It’s not every day you hear about a marine becoming a fashion model – what’s more a marine who was involved in a terrible accident whilst stationed in Afghanistan and had to have one of his legs amputated. But if the story of Alex Minsky is anything to go by, it goes to show that there’s always a way out of even the most dire situation. For Alex, fashion proved to be his saving grace, allowing him to get his life back together and inspire others as well.
It was only 4 years ago when the 24-year old ex-marine’s truck ran over an explosive whilst travelling along a road in Afghanistan. Alex Minsky sustained major injuries – his jaw had to be stitched together with steel plates and he spent almost 50 days in a coma. Unfortunately, his right leg couldn’t be saved and had to be amputated just below the knee. He then spent one and half years in recovery, fighting through much physical and emotional pain in the process.
Today, Alex Minsky has become a fashion model who is fast gaining recognition and success thanks to his perseverance and hard work. We got a chance to speak to the man himself as he came down to Singapore for the first time ever, making an appearance at the men’s shows at Fide Fashion Week. His rugged good looks and flattering physique aside, what really humbled us was how down-to-earth and normal he was, with not even the slightest bit of arrogance at the attention he’s received so far. He’s the kind of dude you can imagine chilling at a bar or watching soccer with, the kind you know will have your back if you’re ever in a tough situation. What’s more, his eagerness to continue learning and growing despite all he’s been through is something well worth applauding.
Interview with Alex Minsky:
Rebecca: How did you first start out in fashion? I understand a photographer spotted you at the gym.
Alex Minsky: Well after my accident, I wasn’t being very productive in my life. So fashion and modelling, particularly health and fitness modelling, was a way for me to stay productive. The world of male fitness modelling brought me into fashion, so it kind of carried over.
Rebecca: What were some of the challenges you faced when you first started modelling? From being a marine to this, it’s such a different world.
Alex Minsky: It is such a different world. I had a little bit of buffer in between from being a marine to this. I didn’t really do anything for about 2 years after my accident until I started modelling. It just came really naturally, and I just did it, and I’m still doing it. So I guess it worked out really well (laughs).
Rebecca: So I understand you had a very long recovery process after your accident. What was it that actually kept you going throughout all those months of recovery?
Alex Minsky: I wanted to get back on my feet you know, for lack of a better term. I wanted to get up and moving and working again, and get back to being productive. I was just focused on getting back to working with my marines.
Rebecca: I understand you also faced some struggles after your recovery, such as alcoholism. Was there a specific turning point or moment when you decided to get things together, or was it more a gradual process?
Alex Minsky: It was a gradual process. We call that the educational variety (referring to psychologist William James’ term). I learned more and more over time, it was a rather slow. There wasn’t really a sudden moment where I decided to change things; it was more like a lot of moments, all stringed together.
Rebecca: I see. Did you know anything about the fashion world before you started, or was it just something really new?
Alex Minsky: It’s very new. There’s so many things going on, it’s so exciting and new and I’m learning new things.
Rebecca: Any favourite designers or photographers you’de like to collaborate with?
Alex Minsky: Anyone? Everyone. Like I said, everything is so new and fresh. I couldn’t pick just one or two, cos it’s such a new world for me. My experience at Fide Fashion Week has been amazing so far. As for collaborations, I’ve only met a couple of designers, but I really like Sanzio. He’s cool. I’ve worked a lot with photographers such as Tom Cullis and Michael Stokes, they’re really nice guys and very personable as well, so we’ve got a really great working relationship.
Rebecca: How would you describe your personal sense of style?
Alex Minsky: I kind of just wear whatever’s comfortable. I like to get dressed up and go out once in a while, but everyday it’s more of what’s comfortable for me. I’ll probably only wear dress shoes on special occasions (laughs).
Rebecca: I understand you’re quite into music as well. What are some of your favourite singers or bands?
Alex Minsky: You wouldn’t have heard of them (laughs). This one guy named Keith Buckley. Every Time I die, it’s this band right here (points to one of his tattoos). I have like four tattoos from this band, it’s like my favourite band ever. Keith’s the lead singer, he and his brother actually play guitar in the band. I like a lot of music, I’m pretty eclectic in that sense. I like listening to things that give me inspiration. In the past couple of years I’ve listened to a lot of The Black Keys, their older stuff mostly.
Rebecca: Speaking of tattoos, you have so many of them! Could you tell me more about some of them?
Alex Minsky: There’s a tiger on my leg. I got it when I was 19. I was out of boot camp and I knew I needed something on my leg. So I was thinking “why don’t I get a big tiger”, cos I heard it’s the Japanese symbol for strength. Don’t quote me on that (laughs). I worked with my cousin who’s an artist, and we drew up this big thing on my leg.
Rebecca: Which was your first one?
Alex Minsky: I got mum in a heart on my chest. I was 17 (smiles).
Rebecca: What about the letters on your fingers?
Alex Minsky: The ones on my fingers spell out optimist. As for my fingers, each of the letters stands for my siblings (points to each one of them). There’s Rachel, Marie and Hannah-Mae, and my brothers, Daniel and Kenneth. And the other one stands for ‘That’s What She Said’, so I can just point to someone and say that (laughs).
Rebecca: What are you future plans? Would you ever consider going into the music industry as a career?
Alex Minsky: I’ve been in bands, recorded with a few of them as well. But it’s more like a hobby which I’ve been doing for a long time. I’m hoping to get into more modelling and acting. I’ve done a little bit of acting so far and I really like it. Modelling came naturally, but as for acting I’ve gotta work a little more on it, but I think I’m getting there. At first I was really nervous in front of a camera. I shot for a couple of tv shows, but I find that when I’m I front of a live motion picture camera, I get kind of nervous. But I’m warming up to you. They tried me out on this NBC sitcom for a few episodes. Even though it was a minor role, it was a really good experience so I’m hoping it’s something I can pursue further. The fashion world’s pretty new to me too, so I’m kind of exploring different grounds.
Rebecca: Your story has actually been a source of inspiration for many. Who inspires you?
Alex Minsky: Who inspires me? Well, my mum definitely. My mum never gives up, ever. She always keeps her happy face on. It’s not to say she doesn’t get sad or anything, but she keeps it going for me, a good source of strength. And also just my family and friends in general. Nobody’s really expected anything less from me. I mean I expect so much from myself, and it’s heartening to know that everyone else believes in me as well.
Heartfelt thanks to Fide Fashion Week and Womcomm for making this interview possible.