Martin Gonda, Head Of Booking At Elite Prague

Industry EML Czech Republic
Martin Gonda joined Elite Prague as booking agent in 2007, and was promoted to Head Booker in 2018. As EML Czech Republic continues, we catch up with him to learn the highs and lows of the job, how to spot a top model, and what you can do to prepare for EML

What is special about the contest in Czech Republic for 2019?

For the first time, we have raised the minimum age to 16 years old for Applicants. That’s a good thing as the girls and boys are more mature and allowed to start working internationally immediately after the finale. Traditionally, the event will take place at the beautiful Prague Castle. It is an amazing location but I the most special thing about it will be the participants of this year’s final!

What do you look for in the applicants?

It might sound cliché, but as well as the standard requirements such as height and photogenic qualities, we are especially looking for that “X factor”, a quality that’s hard to describe but that makes someone very special. I would say it is a combination of strong personality, great look, ambition and personal appeal.

Have you always wanted to work in the model industry?

I always knew I wanted to be a model agent, ever since I was 13 or 14 years old. I was never really interested in fashion, but I have always been obsessed with models! As a young boy, the Internet wasn’t what it is today, but I used to collect pictures and clippings of models from different magazines, creating scrapbooks for my favourite models - exactly like the model portfolios that are made at agencies! I also used to record programs such as Videofashion, Style with Elsa Klench, MTV´s Stylissimo with Julia Valet on VHS! That is how I got to know the names of models. I think we got the Internet at home in 1999, but I loved reading fashion magazines and watching fashion on TV. Of course, everyone knew the supermodels Linda, Christy, Naomi, but I was eager to know the names of girls that were not in the tabloids! 

What did you study and how has it helped you?

I studied economics and finance at the University of Economics in Bratislava. It helped me to understand better the business part of the industry.

What do you love about your job?

I love to see the transformation when a “girl next door” turns into a model and she starts to understand her own beauty. It is great to have the opportunity to change people’s life for the better, see them grow in them gain self-confidence, make a career and earn money. For me, fashion week is especially exciting, you get see the results in very short period of time.

What are the challenges?

The most challenging thing is that you are never fully satisfied! A single job can elevate or restart the career, but it is not just what you do as an individual booker. You always give your best, but launching a career or elevating it to the next level is not just about us the agents, the models need to understand how the business works and learn to be patient. That’s is a quite a big challenge!

Who or what inspires you to succeed?

The director of Elite Prague Sasha Jany has always been my inspiration. And it is amazing to see how passionate he is in what he does even after 30 years spent in this industry. Sometimes I am more ambitious than models themselves! I want them to be successful and when it starts happening it’s a great satisfaction to see we are doing it right.

What are your passions outside work?

I love dogs! I have a Great Dane, so every day we spend couple hours in the park. Especially early mornings are amazing when the park is almost empty. It’s a fantastic relax before I go to the agency! Apart from that, I love to travel, hang out with friends, watch movies, just enjoying life….  

If you didn’t do what you do now, what would be your dream job?!

Honestly, I would not really want to do anything else. Even if I wasn’t a model agent, I would become a casting director. I can’t help it - I just love models!

What is your advice to anyone taking part in EML this year?

Take it easy, be natural and confident. It’s a great chance to change your life and build a career at a young age.

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