A walk through a bookstore changed Jason Aaron Baca’s life forever. He had clocked a decade’s worth of experience as a clothing and ad model, but a chance sighting of a romance novel had Baca dreaming big.
“I looked at the book cover, pictured myself on that cover, then looked around at all the other people in the store. I thought to myself, ‘these people don’t realize someone in this bookstore just had a life-changing moment,’ ” Baca remembers.
A sleepless night followed. Baca knew the journey to becoming a cover model would be a challenging one but, he says, “I’ve never been someone who wanted to do something everyone else was doing.” He candidly tells us, “I thought, ‘This is going to be me! I can be that guy. … But this model on the cover is in way better shape than me.’ Sleeping was just a waste of time. I wanted muscles to start in right away.”
More than eight years later, Baca’s broken cover model legend Fabio’s record by appearing on more than 400 covers.
A former college baseball player, Baca tried acting for awhile, though, he says, “I went to an audition and completely froze up when it was time to read my lines. I soon realized, I was definitely not an actor!” But a job as a double on the horror film I Know What You Did Last Summer led to a photography session, and soon Baca had found his niche.
Now firmly established as a cover model, Baca can embody all types of romance novels. He tells of us of the experience switching subgenres, “It’s a lot different when you have to go from business man to sexy steamy hunky man. It’s a whole new ballgame. The way you act and feel, the way you move your body in the shoot is different. You have to bring out a whole different side in you and another expression that says … BOOM! Take a look at this hunk a man.”
As to his favorite subgenre, Baca in particular enjoys those increasingly popular romantic suspense titles. “I may have a toy pistol or weapon of some kind, they then have me do all kinds of acrobatic moves and then catch me in that position,” he explains. The more romance-themed covers require a slower-paced session. Baca says he’ll be “holding a pose, flexing the muscles really tight and then remaining in that position for a few seconds, then changing the position of the face ever so slightly in each shot.”
And some experiences are more memorable than others. Baca was a good enough sport to relate this tale to us: “I do recall one shoot where they had me up alongside some jagged rocks facing the beach, so I couldn’t see what was happening with the ocean behind me. There were several onlookers at the shoot that had been a good 50 yards up on the beach, kicking back. It was a moment in between shooting where the photographer and props people where busy talking, not paying attention to me. So I just stood there acting like a big stud. I glanced over at the people on the beach and saw their faces change. That look of anticipation set in on all of their eyes like something was going to happen behind me. Then it hit! SLAM! A giant wave got me. It threw me around pretty good and I went flying face first into the sand. I just remember sitting up, looking over at those onlookers — and they were all cracking up. I couldn’t help myself and just started busting up laughing too. It was a great moment, one I’ll never forget. Here I was, trying to put out the cool vibe. A delightfully humbling experience, I must say.”
No matter the cover, Baca is grateful to be able to pursue his dream. He calls it a “true honor” that authors, “who spend months upon months writing, and crafting, fantasizing about what the hero is about to embark on, what he looks like, or how will he respond to his true love,” would select him to personify their character.
And he’s certainly got future plans. “It’s the journey that has brought me the happiness, not the destination of reaching those very goals. I still feel my bigger days are still ahead.”
We can’t wait to see what’s next!
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