Natural Lightbox

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

    On Saturday I had the privilege to work with one of my favorite designers and my dear friend Candice Held.  Although we've been working together for three years, we've finally done a shoot that really captured the essence of her art.

    It was a little overcast as we drove up PCH to Malibu, but we couldn't complain.  Slightly over overcast weather creates a natural light box, so we knew the light would be perfect.  Candice, Sherri the makeup artist, and I pull over on the side of the highway to meet up with the photographer Steven Zhao.  He'd found a good spot to shoot, so his crew was setting up.  

    Shooting at the beach means fighting a number of elements you would never encounter in the studio.  I had to change clothes inside of a makeshift changing room (actually just a sheet held up by the crew) with a bunch of hooligans yelling in the too-close-for-comfort background.  While shooting, the ocean breeze kept blowing my hair in my face, so my extensions kept sticking to my lip gloss.   Some random kid with a camera and a lens big enough to catch my nose hairs from five miles away was taking pictures of our photo shoot.  I swear he looked like paparazzi.  And finally, a couple of dogs took a crap in the spot we'd been using to shoot.... thank goodness we'd decided to move elsewhere.

    Candice is honestly the sweetest person I've ever worked alongside.  She is the embodiment of her designs: soft, delicate, bold, and feminine.  Candice was once a dancer, so she knows what fabrics and cuts to use to accentuate a woman's body.  Her work is more sensual than sexy, but it still drives the boys wild.  

    Check out more designs from Candice including her one-of-a-kind vintage scarf pieces at
Model Liberation 


Tell It Like It Is

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fierceness Goes Interactive Eidos Interactive will launch the official America's Next Top Model game on the Nintendo DS system November 7th. The game allows fashionistas to compete as a contestant in everything from runway to photo shoots.  I hope it includes Tyra's rants, that way it'll be realistic.

Not So Fashion Forward- Fashion week in Milan city has wrapped up, and the report card on diversity is out. According to The Shophound, the show that used the most ethnic models was Bottega Venetta with four black models and one Asian model.

And the Award Goes To.... Brigitte of Make Fetch Happen has given me the most prestigious award I've ever received in my career. I've been named a Certified Honest Blogger.  It is my duty as the recipient of this honor, to pass the torch along to seven other worthy bloggers.  Here are the honorees in no particular order.
who also gave me the same award last week. Thanks Jamie! 

I also want to give a few of honorable mentions to my Road to Writing, AbagondAimless Wanderer, Thee Phunk, and Around the Way Girls.  You all keep me in the loop even when I want to be a hermit.  

If you are given this award, here are the rules to follow:
1. Write a post about the award; Link to the blog that gave it to you.
2. Nominate at least 7 other blogs that you feel are compelling and link to them.
3. Leave a message on those blogs to make them aware that they're nominated.
4. (Optional) Show a picture of those who awarded you and those you give the prize to.
5. Pass it on!

It may seem like the equivalent of a chain letter, but it lets everyone know what you really read daily and who appreciates your blog right back. 


In Memory: Paul Newman

Saturday, September 27, 2008

  I am having a difficult time writing about someone that I admired so much, not just as an actor, but as a human being. 

    I first fell for Paul Newman in "The Long, Hot Summer."  I knew from that moment that he was the coolest. I, just like so many others, always cheered for him when he was the underdog or charming con man in movies like "The Hustler" and "Cool Hand Luke."  Paul Newman took on roles that played against his good looks and perfect smile.  But those stunning blue eyes and quick wit made even the tough guys he portrayed lovable.   

Paul Newman: the actor, the philanthropist, loving husband and father
January 26, 1925- September 26, 2008

Clip from Cool Hand Luke



Walk The Line

Thursday, September 25, 2008

    LA Fashion week is almost upon us, so I'm heading to castings. I dread runway castings,  because you never really know what the client wants but you have to try to please them anyway. At these castings, directors have asked me crazy things like not to move my hips when I walk or to walk like I really don't care about the world. I tend to break under pressure like that, so my walk for my audition is never how I actually walk during a show.

    Castings are rarely ever fun. You go to the casting that you've been "requested" for only to wait in a long line behind other girls who've also been "requested." The whole time you're waiting to be called, you're constantly sizing up your competition. You finally get in to walk for the casting director who's already seen you walk a thousand times, but he doesn't remember your name. You walk a few times to try and wow your onlookers. The audition ends as you all say the usual "thank you." 

    Ultimately the designer and casting director pick the same girls they do every season.  Too bad, because you really tried this time.  Oh, and try not to reflect too long on the experience, because you've gotta high-tail it to the next casting.  



Living in Your Own Shadow

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

    All my life I've been surrounded by people with talent.  Some of them know just how blessed they are, and others have no idea.  Unfortunately sometimes, the ones who are aware of their extraordinary ability can't get themselves together enough to do something with what they've got.  
    At one point in time, I was that person.  I knew I had something special that God had given me, but I didn't know what it was.  And when I'd finally realized it, I felt like I was too afraid to chase after my dream.  For too long I'd stuck by my small town mentality of playing it safe.  I would get anxious.  I kept thinking, what happens if I do succeed.... well what then?  I made excuses for myself like I didn't want it bad enough.  My fear of "making it" almost made me waste my talent.  
   Watching Kung Fu movies has taught me a lot of valuable lessons about realizing and using my talents.  Kung Fu Hustle taught me to tap into my chi to release my unrealized potential, while The Last Dragon taught me to believe in myself so I can achieve "the glow."  Those movies may be a far fetch, but I've got to find inspiration somewhere.
   Taking a chance and using your talents means going out on a limb and taking a leap of faith.  I may not be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but that little glimmer of hope shows me that I'm going the right way.



The Absence of Color

Thursday, September 18, 2008

   I often write about my trials as a black model in an industry that is far from colorblind. But what happens when you're a black model whose skin lacks any pigmentation at all?  

    His name is Shaun Ross, a 17-year-old African American model who is also an albino.  He emerged on the fashion scene in February and has since been making some big moves.  Shaun's work can be seen in Trace magazine, a Gap campaign, and most recently Patrick Ervell's S/S '09 runway show in New York.  
    To be perfectly honest,  Shaun fascinates me.  I stare at his pictures.  I study him.  Shaun Ross looks like a heavenly being who is just visiting earth on vacation.  He is the first male model of his kind, and is referred to as a "trailblazer."  What Shaun's impact on fashion will be is still uncertain.  But, he may just be the angelic face needed to get the industry to look beyond the color of one's skin.  

Shaun is represented by Djamee Models. For the New York Times article about him click here



Back in the Swing of Things

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

  After touching down at the airport Saturday night,  I've been on the move.  A photo shoot here, TV appearance there.... I'm just trying to keep up that momentum I got from my east coast trip. I'm pretty excited about the future. And even though I have no idea what's going to happen, I am welcoming it.  
    I shot with this fantastic photographer a few days ago who specializes in underwater images (but we decided to stay high and dry). Ric Frazier is so down-to-earth, and he made the shoot feel like the lazy Sunday afternoon that I needed.  We did some beauty shots for his portfolio, and I'm looking forward to seeing the images.  To prepare myself for shoots like this, I make tons of funny expressions to relax my face.  That way I can get used to transitioning into different expressions quickly, and get those awkward looks out of the way.   

     Until those photos come back, I leave you with this.... I call it my cynical face. I think I make this face way too much, but I don't think I can help it.



In Retrospect

Monday, September 15, 2008

    My time's up.  I am back home in LA, and I'm back with a vengeance.  Ok, not really but it just sounded good.  Overall, my little vacation to NYC was memorable and I miss it already. 

    I may not have accomplished what I set out to do, but some interesting opportunities came knockin' on my door instead.... and I answered. So here's my trip set to some very appropriate music.  Although I felt hopeless and pathetic sometimes, I emerged a little more gangsta.  

Sending out my love to Bed-Stuy and The Bronx.  


It's a Thin Line

Thursday, September 11, 2008

    My time in the Big Apple is coming to an end.  I leave out Saturday, and I went to my last meeting with an agency yesterday.  The agency was really nice, but probably not a good fit.  Most of the model they represent are so all-American, but I'm deemed "edgy."  

    The other agencies that seemed very interested had just one problem: my hips.  While my measurements are 33.5-25-35 on a good day, my hips do swell out to 36'' during that time of the month (which is normal for most women).  But according to two different agencies, I need to drop from a size 2-4 to a ZERO in order to work in this market.  One agent said he didn't think it was possible and probably wouldn't be healthy, but would sign me if I did drop those few inches.  So, they may not condone it or even advise it, but they'll invite you into their happy family if you do it.  

    An inch or two off my hips shouldn't be such a big deal to agents and their clients, right? I you can fit into to the clothes, which I do, it shouldn't matter that much. But apparently even after all the size zero flack the fashion industry's been getting, we're still treading on a very thin line.



Playing in the Light

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

    Between the clouds and rain, I've had a few moments of sunshine.  Since I'm not doing any shows for fashion week, I have kind of removed myself from anything fashion related.  But every now and then I emerge from my self pity and isolation to do something uplifting.

   After spending so much of my time in the darkness, I figured it was about time that I come out and play.  I danced in the sunlight as Kwesi captured my splendor.  It's nice to create something beautiful when the world around you tries to make you feel ugly.

Thanks and love to: photographer- Kwesi Abbensetts , make-up - Geeta Khanna, hairstyling - Eve Whittington, and stylist - Pamela Shepard  (who really hooked up the vintage pieces especially the Chanel jewelry).  I felt like I was a little girl playing dress-up in my grandmother's closet.


The Future's So Bright

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Courtesy: Fashion Indie

    Stormy weather is taking its toll on the city this weekend, but I'm actually ok with it.  Living in LA, I rarely see the rain so I welcome it when we have a chance encounter.  I'm assuming the shows at Bryant Park are all washed out, and if not the die-hard fashionistas are having a tough time maneuvering in the dampness. So I feel redeemed.

Courtesy: Fashion Indie

   By sheer luck, I did a fashion "installation" for Love Brigade last night.  It was really artsy.  I got the concept but I didn't.... you know what I mean? The show was all about the future being so bleak and noisy, but eventually you'll see the light.  Even as I try to explain, I still don't completely get it. But the designer is so adorable and I had fun doing it, so it was worth it. 

Quick clip of the party scene from the installation. Courtesy: Not So Prim and Proper blog.
    The indie crowd in NYC is so much like its counterpart in LA that I felt at home.  
xoxo, Model Liberation



I'm Black....Really

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

    I woke up this morning tired of going to agency after agency.  Instead of dragging myself around again today, I decided to stay in and catch up some editing and writing.  

    Fashion week starts in just a few days and I am still without representation.  I would be a fool if I didn't admit that this bothers me, but I'm not letting it get to me too much.  What I love about New York will never be overshadowed by my lack of recognition by the fashion elite.  And yes, it hurts my heart to hear that Carlos Campos will be using all black models in his show next week, and I probably won't be there.  But with all this talk of "ethnic ambiguity," would I even qualify as a black model.  

    Last week when I ventured into one agency, the booker I spoke with asked me about my ethnic background.  This questions always annoys me no matter who asks it.  I answer saying that I am African-American, so she says " oh really."  Then I explain that while both of my parents are black,  I can trace my roots to Irish and Native American also.  "So you're mixed," she concludes.  I turned red and forced a smile, but I was clearly annoyed. The very next day, I was having a conversation with a basketball legend, when he asked if I was black. "Um, yes!" I said with a side glare.  He laughed like I was telling a story. Why is it that If I tell someone I'm black, they assume that I'm really not?

    Well, at least I'm not an opportunist, because I am neither profiting from my blackness nor my ethnic ambiguity.  But I will continue to accept any invitation that will lead to a free meal and some entertainment.  A girl's gotta eat!