Gigi Hadid Once Helped A Homeless College Drop Out Land A Modeling Contract
EXCLUSIVE: How Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid crushed on the 20-year-old homeless hottie called the ‘Romeo of Venice Beach’ and helped launch his modeling career.
One day over the summer, he was just coming out of a dip in the ocean when good fortune in the form of Kendall and Gigi fell upon him. Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid might both have hit supermodel status in 2015, but they still remember just how hard it is starting out in the industry and it’s emerged that they actually helped discover homeless skater turned male model John Economou this year. 20-year-old John moved to LA from Milwaukee last year in the hopes of making it as a model and was spending his days skating and his nights sleeping on Venice Beach when he had a chance meeting with Gigi, Kendall and Ansel Elgort after a shoot they did together up on the boardwalk. The Victoria’s Secret Models were just wrapping up a commercial alongside Ansel Elgort and took notice of the homeless hottie. “One of the girls said to me, ‘You’re cute.’ so I turned around and we struck up conversation,” Economou told The Daily Mail of his lucky encounter . “I didn’t realize who I was speaking to at first and it finally clicked who it was.
Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner (not to mention their little sisters Bella and Kylie) have stormed the fashion world thanks to their multimillion-strong Instagram, Facebook and Twitter followings, leaving more established, less tech-savvy models in their wake. After noticing just how beautiful he is and having a bit of a chat, the girls put John in touch with their management and it’s ended up with him landing representation from Kendall’s agency, Two Management. After a conversation with them, he found himself getting signed with a modelling agency. “I was just chilling on the beach and watching the water, minding my own business and then I see these people come over. And if you’re Kendall Jenner, with millions of followers across different social media platforms, you’re raking in anywhere from $125,000 to $300,000 for a single post across social media.
We were just talking, and they said I should take up modeling here in LA.” After hearing his story, Kendall decided to pull some strings with the agency she started her career with, Two Management, and the homeless skater boy eventually signed with them. It’s no secret that these huge followings win them high-profile jobs – brands are very transparent about the fact that the more followers a model has, the more likely they are to win the big-money jobs because they offer an extra level of exposure. As soon as they saw him the Victoria’s Secret Angles were smitten when the sun bathing bohemian chivalrously shooed away pesky seagulls from their lunch spread. Now the Milwaukee-native, who left home aged 19 to find his fame and fortune in California, has his own portfolio and hopes he can take the modeling world by storm.
Though he hasn’t booked any major gigs just yet he continues to audition and still feels incredibly lucky. “It’s a crazy story,” he says. “I’m just super grateful. Jenner suggested he try his hand becoming a male model and asked her manager to help sign Economou at Two Management in Los Angeles — the agency where the “Keeping Up with the Kardashian’s” star cut her teeth on years ago. But what we didn’t realise was quite how much these models make via their social media accounts; the figures puts Linda Evangelista’s “We don’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day” adage very much in the shade.
When he’s not sleeping under the stars, he picks up girls and spends the night at their house – earning him the nickname ‘Romeo of Venice Beach’. Their estimated earnings for social posts far surpass that of more established and well-known models like Karlie Kloss, Behati Prinsloo and Miranda Kerr. He travels with only a backpack full of two sets of clothes, his tooth brush and a skateboard. “I don’t have an apartment; I don’t have a house out here. I don’t know where I want to settle down yet,” says Economou, who saved up a mere $4,000 to move from his home in Wisconsin to Los Angeles last year.
This is according to Frank Spadafora, a former casting director and the founder and CEO of D’Marie Archive, an analytics group that has recently introduced an app and platform to guide agencies through putting a valuation on the social power of a model or influencer. The group has created an algorithm that uses 56 metrics, including post frequency, engagement and click-through rates – to help brands determine how much a from a certain model is worth. But Economou doesn’t live like the average homeless person — he has an iPhone 6 that his parents pay for and sometimes rents a motel room near the beach. Unlike many other homeless people, John says he has a great relationship with his family, who would welcome him back to their home any time he decided to go back. ‘My parents thought it was a little odd that I wanted to come and live the hippie lifestyle out here but they knew I’m super independent and super driven and motivated so they support me and believe in me. ‘I’ve been talking to Kendall’s manager a lot and to Ansel but I haven’t been talking to Kendall or Gigi because they are way too famous,’ he explained. Between 2014 and 2015, she reportedly earned $4 million, helping her nab the No. 16 spot in Forbes’ Highest-Paid Models 2015, the youngest model to make the list, at age 19.
The second youngest of the Kardashian-Jenner family has only been modeling since the beginning of 2014, with her breakout role in a runway show for Marc Jacobs. Jenner’s Instagram account features a mix of selfies, inspiration photos and occasional ones like this with captions such as, “Get your holiday party look from us and @topshop. show now at Topshop.com.” The photos has 1.8 million likes.
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