How Mitchell Slaggert Went from Marine Dreams to The Sex Lives of College Girls

CULVER CITY, CA - JUNE 21: Actor Mitchell Slaggert attends the screening of "Moss" and "Goose" during the 2017 Los Angeles Film Festival at Arclight Cinemas Culver City on June 21, 2017 in Culver City, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)
CULVER CITY, CA - JUNE 21: Actor Mitchell Slaggert attends the screening of "Moss" and "Goose" during the 2017 Los Angeles Film Festival at Arclight Cinemas Culver City on June 21, 2017 in Culver City, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)

Rodin Eckenroth/Getty

The Sex Lives of College Girls newcomer Mitchell Slaggert is sure to shake up the scene at Essex College — but it turns out the model-actor's life off screen is equally intriguing as his role on the HBO Max series.

"I come from a Southern, structured military family," Slaggert, 28, exclusively tells PEOPLE. "And when I was in high school, my mentor was getting me up at 4 a.m. to train me to be the next generation of soldier, because he was an old Special Forces guy."

He continues, "I enlisted in the Marine Corps right after high school, [but] I was unable to join because I lost a kidney in a car accident when I was 7."

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Slaggert thought he'd embark on a more traditional career path — but it wasn't long before fate, not to mention an adventurous few years ahead, came calling.

"I went to college for two years, then got scouted to be a model," he says. "At first, I was like, 'Eh, thank you. No, thank you.' And long story short, I get a contract in the mail from DNA Models, and I'm like, 'Oh, what is that?' Two weeks after that, I'm doing Calvin Klein exclusive runway. And then, [there was] a big New York Times article [on me being] the new Calvin Klein guy."

Photograph by Courtesy of HBO Max Amrit Kaur, Mitchell Slaggert, Reneé Rapp HBO MAX The Sex Lives of College Girls Season 2 - Episode 2
Photograph by Courtesy of HBO Max Amrit Kaur, Mitchell Slaggert, Reneé Rapp HBO MAX The Sex Lives of College Girls Season 2 - Episode 2

HBO Max

Slaggert quickly secured an agent in Hollywood and began booking acting roles. Even though his career was taking off, he knew he needed to be smart as he looked toward the long term in Hollywood.

"I'm like, 'Hold up. I'm in over my head. So I took a step out,'" he explains. "I had to take a step back because I didn't want to be known as a model–turned–actor with no chops. I took a step back, and I got a bunch of training. Now, I'm back on the scene."

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This all eventually led to him booking the role of Jackson on season 2 of Mindy Kaling's The Sex Lives of College Girls.

"I tell everybody, 'I won the lottery six times,'" he says of his success.

Teasing what's to come in the HBO Max hit's sophomore run, Slaggert promises it's full of "unexpected turns."

"It keeps you on your toes," he shares. "Even when I was reading the script and I thought had a general idea of where my character was headed, I certainly didn't see that one coming."

Describing his experience working with the cast and crew, Slaggert says "everybody was very nice, warm and welcoming."

"They just welcomed me in with open arms," he says. "Getting to know them more, [it] was interesting to find out that Reneé [Rapp] grew up 15 minutes away from me. I was like, 'Wait a minute, wait a minute.' But that was cool."

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Season 2 of The Sex Lives of College Girls premiered Thursday on HBO Max.