He worked with the likes of Naomi Campbell, Nicky Hilton and Kimora Lee Simmons, but after 20 years in the modeling industry, Paul Fisher walked away from the business with no intention of ever coming back. However, after a 10-year hiatus, he has returned to launch The Network talent agency. He sat down with us during a recent visit to Louisville at Heyman Talent Agency to explain how he’s working to revamp the modeling industry and coach kids on becoming a different kind of model: a role model.
Tell us a little bit about The Network?
I started building The Network about two years ago. We actually only launched our business about 90 days ago. I oversee 35 modeling agencies around the world, and I represent 12,000 models. Thirty-two of the agencies are owned by women. My staff of 15 is all women, and the reason for that is I wanted to create a safe environment for women all over the world so parents would not be nervous about letting their daughters and their sons get involved in a very, very difficult business.
What inspired you to create a network of agencies?
My faith became very important to me about eight years ago. I needed to do something with my life and my soul to repent for the actions of a couple of decades ago when I was Paul Fisher, the famous model agent guy. I had to try to figure out how to take my faith and apply this new faith to something I was good at, which was helping create and develop young kids. I’m not a big fan of the modeling industry. I don’t support it. I don’t actually think kids should do it to be honest with you. I think certain kids should do it if they can become role models.
I thought to myself, what if I could convince women and agency owners all over the world to bind together and form a community of agencies owned by women where I could talk to tens of thousands of kids? I thought they would listen to me because I got through it. I could speak to kids about health and wellness – that you’re beautiful even if you’re 170 pounds, 160 pounds. It’s all irrelevant. It’s what’s inside of you.
What brings you here to Louisville?
I and my team manage modeling agencies. We can actually see things that maybe the modeling agency can’t. We can come into an agency and really assist them in monetizing some of their kids in ways that are maybe outside of the Louisville market. We’ll take a couple of those kids and literally introduce them to some of the top designers and magazines in the world. With Heyman Talent Agency, we’re going to tear down their borders and teach them that they’re an international agency, not just a Louisville agency.
You believe in focusing on health and wellness. How do you keep your models from feeling the pressure to look thin when you send them somewhere that seems to glorify the thin ideal?
I am going to go to war with anyone who continues to use double size-zero, skinny models. I’m going to affect their bottom line. I’m going to force them to take social responsibility for the images that they’re putting out into the world. People are damaging the youth today. I think the word “plus-size model” is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. They’re actually normal people. They should call the other models “skinny models.” I hope and pray that there’s a shift in the world. I have this new rap that “healthy is the new skinny.”
Was there a turning point that led you to where you are today with the modeling industry?
My sister came down with cancer, and I was living at the Cedars-Sinai Cancer Center. And then, these two famous models called me up one day and they started screaming at me. They said, “We’re only making $50,000 today!” I said, “My sister’s dying and you guys are mad that you’re only making $50,000.” So I closed down all my agencies in L.A., New York and Miami, and I didn’t leave my house for 12 months. I couldn’t do it anymore. I swore to myself I would never be involved in the modeling industry again, and then my (Kabbalah) teachers came to me and said you have to go back in. Then something came to me one day: What if I could convince these kids to give back to the community, to become role models, to live a healthy life, to not do drugs, to be careful? So I went on this mission.
What do you look for when you are casting models?
Ninety-nine percent of the kids I see I try to sway out of the modeling industry. But, I only think that the 1 percent of the kids that are so cool looking, that really have a chance to become famous, those are the kids I think should do it. Anyone else who is going to have a tough time through the process, I don’t think they should even think about it, because I think that when you go on 1,200 castings a year and 1,192 times you don’t get the job, you don’t take it like you didn’t get the job. You’re like, “What’s up with my lips? What’s up with my gums? What’s up with my nose?” You start looking in the mirror and seeing stuff that nobody else sees. I don’t think anyone should model unless you can kill it, and if you can kill it, then you can make millions of dollars, become a role model and give back to your community. So then I think that’s OK.
How do you teach kids to become role models in the industry?
One of the most important parts of my business is the Network Community – it’s kind of an online magazine. Seventy percent of the content is from my kids. I love taking these stories of these inspirational young people and allowing them to have a voice because I really believe that other young kids listen to those type of things – when another young kid says, “I’m 14 and I just started a foundation,” or “I’m giving to locks of love.”
People who truly win the game of life and keep their careers going for 20 and 30 and 40 years – Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Madonna, Jennifer Aniston – they just give back. And there’s a reason. It’s circuitry. The only way to hold onto what you have is to give it away.
For information on the Network, visit www.networktalentcommunity.com.
Category: The Spotlight
About the Author (Author Profile)
Ashley spends half her time writing stories at The Voice-Tribune office and half her time out on the town conducting interviews, while occasionally dressing in wild outfits to fully immerse herself in the experience (aka Princess Leia at Comic Con). Ashley is a huge UofL fan and loves the Yankees and the Boston Celtics (she is fully aware of the irony). She hopes to one day outshine Erin Andrews on ESPN and enjoys running, Bardstown Road/Fourth Street, Breaking Bad and reality TV (she’s not ashamed to admit that).