Achieving this at only 18 years old…
Brian Whittaker proudly represents a new-wave of models. Whether he’s posting photos on Instagram to his 900,000 followers, walking at Paris Fashion Week for the likes of Fenty x Puma, or chilling with his girlfriend, Zara Larsson, at his new Thames-side apartment, Brian remains his humble and philosophical self at all times. PAUSE spoke to Whittaker out in LA about his career, his mindset and his future, here is what went down.
How old are you?
I’m 18 years old.
At 18 you’ve done so much. Do you feel pressure at your age?
I feel a little bit of pressure but it’s all pressure from myself, there’s not really any pressure from other people. Because of the amount that I’ve done it’s then shown me that there is so much more to do. So, with that being said I feel like I want to do absolutely everything and I don’t have much patience.
Where did you get your drive from?
I guess me being introvert, not having many friends and not really fitting in with everyone at school was because I don’t find normal things fun. For example, I never used to go to house parties – ever. I have only been to one house party in my life and I was only there for 20 minutes before I left. I never really wanted the things that the other kids wanted. All the other kids thought “let’s just get an Armani pouch” and that’s cool, they can do that… but my goals are bigger. That’s no disrespect to Armani but that’s what their goal was, to get an Armani pouch and flex – that wasn’t my ideology.
I never really had a goal but because I never really fit in and did the normal things in my school that the other kids were doing. When I started getting into fashion and seeing how other people were living, it showed me a different life and that was a lifestyle I wanted to pursue. The more I do, the more I see; the more I see the more I want to do. It’s a knock-on effect.
You seem to have grown up so fast. How have you matured?
Perspective. Talking to people and learning how different types of people act and how different people view situations, adapting and learning from that. I do work with adults and I have to be able to work with them. This is normal to me and all my friends and the people I work with are older than me so there’s no petty arguments and I don’t really do ‘kiddy’ things anymore. With that comes a disadvantage but I don’t really see it as a disadvantage: I don’t really connect with people my age. I feel disconnected with people. I just saw my closest friends who I used to hang out with all the time when I used to live closer to Birmingham and we haven’t seen each other in four months. It then occurred to me how much I’ve grown in four months in the fact that I can no longer relate to people my age anymore. Which is kind of a sad thing because we are thinking about completely different things. My mind set’s completely different, the way we approach and respond to things is so much different than it used to be. Because they’re my friends I can still connect with them to an extent whereas with other kids my age…I feel like I’m the teacher and their student. It’s about life experiences.
– Brian Whittaker
You’ve had an early career, so you feel like you’re in a different time?
Yeah. I was on the train the other day, I went to visit my parents and I was on a train back to London. There was a girl behind me who called my name and she said “Hey Brian” so I said “Hey, what’s up” and we just started talking and she started to mention that she went to my old school, she was 24 years old and she was struggling. She was like “Oh man, I just moved to London and I’m looking for a job”. She was really struggling looking for a job and she was nervous about how she was paying her bills. It’s quite a normal thing for 24-year-olds, moving to London and looking for opportunities. It then occurred to me that I have a nice apartment on the River Thames and I’m not worried about paying my bills, so I’m quite blessed when looking at it from that perspective.
So you’ve worked your way up to be in that position? Wow, that’s amazing!
I live by myself, I have a two-bed apartment and I really like it. Two-three years ago it wouldn’t have even been a thought. When I started modelling I was wondering how many shoots it would take me to buy an iPad – that was my ideology and mindset.
So you had a business mind-set from early on?
Yeah, I used to sell sweets at school and save up for a month to buy some clothes.
How have you learnt to overcome the negative comments?
The fact is, people can hate on me but it’s not affected me yet. Why am I going to get caught up? If someone is affecting my lifestyle, say, if someone was trying to take money out of my pocket and bread out of my mouth, that’s when its like “Oh, shit, this is actually serious”. These things aren’t going to happen by people calling you names and I think that’s one way to look at it. Maybe that is slightly pretentious. Another way to look at it is that all these people may be hating on you but no one is actually coming after you. I’ve had death threats but I’m right here doing this interview with you. I’ve never had any real confrontation in person. I’m not going to be stressed until it happens. Why would I pre-stress myself out for something that might not happen? I’ll be stressed when something happens. Zara told me this one thing and it had a big impact on me even though it’s the simplest thing. Every time I drop my iPhone I’m always like ‘f***’, it hurts my soul just thinking about the fact it could be cracked. When you pick it up and its not cracked and it’s fine, you’re like “Oh”. Because of this, you’ve already allowed yourself to get p***** off to then have to really calm yourself down because what you got pissed off about something didn’t actually happen. She’s saying don’t get upset about something that might happen. On top of that, say your phone does crack, it’s already cracked and you can’t uncrack it.
What are your goals for 2018?
I’ve been writing my goals down a lot lately and I’ve really been re-evaluating everything I’ve been doing. There’s another direction I want to take. I’ve always told people to believe in yourself, whatever goals you have, pursue them now and try your best so you’ve actually got that chance of doing it’. I’ve realised that I’ve not really been taking my own advice so I’ve been thinking lately if there is anything I want to do… “What is it I want to do?”. I came to the realisation of what it is I actually want to be doing and I now I am just trying to structure everything around that. My goal for 2018 is building a better foundation for myself so that I can start to build on it. Right now, this is not anywhere even remotely close to where I want to be and where I am going to be in a couple of years. Two years before now I was a lot different to who I am today. Two years from today I’ll be so much different to what I am right now. The evolution will be pretty crazy, you’re going to have to keep an eye out.