Exclusive Interview: A Coffee With Mike Scocozza

With modeling as one of the leading verticals on social media, Mike Scocozza has been succeeding with over 75,000 followers on Instagram. This Pennsylvania native moved to Los Angeles and has transitioned his career from the music to the modeling world. This new career path began with his time on the hit reality TV show, America's Next Top Model, and has been growing ever since. We got to chat with Mike and discuss more about what life is like as a model and a social media influencer. 

Photographer: Cibelle Levi

Model influencer Mike Scocozza 1. What Was Your Life Like Before America’s Next Top Model? I came to California in the fall of 2005 and I am originally from Pennsylvania. My background is music, so I played in bands, I toured with bands, I’ve worked with bands, I’ve managed bands. Since I was 16, I could play guitar. I was like, "I want to be a rockstar," and then when I realized that wasn’t going to work, I was like "I will help other people become rockstars." And it never really worked out. I had a little bit of success, but it just ultimately never really clicked for me. I ended up moving back East after I had been in California for a number of years. Then, I got to a point where I couldn’t be in Pennsylvania anymore or I would go nuts, so I just left. I left and came back to California. That was about 3 and a half to 4 years ago. So when I first came back, I was still managing a few clients, but I was still looking for extra money. I was asking anyone like “Hey, is there any place I can work? I just need a job, something.” A friend said, "I work on an ice cream truck, I can get you a job there totally." I was like "that sounds ridiculous, I’ll do that, sure." Little would I know that it would change the things in my life. Yeah, it was crazy, it was really crazy. I was still involved with music, but it was one of those things where it wasn’t working and I knew it wasn’t working because I had done it for so long. I didn’t really know what else to do, so I was kind of stuck in this rut. It wasn’t going anywhere. I was managing bands and I was working on a food truck, and I was trying to get my life in order and that was it.  2. Did You Know That Modeling Was Going To Be Your Next Step? Hell no. I never in a million years thought oh yeah, modeling. Every once in a while I’d have friends bring it up and I’d be like idiots. No I never, ever saw myself that way. I had braces till I was 18, lanky, super geeky looking. I was a very, very, very late bloomer, so I never thought about it. Even when I met Tyra, we were talking, and I didn’t even know it was her at first. We were just hanging out, and she asked, “Have you ever done modeling before?” And I laughed I was like, “No, why would I do that?" She’s like, “Have you ever thought about it?" And I was like, “No not really." That’s when she goes, "I am casting for Top Model and we are casting guys this year, I think you’d be great for the show." And that was it. Even when she said that I thought she was being nice and she did that for everybody. I was like okay sure whatever, I’ll never hear from anybody. Sure enough, it happened. 

Model influencer Mike Scocozza

1. What Was Your Life Like Before America’s Next Top Model?

I came to California in the fall of 2005 and I am originally from Pennsylvania. My background is music, so I played in bands, I toured with bands, I’ve worked with bands, I’ve managed bands. Since I was 16, I could play guitar. I was like, "I want to be a rockstar," and then when I realized that wasn’t going to work, I was like "I will help other people become rockstars." And it never really worked out. I had a little bit of success, but it just ultimately never really clicked for me. I ended up moving back East after I had been in California for a number of years. Then, I got to a point where I couldn’t be in Pennsylvania anymore or I would go nuts, so I just left. I left and came back to California. That was about 3 and a half to 4 years ago. So when I first came back, I was still managing a few clients, but I was still looking for extra money. I was asking anyone like “Hey, is there any place I can work? I just need a job, something.” A friend said, "I work on an ice cream truck, I can get you a job there totally." I was like "that sounds ridiculous, I’ll do that, sure." Little would I know that it would change the things in my life. Yeah, it was crazy, it was really crazy. I was still involved with music, but it was one of those things where it wasn’t working and I knew it wasn’t working because I had done it for so long. I didn’t really know what else to do, so I was kind of stuck in this rut. It wasn’t going anywhere. I was managing bands and I was working on a food truck, and I was trying to get my life in order and that was it. 

2. Did You Know That Modeling Was Going To Be Your Next Step?

Hell no. I never in a million years thought oh yeah, modeling. Every once in a while I’d have friends bring it up and I’d be like idiots. No I never, ever saw myself that way. I had braces till I was 18, lanky, super geeky looking. I was a very, very, very late bloomer, so I never thought about it. Even when I met Tyra, we were talking, and I didn’t even know it was her at first. We were just hanging out, and she asked, “Have you ever done modeling before?” And I laughed I was like, “No, why would I do that?" She’s like, “Have you ever thought about it?" And I was like, “No not really." That’s when she goes, "I am casting for Top Model and we are casting guys this year, I think you’d be great for the show." And that was it. Even when she said that I thought she was being nice and she did that for everybody. I was like okay sure whatever, I’ll never hear from anybody. Sure enough, it happened. 

Model influencer Mike Scocozza 3. How Has Your Life Changed Since You Were On Top Model? In a lot of ways, it hasn’t. I still very much feel like I’m the exact same person. It’s just sometimes people are like, “Hey I saw you on the show, you were great.” It really hasn’t changed. I do a lot of the same things I did. I work just as hard as I did before, but now it is in a different field. It just so happens that people know who I am and recognize me and that’s great. But, I never looked at it as anything else. I was trying to build a career in one thing, and now I am trying to build a career in something else.  4. How Has Social Media Affected Your Life And Your Career? Before I went on the show, I had a personal page on Facebook. Then, I had a Twitter account that I never used. That was it, I wasn’t on any other form of social media. When I got off the show, before it aired, they were like, "you should get all of these things in place, you've got to do this and that." They were like, "you have to get an Instagram account." So I did, but I didn’t even know what to post on here, what to do. I never really used it. I kind of got into the whole social media thing on accident. It stemmed from them wanting to have a presence for me and it kind of grew from there. I meet these people who this is their job. All they do is they post things and they interact online. That is their entire job. It has turned into a job, but it’s a lot sometimes. Sometimes, I don’t want to deal with it. It becomes a burden. Again, I see the value in it and I see the point in doing it. 

Model influencer Mike Scocozza

3. How Has Your Life Changed Since You Were On Top Model?

In a lot of ways, it hasn’t. I still very much feel like I’m the exact same person. It’s just sometimes people are like, “Hey I saw you on the show, you were great.” It really hasn’t changed. I do a lot of the same things I did. I work just as hard as I did before, but now it is in a different field. It just so happens that people know who I am and recognize me and that’s great. But, I never looked at it as anything else. I was trying to build a career in one thing, and now I am trying to build a career in something else. 

4. How Has Social Media Affected Your Life And Your Career?

Before I went on the show, I had a personal page on Facebook. Then, I had a Twitter account that I never used. That was it, I wasn’t on any other form of social media. When I got off the show, before it aired, they were like, "you should get all of these things in place, you've got to do this and that." They were like, "you have to get an Instagram account." So I did, but I didn’t even know what to post on here, what to do. I never really used it. I kind of got into the whole social media thing on accident. It stemmed from them wanting to have a presence for me and it kind of grew from there. I meet these people who this is their job. All they do is they post things and they interact online. That is their entire job. It has turned into a job, but it’s a lot sometimes. Sometimes, I don’t want to deal with it. It becomes a burden. Again, I see the value in it and I see the point in doing it. 

Model influencer Mike Scocozza 5. What Would Be Your Advice To Aspiring Models Or Anyone Who Would Want To Get Into This Business? The modeling side of things is still relatively new to me. I signed a record deal when I was 18. I’ve been working in entertainment since I was a kid. It is a lot of the same parallels. The thing I can say is for one, you cannot take it too seriously. You cannot take yourself too seriously. Realize that it is a business. If you want to get into the business of entertainment, whether it be film, TV, modeling, or music, the whole point of the business is to make money. You can’t take things too personally. You can’t let things affect you too personally. It is hard because you are taking about art, because it is what it is, an art. How do you put a price tag on that? Something that I do is going to affect somebody else differently that’s going to affect somebody else differently. So, where do you monetize that and how do you monetize that? It is always a constant struggle, especially for any artist. Learn to take things with a grain of salt. And just have fun with it. Because if you learn to have fun with it, it is actually very fun. I haven’t worked a real job in 10 years and I don’t ever plan to, because why would I ? As long as I’m being creative, it does not matter what the field is. As long as I’m having fun and I can do great things and be around good people and around people I like, especially, it’s great, why wouldn’t I want to do that?  It was never my dream to be like “Oh I want to be a model,” and be on this billboard and in this magazine. 

Model influencer Mike Scocozza

5. What Would Be Your Advice To Aspiring Models Or Anyone Who Would Want To Get Into This Business?

The modeling side of things is still relatively new to me. I signed a record deal when I was 18. I’ve been working in entertainment since I was a kid. It is a lot of the same parallels. The thing I can say is for one, you cannot take it too seriously. You cannot take yourself too seriously. Realize that it is a business. If you want to get into the business of entertainment, whether it be film, TV, modeling, or music, the whole point of the business is to make money. You can’t take things too personally. You can’t let things affect you too personally. It is hard because you are taking about art, because it is what it is, an art. How do you put a price tag on that? Something that I do is going to affect somebody else differently that’s going to affect somebody else differently. So, where do you monetize that and how do you monetize that? It is always a constant struggle, especially for any artist. Learn to take things with a grain of salt. And just have fun with it. Because if you learn to have fun with it, it is actually very fun. I haven’t worked a real job in 10 years and I don’t ever plan to, because why would I ? As long as I’m being creative, it does not matter what the field is. As long as I’m having fun and I can do great things and be around good people and around people I like, especially, it’s great, why wouldn’t I want to do that?  It was never my dream to be like “Oh I want to be a model,” and be on this billboard and in this magazine. 

Model influencer Mike Scocozza 6. Has Music Been Something You’ve Been Pursuing Since You’ve Started Modeling? I worked in it for so long. I don’t want to say that I’ve been burnt out on it, but I did in some ways. Just the whole business side of things just got to me. Now, I kind of took a step back. Some of my friends are still in music. Ultimately, it’s something that I love, it is what I fell in love with at an early age. So, I am trying to find ways now to incorporate different musical projects into what I’m doing. I’d love to host like a music show or something like that. I’ve lived in a van with five dudes and toured around the country and played in these shows and festivals. I can relate to that, it’s fun. 

Model influencer Mike Scocozza

6. Has Music Been Something You’ve Been Pursuing Since You’ve Started Modeling?

I worked in it for so long. I don’t want to say that I’ve been burnt out on it, but I did in some ways. Just the whole business side of things just got to me. Now, I kind of took a step back. Some of my friends are still in music. Ultimately, it’s something that I love, it is what I fell in love with at an early age. So, I am trying to find ways now to incorporate different musical projects into what I’m doing. I’d love to host like a music show or something like that. I’ve lived in a van with five dudes and toured around the country and played in these shows and festivals. I can relate to that, it’s fun. 

Model influencer Mike Scocozza 7. What Is Your Favorite Part About Working With InstaBrand? For one, you guys do all of the work, which is great. Everybody there is super nice and just super easy to deal with. I’ve come to the point now that I work with people I like working with. I don’t want to work with people I just can’t stand. It is not worth it to me anymore. So working with InstaBrand is great. They are with it and they are good people. I’ve had a great experience.

Model influencer Mike Scocozza

7. What Is Your Favorite Part About Working With InstaBrand?

For one, you guys do all of the work, which is great. Everybody there is super nice and just super easy to deal with. I’ve come to the point now that I work with people I like working with. I don’t want to work with people I just can’t stand. It is not worth it to me anymore. So working with InstaBrand is great. They are with it and they are good people. I’ve had a great experience.