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

 

Becoming a PRO

One of the goals I set in modeling a while back, was to work closely with a sports brand. As a former college football player (We Are P.S.U.), I thought it would be an easy fit, between an athletic brand and I. However, with my first few years of modeling, I’ve only worked sparingly with brands like Nike, Reebok, and Adidas. I’ve done catalog pieces for Under Armour and Nike, but never really nothing extensive, like exclusive content.

That all changed earlier this year, once I started working with Pro Player.

Anyone who grew up as a sports fan during the 90’s remembers Pro Player. They are the company who brought you all of those cool team merchandise -thats actually regained popularity as “retro” gear. The Miami Dolphins and Florida Marlins, also played in Pro Player Stadium for nine years.

The brand was recently purchased by Perry Ellis, and is currently being re-branded, re-packaged, and hitting shelves in 2017. And I’m apart of the team thats helping the comeback.

Since, January, I’ve shot with the brand three times. Each time, getting more in-depth, with better products, and more momentum. It’s been awesome to be apart of a brand from the beginning. Even though Pro Player has been around for 30 years, its new and improved with a new motto, “In order to be a Pro, You have to train like a Pro”. Working alongside, the amazing creatives Rita O’brien and the “God” himself, Jeff Staple (he’s known for the Pigeon collaborations with Nike, Fila, and Puma, among other things), we have been able to bring a new image to a classic brand.

20160627_143018

“G’s in the house!” Jeff Staple & I at S10 Gym in NYC

Showcasing slick designs, and fly patterns, Pro Player is looking to make its mark through athletic gear at affordable prices, making it easier for you to look good while you train, without going broke trying to do so.

The first shoot we did was in a studio, in Brooklyn.

The second shoot we did, we moved to it to the famous, S10 gym. The latest installment, soon to be released, we filmed at Citi Field, the home of the New York Mets.

I would’ve loved to get in on some of my favorite brands, like Nike or Under Armour, but I would’ve been another face, in a gear that everyone knows and will sell no matter what. It’s pretty epic to be apart of a brand new process, as the face of the brand! Besides, none of those companies would have 10 foot posters of me hanging around their headquarters.

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.

20160704_112118

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.

20160719_133037

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…

Not My Timeline

Lately, my thinking has caused conflict in my life- allowing my thoughts to lead to other thoughts, and, continuously, thinking about what I’m thinking about. Its caused me to question it all, and has me reevaluating everything. As soon as I figure “it” out, I then figure out I still haven’t figured it out.

In a typical -American- upbringing, you will live with your parents for the first 17 years of your life. By 18, you’re considered an adult, and expected to either contribute to society or continue your schooling. A few years later, you’re expected to be married or in the midst of a serious relationship. Between, 25-35 you should be settled down – married, with children, solid job, home, etc. This is the quintessential American coming of age timeline. I have no problem with this archetype. Except, in a democratic society, in a country where free speech is law, under the “theory” that we were made in the image of the CREATOR, we are usually ridiculed for just about any deviation from this archetypal life.

For the first 18 years of your life, you are being taught how to think, how to feel, how to speak, who to worship, what to eat, who to like, and what to aspire to be; you are told whats good for you, and whats bad for you. There are periods of pure thought, in my opinion, from birth til you start school and then those “smelling yourself” teenage years. Maybe you don’t want to go to church, maybe you don’t want to go to college, maybe you’re a guy who likes braiding hair and not sports, or a girl who enjoys the opposite. Under this archetypal upbringing, thoughts, creativity,  gets thwarted. So you assimilate to avoid friction, and or punishment for not following the “rules”. But what happens when you finally are let free on society, when you are finally asked, “what do YOU think?”.

By the time you’re 18, what do you really know about yourself? You know your age, weight, full name, birthday, and a few other things about yourself that are factual, but what thoughts have you originated thus far? You may believe Christ is the light and your salvation, your favorite football team is the Washington Redskins, and McDonald’s has the best chicken nuggets. But is this what YOU think? Do you believe in christianity, or have your parents just been forcing you to go every Sunday? You might like Redskins, until you’re decked out in the team’s gear, only to have your Native American Economics professor give you a lecture on why that is one of the most offensive terms in American history. Your parents never took you to a Japenese restaurant because they don’t like sushi, but you done found a Benihana’s, and they don’t sell California Rolls at Mickey D’s.  After a few years, on campus or in the workplace, you’re whole world is flipped upside down. By the age off 22, you’ve only had about four to five years to think for yourself, but by the age of 25, you’re expected to know what you want for the rest of your life. You’re expected to know who you’d want to spend the next 50 or so years with, what kind of work you’d like to do until you retire, all the while, you just figured out your favorite color isn’t royal blue anymore.

“There is no labor from which most people shrink as they do from that of sustained and consecutive thought. It is the hardest work in the world.” said Wallace D. Wattles. Our society is a strange place. It has been created by the unrealistic and the “stupid ideas”, but somehow we still call those who think different than the norm “unrealistic” with their “stupid ideas”. We have to continue to challenge it all. Every notion, every rule, every theory can not go unchecked. Notice, I didn’t say change it all, but check it out. Some of the framework in our country hasn’t been questioned in decades, and its antiquated. We have to think for ourselves, and continuously challenge the “Well, thats what they say…”, when we can rarely point to who THEY are.

How can we possibly know who we are going to be for the rest of lives by the time we’ve only experienced about a quarter of it? Growth, learning, evolving, it never stops. We are living creatures. Just like a tree we shall continue to bear. Whether its fruits, or leaves, we will continue to grow until we are turned into notebook paper. So don’t feel bad for not falling in love by the time your 25, finishing college til your 30, or trying sushi for the first time in your 40’s (I love sushi, can’t you tell). It’s all growth, and we all don’t grow on the same timeline.