Michal Idan: From Religious Israel to Liberated Los Angeles
Being born in one of the very religious cities of Israel it was quite tough to break into the modeling business. I attended a school only for girls, I needed to wear a strict school uniform, consisting of a shirt and skirt, and suddenly at the age of 12 I decided to try myself in this ‘not a religious’ industry. It was always a struggle to balance between two worlds which were so extremely different and being involved into all this at such a young age. I didn’t know a lot about modeling and mostly heard about it from my sister who was already into modeling for a couple of years. At the age of 15, most of my modeling work included bikini and bridal photoshoots, ironically I looked more mature than other girls of my age, so I even managed to get the jobs which were initially planned for older girls.
At the age of 20, after a year of serving at the national police, I decided to try find a modeling agency abroad. While still staying in Israel, I had a chance to work with almost all the Israeli brands, including some big campaigns with huge ads on billboards, so it was a high time to step up for the new opportunities in new countries. Most of the agencies in Israel do not work abroad, so it usually takes time to find such an agency.
My first modeling trip was to Turkey at the age of 21. I went there for two months, and it was the first time I flew alone for such a long time. Moreover, my knowledge of English was only at a school level, which means it was quite bad! In Turkey, I lived in a model’s apartment with five other girls. The apartment had only two tiny rooms, so I had to share the same bed with another girl in one room, while the other three girls stayed at another one. Since I had a lot of barriers with my English, one of the models, who was a Lithuanian girl, helped me a lot, while another one was quite mean to me, however with the time I learned how to just ignore her. Two months at Turkey passed quickly, and I wanted to try it in another country now, because modeling at Turkey was not really well paid, as well as there were some other disadvantages. Mostly we had 12-hour-long photoshoots for eCommerce — I remember I had to change different clothes so many times that I usually arrived home barely holding myself. Turkish model’s apartments were not the coolest as well, having an only one shower. Models in the apartment replaced one another every two weeks or so, one more one less, etc. However Turkey became the country where I saw snow for the first time in my life!
At the age of 22 I had a photoshoot in Texas in the USA. I knew nothing about the United States, and I didn’t even think about flying over there, even though I had a visa. However, I decided to try it. A month later I was there for a three-day-shoot which I liked, and when it was over I decided to visit the city that everyone talked about — Los Angeles. Still having my English language barrier, and just $1,000 in my pocket, I started my way to LA. Right after arriving, I decided to go for the open castings at every modeling agency in the city. That was also the first time for me to try ordering Uber, because I did not even know how to use it, all those things were new to me. After a week in LA, I met a lot of people who became like a family to me and helped me out with staying there longer. So, I changed my ticket to stay here for three more months.
After three months in LA I felt in love with the city and was sure that I wanted to live here. I did not have modeling contracts during those three months, so I continued to work on my portfolio in Israel, as well as traveled a lot to other places. A year later, I got back to LA for three more months again, and still no modeling work for me there. However I was confident that it would not force me to give it up. I’m a Taurus, we don’t get “no”! 🙂 So, after two more years I finally signed with an agency in LA, and I am still there for about five years now. My plan started to work!
From that time, my English got significantly better, and I started to get a modeling work for the covers and lots of other different modeling assignments. Till 2019 I saved some money and went to visit Miami, with an idea to sign some contracts there too. I spent four months in Miami but the LA story (from those times when I’ve just arrived) seemed to continue in this city. Miami appeared to be a tough nut to crack!
So, I had to get back to Israel one more time. I started to work on my body improvement like crazy, being strict to myself on food, because I really wanted to get some modeling work in Miami — that seemed to be a paradise for bikini photoshoots and I felt it was my place! Then I got a request for a Thailand photoshoot, just two days before the COVID. I went there, without realizing how huge the pandemic was going to be all over. And only two years later I finally moved to LA. I was 26 years old, not a young girl any more.
While working as a model in LA, there were lots of funny and weird stories happening to me there. One of those took place when my friend invited me to a house party at Leonardo DiCaprio’s place. There were crowds of models and celebrities there, and I was quite bad on remembering faces. Knowing the names but not knowing how those famous people looked like it was quite a funny experience. Then I noticed my friend playing volleyball with a big group of people there on the beach, so I was sitting on the sand watching them, while one guy approached me there, we started talking about life and other things. When I asked for his name, he introduced himself as JB. I thought to myself — okay, that’s America, so probably it’s a common thing here to have a name like that. When we left the party, my friend told me that was a famous movie actor Gerard Butler! So many times in my life things like that happened, when I had no idea who I was talking about and that appeared to be someone famous.. that’s so embarrassing and funny at the same time!
I am 29 now, and my dreams are still big! I am assigned to several modeling agencies, with a mother agency in Mexico, as well as one in Miami, LA, and Chicago, as well as had a chance to work with many known brands and magazines. After so many closed doors which were hard to knock through, I finally getting lots of “yes”. Again and again, I will keep saying: “Dream freaking big, and don’t be afraid of changes!”