News / Calgary

Calgary-raised model named one of People magazine's Sexiest Men Alive

It’s been a big year for Calgary raised model and actor, Holden Nowell.

Earlier this month, People magazine included the 23 year old in its Sexiest Man Alive issue thanks to his starring role in the video for Carly Rae Jepsen’s massively popular summertime hit, Call Me Maybe.

“That was exciting,” says Nowell, who’s spent the past few months in Los Angeles trying to capitalize on his newfound celebrity.

“They sent me 10 copies of the magazine.”

In town to visit his girlfriend for the holidays, Nowell tells Metro he’s still surprised by the attention he’s received since appearing as Jepsen’s shirtless object of lust.

“I think one of the main reasons people recognize me from the video is because of my tattoos,” he says.

“It’s crazy. If I’m walking down the street wearing a shirt, no one notices me. But if I’m at the gym in a tank top, a lot of people notice.”

Nowell says he’s had men come up to him mid-workout and ask for a photo.

“They tell me that their girlfriends love the video,” he explains.

“And then they ask, ‘Can I get a picture with you so I can show my girlfriend when I get home?’”

The official Call Me Maybe video has been viewed more than 350 million times on YouTube, and its twist ending – Nowell’s hunky character ends up giving his phone number to one of Jepsen’s male bandmates – has received largely positive online feedback.

“I wasn’t sure about the ending at first,” Nowell admits.

“But I started to get feedback from a lot of people about it. My friends and family really love it and I get e-mails about how funny it is. It worked out obviously.”

Nowell, who’s represented by Calgary agency Sophia Models, says although his modeling career is doing well now, he wants to focus on acting and is heading back to Los Angeles in February to audition for television pilots.

It’s something Nowell may not have thought was possible four years ago when he was an aspiring, but struggling, model in New York City.

When people hear that you’ve lived in a New York for a year modeling, they think you live this luxurious lifestyle,” says Nowell.

“But when you’re trying to become a top model, it’s dog-eat-dog. It’s pretty intense.”

Nowell left the modeling world for four years, doing odd jobs such as bartending and construction in Vancouver.

“After a few years of that, I thought, ‘Maybe modeling wasn’t so bad,’” he says.

“I guess that when I decided to get back into it.”


  • Holden Nowell was first approached by Calgary agency ModeModels when he was in grade seven. He declined and focused on sports instead.
  • He went to L.A. in hopes of becoming a professional basketball player, but returned to Canada a year later after getting an injury.
  • Nowell’s former agency in Vancouver almost didn’t send him to the Call Me Maybe video audition. “At the time, my agency didn’t think it was even going to be on the radio.”

Fashion forward locals

Holden Nowell certainly isn’t the only local model to find success abroad. Here are four Alberta-born beauties who have taken the fashion world by storm.

Sam Ypma

With elfin features and bleach blonde hair, Sam Ypma has been quickly making her way up the modeling ranks. Her edgy look has landed 20-year-old Ypma magazine covers in Japan and Korea, and runway shows for such designers as Issey Miyake, Julien David and Jeremy Laing.

Lisa Cant

Lisa Cant was ‘discovered’ at a Calgary IKEA when she was 14 years old. Since then, she has become one of Alberta’s most successful models, appearing in numerous campaigns, including ones for Juicy Couture, Chanel cosmetics, Carolina Herrera Parfum and D&G.  Her big eyes and doll-like face made her popular pick for designers such as Nina Ricci, Marc Jacobs and Betsey Johnson.

Heather Marks

Heather was only 15 years old when she made her runway debut in the Givenchy spring 2003 couture show.

Like Cant, Marks has fine features, which has landed her the covers of Vogue, Italian Elle and Dazed & Confused, to name a few.

Lisa Kauffmann

Now a modeling scout and fashion blogger, Lisa Kauffmann traveled the world in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, appearing in ads for Armani, Karl Lagerfeld, L’Oreal and even Virginia Slims cigarettes. On her blog,, Kauffman has criticized fashion’s use of overly skinny models.

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