Meet your new best friend: Cailin Hill. She is an ex-model who used to work for Ford in NYC and Stage Models in Japan. If you are like me and linger the internet, you would have stumbled upon her successful Model Burnbook where she used to dish about the modeling agency. It is now filled with stunning film pictures she has taken and gives us a view into her life shared with her husband and being a social media director at Stage. She lives in Japan and has recently started her own online store!
Photography by Maya Kibbel
Interview by Maya Kibbel and Lauren Engel
Through your blog, you seem to be confident about expressing your thoughts, sometimes negative, about the modeling industry, why did you decide to join it in the first place and continue to do it until recently?
I vividly remember being 13 years old and telling people I was moving to New York City. Obviously when I grew up, I realized you can’t just do that. Haha. Especially as a Canadian citizen. Modeling was a blessing in that way, but also a curse cos you get addicted to traveling and starting over in new places. After a while I felt like I couldn’t go home. I also became consumed with the realization that modeling for so long left me with a huge gap on my résumé and a college degree that I never finished. Modeling in Japan is much different than anywhere else. It isn’t so consuming, it’s just a job here.
How do you compare modeling in NYC to Japan?
It’s essentially like comparing university to middle school. Most models who work in NYC have modeled in Asia at some point in their careers, it’s where new faces are sent to get their first paychecks and learn how to model.
Where did you get your confident attitude about speaking up about the industry and not caring what people think?
Hahahaha that’s from my father. He’s always starting shit, because he loves discussions and debates. From an early age he always made sure I could argue my opinions. I was more confident going in to the industry because I knew what I believed in. I mean, it definitely worked against me in many ways. Models are meant to be molded, not the other way around.
Did you ever have problems in the modeling industry with exposing so much of it?
Certainly, people thought I didn’t take it seriously. That I only half heartedly cared about modeling. Fuck, I mean. What did I really expose about the industry? That models hate starving themselves, lying about their ages, putting up with sexual harassment and racial discrimination? That many of us are depressed, fed up, medicated or self-medicating with drugs and alcohol? I would imagine if you looked to any other image based job–actors, dancers, athletes, prostitutes–all of us would have similar mental health issues. We’re all expendable. That’s common knowledge.
It seems that you have confidence from knowing that you have no future in the modeling industry, how did you get this insight?
Lol forever, I love this question! I dunno, there’s only one Kanye West, but it doesn’t mean he’s the only person in the world that has a valid opinion on hiphop music. Same goes for modeling.
How has your life changed since you got married? You only dated for a few months, how did you know he was the one?
Age and experience. That’s how you know. My husband also worked in fashion–he worked at a modeling agency for a long time–so he knew what he was in for when he married me haha! We had an incredible bond and we still do. We always will. I don’t know what I would do without him.
What was the biggest challenge you overcame and lesson you learned from your early modeling days?
The biggest challenge I had to overcome was my age, I wish I had just been unapologetic about it. I remember Ford being pretty supportive about me saying my real age. But then also remember standing in a lineup of 16 year olds wearing nude slips, and a very prominent casting director telling me “never ever tell anyone your real age” when I announced to the room that I was 25. I chuckled and told ’em I was 18. It’s not personal and it didn’t offend me. But it fucked with me having to lie to people, I’m an extremely forthcoming person.
You said somewhere that you guys just booked a day from work to go to “city hall” to tie the knot, did you have an actual wedding after? If so, can you describe it?
Nope, no wedding. It was hard enough for him to get the time off work. Then trying to fly everyone across the world to come to Japan for a party? My parents weren’t going to come, so it didn’t really make a difference to me. If they were coming it would’ve been another story. Cos I had his beautiful vintage dress and hat I wanted to wear for the occasion…we might have a second wedding someday. Just so I can wear the damn dress, ha.
Back to Model Burnbook, you’re very candid which I know readers appreciate and enjoy. You said something recently, “When you’re 32 you have stories, it’s a sexy time to be a woman.” Safe to say we love you for saying that. What makes you feel the most sexy?
Wisdom makes me feel sexy–you can see that in someone, how they move and carry themselves. I don’t have to think about looking sexy anymore and God does that ever make me happy.
How did you become the social media director for Stage Models? Do you do this full-time?
Stage models was my first agency in Tokyo, they were the only agency here to take a chance on me. No models could work in Japan with visible tattoos, and my tattoos were quite noticeable. They took that risk because they believed in me and I worked like crazy in Tokyo, luckily it worked out for both of us.
After I quit modeling I contacted them with a written proposal and offered my services as a social media director. I was at Ford Models NY when Damien Neva was doing Social Media there, and it was next level. He’s currently at Next Models NY as the social media director there. That stuff motivates me. I like telling stories, not just reposting photos. It’s an opportunity for me to take something I know well and put my spin on it. I get the opportunity to shoot lots of up and coming models and nurture ties with them. That’s important to me now. I enjoy getting to know the girls and listening to what they have to say. It’s important for them to have someone who doesn’t just tell them what they want to hear. I know my time as a model helped me to understand what models are going thru, and the demands that are put on them.
Nothing is full time for me, I embrace my ‘slash-career’ 100%. I run a vintage store called modelburnbook.bigcartel.com, I teach English to Japanese actors & photographers, I just did my first styling job for Skullcandy and that was an amazing experience, I also shoot/art direct & write for a number of international brands who want Tokyo based content. I’m many things, and I’m happy to say that ex-model is one of them (laughs)