I blogged about Model City briefly in a previous post when I talked about Centric TV, the station that offers quality programming for sophisticated African Americans. After missing most of the episdoes I managed to catch a back to back airing over the weekend. Yep that is one of the beauties of having Sky you get to have major OD on the shows you missed. Anyway onto Model City; well it turned out to be better than I expected. The reality show is about RED Model Management NY, which is an agency that employs Black and Latino male models. It featuresWendell Lissimore, Ibrahim Baaith, Nelson Nieves, Salieu Jalloh, Zeric Armenteros, and Henry Watkin as they make their way in the modelling world. Model City delves into the double whammy of being a male Black model in a female dominated industry where there are few people of colour. We see the models go on group photo sessions with Upscale magazine and Bleu magazines. Representing at New York Fashion Week by working with top notch designers.But who these gorgeous guys and what is their story?
Salieu is Sierre Leon born and from a devout Muslim family who detest the fact that he is a model. However, despite his rocky relationship with his family Salieu is determined to make it as a model and create a better life for them whether the like it or not. Harlem raised, Wendell is the confident and self assured one who has his sights on an acting career. With a supermodel girlfriend in the form of Sessilee Lopez, it looks like Wendell has it all. Call me a cynic but I just did not buy them as a real couple. I got the impression it was just for face value in order to raise both their profiles, there was no heat or passion or even petty squabbles that couples have. Ibrahim is the eldest of all the models, he was raised in the Nation of Islam which he rebelled against. However the experience provided him with a huge foundation to build on. He graduated from Pratt Institute and is also working as an artist alongside with his modelling. With smarts, talent and looks he was one of my favourite models.
Henry is the guy next door. Sweet and unassuming he has decided to take a year out of college to pursue his modelling dreams. As he comes from a very academic family - all his sisters are at college and he is expected to go - this has not gone down very well with his family, Nelson is the only Latino guy in the pack but has been modelling for five years. The Bronx native was discovered while working in retail and since then has been booked non stop. Nelon has a really nice aura and a fantastic mantra. I loved it when he said he was goal was to be great at what he does and be there for his girl to catch her when she falls. Such a gentleman. Zeric is from Miami and the veteran of the group, having been modelling for quite a while. A real prickly character he is very much like marmite, you either love him or you hate him. He was a real bitch to Nelson one night when the models all went out to a big party which resulted in a bust up. However his scenes with his sister and her baby boy really redeemed him to me. He came across as being so sweet and understanding.
Model City is a really great show which shows the modelling scene for what it is. As I have ranted on for ages I am not a fan of modelling shows but I really took to this one like cats take to milk. It gave us a taste of what the industry is like not just for a young man of colour but for any model trying to make their mark. Going to go sees to have your portfolio checked out, getting into the groove on a photo shoot and running around during fashion week to fittings and strutting their stuff at Fashion Week. It also made a change to see hard working professionals mastering their craft ad maintaining personal relationships with partners and family rather than seeing a bunch of wannabe models bickering over pettiness. Yes there were a few bust ups in Model City but the majority of the time it was a bunch of brothers working their asses off. Oh yeah and Tyson Beckford makes an appearance in one episode looking more handsome than ever.
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