Millionaires: Kenz Lawrén is putting on a New Face

By 11/17/2023
Millionaires: Kenz Lawrén is putting on a New Face

Welcome to YouTube Millionaires, where we profile channels that have recently crossed the one million subscriber mark. There are channels crossing this threshold every week, and each creator has a story to tell about YouTube success. Read previous installments here.

When Kenz Lawrén found herself short of work in 2020, she saw a chance to do something different. To “uncover the veil” of her industry: modeling.

Lawrén dropped out of college at 18, already knowing exactly what she wanted to do. She “ended up” in Los Angeles, found work, and was making it as a full-time model–until COVID hit.


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Castings dried up instantly. But instead of taking time off, Lawrén launched a TikTok account. The goal was “sharing some more insight into the behind-the-scenes and things that are a little bit more taboo” about the modeling world, she tells Tubefilter. “Just uncovering the veil, and talking about the reality of what it’s like being a model.”

She wasn’t expecting too much to come of it, and for a little while, her videos were getting decent views and responses, but nothing too major. Then she posted a video where she took her makeup off on camera.

“That was huge,” she says. “For me, I think one of my main struggles as a woman and as a model has been my skin. I’ve always had acne-prone skin, and that’s something that everyone can relate to. Even if you don’t have like chronic acne, everyone can relate to getting an unfortunate pimple on their face, and it can be really debilitating of your confidence.”

The feedback to that video was “really positive to my surprise, because it’s the internet, you never know,” she says. “I got really encouraging feedback and that felt really good for me.”

That was when Lawrén knew TikTok–and content as a whole–was going to continue being a part of her life.

Now, a couple years later, she has over a million followers on TikTok and is planning a longer-form content series, New Face, over on YouTube. (We’ll let her tell you more about that below.) Modeling, like most industries, has picked up again, and Lawrén is back on the catwalk–this time bringing viewers with her to keep showing them what it’s really like to be in her shoes.

Check out our chat with her here:

@kenzlawren 😐 I wish I knew this when I was a teen. #modeltiktok #modeltips #beautyhacks #relatableaf #beautystandards #selflove ♬ My Feelings – Serhat Durmus

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Tubefilter: I’d like to start with some background about you. Pretend somebody’s reading this, they don’t know anything about you. Give me an introduction about you and where you’re from and how you got into modeling.

Kenz Lawrén: I’m born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, but at 18 I decided to drop out of college to follow my dreams and become a model. That’s exactly what I did. I was torn between New York or L.A., but I found myself in L.A. and I started my modeling career. Since then, have been modeling for about eight years now. Since the pandemic, there weren’t any castings going on, so that’s when I started creating content on TikTok, and just sharing modeling tips and sharing some more insight into the behind the scenes and things that are a little bit more taboo. Just uncovering the veil, and talking about the reality of what it’s like being a model. From there, my platform really took off.

Tubefilter: You seem really committed to being honest and forthright in your content, and not portraying modeling as this perfect world. I was curious about why that’s so important to you.

Kenz Lawrén: It’s important to me because I can relate to what a lot of women are feeling when– Especially nowadays it’s so much harder because of social media and there’s filters and everyone’s editing everything. I think when people look at models it’s even more heightened, because you think about it, we’ve got professional hair and makeup artists, professional retouching, lighting, cameras, all the equipment to make a perfect photo.

I just had a realization, I think, during that time, during the pandemic, I was reflecting a lot. I realized, God, I wish I looked like all of my modeling photos, but I don’t wake up looking like that, of course. That’s obvious to me now because I do it, but if I think back before I started modeling, when I was the one walking into the Sephora’s and looking at all the photos of all the models and wondering, “God, why don’t I look like that?”

It was just important for me to send the message that we don’t even look like that. That way we’re not setting unrealistic beauty standards, and holding ourselves too high of an expectation, because it can be really debilitating and I know it can affect women, everyone, but women especially feel like we can be really hard on ourselves. It’s really important to remind women out there that, you should be easier on yourself and not to use fashion and beauty as a way to fix yourself because society told you to. It should be something that we use to enhance our features and be excited about our unique features and explore different creative outlets.

Tubefilter: I know you dropped out of college and pursued modeling, which is very daring. How did you end up getting your first modeling gig? What was your entry point into modeling?

Kenz Lawrén: There’s some things that you can do when you first start modeling. You can find castings on your own, but it’s much easier if you have an agency, and you’re going to have a better chance of not running into scams because there’s a lot of that out here in this industry, unfortunately, as well. When I first started I was just networking, just trying to get my foot in the door. I didn’t know anything about the business or how it worked.

I was just trying to network and meet with as many makeup artists, designers, and photographers as possible, by going to different events or finding them on social media. Then eventually I was able to find an agency. I was able to start booking real work. It didn’t start off for me by booking work. It started off by me building my portfolio and just doing test shoots with photographers.

Tubefilter: Got you. Then when COVID kicked in and you ended up on TikTok, was there a specific video that took off for you, where you were like, “Hey, this is something I’m going to keep doing”?

Kenz Lawrén: Yes. For me, it was the video where I took off my makeup on camera. That was huge. For me, I think one of my main struggles as a woman and as a model has been my skin. I’ve always had acne-prone skin, and that’s something that everyone can relate to. Even if you don’t have like chronic acne, everyone can relate to getting an unfortunate pimple on their face, and it can be really debilitating of your confidence.

It’s just funny because I used to be the kind of girl that wouldn’t even leave the house without makeup on. Would not even take my dog on a walk if I didn’t have makeup on. Once I had this realization, and I think just partly maturing and realizing what really matters in life, I was like, “You know what? Screw it. I’m taking it all off.” I did, and the feedback was really positive to my surprise, because it’s the internet, you never know. I got really encouraging feedback and that felt really good for me.

Tubefilter: Perfect. Then what is your mix of things now? I’m assuming that castings have returned to being a little bit more normal now that COVID has calmed down, sort of. What is your current mix of things you’re pursuing?

Kenz Lawrén: I’m doing so much right now. It feels like I’m having to be the jack of all trades. I’m modeling full-time still. Now, I’ve incorporated social media into a full-time job as well, because it is. I’ve also started producing my own show, which is really exciting. It’s the first one I’ve ever done, but it’s tailing off of my TikTok content and just moving it over to more long form. It’s going to be on YouTube. That way, my viewers can really dive in with me and get a better idea of how the photoshoot process works, and just hopefully learn more, and watch the transformation of a new model jumping into her inner supermodel self. It’s really exciting. I’m pumped about it, but I’m doing a lot.

Tubefilter: Yes, it sounds like a lot. What’s your approach? How has it been to shift from short-form to long-form?

Kenz Lawrén: This is going more to the business side. I’m just now learning a lot about how the business works as an influencer. A lot of the feedback that I’d gotten from other content creators was that YouTube is a tried and true platform. It’s been around forever, and business-wise, it’s better for influencers. As far as my community goes, I just think it’s a better opportunity for them to really dive in and learn more, because you think about it, a TikTok or YouTube shorts or Instagram reels, they’re all like 30-second videos and it’s not really enough time for me to dive in and really give an authentic idea of what the process looks like. I think YouTube’s going to allow me to be able to do that and just go in a little bit deeper.

Tubefilter: You’re busy as hell. What is your current production schedule? For content, do you aim to produce a certain number of videos per week or is it just what you’re able to do? What does your content schedule look like?

Kenz Lawrén: The goal is always to at least post once a day, because it’s true, you’ve got to be consistent when it comes to social media. If you’re trying to take it seriously as a job, you’ve got to be consistent. You can’t just fall off the face of the earth. That can be really tough sometimes. One, because you’re maybe working on multiple projects at a time, or two, personal life things happen. It can be really difficult trying to balance it all.

I think it’s so funny, everyone always dreams of being their own boss, and I don’t have any regrets about that. I love that I’m able to be in that kind of control, but it also means that you have to take on a lot more responsibility and be really good about time management and balance and taking time for yourself. Yes. Ideally I’d like to post every single day, but sometimes it doesn’t happen. I’ll even do posts on my story and just be like, “Hey guys, I’ve got to take a mental health break.” Or, “Hey guys, I’m working on this right now. I’m really excited, but that means I’m going to have to be a little bit more MIA,” when it comes to my daily TikTok content. It’s tough, but you just ebb and flow. Go with it.

Tubefilter: You’re showing us a lot of your life as a model. How do you decide what to show in your videos and what not to show?

Kenz Lawrén: That’s a good question. I think for the most part I’m pretty transparent. Even in times where I don’t personally want to be. For example, when I did the video where I was taking off my makeup. Personally, I didn’t want to do that. I also did not expect to get 17-plus million views on it, which can be terrifying, especially if you’re the kind of person like me that never left the house without makeup on.

I think once you have the realization that, “This is not really for me anymore, it’s not about me. It’s for a bigger purpose and it could really help somebody else and a lot of people,” then you can set the ego aside and you’re like, “This really is bigger than me.” It can make it a lot more encouraging to keep posting stuff like that. My community made it a safe space for me to be able to do that. Since that first video went viral, I’m telling you, 99% of the comments were all so supportive, so kind, so encouraging. That created a safe space for me to continue being vulnerable. Really it’s my community that I have to thank for that.

Tubefilter: Yes. Have you noticed, what is your audience like on TikTok?

Kenz Lawrén: They’re awesome. For me, I don’t feel like a lot of influencers get this kind of opportunity, but, I like to incorporate my influence– What am I saying? I just messed up my words. Sorry. A lot of influencers don’t get the opportunity to meet their followers in person. For me, I’m able to do that because I incorporate them into my content a lot. Whether I’m doing a photoshoot giveaway or just anything. I find ways to incorporate them. I even brought one of my followers to a red carpet with me. I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of them and what I can say is they are all strong, very ambitious, they’re all dreamers, and they remind me so much of myself when I first started into modeling, just eager to get started, really excited and passionate about fashion and beauty and really uplifting towards other women and people in general.

I love that. They come from all walks of life from all over the world. I’ve met some of my followers all the way from Australia and all the way from Tokyo because they wanted to do a shoot, and they flew all the way out. I’m like, it’s a big thing for me to wrap my head around. The common denominator is they’re all just really down-to-earth kind, ambitious, strong women.

Tubefilter: That’s rad. I do feel like TikTok can be toxic. The fact that you’re able to find that kind of community is an interesting point to highlight.

Kenz Lawrén: Yes. It makes me feel good. It makes me feel like, “Okay, I must be doing something right.”

Tubefilter: Has being on TikTok done anything for your modeling career?

Kenz Lawrén: Yes, absolutely. There’s some modeling brands that are clients that I’ve worked with just on the modeling side. Actually, just the other week I had booked a skincare campaign. First thing when I got onto set, the client comes up and I’m just in my like, go work mode, and I’m like, “Okay, where’s my coffee? I got to go to glam.” It totally caught me off guard. The client comes up to me and she’s like, “Kenz!” [imitates a hug] I’m like, “Hey, this is really nice.” I’m not used to walking on the set and having the client open up their arms to me like that. It’s usually just immediately “Go, go, go.” She was like, “I follow you on TikTok and I love your content. I love your message. This was a huge reason why we decided to book you for this. We thought that you were the perfect face and voice for our campaign because our vision and our values align.”

That meant so much to me because that was like, “Okay, it’s proof that the stereotype that models are just about being a pretty face is so, such crap.” It’s not true. At least not so much anymore. There are brands out there that really care about the integrity of their brand and really care about the people that they cast. It was really nice. It felt like home and that recognition was good. There’s been some opportunities where the two worlds have started colliding. It’s not all the time, but every once in a while it’ll happen. It catches me off guard, but it’s really nice.

Tubefilter: Very very cool. Moving forward, do you see content continuing to be a major part of your life and of your career?

Kenz Lawrén: Yes. I’m not going to lie, there was a bit of an identity crisis for me at one point because, I came out here with the idea, “I’m going to be a model. I’m going to be a model.” When you’re 18 or 17, however old I was when I got started, you’re not really thinking about super long-term. You’re just thinking, “Okay, this is my dream. This is my goal right now.” It was just always modeling, modeling, modeling. The platform was something that came out of nowhere to me. That was never on my agenda. That was never a goal but then I had this realization. You know what? When a door opens, you should take it.

I thought about it and it’s like, “Okay, I may not want to model forever.” There’s something really valuable, I find, from being able to use my expertise to support other young women’s dreams. Also, for the bigger purpose of changing the beauty standards and giving opportunity to young women out there that might not have had the opportunity to break into the industry because of the stupid beauty standards that this industry has. I can be in control. I can be like, “No, I choose you. I’m going to take you under my wing and we’re going to get this,” because there were times when I first started modeling where I was not even looked at for more than 0.5 seconds, if that.

They just write you off immediately. If they don’t see a supermodel right in front of them, they’ll just be like, “Okay, next.” It’s brutal. For me, I feel like I’ve really developed my eye and I know how to really take someone from here to here and just bring out their inner supermodel, bring out that inner confidence, and I want to use my platform to be able to do that. I think content is going to probably more and more take over, and I’m just going to keep my mind open and see what other doors open along the way.

Tubefilter: Do you see yourself teaching classes?

Kenz Lawrén: I have. I actually just started a workshop with my boyfriend Jonti because he’s the photographer. We started the aesthetics workshop where aspiring photographers and aspiring models can come join us and we just shoot all day long. It’s a lot of fun. They get to shadow me and Jonti shooting for a little bit, just so they can see how we work. Then we give them a partner to work with and then we’ll just shoot together. Jonti and I are there just overseeing everything there to support them and give advice, give tips, critiques. We’ve only done a few of the workshops so far.

We just started it, but we’ve had such a great time doing it. It’s really inspiring for us, too. We learn a lot and how to really try to coach the best way and translate what we do creatively verbally, and in an educational way, because sometimes it’s hard to do, because when you’re a creative, you just do it, but this way it makes us have to think it through and we’re like, “Okay, yes, this is what I’m doing,” and really breaking it down so it’s digestible.

Tubefilter: Oh nice! Cool that you’re already on that path. I know a lot of your TikTok videos are instructional about poses, and especially how to pose. How to pose is so important, even for your average person, non-model.

Kenz Lawrén: Yes. That’s actually been an interesting comment that I’ve seen a lot, too, is that a lot of people follow me that aren’t aspiring models, are not in the fashion and beauty industry at all, but they’re able to take away just like little life lessons or just basic fashion and beauty, posing tips from me and apply it to their everyday life. We do live in the day of the digital age, so everyone’s taking photos every single day. Everyone can take little bits and pieces from it. That makes me feel good. I love that we can be a community even just beyond modeling. It’s really just about discovering your highest version of yourself and having a safe space to do that. I feel like my community and my platform has that.

Tubefilter: Yes, that level of confidence I feel is useful for anybody. It’s like a broad-spectrum application. Is there anything else you wanted to talk about? Any other cool projects? Any goals? Anything you want people to know about you?

Kenz Lawrén: Yes. I’ll leave you with this. For a few years now, I’ve been working on this series called New Face. That’s one I mentioned a little bit earlier. It’s going to be on YouTube. I’m really excited about it, because like I said, we’re going to be able to dive in deeper and we will cast one model, and I get thousands of submissions for this. We have to try to cast it down to one model and we take her under our wing and we produce a photoshoot for her. I have my glam team, use their expertise to bring out their inner supermodel, give them a cool high-fashion look or whatever suits their aesthetic the best.

My team is so good about pulling that from people. Then I’m there to teach them how to pose and get the best shots possible so they can break into the industry. Really watching that character arc from how they start the shoot to how they end is really exciting and empowering to watch. I really hope that people get excited to tune in because I’m planning on releasing it soon. Keep an eye out for New Face on YouTube.

Tubefilter: Do you know when the first episode’s going to drop?

Kenz Lawrén: I am going to predict either late this year, possibly early next year, but I’m hoping sooner. It’s just a lot, especially when you’re a one-man band, but you’ve got to do it. So, soon.

Tubefilter: Are you doing it in season chunks?

Kenz Lawrén: The goal is that once I get this episode finished and released, that I can start pitching it to brands and we can get funding for it. Because, obviously, I’ve got to pay a team and there’s a lot of people that it takes to make a photoshoot happen. I would love for this to be an ongoing series, but transparently, I need a budget for it. I need a team. That’s the goal, that we get enough support from this first video that we can continue to do this because that would be a dream come true for me and a dream come true for anyone that I can have on board of the New Face series.

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