Before Melanie Zehner got into modeling and graced catalogs and the cover of a magazine, she was a girl living in a small town in Austria. Melanie was in a shopping center when a chance encounter led to her big break. She was only 1o when she was spotted by a shopping center’s marketing coordinator. She was approached and asked if she wanted to be the face of a new magazine. She eventually got the gig and this encounter piqued her interest in modeling. From there she went on to become a professional model and she has even done modeling internationally.
Model & Mode Magazine recently caught up with Melanie Zehner to discuss her journey in the modeling industry and here’s what went down:
Could you please provide background about yourself and how were you actually ‘discovered’?
I was originally born in Austria, I grew up in a little whimsical town with lovely natural surroundings. I have amazing parents who taught me a value system that I’ve always stayed true to. When I was about 10 years old I went to a shopping center with my mum and a lady from the shopping center’s marketing department approached me and asked me if I wanted to be the face of the new magazine – this was in summer and the mood of the magazine was “everything that you need for school.” My dad was part of a photography club that’s why I had no problems posing in front of the camera. In fact, ever since I was born he always had his camera next to me. That’s how I got my foot into the modeling industry.
What does it mean to you to be a model?
For me, it means a lot. You represent something so you should be a role model which means you have to work very hard on yourself.
What’s the biggest challenge to modeling?
Not to give up because there will always be people who will criticize you a lot! It doesn’t really matter how beautiful you are. After attending several casting calls, you will honestly feel like the ugliest person in the world.
Have you always wanted to be in the modeling industry?
I was always too shy. That’s why I got trained as a hairdresser and makeup artist – I got my master’s degree 3 years ago. But even then I never lost my passion for modeling – so when I was 21 I started to work very professionally as a model.
What’s your personal mission in life?
To create a life filled with love and adventure. I want to feel as intensely about life as possible. All kinds of feelings. I want to be able to run my imagination free so my deepest self can develop creatively. I have a gift for recognizing people and their stories and I keep my thoughts in stories, in diaries, and my memory. I’m a lioness because I don’t stop dreaming and learning. I believe in myself, I trust myself and am proud of myself.
What has been the most memorable experience of your career so far?
When I got booked for a video production in Thailand. Another unforgettable experience was when I saw myself in a catalog which I’ve known since my childhood – because everybody in Austria gets this catalog.
Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?
Oliver stone (Regisseur&film producer) and in Silicon Valley, I met Steve Jobs’ best friend which was really interesting.
What will you advise other models who may wish to follow your footsteps?
Stay true to yourself and don’t do any jobs just because of the money.
What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.
I want to work on an amazing project with high-profile photographers and I want to organize workshops all around the world. Outside my career, I would love to have a little family in the next 5-10 years.