TC: What made or convinced you to take up modeling again?
Jamaal Singleton: Modeling is something that I have always loved, even when I stopped I never stopped thinking about it. When I first moved to NYC in 2012 to pursue modeling, I was young and had no guidance. I remember going to almost every modeling agency casting calls and being told I wasn’t the 'right look' or 'we already have someone who looks like you'--a major disappointment that really put me in a state of depression. Over the years I’ve gained weight and I thought I’d never be able to model again. It wasn’t until seeing Rihanna include all body types in her campaigns and shows that gave me hope again. I had a conversation with my good friend Ezra and he asked me, “Why wait until you get a certain size to model again...? Start now!” He was right.... I’m owning my body and confident about pursuing modeling again.
TC: What does your shoot of yourself mean to you?
Jamaal Singleton: Shooting myself [for this interview] was very important because throughout my previous modeling career I was always reaching out to people (photographers, stylists, agents, you name it...) for help, but I always found myself waiting on them to respond, just to say, 'No!'. But now that I have proven to be a pretty amazing photographer [he laughs], stylist, creative, as an associate in video and media production of Fine Arts, I have studied and learned to produce my own work...'ON MY OWN!' when I’m ready. This shoot is about LEADING when no one else believes in you.
TC: How did you come up with each of the 3 looks?
Jamaal Singleton: I wanted to stay true to myself with these looks, I wanted looks that were very simple and classic, a bit edgy and hipster but that also felt like natural, everyday, with some trendy references that made me feel like I was representing my authentic self. In short, the looks are a reflection of my personal style.
TC: What do you hope to achieve by having the images and this moment of your story published?
Jamaal Singleton: I get excited by any recognition or press when it comes to my work but in all seriousness, that's not why I decided to curate this project. My goal was to motivate myself to be more confident in my current body. For a long time I haven’t felt like the confident person I once was but I feel like now I’ve achieved that goal.
TC: Would you consider the shoot a kind of therapy? If so, describe how the process of shooting yourself has contributed to your mental health.
Jamaal Singleton: I would definitely say that the shoot was therapy for me, and what I needed to be one with myself before getting in front of anyone else's camera as a model. In photographing myself, I was able to be comfortable in front of my camera without any judgment, and that’s very important to me.
TC: How do you think living through our pandemics of COVID-19 and racialized injustice sparked your desire to do the shoot? Do you feel that these things especially factored into your wanting or feeling the need to do this shoot?
Jamaal Singleton: The pandemic for many of us was a time of reflection. I spent a ton of time thinking about how the pandemic would affect my future in the Art/Creative industry. Of course, simultaneously, we were protesting in the streets for justice for black and brown bodies, a pandemic that’s been going on for over 400 years in North America alone.
All of what’s transpired in the past year has really inspired me to continue to fight for what I love and believe in. So in a way the pandemic and the protests inspired me to get back to doing what I love.
Creative Director: Jamaal Singleton
Photographer: Jamaal Singleton
Fashion Editor/Stylist: Jamaal Singleton
Model: Jamaal Singleton
Jamaal Singleton of JSNY Singleton, New York is looking to get signed by a modeling agency, and can currently be booked for fashion editorials, advertorials, campaigns and speaking engagements in the New York area most readily. He is open and prepared for both domestic and international opportunities. Direct inquires to: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.