Groovy x Black Steel

My motto when it comes to modeling is, “I work to create.”

What I mean is, whenever I book a job – and get to work for the amazing clients I’ve been able to work with- afterwards I’m looking into ways to create my own content. If you take a look at my portfolio Wilhelmina Portfolio, a majority of it features shoots I paid for myself, fueled by inspirations I came across. I love working , but I’m usually under the directives of a creative director. I can create with them, but only in a vacuum.

With this post, I’m going to give you a peek into my inspirations and thoughts for my latest shoot.

For the past couple of months, I’ve been really into Stevie Wonder’s album, “Hotter Than July”. Even though it came out 36 years ago, it’s brand new to me. Rocket Love and Lately, along with Master Jammin’ are my favorites. What struck me the most was the album cover.

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But the mood of the whole album, led me on a journey to find my groove. It led me in the direction of other artist like Teddy Pendergrass, and Prince. Listening to their music and researching their style during the period of the songs I was listening to weighed on me heavily going into this shoot.

With this shoot, I really wanted to find my lighting. Some models have such prominent features that lighting is not a problem for them, but for me, I found that some lighting makes me look they way I see myself in the mirror, and some is not so flattering, and others can over exaggerate. I wanted to really focus on that with this project. I looked up other models with my skin tone, and size, and I looked through as many pictures of them I could find and see how different lighting worked on them. I was inspired by supermodels, Orraine Barrett, Adonis Bosu, Armando Cabral, and Claudio Montiero.

 

As I looked over my book (which I do several times a week), I started to question, do I look expensive? Am I worth a $15k or $20k campaign? In my opinion, not from the pictures. So again, I did my research and figured who does book those campaigns, and whats the difference in their portfolio. (Now, before I go further, I don’t dictate my creations on the hopes it’ll land me a massive campaign. I’m realizing that comes through opportunities and mostly digitals. With that being said, campaigns do give me inspirations i.e. styling, lighting, props, etc.) I came across Lono Brazil’s book. His pictures just look expensive. Styling, locations, grooming, everything just looks awesome. He was a heavy influence on how I wanted to move and present myself with this shoot.

Finally, for styling, I wanted to keep it in-line with feeling expensive. Simple styling. Clean. Not a lot of colors, nothing contemporary. Classic pieces, that a five year old and a 55 year old could wear, and they would both look handsome. I was inspired by J. Crew, GAP and Todd Snyder’s respective campaigns. I love the styling from J. Crew. Head stylist, Gayle Spannaus does a great job for them. Then, I recently discovered, Todd Snyder. I love his simple pieces and the way he presents them in his latest campaign.

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After weeks of digesting, researching, reading, and listening to music, I was able to set up a shoot with Miami based photographers, Erick & Elliott. This is my third time collaborating with them, but only the first time on my own with own ideas (the first two times were test shoot through my agency, which I still paid for, but had very little creative control *rolls eyes*) I had the help of another person I’ve worked with before, Waina Chancy, as my stylist. We came together and created my latest creation, Groovy Black Steel.

 

#ReadingtoLive

In the last two and half years, I’ve read more books than my previous two decades combined. I’ve developed an insatiable appetite for information and a desire to learn; learn more about love, happiness, success, classicism, racism, acting, music, and myself.

In order to awaken that desire in others, I started sharing my books on Facebook with the #readingtolive . I believe knowledge is our new currency, and I want everyone to be wealthy. Prior to this year, I would read mostly fictional novels, my favorite writers being David Baldacci and James Patterson. However, this year, I gravitated toward spiritual guidance, and African-American based authors. I even read my first Harry Potter book. My favorites this year have been The New Jim Crow, Assata, The Seat of the Soul, and the previously mentioned Harry Potter – and The Sorcerers’s Stone. I’ve also gotten into audio books. I listened to The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace D. Wattles, and the Richest Man in Babylon.

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I must admit- I started a few others, as well. I started reading Ghandi’s Autobiography, and A Message to the Black Man by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. I promise I will finish because these are great men, but let’s just say they aren’t J.K Rowling.

I’m always down for some new books. Please feel free to share your favorites, or ask about any of the books I’ve mentioned. If you post what you read on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter #readingtolive, and help spread the wealth.

 

20DD

This year has been odd for me. Not bad, not good, but odd.

I accomplished some major goals: I walked in NYFW, and I booked my first ever SAG national job as a principal character. I traveled to Colombia, Oregon, and Maine for the first time. But I didn’t accomplish any of the goals I set out to accomplish this year. I also, for the first time in my life, lost someone very close to me through death. I’m not saddened by it, but it’s a new feeling, I guess. But, I did cry when Prince died earlier this year.

I’m currently, experiencing the lowest financial season through modeling, but at the same time, possibly the most lucrative year in my life. I had to choose between a kick in the nuts or a punch in the stomach aka VOTE. I chipped my front tooth eating an apple, I tried juicing ( lasted almost 48 hours), I own (leased) my first luxury car, and I recently became an Uncle for the second time. I also started taking Krav Mama classes.

This year has been unlike any other. It has seemed like a long year that went by slowly, quickly. Like a river thats calm on the surface, but has a strong under current. We still have almost two months left, and I’m cautiously excited, at least right now.

Mr. Pro Player

A few weeks ago, I talked about my amazing experience with Pro Player. This week, the website launched – http://www.proplayer.com . Even though this isn’t my company, and most likely, my dealings with the company as a model will end sooner than later, I feel very invested in this brand. Pro Player believes you are a pro in real life – whether you’re a carpenter, a banker, or a chef. So you should dress like the pros when you go to workout or after work.

Thanks to Rita, and Jeff Staple, and all of the great people at Pro Player. Also, I’d like to thank We Are Not Pilgrims, and the good folks of the New York Mets and Citi Field.

Practice

My third season of modeling full-time is coming to an end. I still feel brand new; like a rookie. However, with so much access to people these days, there are new aspiring models every second it seems. I’m also getting asked, “How do I get started?” “How do I build a portfolio?” “Who do I shoot with?”. Among my solicited advice, I always suggest “Just shoot as much as possible.”

For every aspiring model, there seems to be an aspiring photographer. They may not be Bruce Webber, or Herb Ritts, but most likely, you aren’t Naomi Campbell – yet. Like one of my favorite motivational speakers, ET, says, “Start where you are with what you have because what you have is plenty.”

I’m always trying to create. I’m always looking to get better. Like Kobe Bryant taking 2 hours after a game to work on jumpers from the right key- there’s always room to grow. This time I hooked up with @piecesofakid right before Halloween. We shot in simple jeans (AG Jeans), and a plain t-shirt (Zara). I threw in a my Herschel backpack, and an overcoat (Zara), as pieces I wanted to work with on camera. My goal was to play with lighting. With my skin tone, a lot of times I will look at pictures and cringe because the lighting doesn’t bring out my features.

Summer in Cali Pt. 2

For anyone who follows my page, or knows me, knows that ever since I started modeling I try to work in different markets whenever I can. Miami slows down in the summer, and I like to travel to experience other cities and possibly work with my other agencies. Hopefully, I can work a few jobs, I try to set up a few shoots to create in between time, and ideally, my family can come visit me. Last summer, I spent a little over 8 weeks in New York City through my agency, Fusion. This summer, I chose Los Angeles to work with my agency, Vision.

I finally arrive in Los Angeles, on July 4th. Unlike last summer, this time my family will be with me for a couple of weeks during my work-cation. Along with celebrating the holiday, we will also celebrate my son, Kekoah’s 3rd birthday (which is on July 5th), along with trying to get in some quality family time. My lady is from Huntington Beach, which is about 55 minutes (if you could drive down the 405 without 405 traffic) outside of LA. So, we plan on setting up camp at her mom’s house. My goal this past summer, was to stay in the market for at least 30 days; book 4-5 jobs, and get some creative visuals via test shoots.

When I was considering markets for the summer, I listed three potential cities: Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. I chose LA because I signed with Vision three years ago, when I first started modeling full time, but a huge reason why, was because my family would be there. Last summer in NYC was difficult. My son had just turned two, and Kadie is a teacher, summer is her free time. Unfortunately, summer also coincides with down-time in the Miami market. On top of that, I was geeked up after signing with my first NY agency last year. Usually, K heads back to her hometown whenever she has her breaks, so I decided this time I could do more with heading out west this year. The first few weeks, I made them and the “vacation” part, priority.

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Happy 4th from the HB Parade

During that first week, we went to the famous, 4th of July Celebration, Hungtington Beach Parade. Its an awesome family experience, filled with floats, bands, and culture-specific showings. Later that week, we celebrated Koah’s birthday. He had a Superhero themed pool party. This is the first year, where I think he’s aware of whats going on – as far as asking for toys and getting shy when people sing “Happy Birthday” to him. His birthday celebration lasted about a week. Kadie has a big family and they love showering each other with affection. Kadie and I must’ve been filled with a spirit of youthfulness, because we decided to also get our noses pierced.

In the midst of celebrating, I made my way into the agency to check in. I reacquainted myself with everyone- Micheal, Marco, Pam, and the rest of the Vision family. I took some fresh digitals, and set out a plan for the next few weeks. The staff at Vision is some welcoming. I always felt appreciated when I walked through their doors. Throughout my time there, I would drive “55 minutes” just to stop by. Mostly, to bug them and make sure they don’t forget me but mainly because it was such a warm environment.

It didn’t take me long to book a job, but it wasn’t through Vision. Ironically, it was actually in Miami, through, my mother agency, Wilhelmina-Miami. I returned a couple of days later, and went on my first LA casting, which was for Nordstroms and its subsidiaries (Hautelook &Nordstroms Rack). That was pretty much it, as far as work, for the first few weeks. Just that casting, some digitals, and random pop-ins. It was a little discouraging, but I took that time, and started working out 2 times a day, reading more, and looking for photographers to collaborate with.

On the family side, we decided it was time to take Koah to his first movie. We went to go see the 3-D version of The Secret Life of Pets. A great movie, at least the hour we were able to get him to sit through. We also hit up the amazing, Getty Musuem and spent a lot of time at the pool, the beach and spending time with their cousins. Eventually, my “vacation” portion of the trip ended, and my loved ones headed back to Miami. The universe must’ve wanted me to focus on family, because not even 24 hours after they left, things started to pick up.

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Summer In Cali: Pt. 1

For anyone who follows my page, or knows me, knows that ever since I started modeling I try to work in different markets whenever I can. Miami slows down in the summer, and I like to travel to experience other cities and possibly work with my other agencies. Hopefully, I can work a few jobs, I try to set up a few shoots to create in between time, and ideally, my family can come visit me. Last summer, I spent a little over 8 weeks in New York City through my agency, Fusion. This summer, I chose Los Angeles to work with my agency, Vision.

My journey to get to LA was a story in itself. In order to prepare for this west coast stretch, I had to pack for a month – which isn’t that difficult, if only I had to pack for one destination. Before I could get into LAX, I would have to travel to DC and NYC. I had a couple days of work in upstate New York, and a wedding anniversary party in DC. If I was only going to LA, I would pack maybe two pair of sneakers, one pair of workout shoes, but now, I had to pack shoes for a party and my “NY-walking around-castings” shoes. And when you wear a size 12, extra shoes take up a lot of space. Throw in my workout clothes, and outfits to satisfy every area code, I had a full backpack, a full carry-on, and full luggage with my first stop being the Big Apple.

This is how my schedule was set up, I got into the city on a Saturday, my job was on that Sunday, then I had four days off, with my next job that Friday, then my flight to LA Saturday, and the anniversary party, in-between, on Wednesday. My plan was to just get my luggage to my mom’s place in DC. I knocked out my first gig, then hopped on the 10:30pm bus on Sunday to DC with all of my luggage (lied and said I was with a friend because MegaBus only allows two pieces including a carry-on). Arrived in DC, around  3:30 am. Went shopping, because the anniversary party was an all-white party (and I always could use an excuse to go to Zara). Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, I met my father for lunch – for the first time ever. Just met him for the first time in my life!

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My father & I, meeting for the first time in the city that raised us -Washington, D.C.

Made it to Wednesday- great party. Then hopped back on MegaBus (this time with only my backpack), but not before missing the 4pm bus, that would’ve landed me in the city by 8:30pm. Instead, I had to wait standby for two hours. Finally, I catch the 6:45 and get in by 11. I make my 6am call time, ride an hour upstate. Finish up, get back to the city, catch the 7:30 back to DC, and got in close to midnight. The next day, chilled with my mom, texted and called everyone I missed on this trip back home, then hopped on a 3:30pm flight to LAX!

Arrived in LA by 6 pm, west coast time. Just in time to prepare to celebrate my son’s birthday, which was the next day…