Catching Up with Derek Yates | CJC Photography

Catching Up with Derek Yates

Derek Yates


The last time I interviewed the incredibly talented model/actor Derek Yates was in September 2013! My how time flies…

Derek, can you share with the readers what you have been up to since then?

2014 has definitely been a groundbreaking year for my career. I booked and then filmed my first acting role through my agency in February, and then filmed my first Union acting role in September making me eligible for SAG-AFTRA. I also booked my first semi-big campaign for modeling, which was for Cocksox and then shot with Underwear Nation at the same time. Other than that I’ve been just trying to do things to further my career however I can amidst auditions and networking. Oh, and of course winning The Ellen Degeneres Show’s Gardener competition.

What would you say has been your most memorable moment of 2014?

My most memorable moment would probably be booking my first Union role that made me eligible for SAG-AFTRA. It will be the role that I will look back on as the one that really got the ball rolling in my professional career. Being on Ellen is a pretty close second though.

If you could do a photo shoot with any model who would it be and why?

Derek Yates


Oh, hmmm, I’ve never been asked that question, so honestly I don’t really have a solid answer to this question. I just hope to get to work with as many people as I can because people who are doing the same things as you tend to understand and relate to you better, so you can never have enough of those types of friends and connections.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

Well, even though it is included in all of my bios online, most people tend not to realize that I co-founded a non-profit after my brother, Kevin Yates, was killed by a drunk driver 3 years ago. It is called 1N3 because “One in three of us are impacted by drunk driving.” Our non-profit goes to events, schools, meetings, etc. and presents my brother’s story along with other stories of how drunk driving has impacted people in order to spread awareness to hopefully change people’s thinking about drinking and driving. We also pull his wrecked van on a trailer to presentations for people to have a visual in hopes of impacting them even more. The biggest part of our non-profit is that the woman who killed him has now been on our team for about a year now and goes with us to present alongside my mother, Tiki Finlayson who is the other co-founder. She tells her side of the story and the effects it has had on her life and family.

For those looking to get into modeling and acting, what tips would you give them?

The best thing you can do is to network with photographers who are good. Don’t just shoot with anyone. And just because it is free doesn’t always mean you should do it. You have to make sure their style fits what you want for your career and portfolio. But don’t be TOO picky because everyone needs to build their portfolio and to practice. Some photographers will do TFP (time for print), but don’t assume they will. Usually a good test shoot with a good photographer will run a few hundred dollars sometimes, maybe a little less depending, so be prepared for that and save up. From there it is all about what direction you want your career to take. Either start submitting to agencies that you fit the criteria for, attend open calls, and self-submit to gigs you may see looking for your type.

Derek Yates

Eric McKinney

You have worked with so many talented photographers, is there anyone you haven’t worked with that you would like to?

Oh, that list is quite long. There are so many, each for their own reasons. You can never shoot with enough photographers and get enough variety in your portfolio, let alone the exposure that you get by shooting with different photographers especially if they are in areas outside from where you are used to shooting.

Goals for 2015?

My biggest goal for 2015 is to go full-time into entertainment, in one way or another. Ideally that would mean getting a role in a TV show that is recurring or a series regular, and it wouldn’t hurt to land some good movie roles. A good national commercial that would bring in residuals would be nice too. That’s just for acting. Modeling for some larger campaigns and more widely known brands here in the US would be pretty cool too.

Any final thoughts you would like to share with the CJC Photographer readers?

I’m a firm believer in chasing your dreams, so if you have one, put in the time and be patient. Perseverance and confidence is another big one. I know sometimes people are put in rough patches, so if you have a dream, but aren’t able to fully pursue, then do what you can while getting yourself to a better place where you can focus more on accomplishing your dreams. Don’t just survive, but live. Some try to tell me that I’m getting too old for the business, but I disagree. So, no matter the age, if your dream is realistic, or you are just 100% certain it is something you can make happen and pave the way for, then I say give it all you’ve got!

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