“Sono un modello italiano da Roma e attualmente abito a Milano”, Francesco Ceglie starts explaining about his career as an Italian fashion model. “È una carriera molto internazionale”, he continues and shares his experiences from fashion shows and shootings across the world. “My career got started, when I was only 17. Back then a friend of mine introduced me to some key people in the fashion industry and all of a sudden I was doing shootings and castings … it was a totally new experience, a fascinating world that I was discovering step by step”.
“This profession calls for great physical flexibility and psychological adaptability. Often it happens that at a very short notice you have to move to another geographical location for doing a shooting or a runway show, stay there for a couple of days and then again travel to the next destination in another country. It is exciting, of course, to get to see the world, but often it is demanding as well. Either you have the readiness for this or you just don’t. But even more importantly, you constantly have to adjust to changing circumstances and for most of the time you work with different people. You must have excellent people skills as without them you will not succeed in this highly competitive business”.
The challenge of the modelling profession is that you always have to look great, keep yourself fit and avoid any excesses in your life. “Yes, I am genetically truly blessed. On top of that I used to be a professional soccer player on the national level. The years with soccer taught me self-discipline and goal orientation. Also they gave me valuable knowledge about healthy nutrition and physical training. This is a very good foundation for my modelling work. I love jogging and playing tennis. These two sports help me to keep my mind, body and soul in a good shape”.
Networking is everything
Francesco is aware that a model’s career does not last forever. “Adesso ho 24 anni, sono tuttora giovane … I’m still young, but even in the best scenario, I cannot necessarily expect to have more than 7-8 years of modelling ahead of me. This is pure realism … therefore, you have to have a vision for your professional future … to have something satisfying and rewarding to do later on … something that gives meaning to your life”.
“What I have done in the past few years is that I have systematically been building up my professional network. I have contacts across the globe … some of them are really important and influential figures. So, I am playing my cards in such a way that when the day arrives that I cannot continue my career in the modelling business anymore, I can then make a transition into something else with some self-initiative and with the support of my network.”
“From very early on I have understood how important it is to have a plan B. Needless to say, in life things do not always go the way you wish and then no matter how proactive you are yourself, you may get totally stuck with everything. But with a plan B, you can more easily reroute your life into a new and more preferred direction, whether it is about the private or professional sphere of your life.”
Many ways to learn
“In a way it is a little bit funny that both my parents are teachers, but I myself never liked schooling that much. I was not a bad or poorly performing student. I just happened to have other life interests. I am not an academic person … hmm … how should I put this … maybe I could say that my approach to learning is that the world is my university and the people I meet are my teachers”.
“Of course my parents have repeatedly emphasized the importance of education and formal qualifications. I am not saying that I do not need them. I am only telling my family that I can acquire a formal education later on in life. For the time being, I could not possibly follow a university degree programme as I am travelling so much and my life is extremely hectic.”
“Life is a great teacher”, Francesco says and adds “You definitely learn a lot simply by doing things. Sometimes when I reflect on my own professional career and I realize all the great things I have learnt, I become satisfied with myself and my achievements. For example, I did not learn any proper English at school. I have learnt my English through work and during those periods when I have been living in Los Angeles.”
What goes around, comes around
Towards the end of the interview, Francesco starts talking about his worldview and life philosophy. “You know, there is this thing called Karma. If you do nasty things to other people, you only create bad Karma for yourself. Already a long time ago I decided to treat other people well … family members, friends, acquaintances, colleagues, people on the street … and this is bringing good things back to me too. Making the good go around is something that more people these days should be doing”.
“I am not saying that I am innocent and perfect. No, I am not … far from that. I have made lots of stupid things in my life … I have really messed up big time occasionally, but each time I have learnt something valuable as afterwards I have had to deal with the consequences of my own misconduct … and take full responsibility for what I screwed up. I never make the same mistake twice. I am smart enough to learn the lesson quickly from the first time already”, Francesco says laughingly.
We are living in a global world
“I feel extremely privileged to have the opportunity through my work to travel and explore the world and discover many interesting places and get to know wonderful people from all corners of the globe. I see my life as a tremendous adventure … sometimes I feel like watching a movie when I think about all the events and experiences I have had until now. All this makes me highly grateful to life for all the blessings it has given me.”
“I know I am not an average person … I do not really fit into any of the accepted categories of the world or society … I am who I am … I am what I am … and I hope people would respect this without making me feel guilty or constantly making me feel that I somehow need to justify my existence to them”.
“Now being highly self-reflexive I just wish to finish by saying that, on the one hand, I am a serious, sensitive and intuitive person, but on the other hand, I am an impulsive fun loving guy. These are qualities that have proven to be very helpful in my profession. From the little boy born in 1992 and raised in Rome in a quite traditional Italian family, I have come a long way by now. Partly thanks to my family, partly thanks to my life experience, I have grown to an open-minded, tolerant, accepting and understanding person … yeah, I would say that I have become a citizen of the world.”
Text based on the interview with Francesco Ceglie in Milan, Italy (August 2017)