In our ongoing series Model in the Spotlight, we get up close and personal with the world's leading male models.
What does Max Killough credit his multiple Givenchy campaigns and other accolades to? His unique looks, thanks to his equally unique roots: a mix of German, Native American, and Asian. Read on for his thoughts on how being multiracial has affected his career, why he likes fittings more than photo shoots, and his "freaky" gym regimen.
Height: Six feet, one and a half inches
Hometown: I grew up in Washington, D.C., and Ann Arbor, but I was born in New York City and lived there until I was 3.
How were you discovered? Modeling is something I've wanted to do since I was 14. When I was in high school, I used to pore over Models.com and think about how cool it would be to model. But I was busy playing baseball most of the year, and besides, I didn't have the courage to apply to an agency. Then in college, after a tough intramural-soccer season, my body was in good shape and I decided to send some head shots in to Ford. Not long after, I found myself in New York City.
Your first modeling gig? The Macy's 2013 American Icons fashion show.
Career highlight: So far, the highlight of my short career was walking in Riccardo Tisci's Givenchy show in Paris last summer. It was incredible. That was my first time in Paris, and being selected to be a part of something so huge and larger than life was simultaneously humbling and motivating. All I know is that I want more experiences like that. Oddly enough, my favorite part of the show was the fitting. I like seeing the nuts and bolts of how things work before the final product.
Career lowlight: That's easy. Just before castings for New York Fashion Week were being held, I shaved my head. I don't know what I was thinking when I did it. It was the summer, it was hot, and I think I was used to cutting my hair for baseball season. Whatever it was, I did it and it turned out to be a very expensive lesson. When I walked into Ford, I remember one of the agents staring at me, mouth agape, muttering, "Oh. My. God." I didn't book anything for a while after that.
You have such a unique look. What's your heritage? I'm half German from my mother's side and have German citizenship. My father's side is more complicated: he's African-American, Asian, and has a little Native American heritage. I don't know exactly what the percentages are, but I do know that I'm sort of a mixing bowl of races.
How has being multiracial affected your career? Being multiracial in this line of work is a double-edged sword. Most clients find my look very interesting, and I've been confused with all sorts of ethnicities, from South American and southern European to Middle Eastern. So, I have a wide variety of "looks" that can help me with bookings, but it can be difficult when the client is searching for a more traditional European, Asian, or African-American look. But we live in an increasingly multiracial and multiethnic world, and I believe that the "traditional" look is always changing. Besides, I'm not the kind of person who focuses on the challenges, but rather on the possibilities. I embrace my heritage and choose to view it as a real advantage in a very competitive business.
Do you plan on doing anything after modeling? Since I've come to New York, I've really been trying to break into acting. I did a few plays in high school and college, and I absolutely loved it. That said, acting is very hit-or-miss, so I'm starting my applications to attend schools in New York during the summer.
How do you stay in shape? I go to hit the gym three to four days a week and do concentrated workouts. It gives you something to look forward to at the end of the week, which is obviously chest and arms day! No one likes leg day. Only workout freaks will understand.
Any preshow or pre-shoot rituals or superstitions? Music and coffee get my mind in the right place. I used to be a pitcher in high school, and music used to calm my nerves and get me pumped. I no longer throw fastballs for strikes, but I still need to be able to strike a pose, so to speak, so the music still helps.
Do you have a grooming routine every morning? I use Axe Apollo for my body wash and shampoo, St. Ives for my face, and then I also use an Anthony's Skincare moisturizer after my shower. I have decent skin, but I still have to take good care of it. When I'm not home, I use whatever is in my girlfriend's bathroom!
If you could change one thing about your body, it would be: There really isn't anything I would change, but if I had to choose something, I would love to grow a mountain-man beard. That would be pretty badass.
The song/album/artist getting a lot of play on your iPod right now: Beethoven's 4th symphony, Allegretto. I've been exposed to classical music all my life, even in the womb. Yes, I was one of those babies.
Best piece of advice you've ever been given? Some random guy in Union Square once told me, "Write down your 'code' and sharpen it every day. Treat people better, work a little bit harder, and grow every day."
• • •
—Todd Plummer, follow him at @toddkingston