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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Who made the box?
Whats the purpose of the box, and why do I have to fit in it?
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.
It’s a coffin.
It’s death. I’ll die but i’d rather not die living in then box.