From Calvin Klein to Yeezy Season 4, Ebonee Davis is taking the modeling world by storm. However her role as an activist is leaving an even bigger mark on the industry. Read about her mission, her take on diversity in fashion and the importance of investing in yourself!
2. Where are you from?
3. What is your sign?
4.What do you do? Can you tell me about your journey?
I am a activist, writer, public speaker and model currently living in New York City. My journey started in Seattle Washington. I wanted to be a model from a young age and I was signed to a local agency after going in for an open casting. After I graduated high school, I matriculated at the University of Washington where I attended class for a year before deciding that I wanted to pursue modeling full time and moved to New York. At the time that I moved, I didn’t have an agency and it was extremely hard for me to get one. I visited every well known agency in NY and heard “no” and “we already have a girl with your look” over and over again until finally one opened the door for me. For the last 4 years I have been working my way up the industry’s latter and recently I have come into my own. I am now signed with the Lions and preparing to give a TED talk in January on the topic of racial identity in America.
5. You're gorgeous! What's your everyday beauty routine?
Beauty products you can't live without? I like to stick with pretty natural products since skin is porous and whatever you put on it gets absorbed into the body. African black soap is a great cleanser for face and body. I love raw shea butter and coconut oil!
6. Best advice for someone looking to get into modeling?
Don’t! Find something outside of modeling that you're passionate about and invest in that. Modeling is moving away from the 2 demential carbon copy world of 5’10 size 0 prototypes and using more “real people”. By investing in your own passion outside of modeling, people will want to get to know you and take your photograph and also hear what you have to say as a person. It wasn’t until I put activism before modeling that I had such great success in the industry. The word model is just a label for a caricature, not a fulfilled and well rounded human being. Don’t try to be a model, be yourself and the industry will seek you out.
7. Any designers you're dying to work with?
I feel like I should have an answer to this but I don’t. I want to work with everyone who is compassionate, empathetic and understanding.
8. As a civil rights advocate, talk to us about the inequality within the fashion industry?
When I first started modeling, I was told no over and over again as I previously mentioned. The industry makes it so hard for people of color to get adequate representation. The fact that I can look at an agency’s board and see 20 blonde girls but only 2 or 3 black girls is implicitly saying that POC are of less value than white people. Same with looking at a fashion magazine and seeing 1 black girl among dozens of white girls. The industry pits us against one another and forces us to compete for that one token spot, so we are unable to unify and work together which is keeping us from progressing as a culture. When you ask agencies why its like this, they say that clients don't want to use black girls, but agencies have it all wrong. Black people have always been the creators and dictators of “cool”. Black people create so much of the culture so why are we excluded from it? The personal beauty ideals of agents, who in my experience are about 80% white, play a huge role in why models of color go underrepresented. As working black models we get told that we shouldn’t complain because there are 100 other black girls waiting to take that place. We are often stripped of our identities and forced into boxes. For me, the decision to go natural was a huge turning point where I regained what I had lost. In retrospect I realized that telling me that I would only work if I straightened my hair and wore extensions, was erasure of my cultural identity. As a form of media we have a responsibility to the public not only to entertain but to inform. We have influence and the practices of representing, hiring and accepting black beauty not only reflects our society but inspires it.
9. A lot of people have accused the fashion industry of cultural appropriation. What's your take on it?
Cultural appropriation happens all the time in the fashion industry. Like I said before, black people create so much culture and yet we are excluded from the industry. “My product is good enough for you, but I'm not” is often how it feels.
10. What are you currently crushing on?
I'm crushing on God, thats my mans.
11. 2017 is approaching quickly. What are you hoping to accomplish in the new year?
I want to continue making a difference in the industry bringing people together as much as possible and using our collective power to get the message across that equality and representation is important. As models we have a platform and a voice that often goes unused. Its time to start speaking up and showing up!
12. Best advice?
Everything happens for a reason. It will all make sense some day.
13. Your Motto?
I don’t really have one but, although its cliche, “treat others how you want to be treated", is a motto to live by.
14. 5 things you can't live without?
God, Love, Solitude, Peace, Empathy
15. Your biggest regret?
I don’t really regret anything because everything that has happened in my life has molded me into the person I am now. I see everything as necessary. I don’t look at my decisions or that happenings of my life as either “good” or “bad”, that just “are”. I take things as they are and I learn from them and when you get a lesson out of your experience, its always a positive thing, so there’s never any room for regret.
16. Do you have any hobbies? If not, is there anything new you would want to try out?
I learning how to read music! I want to learn guitar!
17. Anything else you think we should know but didn't ask?
In an ideal world I would like to see all people come together despite the imagined differences, no matter your race, ethnic background, gender, sexuality, religion. I want people to realize that we are one race, the human race, and until this fact is realized, we will continue to divide and separate ourselves. We are mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles, children; we all deserve to live free and be happy. All of our lives are of equal value.