Minnesotan Reid Rohling is part of a new breed of models bubbling under in the fashion industry, unapologetically outspoken, confident, and redefining things on their terms. With a campaign for Calvin Klein Jeans under his belt and a slew of designer shows to boot, Reid’s look is reminiscent of a 1950s pin-up with bowed lips, porcelain skin, and an unwavering gaze.
Tell us about your childhood.
I grew up in the suburbs just outside the Twin Cities in Minnesota. My parents, a clinical psychologist and a pastor of a mega-church, raised me very well—even though people seem to think that having parents with those professions would screw you up. I really should thank them more for providing me with what I think was a very normal childhood with minimal trauma. I also have a twin sister, who is not a model—everyone always asks me this for some reason when they find out. I was pretty shy as a kid, but she wasn’t, and I’d always latch onto the friends she made. When I reflect on my childhood, I think of her most. I miss not being able to see her everyday.
How were you discovered?
I moved to New York when I graduated from high school, along with my friend who was attending school here. I didn’t really have a plan, and I met my now current boyfriend within the first few weeks of moving here. He was a former model and a photographer, and he suggested I try modeling because I didn’t come to New York with a plan. He set up a couple of meetings for me, and I ended up signing with Fusion.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Most people would think the highlight was being a part of the first gay couple featured in a Calvin Klein campaign on the East Houston billboard, but honestly that just felt like a normal job to me. I go back and forth on whether or not that’s the kind of portrayal I want gay men to be associated with. Although CK always sell sex, I don’t think featuring a Grindr hookup in your first campaign with a gay couple is necessarily the best representation. I think it was banned in Russia for being “homosexual propaganda,” and at the end of the day I’m okay with being a gay propagandist. I think a nice modeling memory was doing my first show for Gucci in Milan. This was Alessandro Michele’s first show, and the team had worked 24/7 for weeks to pull off the show in such a short amount of time. People were crying after it was over, which I still have never seen before, and it was nice to work with them for 2 more years and see how Alessandro’s vision for the brand evolved.
How important do you feel social media is to a model’s career today?
I think it’s too important now. I get into trouble for not posting enough or for not posting selfies—it’s a little ridiculous. Most models I know buy their followers because some clients only care how much of a presence you have online. I use social media a lot, but I think it’s dumb.
What are your aspirations and goals for the future?
Good question. You know, I moved to New York with no plan, and I still have no plan. I just let things happen.
What do you hope to get out of your modeling career?
I think I’ve gotten what I want out of my career thus far. For instance, I’ve traveled all over the world at a very young age. Some people never get the privilege to do that, and I’m pretty grateful for it.
How do you handle the pressure and rejection that comes with modeling?
It used to bug me a lot when I first started modeling 4 years ago, but now I’ve just become so used to it. It’s really a part of the job, and if I got hung up on every rejection I’ve had, I’d honestly be dead.
You recently added your name to the growing number of models who support the Respect Program. What has your experience been in terms of mentorship and having a support system in the industry?
I think I really lucked out with the people I was surrounded with in the industry. My agents have always had my back on any sort of incident or complaint I’ve had, no matter how trivial. I know that’s not always the case with models starting out in their career. I think being the outspoken person that I am has been an asset to others. If I notice another model is uncomfortable on set, I will always say something. Some people in the industry don’t understand boundaries, especially when they’re working with models who are practically children. I also think new models should be aware that there are a lot of people who do not have your best interests in mind and to always make it known when you think someone is crossing a line.
What do you think people would be surprised to learn about you?
That I’m actually really nice no matter how bitchy I can sound over text.
What do you like to do in your spare time to decompress?
If I’m not working, you can usually find me at the movies. And I frequent all the art house theaters in the city. It’s really why I could never leave New York; you can see almost anything here on the big screen.
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