Tati Matkin, 21, a 2020 Haldane graduate who grew up in Garrison, is a model based in New York City.
What inspired you to pursue modeling?
My family goes way back with modeling. My great-grandpa was a well-known photographer and great-grandma was a model. My grandparents were models, and then my mom, as well. Growing up, I thought modeling was stupid and I never felt comfortable in front of the camera. As high school was ending, I knew I didn’t want to go to college, so what inspired me, I have to say, is making some frickin’ money! I have this little body and this face. I applied to every [modeling] agency I knew, because no one was going to scout me. I only had like 900 followers [on Instagram]. The only way I’ve been able to do it is to have a healthy mindset, because it’s an industry where you can get lost in the sauce.
What have you learned about the industry?
You have to be ready for whatever comes. You get options that are unbelievable, huge amounts of money. Then they say, “Never mind.” You have to be OK with the uncertainty. But my agents at Unite Unite, which was my mother’s agency, are so on it. Being able to slowly get financially independent is amazing, and also to be able to work with these crazy clients and have fun on set. But they’re hiring you for your appearance, not your personality. It’s like being a little chameleon or an actor because you put on new faces, new outfits. You’re not going to be super-validated [as an individual]. I’m a transgender-masculine guy but I’m booked as “the androgynous girl.” I know [going in] how I’m going to be perceived.
Any highlights so far?
I was hired in October for a Marc Jacobs campaign. They flew me to London, where I worked with the hairstylist Duffy; Alistair McKimm, who is editor of ID Magazine; and photographer David Sims — a dream team.
Who has inspired you?
The first person that comes to mind is a model known as Uglyworldwide. They have the coolest style. I want to get more into styling. I also think trans people opened my eyes — seeing them existing and not being apologetic, doing their thing. If you’re happy and you can live, who cares?
I’ve been in a creative rut; sometimes it feels too much. But my agents aren’t just blasting me into every job that I can get, because if you do that, people get tired of seeing you. It is a short-lived career. I would like to save enough to pay for college, to learn about psychology, sociology, gender studies and sexuality. I want to work with children, LGBTQ+ children, people with addiction. I’m glad that life went the way it did. I’ve learned so much. I’m just a grateful little guy who’s been through it and is finally able to manage my life in a healthy way, you know?