Top teen model scores Gap campaign: ‘My autism hasn’t held me back’

At the age of 13, model Julian Scott already has major campaigns for Gap, Levis, Under Armour and Abercrombie Kids under his belt.

But his success in front of the camera is all the more impressive because the Manhattan-based seventh-grader has a so-called “invisible disability” that falls on the autism spectrum.

Julian has been diagnosed with the little-known, frequently misunderstood Nonverbal Learning Disorder (NVLD), a brain-based condition characterized by difficulty recognizing and processing nonverbal cues such as other people’s body language, facial expressions and tone of voice.

Comedian Chris Rock recently disclosed he has NVLD, which can require hours of therapy to address issues such as poor coordination and a deficit in organizational skills.

But when it comes to modeling, Julian’s mother said that his diagnosis doesn’t get in the way of his ability to strike a pose.

“Julian has challenges, but when he is being photographed, they disappear,” Melissa Reale told The Post. “Outside of the stage, he struggles with impulsivity and lack of focus both academically and socially.

“They might cripple him in the classroom, but, if he goes on a shoot, he just chameleons himself into a confident, self-assured kid.”

Signed for the last three years with top agency New York Model Management, Julian recently appeared in a global Teen Gap campaign for the spring season.

He told The Post that the shoot as “really fun … I liked wearing the casual shorts and T-shirts.”

Model Julian Scott
Model Julian Scott is a natural in front of the camera.
Stefano Giovanni

That day, he was photographed in a city studio by renowned camerawoman Coliena Rentmeester, who has worked with celebrities including Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Hudson and Christina Aguilera.

Rentmeester told The Post: “Julian took direction incredibly well and moved with subtlety and ease. Adolescence can be an awkward phase for models but he was endearing and very cute.”

Meanwhile his agent, Megan Klein, described the in-demand muse as “exceptional,” and “a natural,” adding: “He came into the business later in his youth relative to most models in his age group, which is an obstacle in and of itself. Yet he’s thrived.”

It’s often the case that companies prefer working with established child actors, such as former Disney Channel stars like Julian’s favorite, the late Cameron Boyce. Kids of celebrities also fare well with big-name clients, including David and Victoria Beckham’s son Romeo (who modeled for Burberry) and Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s son Jaden, who did a campaign with Louis Vuitton.

But that hasn’t slowed Julian’s momentum.

His career has gone from strength to strength since he first started modeling with the encouragement of his uncle and godfather, Scott Reale, who tragically died in 2017 of a brain tumor at the age of 53. As a tribute to his beloved relative, Julian and his family chose to change his last name, professionally, to Scott.

“He would be so proud of his godson now,” Reale said. “My husband Chris and I had originally poo-pooed the idea of Julian going into modeling because of his academic issues,” she recalled, noting that her son also has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). “But Scott said: “You’ve got to do this as it will be a great outlet for him to express himself.’”

Julian’s mom, Melissa Reale, is proud of her talented son.
Photo by Joy Jaworski

Certainly Julian, the oldest of three brothers, is grateful for the opportunities he has embraced since 2018, including trips to Baltimore, Maryland and Boston, Massachusetts for glamorous photo and runway assignments. The relatively small amount of money he earns goes towards his college fund.

But the rewards go far beyond a salary.

“Modeling has made me feel good about myself,” said the teen, who has attended Winston Preparatory, a Chelsea-based school specializing in learning differences, since September 2023.

As for his advice to wannabe young fashion plates, whether or not they are on the autism spectrum, Julian said: “You just need to believe in yourself.”

Credit: NYPOST

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