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25-10-2012
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Backstage at Parke & Ronen by Justin Violini
Season: Spring Summer 2013
Models: Adrian Cardoso, Anderson Noel, Caesar Stovall, Carlens Sainvil, Charles Melton, Eduardo Oliver, Francisco Javier Escobar, Helge Gjerstad, Jarrod Scott, Jonathan Nielssen, Maël Caloc, Patrick O'Donnell, River Viiperi, Sebastian Sauve, Thomas Vollmar, Thor Bulow, Tobias Sorensen, Travis Bland, Travis Smith, Tristan Burnet, Vladimir Ivanov, and Yannick Boetzkes

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21-03-2017
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Quote:
How he got his start:
I started with local shows and shoots in Charlotte, North Carolina, while I was still serving in the Army. I was discovered by runway coach Alva Page at a show. He recommended that I meet with and shoot with photographers Joseph Bleu and Tarrice Love. After those shoots, I was introduced to my booker, George Brown at RED NYC. RED has been my home ever since.

His breakthrough:
At first, my career took off to a really strong start. My first show was Givenchy Paris exclusive and I booked a lot of shows afterwards. I had my first fragrance campaign 8 months after signing and my first campaign in Times Square after about a year. During my debut season, I worked with a lot of amazing people and clients. The New York Times did a digital article on me and my story, and my unit in the Army was less than pleased, but there are plenty of military models in the industry so they couldn’t say much.

Why history matters:
The importance of understanding our history cannot be over emphasized. Our history is much more than the white-washed memories that our school-books and public school teachers will push. Our history – not just as Blacks, but as Americans – is FULL of treasures. Our ancestors left the instructions for everything to us – don’t let the system that would destroy your mind win. I am currently reading a book called A People’s History of The United States. I HIGHLY recommend it as a starting point for anyone that wants to understand the importance of our history.

The moments for which he’s most grateful:
Wow — there are so many. Honestly, the entire experience has been an exercise in gratitude, really. There is the day I signed my contract, the early days when I went to sleep hungry on subway trains, and woke up to “booking confirmed” emails, the tears of gratitude when my agent renegotiated rates and what I thought I would have to live on for a few months was doubled, or even tripled, and I could send something back to my family to show my support. But really, I think what I’m most grateful for is the people. I’ve been blessed to work with mentors and coaches and artists and philanthropists guised as photographers that have really changed the world through their craft. I’m currently partnering my personal vlogging project BecomeMoved.co with the BASTARD fanzine initiative started by Idris + Tony.

On being a black man in fashion and in America:
Wow – that’s another big one. I know there are challenges that come in the form of skin pigmentation levels in the industry – and in the longstanding racial climate of our country – but I love what the greats in the industry (and our country) have done and the examples they continually set. Fashion icon Ms. Beth-Ann Hardison took the fear of black models in the industry and completely flipped it on it’s head; Instead of trying to conform to white standards, she pushed the agenda of embracing fearlessly and with pride all things that are different and beautiful. The richest woman in the world, Miss Oprah Winfrey, essentially did the same thing by remaining true to herself and what she wanted to produce, despite the color of her skin and the efforts of companies to adjust her content. In the industry today, quite a few of the top models of color have figured out how to authentically reverse engineer the stance that embracing your uniqueness has carved out, and are standing in it fearlessly. And it’s working beautifully. Being black in America, or black in the industry, means you have to carry a black legacy with you. Those of us that do so with honor understand that it’s not the legacy so much, but rather how and where we carry it that matters most.



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