When thousands are looking at your face on a billboard in Piccadilly Circus, you can safely assume that your career is going places.
And when you’ve just been noticed as one of the major faces at London Fashion Week, you know, as a model, that you won’t be short of work for a while.
Despite the high profile nature of his career in London, Derry man Caolan McClafferty remains modest and was delighted to be back in his home city over the weekend for the first time in months.
With a non stop schedule in London which sees him do everything from acting to modelling high end couture pieces on the city’s catwalks, the 23-year-old says the support of family and friends at home means everything to him.
“I hate the idea that people leave the city and that’s it, they kind of forget about their roots. I don’t want that ever to happen to me. I’m lucky so far to have had the success I’ve had, but I haven’t forgotten where I’ve come from,” he says.
Success has come relatively quickly for Caolan who decided to carve out a career for himself just over two years ago after moving to London. Working 45 hour weeks to start with, and admittedly having to do a lot of work for free, the Derry man is now able to choose his jobs and reap the benefits of paid modelling work.
“I did have to work my way up, but after putting in that effort, I’m now at the stage where I’m in control of the work that I take on. I work between three agents and that means I have a really varied workload. I do commercial shoots as well as high fashion and I’m also able to devote some time to doing charity work.”
It certainly is a varied portfolio for the former Lumen Christi pupil who has also made strides in the world of film.
Caolan has a major role in the soon to be released feature length drama ‘Witch’ and is currently working on Darker, an eerie film based on true events. Caolan plays Patrick Trent in the movie ‘Darker’, a character with major psychological issues.
“It’s been a tough role because I’m a method actor,” says Caolan. “The character I’m playing suffers from extreme panic attacks and that’s something I’ve had to take on board and learn about. There have been points when that’s been difficult and I’ve had to contact the director for guidance. It’s a really difficult subject.”
“I suppose in a lot of ways you have to look at yourself as a business. This is how I earn my money so for me it’s about giving everything my best shot and putting myself out there.”Caolan McClafferty, actor and model
It’s not just in front of the camera that Caolan is under pressure to give a good performance. Many of his high fashion catwalk appearances have a theatrical element to them too, as he explains.
“It’s not what people think in the sense that you just go to a fashion show, wear the clothes and walk up and down the catwalk. Every designer has their own very unique direction behind each show and you have to be able to perform to the standard they want. After my show at London Fashion Week, I was approached by an agent who said that I stood out a mile and I’ve since signed a contract with that agent.
“I suppose in a lot of ways you have to look at yourself as a business. This is how I earn my money so for me it’s about giving everything my best shot and putting myself out there. That’s so important. I think if you get a reputation for being consistent and hardworking when it comes to this industry, it’s so important.”
Returning to England this week Caolan has commercial work lined up with technology giant Samsung and is planning a move to Los Angeles next year.
“It’s still amazing how far things have come so quickly. I’m over the moon with it all. I’m getting paid to do something that I love, and the opportunities to travel are amazing. But I know I still have more to do. I think my main focus is that I’d like to pick up an award for my acting. Something like that would be amazing. That’s definitely part of my ten year plan.”
In the meantime Caolan says it’s been surreal being recognised on the streets of his hometown.
“Some people knew who I was from the press coverage and that’s so strange - but in a good way! I think if I can offer anyone advice having grown up here and then decided to spread my wings a bit, it’s that you should always, always be yourself. Even if being yourself is different from the norm. I think being different in this world is a huge bonus!”