Model of the Week: Bertold Zahoran

Bertold was shot exclusively for by Rick Day, with styling by Julian Antetomaso, and grooming by Linh Nguyen. Interview by Jonathan Shia. Digitals courtesy of Lindsay LeGarrec at Soul.


Bertold Zahoran

Soul Artist Management (New York)




Place of Origin:
Mezőberény, Hungary

Ethnic Origin:


How discovered:
I was discovered on Facebook. I still don’t know how, because I was a professional basketball player before and all my pictures were of sports, nothing with my face. Somehow they saw one picture with half of my face in profile and sent me a message. At that time, I was 16 so my family told me that I had to finish high school first, then I could start modeling. I put it to the side for three years because I was playing basketball, but things changed and right after my high school exam, the next day I was on a plane to castings.

What was your first modeling job?
My first modeling job was with Riccardo Tisci, opening the Givenchy show for him in Paris. I’m not going to lie, in that moment I didn’t realize how big it was, because in Hungary fashion is not really big. If you grow up in Hungary, especially as a boy, most of the designers in front of you are Italian brands: Dolce & Gabbana, Calvin Klein, Armani. I was not really familiar with big French fashion houses. Maybe that was my luck to open a show like that for the first time, but in that moment, I was just doing my job like any other job. After, I felt pretty blessed and I knew how big it was after a few months. I was nervous because it was a big thing, but also because I was lucky to work with him on the collection and it was related to basketball and as a professional basketball player, I felt like it was kind of mine. I felt like I was sharing his vision with this collection and I was nervous because I knew the vision and felt like I understood it, which was a great thing, but at the same time I didn’t want to fail or make a mistake because I got only one shot. I remember that I walked all over and I didn’t take any breaths. I was just trying to keep my head up and just hoping that I was walking under the light and in the right place.

Favorite things:
My favorite things are paper books, not digital books. I’m kind of old school, so I need that paper feeling that I can flip. Also of course hanging out with my friends, because in this world I think it’s nice to meet up with friends in person and do something social with them and not just be behind your phone or your computer.

What are you listening to at the moment?
It always depends on my mood. If I’m at home, something more relaxing, but before a workout, it’s something more energetic. During workouts, if I’m doing cardio I like something with faster beats, more electronic stuff, so it keeps me going. I imagine I’m at a festival so it’s more pleasurable. If I’m lifting, something more rap or hip hop, something heavier that keeps you going.

Favorite movie, tv show:
Lord of the Rings, especially the second one. I love The Get Down on Netflix. Also I’m a big fan of Shark Tank because I think it’s a great show to learn, if you want to do business, what you need to look, for what people want to see in your business, or how to build your business for the future.

Favorite designer, fragrance or beauty product:
My favorite designer is obviously who’s hiring me at the moment. [Laughs] Every season it’s different, so sometimes I see amazing clothes from a brand and then the next season I’m not really a big fan of it. I think it’s really important to have style—because style makes you an individual—not fashion, because fashion is always changing and style is more personal. My favorite fragrance is Chanel de Bleu. For beauty, I don’t really use anything, but I just got this Drops of Youth cream for the face from The Body Shop and also this charcoal mask. If you work in this business where you’re selling your face and your body, you have to be always prepared with nice skin. It feels nice to have a mask every second or third day when you’re always wearing makeup. It’s better for your skin too, so that’s why I got the charcoal mask and some creams with vitamins that help my skin recover.

What would you be doing if you weren’t modeling?
Probably I would be looking for a job somewhere after my university degree. I don’t know in what area, because over the years what I like changed a lot, but I think modeling gave me lots of opportunities. I never dreamed about living in New York, for example, and I’m in New York so I’m blessed and it’s hard to say what if. I think we have to live in the moment and appreciate what we have.

What’s something uncool that you love anyway?
For people, it’s really weird that I like to mix together ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard. For most people, it’s weird or disgusting, but for me it’s delicious. Back in Hungary, you eat a lot of sausages and I love these three dips and they’re usually one on plate but separate from each other. I was just too lazy to dip in each of them so I was like, Hey what if I put everything in one and just mix it up? I really liked these different flavors.

Favorite modeling experience so far?
I’m lucky to say that I have a lot, but if I have to choose one I would choose the Polo Ralph Lauren holiday shoot, because for that one we went to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Once I saw my friend was in Utah and I saw that beautiful environment with the snow, the mountains, everything, and from that moment I felt that I wanted something as nice as that. We ended up shooting in Wyoming and we also went up in the mountains so we got the snow. Maybe it was not Utah, but it was really similar to where I always wanted to shoot. Also it was a great crew. I’ve been working with them for a while, so I felt like I was in this amazing location with friends. I really loved it.

What’s the best thing about your hometown/country?
The best thing I would say is the desire it gives you to make it big. You have nothing to lose. I’m from a small town with only 10,000 people, so I feel like when we talk about drive or competition it’s even further and deeper than for most people. We know what it means to be grinding and hustling to get somewhere and that momentum that makes you want to get out from that place and make something big because you nothing to lose. That’s also the reason I think I got to be this far from my hometown.

You’ve started training for the Mr. Olympia competition in 2022. How did you decide on that?
It might sound crazy, but sports have been my whole life. Even now while modeling, I’m not playing basketball, but I can’t imagine myself skinny or not having abs. When I was 13 or 14, I had bad acne problems so I tried to hide behind my body. I thought if my body looked better people were going to focus on my body and not my acne, so even at that time I started becoming interested in bodybuilding or fitness. With modeling, it became a part of the job. These markets open up for you, you can do underwear, you can do more jobs. As for Mr. Olympia 2022, it’s more that that’s the biggest competition and I want to give myself the time to get on the stage and do it. I have a long road in front of me, but I’m working hard every day to get there.

What’s the process like? How are you preparing?
Right now, I’m focusing on nutrition and what’s in the mind because sometimes you have bad habits or eat bad food because you’re stressing out. I’m trying to help people so that, from the moment that they wake up until the moment they go to bed, they can feel better and make better decisions and exercise better so they can be healthier. Especially when you live in New York and you don’t stop running, you have to enjoy life and know what’s the best for you. If I reach Mr. Olympia, I feel that I can reach more and more people about that. For this year, my goal is to have the best physique that I can have with my weight. I’m talking about the men’s fitness category, not bodybuilding, so I’m not really planning to get super huge, I’m going to get more cut. After next year, I will definitely put on weight. There’s a lot of competition and I need a lot of work and I need more muscle everywhere, so I will build strength and energy by getting bigger and maybe get out of shape a bit. Then I can cut back down and get to my goal a bit more easily.

Which brand would you really love to model for?
I’ve worked with almost all of my dream designers, but I think it’s Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel. When I started modeling, I had just quit basketball and I went for Paris Fashion Week. I opened the Givenchy show and then I told my agency that I wanted to do the Chanel casting. They were like, “Bertold, there is no Chanel men’s show, we are sorry.” That’s how I started, I had no idea about fashion. Or a Calvin Klein underwear billboard.

Place you would love to visit:
I would say Japan, Africa, and Australia, those three places.

Currently you’re obsessed with/about:
I don’t know if I can say this, but I’m currently obsessed with where I am in life right now. I’m never satisfied with myself and I’m always looking for something else. Right now, I feel happy and blessed with what I have and focused on what I want to reach in my life. I’m happy with what I have right now, but I’m hungry for what I want to achieve, so every day I’m working hard.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Live every day like it’s your last day. I think I stick to that—but not in the sense of “live fast, die young.”

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