Sunday brunch with Filipino entrepreneur Michael Seifert on how he turned a passion project into a global talent agency

Published December 20, 2020, 8:57 AM

by Jerico Villamonte

Talentman models Danica Magpantay, Tan Patipan, Dana Slosar and founder Michael Seifert

Having worked as an international model in Milan, London, Berlin, Hong Kong, Singapore, Manila, and other fashion capitals, Michael Seifert, founder of Talentman, shares how his experience helped him become a force to be reckoned with in the industry.

“I developed an eye for scouting naturally. Talentman was my response to talent misrepresentation, fighting against sexual abuse, and highlighting the importance of mental health,” shares Michael. What initially began as a passion project resulted into an exclusive platform that launched the careers of Filipino and international models worldwide.

As of 2020, the agency has been representing talents in fashion, film, and music since its conception six years ago. Keeping their board small and strong, the agency’s talents share three core principles—passion, personality, and professionalism.

“A model’s physical appearance is not enough to make it in the business and build a long-term career. Personality will take you a long way and increase opportunities in relevant industries like film & music,” says Michael.

Talentman isn’t just an agency that calls you to attend go-sees, but also values the importance of a joint partnership to amplify the voices and strengths of its talents. “We carefully listen to our talents and treat them as individuals, align a strategic plan with their aspirations, and work toward achieving a mutual goal together,” Michael continues.

Talentman was able to book projects for its talents for brands like Burberry, Givenchy, Chanel, Fila, Reebok, Replay, Wella and, most recently, a world-renowned video game by Capcom to be released next year.

How was Seifert able to do this? We caught up with Michael, a Garage Magazine Street Dapper King alumnus, about the 101s in making the talent agency work and how he helps out his fellow models achieve their goals.

How does Talentman pick talents? What are the criteria? How did the roster of your talents grow?

Talentman is very selective with who we bring on board for representation. We focus on certain facial features, life stories, overall potential, and, of course, personality. For the fashion division, men and women must meet specific criteria (age, height, measurements) to enable them to work in multiple markets and compete against some of today’s most successful talents. For film and music, the talent must be authentic, unique, and must possess a strong presence on screen. The voice is very important as well. The ultimate Talentman model is multi-skilled and talented, making them more marketable in the long run. We normally receive submissions via Instagram and email. We often receive them through referrals.

How does Talentman provide its talents with exposure and opportunities in the industry?

Over the years, Talentman has strengthened its relationship with partnering agencies worldwide across Asia, Europe, and the United States. Whether the market is New York, Paris, Milan, London, Singapore or Hong Kong, we work with the world’s best agencies, including emerging ones that fully believe in our proposed talents and their potential. Depending on the talent’s career goals and objectives, we develop a suitable strategy that aligns with the branding, promotion and overall direction, taking the necessary steps towards both short-term and long-term goals.

Having Filipino talents and being a Filipino yourself, how are you encouraging them to represent the Filipino heritage? 

Being Filipino, I take pride in my heritage by uplifting the beauty of the country, its thousands of islands undiscovered, and the unique and warm hospitality that Filipinos are known for. I encourage all talent⁠—whether Filipino or not⁠—to embrace their heritage, incorporate their culture into their sense of style and overall personality, and to just be themselves unapologetically. Be proud of where you come from, and celebrate the diversity that you represent in the world.

The fashion industry is ever-changing. How do you think Filipino talents are keeping up with the game? 

Filipinos are very talented, creative, and driven. With the ever-changing fashion industry, it’s important to find an ideal match between the model and their management team or creatives, in general. With the many recent success stories of Filipino talent that has soared abroad, it is evident that the world is more ready now than ever to welcome more Filipino talents around the world. I believe Filipinos are keeping up and learning to become more strategic in finding the right partners to collaborate with. Furthermore, I believe Filipino talent is shifting its mindset and career goals towards a more global approach. Filipinos are some of the most professional & hard-working people working towards achieving their dreams with passion & purpose. I have no doubt that many more Filipino talents will be making their marks, both locally and internationally, and I look forward to what’s to come.

Here are some of Talentman’s finest sharing how this boutique agency is helping them out in their careers and growth as a person.

Image source: Talentman Models’ Instagram

“Talentman has given me the confidence and drive to hone in on my passions and focus on creating more long-term career goals.”—Dana Slosar

Image source: Talentman Models’ Instagram

“It’s been two years since I signed with Talentman, and ever since, things have changed for the better for me. I am a full-time student and a model at the same time. I never thought my modeling career would be so smooth for me, in the way that I could manage both full-time. It is good to have a manager like Michael who is well-educated, and who has previously juggled schooling and managing several models at the same time. He is able to manage me so well that I can do both and not feel like I have to do less of the two. I have been signed off to amazing agencies who have gotten me the opportunity to work with amazing designers, and my experience has been great! I have heard so many things about other agencies, but Talentman isn’t one to act negatively. At Talentman, you are listened to, you are consulted before anything, and you are checked in on to make sure you are in great health and that your mental health is the best. The word I would associate with Talentman is ‘home,’ because I feel safe, loved, protected, and nurtured as a model with a distinct brand.”—Munira Zulka

Image source: Talentman Models’ Instagram

“I was young and so unacquainted with the industry when I first started. I had no idea where I was headed or where I belonged, but Talentman has helped me grow and become a confident model by guiding me through the right paths. Talentman has delivered on every promise that seemed quite unbelievable before. I am grateful to have had the many amazing opportunities and experiences that I would’ve never been able to get on my own.”—Tan Patipan

Image source: Talentman Models’ Instagram

“The agency helps me as a person by being super supportive about my well-being, always pushing me toward becoming the best version of myself and the most professional model that I can be.”—Markus Pichlmayer