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.

maxresdefault

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.

notesblacksteel

 

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.

 

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. 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!

20160629_164927

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…

Black Steel: The Genesis

Recently, I got up with my boy, @thphoto_ , and collaborated on an idea I had. I’ve taken Black Steel this year and I’ve created a small series on him. As I continue to let Black Steel evolve, I continue to pull back layers and find different origins of him. This time I tried to convey his beginnings – his genesis. This is a raw interpretation of that.

The Box

Who made the box?

Whats the purpose of the box, and why do I have to fit in it?

The box.

It’s a coffin.

Die at 25, but don’t get buried until your 70, because you got in the box.

No one likes the box.

You’ve been coerced, tricked, made to believe the box was catered to you.

And thats why you’re frustrated to see so many others inside.

Thats why you’re upset at those who refuse to get in the box.

The box.

It’s a coffin.

The box.

It’s death. I’ll die but i’d rather not die living in then box.

IMG_20151122_175645

ET Inspires

Last night, on June 23, 2015, I went to see Eric “The Hip-Hop Preacher” Thomas speak.

I’ve been a fan of E.T. for about 2 years now. I won’t take the time to explain who he is, because it wouldn’t do him or his messages any justice. Google him, YouTube his videos because in his words, “I’m not a motivator, I change lives”. And he has changed mine. In your life, if you allow it, you’ll have continuos paradigm shifts. Shifts in how you perceive the world and your place in it. You will discover adjustments and changes necessary to propel yourself to the next level.

One of his mottos are, “what would your life look like, if you went 120%?”

If you follow my blog, you’ve seen my posts, titled “Entries from My Golden Diary”. A few people think that those articles are real. Unfortunately, not yet, but thats what I envision my life looking like. I want to be a major philanthropist to African-American children. I want to use modeling to take me to a level of Legendary status. I’m not sure on what’s after modeling or what I will segway into but I know today, I love modeling. However, I find myself having days and weeks between jobs at times and I don’t understand it. But last night, E.T. said something that if his words were physical, it would’ve been a slap to my face,”They aren’t calling because you’re not great”. He wasn’t speaking to me directly, but man, I hung my head in shame.

So I started asking myself, what can I do to make myself better? As a model, how can I get better? I can take more pictures on my own. I can learn how angles work from a photographers point of view. I can study fashion. I can find out why in some pictures my face looks fat after eating clean the week before and in others even after eating bad, I look amazing. I feel like I’m giving 95% effort most of the time. I’ll pay for test shoot, I’m not afraid to empty my account on traveling to another city for work or investing in something I believe that can benefit me. Sometimes, I go 100% and at times, I max out at 120%. I feel the difference. I see the difference. I have the information, now what am I going to do?

I’m so inspired I feel like I’m wasting time writing this article. However, I implore you to check out his message and I’ll leave you with this. I’m paraphrasing but, If you’re chasing money you are a fool. If you’re chasing legendary status, you’ll bypass the rat race. What will be your legacy, once you’re dead and gone? Think about it. Not just kind words from people friends and family but what will the world say about you? For perspective, Martin Luther King Jr. has been dead for almost 50 years but he is so legendary that we has a nation celebrate his birthday. How many people celebrate your birthday?