Editor's note
The modelling industry is a cut throat business, where one’s age is a best kept secret. Guangzhou’s scene is no exception. Competition is high between Chinese and foreign models, rivalry Tomas knows all too well.
From a model to a father
“I started modelling from around 17 years-old. It was because of my sister, she sent my pictures to an agency and I said ‘why I’m not handsome’?”

Modest Tomas was snapped up on his first shoot and was offered a contract. Unknowing to Tomas then, he would soon be leaving his home-country of Lithuania in Europe after securing a shoot in Guangzhou, a shoot that would change his life forever.

“I came with an agency for 3 months…at first I did not want to stay in China.

After one week, I went to a party and I met Mandy. I wasn’t expecting it. She changed everything. Then after I say I want to stay here, and they let me stay another 3 months.”

Now two years later, married, with a baby on the way Tomas’s social life and career are snowballing.
Model Tomas & Tomas cafe
“I mostly work for Taobao. Small shops and big shops all have a Taobao account.”

But for Tomas, competition is always in the back of his mind. Now working as a freelancer he hiked up his prices and potentially lost some jobs but was paid more in others, Tomas and his Wife Mandy took out some insurance…and opened a bar named Tomas!

“Competition is everywhere, between Chinese and foreigners.

This is why I do the bar, I don’t want to spend my whole life modelling, every year I am getting older, that’s why I don’t tell my age.
Never push the price lower
Some models worry about getting old and losing jobs and not getting money”

The modelling industry in Guangzhou needs more models to accommodate the growing number of marketing promotions for growing businesses but they also want to pay less.

“Before it was better prices, last year was better prices, but this year so far down.

I have jobs now but I don’t know what will happen next year. If teachers come and they are a little bit handsome they can do some modelling and maybe their price is lower.

Now I have a bar, I don’t need to worry about getting modelling jobs, I don’t need to push my price lower. I say if you don’t like my price, sorry I don’t work, it’s my price, everyone is different, if you don’t like, we don’t have to co-operate together.”
Differencs between modelling
in Europe and China
After spending most of his life modelling in Lithuania, Tomas explains the main, but rather important, differences between modelling in Europe and China.

“About shirts, 90% of these pictures are the same, ‘this side 45 degrees straight, 45 again and 90 and back, okay I can push my head down or something, but apart from that, they’re all the same, they don’t want to change this.

In Poland they say, okay just move your body and they’re catching, catching, catching, naturally.

When I come to China, it was a little bit hard, but Mandy helped me, because before she was a model too, she taught me the Chinese style.”
How to get jobs
Getting gigs in China is also a little different than the usual ‘get an agent’, ‘sign up to websites’ routine practised in the west. Social networks play a big role in bridging the gap between models and those trying to find a model!

“I have a contract with some agencies and freelance agents who use WeChat, QQ and you just start to share information what is your price or something.”Sometimes models may have never met their ‘agent’. Agents will use sites like WeChat to promote their clients, such as Tomas, and share their information online.
Luckily for Tomas, he has investments. Competition may be fierce and time won’t be on his side forever, but he is looking for the future and can see his young, handsome appearance might not be able to earn him a living all his life.

“I just do everything for family."
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