#GramGen is a series profiling the most radical characters in youth culture, who continue to shape trend behavior and spark controversy through their avant fashion sense and candid social media personalities.
19-year-old model, Salem Mitchell is creating her own lane on Instagram with her unique look and cool-girl style. Salem's naturally freckled face and distinct fashion sense, described as "a mix between '90s girly and streetwear," are just some of the things that got her discovered on Instagram a little over a year ago, eventually leading to a contract with Ford Models.
While the San Diego native's modeling career is surely booming, it's the relationships Salem has built with her impressive 126k followers on the social platform that makes her most proud of her recognition.
We all know social media can be an unusual place — strangers think they know you solely off of what you portray on the internet, but Salem has a genuine connection with the thousands that follow her -- "it’s weird because even through the internet, I can tell they like me for me." On top of being one of the most known faces in social media, the natural beauty tells us that it's being able to help fans asking for advice in school or with self confidence that makes her feel special.
We caught up with Salem to chat about her dream modeling gig, her favorite brands of the moment, and how just being you in a world of people trying to be something else is "the best thing you could be doing."
How old are you?
I am 19 years old.
Where are you from and where are you currently based?
I’m from San Diego, California. I still live there, but I’m based in LA, and I’m currently in the process of relocating officially.
What’s your occupation?
I’m a model.
How and when did you start modeling?
I went to a performing arts high school, and I was always surrounded by expressive creative people. My friends would shoot me for their photography class, and I really enjoyed it so I began shooting with local photographers and friends during summers. However, it didn’t take off professionally until about a little over a year ago when I was discovered on Instagram by various photographers and even by my current agency, Ford Models.
You have over 100k followers on IG. What’s one piece of advice you have for all of the young people/aspiring models who follow you?
My advice is definitely to be yourself! It’s really easy to get caught up in comparing yourself and your journey to others, especially with social media. You constantly see people sharing different things they're doing, you see all the trends, you see who's “hot” right now, and it can really make you feel like you need to fit into the social standards you see online. When in reality, you're who’s hot right now, you can be setting the trends, and being you and doing you is the best thing you could be doing.
Do you ever feel pressured to portray a certain person or identity on IG or do you post without hesitation?
I don’t feel pressured to portray a certain person or identity online because I feel like a lot of my followers are very genuine and kind, it’s weird because even through the internet I can tell they like me for me, and I don’t alter myself.
Looking back, what are some of your favorite projects/opportunities?
I’ve been really blessed to work on some nationwide campaigns this year that have yet to reach the surface that I’m super excited about. In addition to that, I’ve had multiple opportunities to work on projects and shoot things with people really close to me like my family, my boyfriend, and good friends.
Who is someone you’d like to work with next?
I’d love love love to do more beauty work, a beauty campaign would be a dream come true.
One of the many incredible things that sets you apart from other models on social media is your freckles. Do you ever receive hate because of unique features? If so, how do you respond?
Sometimes I do receive hate, but I generally don't respond because majority of the time the people hating me are seeking attention, and I’d rather give the attention to the people that are kind to me.
The community of young models on social media platforms is huge — have you experienced any competitiveness in this field with other girls aspiring to do the same thing as you?
There's competition in every industry, but I haven't experienced anything outrageously competitive personally. I think that me and a lot of the girls I surround myself with who are primarily in the same field understand that everyone has their own personal route and things that work for someone else might not for me and vise versa.
Your style definitely shines on your feed — how would you describe your sense of fashion? What are some of your favorite pieces/brands at the moment?
My sense of style is definitely all over the place, it's a cross between 90s girly and streetwear. My favorite favorite brand right now is I AM GIA for sure, they have so many cool pieces that I feel fit well into my closet. In addition to GIA, I also really like Unif, Urban Outfitters, American Apparel, and a lot of thrifting.
In the midst of your rapidly growing social media fame, what are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the fact that regardless of how large my following gets, people feel they can connect with me. I get a lot of really personal messages from people who want advice about self confidence, modeling, trouble in school, just random things that make me feel really special. I have little bonds with so many people, I always want to help others and talk things through so it makes me feel special that people would like to discuss and confide in me.
What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?
In the future you can look forward to seeing me in new campaigns and new photos all over the place, but also to seeing more about me as a person and my interests outside of being in front of the camera.
For more #GramGen, check out @itscolinmiller, the photographer giving you concert FOMO on IG.