Thursday, July 27, 2017

‘Never stop reinventing’

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS | TYSON BECKFORD

Tyson Beckford looks beyond modeling — and Las Vegas is playing a big part in the newest stage of his career.

Tyson Beckford

Tyson Beckford has been one of the most familiar faces in popular culture — and one of America’s hottest sex symbols — for more than 20 years.

He was first discovered by a photographer when he was just 21 in 1993, and within a year had landed an exclusive contract with Ralph Lauren Apparel. When sales for his own calendar skyrocketed, magazines like Details, GQ, Essence, The Face, L’uomo Vogue, and The New York Times Magazine took notice and put Beckford on their own covers. He was celebrated as one of People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People, and honored as Best Male Model at the inaugural VH1 Fashion and Music Awards.

In 2015, Beckford was featured as a special celebrity guest at Chippendales’ Vegas show and was asked to return to the show with a residency deal at the RIO All-Suite Hotel and Casino. Said Beckford: “Performing with the guys from the Chippendales in front of soldout houses is one of the most exciting times in my career. I love Vegas and love the women — so when Chippendales approached me about coming back to the show for an extended run, I was like, um…yes!”

Beckford recently sat down with Las Vegas Black Image Magazine for an exclusive interview with about his career, performing in the Chippendales revue, and celebrating the women who give us life.

We have seen you recently on BET’s “Hip-Hop Squares” and now dancing in the Chippendales Show. Are you still modeling? What’s going on with your career overall?

I am not modeling much any longer. I just do hosting, television appearances and shows, and movie projects. I am all over the place. Yes, I also appeared on the new “Hip-Hop Squares” and I think I have one more appearance to do. I have also been on the “Match Game” with Alec Baldwin.

Is there a reason you don’t want to model any longer?

I just feel I have done all that is needed to be done in modeling. The industry has changed, and it’s now about using anyone that catches the eye from social media and how many followers they have. Anyone can get into the business now with little to no true modeling skills. It’s not about talent any more.

Do you think you will go into the fashion or business side of the industry?

I like the business part of modeling — and I am definitely working on some things. I love clothes and the business of fashion itself … you can do a lot to promote your product without using models.

How is diversity faring in the world of modeling?

It’s getting better. My sister, Naomi Campbell and I have been pushing for more diversity in the industry for years. We are now seeing it. It’s happening and is 100 times better than it was five and ten years ago.

What would you say to other young black men who are interested in getting into the modeling industry?

A lot of them don’t realize that you have to literally live in New York City. You can’t live in another part of the country and expect to seriously get into the modeling industry. You have to live in New York City, because that’s where anything that you do in modeling can be reviewed by the fashion power brokers. Anywhere else is a waste of time.

How did you parlay your career into dancing in the Vegas Chippendales Show?

I did a film called “Chocolate City” — and at the same time I was always on their list of contenders to join the dancing male revue. The show help promote the film I was in and myself at the same time. It was just a win-win — and after I finished the film, I was hooked. I told producers that I didn’t have anything else to promote after the film, but I wanted to come back and be a dancer.

With the Chippendales you are actually dancing and doing the whole exotic thing?

Yes — from the opening number to the closing number.

What do you say to people who just admire the way you look and are not aware of your intelligence and your kindness?

I love it. Not everyone is going to get to know that side of you. It’s sad, but people are always telling me to go on “Dancing with The Stars,” so people can see and get to know my personality. I say there is only so much one can do, because not everyone will know and see your personality. I would like to have to have a daily talk show, which is a possibility — I was on “The View” recently, and had a great time with the ladies. I received a lot of compliments from that show.

As we celebrate Mother’s Day would you like mothers to come to see the Chippendale show?

Oh yes. All shapes and sizes. We recently had a lady there who was 85 years of age and she really enjoyed the show. Also, a mother came to the show with her daughters for her birthday, and they all loved it.

What is your recollection of your mother when you were young?

She was a slave driver. She pushed me to do a lot of things, and to have more than one job. She also always wanted me to never stop reinventing myself — and to this day she is a big part of my life. Always pushing me to do more. I am content with myself and all that I have done. If additional success comes to me that is great, but I am not worried about it.

Will you do more acting?

Yeah, sure. At the end of this Chippendales run, I will jump into doing an in dependent film. I have the script sitting in my email and just haven’t had time to read it yet. I have been very busy with doing a lot of press lately. That old saying is true: “Strike while the iron is hot.” That is what I am doing.

Are you politically active?

Yes, I have worked on President Obama’s campaign and on the Clinton campaign. I have been involved with the Democratic Party for many years. I push for gay and lesbian rights and for all the right things in life. I believe that more young people need to get involved in politics and vote.

Are you in a romantic relationship?

No, not now. I am single and mingling. If I wasn’t, I sure wouldn’t tell the press (laughs).

What would be the perfect profile of a woman you could be interested in?

She would have to be mature, loyal, and have a sense of humor. They would definitely have to be fashion forward.

What is your message to mothers for Mother’s Day?

Keep grooming and producing. My mom was a single mother, and she raised me to be the man that I am. Women need to never give up on their children.

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