This is my third season as a full-time model. However, I signed to Wilhelmina Miami as a model back in 2011- I was working retail full-time and modeling in my spare time. I don’t remember the exact conversation, but I remember asking one of my agents back in 2012, something a long the lines of, “How can I get into runway jobs?”. Her response, was something like, “You’re too old. It’ll be hard for you to do that type of work.”. Mind you, I was only 25 years old, but I’m already considered “too old”. I initially took that as that, and I accepted that I was “too old”. However, not too long after, I started studying the industry. I saw that “older” guys were walking runways, but I was still hesitant because they were mostly guys who were already established, the likes of Noah Mills, Tyson Beckford, Garret Neff, and Tyson Ballou. So despite my agent’s (she’s moved on to another agency) assessment, I made walking in a major fashion week a goal of mine.
It started out pretty rough. In order to overcome that condemnation, I had to practice. The first thing I did was record myself walking; that didn’t go over too well. I had my lady record me on her phone as I used our living room as a runway. As she was recording me, I could hear her snickering, then she just busted out laughing. I was in my feelings at the time, because I’m a former collegiate athlete and I can’t even walk, right? But then I watched the video playback, and it was pretty hilarious. That discouraged me, and I never again had her record me, but I continued practicing. Whenever I would take the trash out, I would use the hallway in our apartment as an imaginary runway. I would suck my stomach in, push my shoulders back and strut from the trash room and back. I would even play a little house music in my head. “Do I swing my arms?” “Should I walk faster?” “Am I walking too manly?” I had no clue how to walk like a model. So I started watching YouTube videos of runway shows. Videos of Sean O’Pry, Garret Neff, Jason Morgan, Alex Lundquvist, Tyson Beckford and others during various fashion shows from London to Paris to NYC.
I eventually started to have castings for runway jobs. I would usually be one of the bigger guys, and also older than most. I wasn’t too confident in my walk, and it showed. I remember feeling so self-conscious at times. A lot of times I was walking in front of a panel of casting directors, so I would try to read their face. Feedback was good, but a lot of times they either knew before I even walked if I was their type and other times I was just too much in my head. But slowly, I started to book runway jobs. My first one was at a charity event inside of this fancy furniture store. The next few ones were actually jobs where I would wear an outfit and walk around the mall, like a moving mannequin. I hated it. At the time, I did it mostly because I needed the money, but I also used it as time to practice walking, and being comfortable in front of people. Looking back those jobs were very valuable.
My first big runway break came last year. I walked the opening leg of The Cotton 24-hour Fashion Show. It was my first major runway experience. My next job was back in July for
Miami Swim Week. This was my first runway job for a fashion week. I was elated. I was able to walk for the brand, Kyboe – an up and coming watch brand. I didn’t realize it, but 4 years after being told I was “too old”, I walked in a fashion show during a fashion week (and I got a free watch). I could’ve never imagined that opportunity would lead to what happened next. Kyboe asked me to be apart of their show they were putting on during New York Fashion Week.
This past Saturday, I walked in my very first show during New York Fashion Week. It was an exhilarating experience. As I sat there backstage chatting with everyone, taking pictures, and trying not eat all the snacks, I thought back to what that agent told me. I reflected on practicing in my living room, and in my hallway. I thought about walking around the mall and watching Youtube videos. It all led me to be where I was this past Saturday. Walking the runway was a breeze; it was just like taking out the trash.