get clients for yourself then you’re at the mercy of the industry and agencies for your success. So, those are the three things that I see changing for models in the industry.”

Briana Janay: “Those are all major points! I love how you walked us through each one.”

In the Mind of Lola Chél

Briana Janay: “So, this last question is pertaining to your career or maybe just life in general. Were there times when you wanted to give up and if so, how did you overcome those obstacles?”

Lola Chél: “I don’t think I ever wanted to give up. I just didn’t know how things were going to go. That’s in life and in business. Once I set my mind to it, and I have a good reason to do it with confirmation that’s it’s going to be a success, I stick to it until God shows me otherwise. I will say there’s something that kept me going during those low points where it was like man this is a lot of work…in those times what always keeps me going is my actual students.”

“When I learned that one of the first students from the Model Mastery program got agency represented in less than four months that was confirmation to keep going. It was a lot of work to put together the model mastery program cause it’s a monthly membership program right now, up until we complete our full year. It’s a year long program. When I first started it was like man this is a whole lot of work.”

In the Mind of Lola Chél (continued)

“When I listened to my students say the information I gave helped them secure more money than they had made all year as a model that is what made me start the associate’s and do the Model Money program. I realized like man, why should I limit that caveat of education only to people who could afford the bachelor’s? Those people clearly have the money to invest in their career. I still need to give models the help they need to start their career. So, I listened to my audience. I saw their success, and I just helped others create more. So, every time something is hard, tedious, or stressful I literally have screenshots of every thank you, good review, this helped me so much, and this really worked for me. It pushes me to really help the next wave of models step into who they can be.”

The Forty-five Seconds Trivia: Lola Chél Edition

Briana Janay: “I like how you started off with you never wanted to give up. It’s so easy to say, hey I’m just going to do this. The results of your students keep you going. That means you’re a selfless person.”

“That was my last question, question, but I want to do a Lola edition type trivia. Let’s see if I can get the answers in forty-five seconds or less.

Lola Chél: “I’m nervous like what if I get the questions wrong.”

Briana Janay: “It’s okay, I won’t know, because they’re all about you.”

“How many shoots have you done altogether?”

Lola Chél: “Oh my gosh, I have no idea. Um, I can tell you how many shoots I did this month, and that would be four.”

Briana Janay: “Where was your first shoot?”

Lola Chél: “Again, I have absolutely no idea! But, I’m going to say in Florida.”

Briana Janay: “What was your most memorable or favorite shoot?”

Lola Chél: “Ooh, I don’t want no clients mad. So, my first most iconic shoot, of course there were many more after this, was with Luster’s Pink. As every body in the Black community knows, that’s that Pink hair lotion. They came out with a natural line, and I was an advocate for that. So, we’re going to go with that.”

Briana Janay: “My Grandma put that hair lotion in my head all the time. I can still smell it right now.”

“Have you ever stumbled while walking?”

Lola Chél: “Oh yeah, you can stumble. You can buckle, but don’t fall. I have never fallen. Have I buckled? Yes, yes I have. A little woop woop with the ankle. But, did I ever fall? No.”

Wrapping it up Lola Chél

Briana Janay: I am done getting in your head. Did you have anything you’d like to add?”

Lola Chél: “Yeah, so for one thank you for interviewing me. I think it is great that you are using your talents to highlight the talents of others. Especially in a space where so many times women of color are completely overlooked. Thank you so much for highlighting me!”

“If there is anyone who’s thinking about becoming a model or has been a model before or getting started in modeling, please check out Model University. There is so much information I give out for free. The whole entire Instagram is free. I do a class there every single week for free, and I have the Model Orientation, which of course as you know is free. I have all the free resources for Model University in one place. And if they’re really serious about it then they can always go into the associate’s, the bachelor’s, and then the master’s and Ph.D. in a few years. That’s really the last thing that I want to say.”

If you’ve made it this far, you’ve obviously realized that we went past the forty-five seconds limit. Every minute of the conversation was essential and she dropped so many gems in this interview alone. So, imagine how much she can help you if you enrolled in Model University today.

On behalf of Pretty Hustlaz Incorporated I was so elated to chat with you, Miss Lola Chél, and you are truly the epitome of black girl magic!

Everyone can follow Lola Chél @lolachel on Instagram.

If you want to become a money making model follow @themodeluniversity, and visit themodeluniversity.com for popular resources.