Tell us about a day in the life of Gabriella Pawelek?
As of right now, my weekdays are pretty consumed by work and a climate change law seminar that I’m finishing before getting started on my master’s thesis. I’m usually up and at it around 9 if I don’t set an alarm for the day. I’m always ravenously hungry when I wake up, so I start my day with a big breakfast (110% my favorite meal of the day!). Usually I’ll make some sort of egg dish and a smoothie with whatever fruits and vegetables I have around, or if I’m running late to get somewhere I’ll pop down to Starbucks on my way out and order those little egg white bites and a green tea. If I don’t have a job that day, I’ll try to knock out any castings as early as I can so I have the afternoon free. I can get ready to go in five minutes, so I’ll spend some time in the morning checking emails and messages. You can almost always find me running out the door wearing all black with my hair up in a center part bun, and I’m a tinted moisturizer/lip balm/mascara kind of girl. Lunch is typically a salad with chicken to squeeze more veggies in, and I’ll spend at least part of the afternoon catching up on writing assignments. With this seminar, this could range from drafting hypothetical legislation to writing SEC disclosure statements. I like going to the gym in the late afternoon when it’s not busy. I’ll do weight work about every other day, and the days in between, which are my favorite, I’m outside running. Popping in earbuds and going on a long run is my favorite way to clear my head. I’m not currently on a training schedule for an event, but I’ll register for half and full marathons pretty regularly so that I have pacing goals to work towards. If I’m traveling, I’ll throw some resistance bands in my bag and use Kayla Itsines’ Sweat app for workout ideas. Dinner is the time I’ll splurge a little bit if I want to, especially if I’m meeting up with family or friends. I’m passionate about brownies and would challenge anyone to a burger eating contest. I like to read a little before bed every night – my most frequented is National Geographic, which I’ve read religiously since I was about 12.
Where are you from? Where are you based now and do you travel for shoots?
I’m originally from the Houston area and am currently based in LA for work. You will always find me traveling, both for modeling and for fun, as much as I possibly can – especially when I get an excuse to go home to Texas!
Growing up did you know you wanted to be a model? How or when did you start modeling?
Growing up, you wouldn’t have been able to convince me that I would ever be doing this today! Modeling is something that never would’ve crossed my mind. I was an introverted and outdoorsy kid, (still am!) who was very much so into my schoolwork, art, and sports, and I was also teased a lot for how tall and skinny I was.
In high school, I worked for a local wedding venue’s in-house catering company on weekends. I was helping the serving staff during a reception when a wedding guest snapped a quick picture of me (I’ll always remember this picture, I was passing around a tray of bacon wrapped shrimp!). She introduced herself to me as a good friend of the Shell family, the owners of Neal Hamil Agency in Houston, and asked if she could send them the picture with my contact information. I agreed, even though I thought to myself that nothing would come of it and that I would never pursue it –I’ve always been such a tomboy at heart and I associated all modeling with beauty pageants. A couple days later, I got a call from one of the bookers at Neal Hamil asking about a good time for me to come visit them at the office. Before I could tell them that I wasn’t interested, my mom convinced me to make the trip with her that week. I had my first modeling contract a few days later.
What do you look for when deciding to work with a photographer?
As far as my own personal tastes and style preferences go, I’m drawn to light and airy photos that are taken outdoors. And I love film photography! But I love working with a variety of photographers with different shooting styles, as it helps you diversify your book and different types of shots speak to different types of clients. In the end, I look at lighting, tones, and retouching that doesn’t go overboard.
How important is social media in your success?
Instagram has certainly helped me book jobs! I feel that most clients are just as likely to look at your social media as your portfolios on agency websites, some even more so. I also like that it gives you more room for expression, although I’m not the best at posting consistently. Instagram is also great for connecting with local photographers or booking last minute shoots when you travel.
What else do you do outside of modeling?
Right now, I’m wrapping up a master’s degree through Harvard’s SEM (Sustainability and Environmental Management) program and will be finished with my thesis paper on biosynthetic cannabinoids as of this upcoming November.I love to travel as much as possible, especially to places that have great hiking and/or diving. I also dabble in pen and ink art in my spare time. My style is a little on the minimalist side, and I’m working on building my portfolio – it’s my secret dream to be a fine line tattoo artist on the side!
What are some of the mistakes you made starting out as a model?
Wearing too much makeup to castings! It took me a while to realize that, even though you want to look and feel your best walking into any casting or meeting, directors truly do want to see you as more of a clean slate versus a “finished product”. Also, practicing my walk in one pair of heels that I felt most comfortable in. Before being approached about modeling, I had literally never worn heels! Being so tall already, I never wanted to stand out more than I already did. When I started getting asked to do runway jobs, I had to take classes on weekends to learn how to walk properly, and I always brought the same pair of manageable heels to class. In reality, you always run into shoes that are too big, small, wide, narrow, slippery, and tall – you name it – when doing shows. You have to learn to walk in them all, and I would’ve been doing myself a huge favor by working on this sooner than later.
What advice do you have for working with agencies for new models?
There’s no such thing as communicating too much or asking too many questions! Not wanting to come off as annoying or pushy, or to seem confused, can make reaching out to your bookers intimidating, but they’ll appreciate the fact that you’re taking initiative and being responsible. And it’s ultimately your career – don’t be afraid to be upfront about your work goals, to ask why you’re not going on more castings, to ask for some test shoots to revamp your book, etc.
What are things clients look for when hiring a model in your opinion?
First and foremost, aside from having the look that the client wants, you have to be easy to work/get along with. When a client’s investing so much in a production and everyone’s putting in a long day on set, you need to make sure you’re bringing a positive and cooperative attitude. This is especially important for locking in repeat clients, as well as being dependable and consistent in your timeliness and professionalism. Aside from that, everything’s practices, practice, practice. For print work, they’re going to usually be looking for girls who can move without much direction, and for shows, they’ll be booking the girl who can nail her walk in their looks and shoes. Social media presence can be also come into play, as some clients will take follower counts into consideration.
How did you grow your Instagram account?
As I’ve mentioned before, I could definitely do a lot more to be more active on Instagram, but the one thing that’s helped my account grow most is simply being posted and tagged on the feeds of brands and photographers that have larger followings.
Banner Image credit
Photographer & Wardrobe Stylist – Vara Pappas
Makeup Artist & Art Direction – Cori Aston
Model – Gabriella Pawelek Klein @ Neal Hamil Agency
@varapappas @coriaston39 @gabriellapawelek