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.

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.

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Such disdain for

Nights with no rain

No pain to put on display

No one can tell the difference

Its interference talking about your pain

Such disdain for your pain

I’m avoiding the rain but it hasn’t

Rained in 30 days

My umbrella is on a vendetta

Such disdain for

Sunny days with no greys

Put your smiley face away

That’s how they tell the difference

Save yourself from the rain and the greys

Save your disdain

Tuck away your pain

Its interference talking about your pain

Keep a straight face and a rain coat

Casual Conversations with Jamie Bruce

Earlier this year, I hooked up with photographer, Jamie Bruce. This is our second collaboration. We decided to just turn my living room into a set, and my jeans, a tank top, and a jean shirt our wardrobe. All we did was discuss (the recent passing of) Prince, and talk about me coming to visit him in his hometown, of Nassau, Bahamas.

Push The Rock

I did this video three and half years ago. Things have change on the surface, but it’s still a grind. The struggle continues. However, to struggle isn’t a bad thing. To give up, is a bad thing. But to struggle, to press on in spite of your conditions, is an amazing thing. #anchordown