9.15.16 7:53AM

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

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.

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“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.

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.

 

2015 Goal Evaluation

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Photog @elliotcito

By this time every year, just guessing, I figure about 40% of every one who made a resolution are still on track. Fighting tooth and nail to make it through. I’d say 25% have fallen off track but are making a conscious effort to keep their goals in mind. That leaves 35% who gave up and are looking forward to starting a new resolution next year. By the end of June -which I call halftime – by halftime, that 35% club will turn into the 50% club. People will fall off, get back on, fall off and some will eventually quit.

For now, I’m honestly in that 25% club. I’ve fallen off, lost sight of my goals, to find them again. I’ve been knocked down, gotten back up. Walked in and out of a storm. It’s not even halftime yet and I’m battered and bruised. I’ve accomplished so much in 2015 already that I started feeling comfortable and content with relaxing. But I can’t! You can’t either!

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Stay tuned for Season 3 of the Invictus Challenge

This is the YEAR of FINISHING! Not “Halfwaying” or “Almosting”, but FINISHING! I’ve done a lot but I still haven’t reached MY goals. I’ve almost accomplished my goals. I shot for Tommy Hilfiger, but not a campaign. Almost. I’ve traveled to Mexico, but not London, Rome or Italy. Not quite. I booked a pretty good print ad, but not a SAG commercial. Ugh Almost. I’ve made a good amount of money, but not enough to buy a house. Halfway.

Lets refocus. Re-energize. Take a few minutes to figure out why you were reaching for these goals in the first place. For all those who already reached their goals, go to level 2 of your goals. If you already lost that weight, lets firm up that body. If you already traveled to that country, lets visit another. If you already made that money, lets double it. Halfway, almost and not quite are not FINISHED.

The Illusion of Opportunities

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photo by @emmanuelsmonsalve

This week, I found myself in my feelings. A friend of mine, a fellow model, gave me some big news. He’s shooting for one of the biggest fashion magazines in the world – a 10-page spread at that. I’m genuinely happy for him, but at the same time jealousy and anxiety all kicked in. Jealous because its an opportunity not afforded to many models like him and I. By that I mean, not skinny, African American male models. Anxiety because I felt like  with his success, since the probability of a model like us reaching “supermodel” status is already slim, that he’d be the exception and I’ll be left behind. Then, I caught myself. Why do I feel this way? And then it hit me. It’s an illusion; The Illusion of Opportunities.

As an African-American male growing up in the inner-city of Washington, D.C., I was taught that only a “few” will make it. Only a “handful” will avoid drug dealing, incarceration, government-assitance living and/or an early death. Then as I got older, I realized that “making it”, meant a 9-5, Monday through Friday, maybe 55k a year and work your butt off so hopefully by the time your 50 you could make upwards of 85K. In my hood, just like most hoods in America, we developed the “Crabs in a bucket” mentality. No one could seem to rise too far without others grabbing at them, to either help pull others out or for others to pull them back in.

I tried to take others with me as I aspired to rise to the top, not knowing that they are so afraid that i’ll scoop one of the “handful” of opportunities afforded to us, that they are pulling me back in. They were hating and being jealous, but its an illusion.

I had to remind myself that there are plenty of opportunities out there. There are many other ways to reach my goals. There are other editorials, other magazines, other clients and the industry in general ins’t going away tomorrow. So the next time you catch yourself hating or feeling jealous, just remind yourself its an illusion. What that person receives, is for that person. In the great words of Jay-Z, “What you eat, don’t make me shit.”

SAHD: Day 290

I looked at my son this morning and realized he’s almost two years old! It amazed me because I honestly thought I would die before I had a child. Not that I didn’t want children, but I thought I couldn’t do it. I thought I couldn’t raise a child. But I must say, I’m a really good Dad.

Anyway, today was his first beach day.

Now, he’s been to the beach before but we thought he may have erimikophobia; a fear of sand. For as long as he could walk, he’s never been too fond of sand. His first time at the beach was about a year ago. Everything was all good until his little feet touched the sand. Now, I don’t know if it was the feeling of sand or maybe it was too hot but ever since that day, no matter where sand was, he wasn’t stepping in it. It didn’t matter if it was at a playground or in a backyard, if the ground was covered with sand he would politely say “Up”, which for him means “Pick me the F up and don’t let my feet touch this stuff.” But yesterday, we had a breakthrough.

We got to the beach. Layed down some towels and sat back, watching him cautiously, preparing for a freakout. He walked across the towels, until he got to the edge. Stepped his toes across the threshold and into the sand. He jumped back, but didn’t cry “Up”. He gathered himself, ate some gummy bears and refocused. He walked to the edge again. This time two feet. He stood there. Jumped back on the towel. Looked at us (mommy and daddy) for reassurance. “Go. Its ok,” we said. “No”, he said, but thats because he doesn’t say, “Yes”. Because before you knew it, he took off across the sand. Toward the water he went. Toward the beautiful, blue, Miami waters and he stopped turned around as to say, “One step at a time. I don’t know about the blue stuff.”