"I’m just picturing food in my head. I don’t know why…"
How would you visualize the sensation of falling in love? That euphoric moment mostly everyone yearn to experience, someday - what metaphor would you give that? Is falling in love like rain following an extensive period of drought? How about the joy of seeing the first snow crystals fall at the beginning of winter? Or no, love is simply the creamy gooey centre of a chocolate cake. Daniel at IMG Models sure knows how to make people feel hungry with his references.
Daniel shares some of his wise reflections on love, while photographer Agata Wolanska captures his sincere giggles and serene mind amongst the sky folds of London for our Generation Z series. At only 16 he has had his fair share in uncovering the meaning of love, and he might just be onto something. Most kids his age have barely experienced the repercussions of love so far, but surprisingly Daniel has been at the hands of love's stronghold for about a third of his life. He has had the pleasure of falling in love, the comfort of being in love, and the tragedy of letting go. But still, he knows there are bigger hurdles to come.
As we've discovered in our previous Generation Z interviews, the definition of masculinity has become more loose in its terms. Daniel, however, has still got quite a traditional idea of masculinity. Even though a part of him is leaning towards more traditional views - his dreams stretch far wider than most of his fellow youngsters. He might be young, but he is already commanding a firm stance amongst the ranks of realists who've come before him. If you have not yet had the chance to experience the potential hardships and responsibilities that tend to accompany adulthood, what is the point of meddling in the temporary if it’s only just fleeting? Too young to be defeated by insignificant and trivial matters, Daniel knows there is so much more to come. It’s all going to be fine in the end, hopefully.
How would you describe your generation?
Technology freaks, basically. Obsessed with social media. We love music and going to festivals.
How do you feel about the whole social media craze?
I am one. Yeah, I’m always on my phone. It's a bit sad…
You don’t want to look up from your phone?
No, not really…
Do you think it’s a good thing for your generation? Or do you think there are some challenges related to social media?
I feel like we struggle to socialize the way our parents used to. If they wanted to see their mates, they’d go out, while we just sit on our phones. So I guess the social aspect has kind of decreased a bit, but then there is a lot more for us to do. I find that it’s good for making plans - seeing what everyone is doing.
Do you wish it would be more like that?
Yeah, a little bit.
Do you think social media is good?
I quite love Instagram and Snapchat, things like that. The things you see there can be hilarious and you get to see what everyone is doing, but I do feel like I am really indulged in it.
How was it like growing up in Surrey?
It’s a bit boring, but it is a really really nice area. It’s just very suburban, not much to do, only school and hanging out with mates. Nowhere to go really, we've always had to go in to London to do something fun.
Would you like to move to London?
Yeah, I’d love to when I’m maybe 18-19. Trying to move out here, get a flat or something.
Do you have any favourite memories from childhood?
I’d say recently, in secondary school, I’ve met a lot of new people and done some really fun stuff. All nighters, camping… Stuff like that - good memories with my mates. The mates I have now I feel like I will stay with them forever, because I’ve got such strong bonds with them. I feel the memories with my mates are the best I have from Surrey.
You mentioned earlier that a big part of your generation is going to festivals. Do you go?
Yeah, I went to ‘Wireless’. And then for ‘Reading’ I’ve gotten the early bird. I’ve been to Reading twice before. I love it.
What kind of music do you like?
I’m very diverse with my music. I can listen to Drake and such, and I can be listening to rock. I’m pretty open to everything - it has kind of come from my sister. When my sister was my age she used to listen to a lot of rock. I’ve always been into Hip Hop, but she influenced me to listen to a lot of rock, so that’s why I go to Reading.
Do you look up to your sister?
Yeah. My sister is 21 and she is currently at uni. We’re definitely very close. We’re best friends - making each other laugh and we mostly just mess around with each other.
Was she a protective big sister?
Yeah, she was like very much a tomboy. We’ve always had a very playful relationship and we’d get into play fights.
During your casting you mentioned that you wanted to build planes. Is that your passion?
I actually got an apprenticeship within aerospace engineering. It’s just something I’m really interested in. Planes will always be around - they’ll just evolve and become better and better. I discovered it through my parents, probably around two or three years ago. My mum knows a few engineers, and I just met them and they were these really nice guys. They were really passionate about what they do and then I did ‘work experience’ a year ago. There was a plane and everything was just stripped off of it - all the electronics - I was like; ‘Yeah…’. And I’m also quite a handy person. I’m good with building mechanical things. I don’t want to be sitting in class for another two years. I want to be doing hands-on stuff.
What else are you into?
Football. It’s mainly a hobby now, but when I was younger I was in and out of academies and I loved it. I thought this was what I wanted to do - to be a football player. At one point I just got overwhelmed and I was like exhausted - I think I might have been just too young. I came to a realization of how hard it would be to become an actual football player, so it’s more like a hobby for me now. It’s just not what I want to do for work anymore. I used to play like four or five times a week when I was around 11-12. I did love it at the time, but I just came to a realization of how small the chances were.
Do you have any idols in football?
I’ve supported Chelsea since I was a kid. Growing up watching guys like Lampard or John Terry - definitely my idols within football. Since I was like four years old, that’s how long I’ve been watching. The past ten years… My dad is a massive Chelsea fan, so I didn’t really have a choice.
You seem like a very close knitted family. Do you have any good family memories?
Yeah, I’m very close with my mum and dad. I think holidays and such are the best memories and spending time with my whole outer family as well. All of us together - it’s just hilarious. I have a crazy family, but it’s fun. They are crazy in a good way. We just make each other laugh - we could do anything together and it would just be the best day ever. We love going to Portugal. We’ve been there quite a lot. We’ve also been to Cyprus - that was really nice.
A little bit of a philosophical question… Who is Daniel?
Giggly. Very giggly. I don’t know… It’s just me - I don’t know how to describe myself.
How would your friends and family describe you?
Dopey. I’m a bit clumsy, but in a funny way. I’m smart - like street smart. Ambitious. I’m quite lucky in the way things have lined up for me. I feel like I’m quite lucky. I've had good fortune.
How would you describe your current lifestyle? And what would you like it to look like in 5-10 years?
I’ve just come out of school, so I’m just kind of relaxing and being quite carefree at the moment. Now I’m just enjoying summer, but after that I guess I’m going to get my head down again and get through college. Hopefully get my apprenticeship and then get a job after that. I hope to see myself engineering in five years and have all my qualifications. Then with the modelling I just want to see where it goes. I want to do catwalks and shows and such.
How do you feel about being on camera?
At first I was really nervous, but I think that’s just natural. I’ve think now that I’ve come to terms with being comfortable in front of the camera.
Going back to your generation a little bit, who do you think are influencing this generation?
Definitely the people we see on TV and social media. Things like ‘Love Island’ - people like that. They influence our generation, because that’s who we look up to. Within our generation a lot of influencers are celebrities on TV. I feel like we try to emulate what they do. They way we dress. The way we speak to each other.
What makes you happy?
Football definitely makes me happy. Netflix - love my TV. Seeing my mates, they always have a way of brightening my mood. They make me laugh. Also, shopping makes me happy.
Do you have a best friend?
I have lots of best friends. I can’t fit anyone at the top, because I have like four or five best friends.
Would you say you’re an emotional person?
No, I’m quite thick skinned. I brush off stuff quite easily. I wouldn’t lose my head over anything. It would have to be quite a big event, something I would feel really deeply about, for me to get really upset.
If you were to be in a situation like that, would you be comfortable sharing your feelings with other people?
Certain people. I can talk to my mom about anything. She is probably the one person I speak to about anything. If I were to ever be down or anything, I would go to her.
Do you ever cry?
Yeah. It happens more in private. In front of my mum I have cried. About personal things, but yeah I do cry. It helps to release emotions - whatever is bottled up. I feel like I can release it, so it does help.
Where does this worry-free balance and ability to handle situations quite easily come from?
I think it’s just my view on life. I’m still quite young - I’m 16. I’ve got so much to live and so much to do with my life that there is no point in getting upset and care about the little things that are just going to be there for two weeks. I’m going into the big world now, I’ve just finished school and there are lots of things to come for me. I feel like I’m quite calm about situations. I’m quite a chill person - I just get on with it.
What do you feel about being finished with school and heading into the real world?
I’m really excited, actually. I can’t wait. I am nervous though, I don’t want to mess up for my family and myself. I have some really big opportunities. I’m scared in that aspect, but I’m excited at the same time.
In modern society, genders are becoming more fluid. How do you feel about gender identity and fluidity? Masculinity vs. Femininity.
It confuses me a little bit. I don’t know enough about it to say much. I don’t know much about what’s going on with it, as I’m used to it being just man and female. People can do and feel how they like. With freedom of speech, you can be whoever you want to be.
Do you think masculinity is changing in your generation – the idea of masculinity?
Yeah, a bit. In the generation before us, masculinity meant being a proper man. It’s changing a bit. When it comes to masculinity I just picture a butch man - like a manly man with his mates having a beer. I’ve been with my dad when we’ve gone to see ‘Chelsea’ and we’ve gone to pubs and such. I’ve experienced that picture a lot, so I’m comfortable with that. But I’m not like a geezer.
Are you spiritual or religious?
No, although I believe something is there. Something over us watching – there is some kind of guidance that everyone has. A path to follow. I wouldn’t say I’m a strict religious person, but I don’t dispute any views at all.
Have you ever been in love?
Yes. I’ve seen this girl for four or five years. We started dating in year seven, and it’s been on and off for like four or five years. It only recently came to an end. It happened within the last two months, so it's been a big thing now lately. During exams it was a bit hard, but I’m starting to get over it now I think. I still have feelings for the girl. It was a third of my life, but I’m letting her do her thing and just seeing what’s going to happen. We’re going to different colleges, so there will be a distance that will get bigger and bigger. I feel like it is the end, which is really sad. I’m accepting the fact that it is over and I’m letting her move on. But it’s hard, she was my first love.
Would you be able to visualize the sensation of ‘falling in love’?
I’m just picturing food in my head. I don’t know why… Like cake. Chocolate cake. The creamy gooey centre.
That is just too good. Love it. What is your dream goal?
To do well for all of my family. To get them all in a better place. Just happiness. It doesn’t have to be golden riches, but obviously that would be nice. Make them all happy and proud. Make all our lives better - for my whole family; my mum, dad, sister and all of my family.
If you were to give the older generation an advice, what would it be?
I think to just accept what you have. You can always better your life - a bit of hard work. Some people are in bad situations, but it’s not forever. You might have to endure some hardship, but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. And that’s my wisdom…
Interview and words by Hedvig Werner.