Malik Lindo, a multifaceted creative based in New York, embarked on his journey as a fashion model in 2014. As his modeling career blossomed, Lindo discovered a profound love for DJing, giving rise to his alter ego, KING LINDO. Renowned for his distinctive crown and a dynamic fusion of Afro-house, disco, house, and hip-hop beats, KING LINDO has emerged as a prominent figure in the New York nightlife scene. Beyond the beats and dimly lit dancefloors, Lindo has successful modeling career. He starred in campaigns for renowned brands such as Tom Ford, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, and more.
In an exclusive interview with Nikola Bajovic, Malik Lindo, represented by Wilhelmina New York, shares insights into his journey in modeling, his personal style, memorable career moments, and the challenges he has faced in the industry. With a candid openness, Malik reflects on his initial steps into modeling at 17, his personal style focused on comfort, and his inspiring experience working with renowned designer Tom Ford.
Malik talks about the challenges of body image and industry expectations, revealing his approach to overcoming these hurdles through a positive mindset. He also highlights models and photographers who have influenced his career and offers advice to aspiring models, emphasizing the importance of uniqueness and learning from experiences.
Beyond modeling, Malik discusses balancing his work as a DJ and his aspirations in the music industry. He shares his preparation rituals for shoots and shows and his vision for a more protected and respectful modeling industry.
Can you share a bit about your journey into the world of modeling? What’s your scouting story?
I started modeling at the age of 17, I was looking for a summer job at the time and a friend of mine recommended it to me as a friend a way of making some extra money at the time. I only knew of two agencies in Toronto and I reached out to both of them with pictures of me from Christmas dinner. Elite Toronto was the only one to get back to me, so they asked me to come in I think a week later to take some digitals, and the rest is history!
How would you describe your personal style, and how does it influence your work as a model?
Comfort! If it was up to me I would probably dress in hoodies, sneakers, and sweat pants every day haha. I think I’m so used to getting dressed up for shoots (I also shoot in suits a lot) that when I’m not shooting I like to be as comfy as possible.
Can you highlight a memorable moment or experience from your career that has had a significant impact on you?
Working with Tom Ford was hands down the most impactful of my career, as it was a prime example of something big that I had manifested. I remember telling my agents in New York years beforehand how he was a client I dreamed to shoot for. That experience reinforced to me that no dream was too big, and that if something is meant for you the universe will conspire to make it happen when the timing is right.
What challenges have you faced in the modeling industry, and how have you overcome them?
Being happy with my body is definitely something that has been a challenge throughout my career, especially after doing castings for fashion week in the past where I was often “too muscular” or “too short”. I’ve also felt like I’ve missed out on certain job opportunities for having too much of a “commercial look”, but after years in this business I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will never be the perfect look for everybody and so I no longer take it personally when I don’t get booked for something. I realize now that what matters most is how you make people feel on set rather than how you look, and so I try to always bring positive open minded energy on set. Shifting my mentality has been a big part of why many clients have continued to rebook me I believe.
Are there any particular photographers, designers, or fellow models who have influenced or inspired your work?
Tyson Beckford, Andre Douglas, Arthur Kulkov, Alton Mason, Chico Lachowski, Broderick Hunter, David Abodji, Adonis Bosso and Alex Cunha are all models that I look up to. They’ve all shot some of the biggest campaigns and have had extensive inspiring careers in the business. I’m also lucky enough to call some of them friends of mine. When it comes to photographers, Guy Aroch is my all time favorite that I’ve had the chance to work with, Blair Getz Mezibov, Juan Veloz, Greg Swales, Alejandro Brito and of course Torian Lewin are up there as well. Some others that I haven’t yet worked with but also inspire me are: Rafael Pavarotti and Tyler Mitchell. I can’t say that I have a favorite designer.
How do you prepare for a photo shoot or runway show? Do you have any rituals or routines?
A good nights sleep, drinking lots of water and my skincare routine is how I prepare for a shoot, right now I am currently using Human Race by Pharrell for my face.
As a multi-hyphenate creative, how do you balance different aspects of your career, such as modeling and other creative pursuits?
Luckily for me, being a DJ doesn’t conflict with modeling too much as most of my gigs are at night and on weekends vs. shoots which are on week days. But I did quit drinking this year which I think has helped a lot with the recovery from long nights playing at clubs, making it much easier to bounce back if I have a shoot in the following days.
What advice would you give to aspiring models who are just starting in the industry?
To young models just starting out I would say to take the opportunity to shoot and create as much as possible with photographers that are willing to test with you, ideally for free. But even if not the more practice you get in front of the camera early on the more comfortable and ready you will be when you book that first campaign. Also while it’s important to take direction on set, try to anticipate what the photographer/client wants before they give you direction, the easier you make it for everyone on set the more likely you are to get booked again. Be yourself, as cliché as that might sound, your personality and the things that make you unique are what will set you apart from the rest. Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask questions from your agents and those in the industry with more experience than you, I learned a lot early on from my older peers by just speaking with them about their experiences.
If there’s one change in the modeling industry you could make, what would it be?
I think some sort of union or set of universal rules/code of conduct could be helpful to ensure that models are all protected, paid appropriately and on time, and treated with respect by those in power.
What’s next for Malik Lindo?
Outside of modeling my goal is to continue working on producing more music, specifically within the genres of electronic and house. My hope is to release an e.p. before the end of 2024. I’d also like to get to a point in my DJ career where I can start getting booked for festivals and playing to bigger audiences not only in New York but also Europe and around the world.
Follow Malik on instagram – @maliklindo