Updated: Apr 2, 2020
CA: How did you get into modeling? TA: It is a pretty funny story. When I graduated High school in 2006 from Erasmus, I was walking on Flatbush and this guy had a small modeling management company. He stopped me and asked me a simple question. Why is your face so scrunched up? It was hot and the sun is beaming in my face was my reply. He asked if I ever thought of modeling. I said no because I played football and ran track in school and I thought of modeling as more of a feminine thing. He invited me up to his office to see if I could walk and take pictures. Next thing I know, I have been modeling ever since.
CA: Which models do you look up too? TA: Everyone knows about Tyson Beckford. I think of anybody of an ethnicity outside of the majority on billboards and magazine are the guys I look too. They drive me to move forward.
CA: How long have you been modeling? TA: For about 8 years.
CA: How do you choose shoots/shows to do? TA: I usually get work from word of mouth through social media or email. I do my research and go online while asking people in the business if they have heard of this person.
CA: What is the process for preparing for a shoot/show? TA: Let’s say I have a shoot on Wednesday afternoon or evening and today is Sunday. I would observe myself and see how my body looks. I would go to the gym or do some push ups/calisthenics in the house to get the blood flowing to make the muscles look fuller on camera. A day before I get a shape up to make sure facially I am there and physically I am there. I make sure to consume water to make my face looks flawless for the camera. The goal is to be as clean as possible to look professional for the shoot. Prepping the model bag to make sure you have everything you need. Extra clothing just in case the photographer wants to be creative with the shoot.
CA: Do you have a favorite shoot? If you can’t choose one, what are the top 3 and why? TA: Looks by London, who is a really great stylist. I like his funky, creative aspect. He gives you full range to be yourself.
Five Chambers is another one who has high end clothes and I appreciate the work she puts into developing her clothes.
Adrian Buckmaster who did the photo shoot for Five Chambers. Very professional photographer. When I was at his location to do the shoot, I found out his wife was a costume designer. The whole house is artsy with the studio in the back and elevated. When you go in there, you feel like you are in the environment of people who live the fashion lifestyle.
CA: What brings you a sense of fulfillment when you do modeling? TA: I like seeing the whole production crew together satisfied with the final product. I have been doing this for a while and in the beginning I had a cocky feel to it. You are getting looks and your body is exposed with the different platform you are not used to being on. After a while, you grow and become humble because not everyone can do what you do. You have to take it as a blessing. I find fulfillment with everyone loving the end product and saying this was a great shoot.
CA: Outside of modeling, what are your interests? TA: I’m a freelance photographer as well and I have been doing photography since high school. It was self taught and in high school I was apart of the yearbook committee. In college, I went to the newspaper club and the yearbook committee doing photography for school events. Later on when I graduated, I thought about investing in my own camera. The fact that I am a model makes sense for me to appreciate the shooter or the photographer if I held the camera myself.
CA: How do you describe your style? TA: Everywhere I go people say I have my own style or “swag”. I was at a casting yesterday and I had on some simple Polo boots, jeans, a jacket, and a pea coat. When I walked in, everyone noticed me for my style. I figured my style is quirky or funky. I would say urban mixed with high end. I am from Brooklyn and I have the Brooklyn edge. I do love jeans, boots, and array of sneakers. I feel like an urban hipster who would wear a button up with some sneakers.
CA: Which fashion magazines, websites, blogs, and/or catalogs do you frequent most often to keep up with the trends? TA: Models.com. I am constantly on models.com for agencies and models for the week. The names will bypass me but I am great with faces. Every chance I am in the city, I will flip through the magazines to see who are being selected for campaigns. I use that to figure out how to get picked for similar projects. I used to use model mayhem but it fell off so I don’t use it anymore.
CA: Name your male celebrity idol and female celebrity idol if you have one TA: When I was younger I had a crush on Mya. Now I would have to say Chanel Iman. She always catches my attention when I see her in ads. Meagan Good is also another to add to the list.
CA: What do you want your work/portfolio to be remembered for? TA: I want to be considered someone who broke barriers. There are a lot of models but not that many of African descent who look like me in a high end magazine. I am kind of trying to make it my niche because I feel like they don’t give models who have different background and culture a chance in those areas. They go with the low cut and the same ‘average joe’ look because it is safe to them. I want to come in and no matter how long people told him no, he broke barriers and made a name for himself. He created opportunities for other people to take risks with models who have different looks other then the traditional look we have had for decades.
Follow Toks on his IG @flightz_canon_fashion