From thrift store floor to haute couture

Following a trip to South Korea and a recent move to the United Kingdom, one Newfoundlander’s modelling career is set to reach new heights.

Adam Pike

Michael J. Williams didn’t always see modelling as his career path, but now he’s on the cusp of making it big.

Williams, who grew up in Mount Pearl, said he was discovered in a second-hand shop.

“I first got started in modelling by getting scouted at Previously Loved Clothing in St. John’s, of all places,” he said.

“I was wearing a tie-dye T-shirt and a pair of raggedy Jamaican flag knitwear board shorts,” he said. “This older guy, Alan Brampton, approached me and said, ‘Hey, I really love your style!’ After that, I did a local fashion show.”

The news shocked family members, too.

Michael’s sister, Andrea Williams, is a real estate agent in St. John’s.

“I was very surprised when Mike told me he had been approached,” said Williams. “Well, more so surprised that he was interested. He always had something about him that made him stand out.”

Local model Michael J. Williams is living a fast-paced and exciting life as a model. He recently finished a tour of South Korea for Platinum Management. Submitted photo.

Following his local introduction to the world of modelling, Williams booked a flight to Toronto and met with various agencies. Almost immediately, he signed on with Spot 6 Model Management.

“The next step was building a book and getting consistent work off that book,” said Williams. “I did this by continually shooting with local photographers in Toronto, therefore getting featured in Canadian, American and European magazines to gain coverage.”

It took some time, but Williams’ hard work paid off. He was offered modelling contracts in China and New York, and eventually signed with New York-based IMG Models, where he continued to build his portfolio.

In 2016, Williams was offered a contract to model in Seoul, South Korea, for the highly respected Platinum Management agency.

Some may have feared adapting to a new culture, but he viewed it as a dream come true.

“Since I was a baby, I’ve dreamed to travel the world and experience all of its’ cultures,” he said. “The highlight of my career … has been all the things I’ve been so lucky to experience; be it shooting on Brooklyn rooftops or visiting The Great Wall of China.”

His sister Andrea couldn’t agree more.

“He lives a very sporadic and exciting lifestyle that is not for the weak hearted,” said Williams. “I think modelling has given him the chance to do things most people can only dream about.”

The future looks bright for Williams. He recently moved to the United Kingdom to be with his girlfriend, something he’s looking forward to after years of constant travelling.

“I will admit that recently I’ve been getting a little exhausted from the constant travel and the lack of grounding,” he said.

Although he may be slowing down, this isn’t the end of his journey.

“I’m currently working myself toward getting into acting school in London,” said Williams. “My goal in life is to be able to focus on making art.”