Meet Rafael Miller, a young French fitness model who was discovered on Instagram, and who has since amassed over 1.2 million followers. After being scouted by a models scout, he has walked for Calvin Klein and Philipp Plein, lived in New York, and traveled to different corners of the world, all while sharing his journey with his fans. We got to chat with the influencer to learn more about his lifestyle, his social media presence and how he feels being able to inspire others.
Hi Rafael, could you first tell us how you became a model?
I was spotted on Instagram by my agent in 2015. At that time, I never thought about becoming a model. I was simply posting random pictures about my life and my fitness experience. I had about 50k followers or so then and the funny part was I had thought my agent’s message wasn’t serious or maybe even a joke. He didn’t have a profile picture and I was used to receiving weird private messages. I was skeptical but I’m glad that I answered just to be sure because I got a call from New York 5 minutes later and a week after that I was in Milan for Calvin Klein.
Through social media you are able to connect with over 1.2 million fans. What do you enjoy sharing with your followers?
When I post a picture, I don’t necessarily think about what will people think about it. My main goal is to share nice photos that hopefully show my personality. I think that photos are good way to express how I feel at that moment and inspiring people is just an amazing thing! I feel a kind of happiness when my followers tell me stories about how I’ve impacted their lives.
Why do you think you’ve amassed so many followers on social media?
That’s the question that I get the most and to be honest, it’s the hardest one to answer! 1 million followers is just a massive number and sometimes I just don’t really realize how big it is.
I believe the fact that I stay as an « average Joe » plays an important part. Apart from being a model, I’m still a 20 year-old guy with the same life as many students and people can identify with what I’m doing. Something that keeps me growing is that I refuse a lot of opportunities that could eventually disrupt my content. If a promotional content doesn’t fit with my personality, I’m not going to post it.
There are a few other reasons that might add up, I started Instagram early, and I try to have my own image on social media. I make my own way!
What was it like living and working in New York?
I stayed in NY for 3 months last summer and it became my favorite city for work. As soon as I arrived, I was on my way to castings. The city is so fast, something new is happening every minute and I really love that level of activity. You’re always on the go, almost everything is opened at night, I love it! I also think that you have to experience NY to understand it, I wasn’t a fan of the city before I went there.
Some of the best things I did in NY: I bought a bike and went everywhere with it (Coney Island etc.), I made a list of all the food I had to try before I leaving the U.S., and I managed to surf a couple times (yes, I surfed in NYC!)
What is one of your favorite memories as a model?
I have 2 major memories that will stay with me, but my favorite is my presentation for Calvin Klein in Milan, since it was my first modeling experience and I was surrounded by very nice people that taught me a lot when I was just starting and didn’t know anything.
The other one is my first fashion show for Philipp Plein, it was a crazy and super intense atmosphere!
You’ve recently traveled to Indonesia! How was that experience for you?
After a trip to Australia I visited Bali for 3 weeks. I wanted to visit this magical island and discover Indonesian culture for the first time. The trip was so fulfilling, I went there with two special people and now I can’t spend a day without thinking about Bali. Beaches, islands, volcanoes, crazy scooter rides without helmets and spicy food so hot that it makes you cry! I have so many good memories of that place.
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
Eating four Halo Top Ice Creams in a row. Chocolate chip cookie dough, please!
What do you enjoy most about being a model?
The best part about being a model is that you get to meet a lot of people and everyone has their own story, it’s a mix of culture and you get to learn from every person you meet.
We know that fitness is a big part of your life, do you have a special workout routine to keep in shape?
Firstly, everyone needs to know that the diet is more important than the training. Personally, now that I have pretty much achieved my fitness goal, I try to maintain my shape with athletic training to improve on many levels. My favorite muscle to workout will remain the abs (hanging leg raises if possible), I can do it everyday.
There’s no magical workout, everyone has a different body and I could suggest a different routine to each person. If you enjoy your activity, stay consistent and be disciplined, you will get what you want sooner or later.
What do you hope to see for yourself in the future?
I’m currently in my 4th year of engineering studies, I graduate next year and I have many entrepreneurship projects in the works. Having a Master’s in Engineering at 21 really helps and I will always have a back-up solution thanks to that.
Once I finish my Masters, I plan to be modeling full-time and if I have spare time, I’ll start my projects on the side. I’ll also probably be moving to New York as soon as I can.
photographer: robin navarro-harraga / stylist: marvin latournald / hair: aurelie inquimbert / makeup: frencesco spadaro / postproduction: ludovic cabrin / interview: charin chong