Find out about the supermodel who travels the world, makes music with top-shelf producers, parties with Paris Hilton and sits next to you during the lectures… Meet Ruben Pol, a first-year IBA student at the VU.
It was a regular Monday morning during a lecture. Overwhelmed by fatigue from the busy weekend, I lost my focus. Trying to stay awake, I started looking around to find something more interesting than the boring PowerPoint. There was this one guy wearing fashionable but odd clothes sitting in front of me making his own Website on his laptop. Curious about what he was doing, I started talking with him. He told me he’s a model. Without any knowledge at all about the modeling industry, I asked him for which brands he’s modeling.
Who could have guessed that this guy sitting in front of me during a lecture is a model that has traveled around the whole world, modeling among other brands for Gucci, Dior and Burberry, while only 21 years old! Being insanely curious about his story, I asked him for an interview, he was so kind to sit with me to answer all my questions.
Meet Ruben Pol from the Dutch city Alphen aan den Rijn.
Ruben, how did you get discovered as a model?
“It was pretty random. I was posting some holiday pictures with friends on Instagram and suddenly someone reacted on one of my pictures: “Hi, I’m a model scout, what is your age and length?” When I showed this comment to my friends, they thought it was a scam. Not following their advice, I started talking to this person and sent some pictures. In one week time, I got signed by two agencies and was booked exclusively for Dior during the fashion week in Paris.”
Damn, that escalated quickly. This show must have been insane, how was it?
“At that time, I didn’t realize how big of an honor it was to do this show. I got the privilege to open and close the show. I was the first one to go on the catwalk, I was nervous as hell. Then the music started to blast and I got the signal to go. The first thing I saw was a wall of photographers with flashing lights. The adrenaline started to kick in and my face became numb, I was literally shitting my pants. The number of eyes, cameras, and lights all pointed at you is a very weird feeling.
How did your friends and family react when you started modeling?
“When I started modeling I basically got two reactions. Some people were like: “Damn, that’s great! You’re going to have so much life experience and you’re going to get to know yourself.” Others were like: “Okay…so you’re not going to study right away? Well, good luck in life then… You’re not going to make it.” When I look at people who start their second studies and don’t know what to do with their lives, I am happy I took those years to discover myself, now I know what I am working for.”
You’re saying that you know what you’re working for, what is this exactly?
I want to bring out my own music and make a different and bigger brand out of myself. Since I’ve been posting my music on my Instagram account, I got some opportunities in the music industry. This made me realize that also in this branch, people are interested in me. In 2018, I will relaunch myself. This means that I will have a different look and I’ll also release my music. Because of my music, there will be more character and personality in my image which will benefit me as a model as well.
To achieve these goals I’m slowly building a team of the right people around me, and I actually think that’s most important for me right now.”
Who is a part of your team at this moment?
“I got approached by a guy who has an artist management in Stockholm and LA. He organized sessions for me with producers, songwriters and other musicians in Holland. It really surprised me how high this level was. I’ve sat with a famous Dutch band ‘Causes’ and also with some guys who produce music for old-school Dutch hip-hop artists like Yes-R and Ali-B. All these sessions were very fun and I learned a great deal. I also work with Tom Martin, he’s a great producer and songwriter. He has mixed for David Guetta and Tiësto. With his knowledge of the music industry, he helps me a lot.”
It sounds like you have a solid plan for your future. Not a lot of people at your age are as motivated as you are. What actually drives you?
“Up until the secondary school, I didn’t really know who I was and what I wanted to do with my life. But when I started modeling and traveling the world, I realized I’m happy and at home in the creative industry, especially in the music industry. Knowing that, I am very motivated to fight and work really hard to make a sustainable future in this industry.”
Wow, I’m certain you’ll inspire a lot of people with your mindset! As a semi-celebrity, do people already notice you on the streets?
“When I walk out of a venue after a big show, I get swarmed by so many photographers. It’s as if I’m a huge celebrity. But after I walk a few blocks, nobody gives a damn anymore.”
How do you feel about the fact that you’re not really noticed outside of the modeling world?
“It actually bothers me, in the modeling world you’re basically an object without a voice or opinion. A lot of people think that models are stupid, while I know that there are models with some good brains as well (Not all though). My ultimate dream is to be known for the person I am and for the stuff I create myself, opposed to being recognized for just my face. For example, I want to be the face of a campaign in which my song is the music of the campaign. That would be crazy!”
You are probably the first person to be a model, a musician and is studying at university. With all of these great plans, how did you get the idea to start International Business Administration?
“Armin Van Buuren studied law as well so I’m not the only one, haha. There are actually two reasons why I started this study. First of all, I want to be more than just a model, I want to build a solid business around myself. It can be over so quickly in this industry and I want to live a sustainable life. In order to build a business and a sustainable future I really think I need this education.
The second reason is that I discovered that you can get screwed over very quickly with business related stuff in the creative industry. I want to be able to run my business without making silly mistakes in for example contracts and fees.”
You have traveled and lived in Hong Kong, New York, Tokyo, where didn’t you go, haha. I bet you’ve encountered some crazy moments, what has been the most memorable experience until now?
“One of the things that will always stick with me is my first shoot, also for Dior. It was a sunny, just beautiful day in a park in Paris. The team consisted of around 30 people and I was the only model. There were a lot of people chilling in the park. At one moment, the team evacuated half of the park just to make a picture of me, it was so weird.”
What is your best fashion advice for our readers?
“I think to not try too hard. Especially at parties, there are people that always want to be extra and over the top. In my opinion, this looks a little stupid. Think about what you dress and just do what you feel like, don’t think too much about what others think of you. When you go to the grocery store to buy some eggs you don’t need to wear something over the top, just be chill…”
Every interview is limited by the questions being asked, that’s why I would love to know what you would ask yourself if you were the one conducting this interview?
“I would ask myself about the parties I attended because they were quite amazing!
The craziest party was in a gorgeous 5-star hotel suite in Milan. Butlers were walking around the building and you could ask for anything and they would bring it. I was a little wasted and suddenly Paris Hilton walked in with other celebrities. Going to the other extreme, I can also really enjoy parties in one of the stupid bars in my hometown Alphen aan den Rijn.”
At last, do you have some advice for the readers who have ambitions to become a model, like me :p I’m joking but do you have some handy tips and tricks?
“If you truly think you make a chance, the easiest thing to do is to make some really clear pictures and send it to agencies. For the people who think their face is great but they don’t have the right length, don’t worry. Look at Cara Delevingne. She is not long enough according to the standards, yet she managed to become one of the biggest faces of the industry. You can only find out after doing it. I think that’s also a very general advice. If you feel and think about something a lot. And deep down you know what you want to do, just go for it! When you eventually get some opportunities, show people that you’re grateful for them. Be nice and respect everyone. Don’t just be nice to the famous photographer but also to the one who steams your clothes.
Interested in more amazing stories of students? Check out Humans of VU! Or do you also have a crazy story? Send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org on why we should interview you and maybe you’re going to be the next one on this blog!
And don’t forget to follow Ruben Pol’s Instagram for more info and pictures about his modeling life: @rubenpol_