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August 11, 2021
Who are you, and what is your occupation?
My name is Marcellas Reynolds, and the title I'm proudest to claim is a bestselling author. In 2019, I published Supreme Models: Iconic Black Women Who Revolutionized Fashion, and coming this Fall to bookstores everywhere, Supreme Actresses: Iconic Black Women Who Revolutionized Hollywood!
Tell us about Supreme Models and why you wanted to do this project?
Supreme Models is the first-ever art book explicitly dedicated to top Black female models. In the spring of 2011, Vogue Model: The Faces of Fashion, a book devoted to models who appeared in British Vogue, was released. The book, which spanned the then 90-year history of British Vogue, arguably the most diverse fashion magazine globally, only included two Black models—Iman and Naomi Campbell.
Angered, I wrote a scathing review of the book on Amazon; "Where is Veronica Webb, muse to Herb Ritts, who is one of the few Black models ever to receive a cosmetics contract? Or Liya Kebede, the current face of Estée Lauder, who had an entire issue of Vogue Paris dedicated to her. And where is Tyra Banks? The model mogul! Few models have been more successful than Tyra!" That lack of recognition of the triumphs, that's why I wrote Supreme Models.
(click here to get Supreme Models)
How was the book received, and what's next?
The book was one of the best-reviewed of 2019 and 2020. American Vogue named it one of the 9 Best Fashion Books of 2019. The New York Times chose it as one of "The Big Books of Fall," and in 2020, Essence named it the number one book to read on Black style. Every major fashion magazine across the globe covered it. Supreme Models continues to get press and sell to this day. It's awesome.
On 10/12/2021, my new book, Supreme Actresses: Iconic Black Women Who Revolutionized Hollywood arrives in bookstores everywhere. I can't wait for the world to see it.
What drives you to get up every day?
I love life. I love my life. Each day is a chance for me to try harder and go further. Racists and homophobes also drive me. I'm constantly trying to redefine the public's perceptions of who and what gay men and Black men are. In 2002, when I joined the cast of Big Brother 3, I became the first out gay Black man on a major network series in the history of reality television. Before the original Queer Eye cast, before Karamo Brown on The Real World: Philadelphia in 2004. I opened a door and blazed a trail. That keeps me going.
Who is the living person you most admire?
I appreciate the work of people who create art or move the cultural needle forward: Kerry James Marshall, Hebru Brantley, Raf Simmons, Simone Leigh, Kara Walker, my "book brothers" Kwame S. Brathwaite and Antoine Sargent, and my best friends Liz Dozier of Chicago Beyond and Jae Joseph of BAO Apothecary.
When and where were you happiest?
I spend a lot of time happy. Recently, the day I sold Supreme Actresses made me wildly happy. I was sitting at home, in my bathrobe, when my publisher at Abrams Books called me. I sold a book during a global pandemic! Selling my first book felt like a blessed fluke. To sell a second book on a subject I love, Black women, made me beam with pride and glee.
Who is your hero of fiction?
I have two, and I live by their lessons: The Little Prince and Holly Golightly. The Prince fell in love with beauty. I find beauty everywhere, especially in others. Holly, at her core, wanted to be loved and didn't find it until she learned it's more important to love someone else more than she loved herself. I haven't found that yet, but I'm looking.
Who is your real-life hero?
Bethann Hardison is my hero. She's been at the forefront of the fight for diversity and inclusion in fashion for decades. Her work to promote fairness in advertising and fashion has changed the world.
What does comfort feel like to you?
I'm most comfortable being at home in my bathrobe, slathering on skincare products. My apartment is like a hotel suite. I love being home chilling and engaging in self-care.
What do you consider your most outstanding achievement?
It took eight years to publish Supreme Models. Several publishers turned it down, and many people told me a book about Black women wouldn't sell. Well, it did sell. People of every race across the globe embrace Supreme Models as a cherished possession. It's my legacy, and I found my greatest success celebrating a group of people who didn't get their due.
What do you most value in friends?
Loyalty. If I can't trust you, don't come over here. I've experienced betrayal in the past. Hell, my betrayal on a reality show cost me a half-million dollars.
What is your most treasured possession?
I'm my most treasured possession. My brain, my heart, my experiences, and my memories are what I treasure most.
What is a dream/goal for the future that you have?
My dream is to make Supreme Models into a documentary and an art exhibition that travels to museums across the globe. I'm almost there.
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what would it be?
I'd come back as me, only taller. If I had been taller, I would have worked even more during my model career. I had a blast modeling in the late-nineties.
Is there a historical figure with who you most identify?
My heroes are James Baldwin and Gordon Parks. Give me some time. I'm not done yet.
What is your motto?
I don't have time for mottos. There's so much more to do.
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