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.

NYFW ’16: My First Time

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

<> on July 15, 2016 in Miami Beach, Florida.

From the first, Kyboe show in Miami

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.

 

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…

Still Learning …

Education does not stop when you no longer have to enter a classroom. Over the last five years I’ve learned more about life than I did the 20+ previous years. When I say life, I don’t mean algebraic expressions or the skills I was taught to pass government mandated testing, but rather things like how to file taxes or how to gauge tire pressure or reading books from Deepak Chopra. I feel like one should always seek information; always be learning. With every shoot I do, I try to incorporate all of the new information I receive. As a matter of fact, I believe its impossible to unlearn something, so I have no choice but to incorporate it.

I linked up with one of my favorite photographers, T’Laniece, and we did a sports themed shoot. With the recent passing of boxing great, Muhammad Ali, I’ve been reminded of how great he was in and out of the ring. As I was watching footage of him training, something sparked dawned on me – I have that sweatsuit. I have a sweatsuit from Anatomy Projects (whose motto happens to be Still Learning), and its similar to vintage boxing training gear.

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With that in mind, some new Nike gear Ive been wanting to shoot, and the creativity between T and I, we present “Still Learning…” by Black Steel x T’Laniece.

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Black as Night, Hard as Steel

Recently, I collaborated with the amazing Miss Robin (@missrobinv) for a quick photoshoot. We just went in and shot. No inspirations. Just a camera and a duffel bag of clothes. Throw in some trespassing on people’s property, and we were able to create some beautiful images.

Pushing The Rock

There is this story I like to tell myself when times feel stagnant, or I just don’t see the results from my efforts.

The story goes something like this,

There was a man on a journey to find a treasure. He traveled many, many miles through all type of terrain. About halfway through his journey he comes across a giant rock. A behemoth of a rock, twice his size and weighed much more than him. After already going through so much he couldn’t understand why it seemed that God was punishing him – making his journey impossible to complete. He fell to his knees from exhaustion, crying out to the heavens, when he heard a voice say, “Push the rock”. He never thought to push the rock because of its size, but he followed the voice’s instructions. 

He began to push, and push the rock. No movement. Push, and push. Leaning in with his shoulder, digging his feet deep in the ground, pushing with all his might. Everytime he felt like giving up the voice would whisper, “keep pushing.” For days, he pushed, and pushed, and pushed. Nothing. Finally, after some time, he looked to the heavens and cursed God. He turned around on his path and started back to look for another way. On his way back he caught a glimpse of himself in a pond. To his surprise he couldn’t believe his reflection. His shoulders were broader, his biceps and triceps were bigger, back wider. He had become stronger! So excited about his new body he grew more confident, determined to overcome the rock. So determined he sprinted back to where the rock was, to only find it was gone.

For me, that story represents perseverance, patience, and understanding that the universal law of putting in work and trusting the process will never fail. I’ve been pushing the rock a lot lately! Most recently I collaborated with Chicago based photographer, Clay Boutte.