Mark Reay is the true definition of a starving actor. Mark is a homeless working actor and model in NYC.
Some people believe that working as a male model is amazing, filled with parties, free clothes and luxurious apartments.
But for Mark Reay, a 56-year old model and actor, originally from New Jersey, it wasn’t all that amazing. Although the actor worked in New York City and regularly attended all the fashion shows during Fashion Week, he was still homeless.
For six years, he told the NY Post that he was unable to afford New York City’s rent prices and began sneaking onto a friend’s roof to sleep.
You would probably never guess that Mark was homeless if you met him. In fact, only his closest friend knew the truth during his years he lived on the streets.
At 6’3 Mark made sure to keep up appearances. He had a long carer as a model by the time he ended up sleeping on his friend’s roof. Starting in his 20’s he lived in models’ group apartments in places like Madrid, Paris and Milan. The model would walk runways for major designers including Versace and Missoni.
But, even back then the model only made about $10,000 a year, and bringing home small checks like the $60 paycheck he picked up for appearing in French Vogue – but he said that the salary was just enough to support himself and travel whenever he wanted.
“I was never the type to settle down or save for a deposit for a mortgage,” he said, add that he preferred to be on the go and travel the world.
During that period of time, he worked a lot of odd jobs in addition to modeling, including catering and acting in the first season of Sex and the City.
The money he made paid his $175 single room apartment in New York, which he gave up when he was offered $30,000 to move out as the area was “gentrified.” He used the extra cash to travel the world and learn how to become a professional photographer.
‘That’s the sort of guy I was – no strings attached,’ he said. ‘I never had a serious relationship with a woman or told anyone that I loved them other than my family.’
Mark’s first experience in the streets occurred when he lived in France. He had been planning on taking pictures of people there, but he couldn’t find a way to pay for a hotel. So, instead, he would sleep on the streets. But, Mark pointed out that being homeless in New York was a bit different.
When he returned home, he couldn’t afford the high rent in New York City, so in 2008 he paid $30 a night to stay in a hostel. But, that didn’t last long due to the large number of bedbugs at the hostel. He would later sneak into his friend’s apartment and sleep on the rooftop.
He would sleep at night with a tarp pulled on top of him and a plastic bottle to urinate into.
Mark revealed that growing up he never thought he would be homeless and sleeping on a roof top. “Amazingly, I got away with it without ever having to tell my friend what I was doing. I was careful not to run into him on the stairs, or any of the other residents for that matter.”
Through that time, Mark would continue to work. He would take photographs at Fashion Week, land roles in ‘The Good Wife’ and ‘Men and Black 3’ while also working on Martin Scorese’s 2010 ad for the cologne Bleu de Chanel.
In order to get ready for modeling and acting gigs, Mark would find public bathrooms where he would get dressed, shave and brush his teeth. He even had a mirror that he would duct-tape to a wall to check out how he looked.
When things were going well, he would invest in a $90/month membership to the YMCA where he could shower, work out, and keep his clothes in a locker. He would also invest in a cell phone in order to land upcoming gigs.
To many people living on the street would seem disgusting and horrible. But, Mark never hated it. He argues that he had an amazing view, cheap rent, and the opportunity to do whatever he wanted.
He’s currently living with his mother in New Jersey after filming a documentary about his life. He splits his time auditioning, taking photographs and couch surfing in New York City.
Check out the trailer below: