"You’ve got to have really thick skin in this industry otherwise you’ll be broken down": Model Jordan Charles on dreams and hurdles
Model Jordan Charles picks his projects based on the how socially impactful they are and how they might help him grow as an individual
Jordan Charles is a stunning 24-year-old black albino model who is taking the industry by strom. He is confident. He is inspiring. And he a is man who uses his work as a voice to increase awareness about albinism and to strive for greater representation.
Most recently, he starred in a 2-minute short film called 'Now You See Me' by Claire Littler. He is seen swinging around freely in a way that exudes self-acceptance. His movements reflected the theme of the video perfectly: accept yourself for who you are and let the world see it. In conversation with this charming and intellectual man, Meaww discovered a lot about his motivation and inspiration.
I saw your short-film recently and was so impressed by your talent. Every single movement reflected a sense of liberation. What is one thing you hope everyone takes away from it?
The short films that I’ve worked on recently are all to raise awareness for albinism, something very personal to me as I’ve lived with it my whole life. Growing up and even to this day I don’t see people (minus very few exceptions) like me represented in the media and that’s something I had to change. I’d like people who see my work to know that albinism is a real thing, I am albino and that we have more alike than differences.
What was the first thing that attracted you to the project? How would you describe the journey of being in this movie?
The things that usually attract me to projects are the awareness it can raise and how it can benefit my growth. This may sound very selfish to some people but if many people aren’t going to see it or it’s not going to have a positive effect on me or the causes that I stand for then I can’t justify doing it.
When did you first know you wanted to become a model? And what has the journey looked like since you made that realization?
Modeling wasn’t something I initially set out to do, in fact, I used to hate having my photo taken. I was first introduced to modeling by people around me telling me that I have ‘a look’ and that I should pursue it.
In recent days, we have seen diversity become a topic of discussion and Hollywood has started paying attention as well. How would you say the representation of albinos has evolved over the years, keeping in mind characters such as Tobias Whale from 'Black Lightning'?
As long as diversity is a topic of discussion, we’ll never have any real change. The only reason it is discussed in the entertainment industry is that it lacks so much and people often like to point it out or be praised wherever diversity is used. I think we’ve definitely seen some change, but it’s a lot more tokenism than diversity.
How important do you think representation of minorities is in pop culture?
The representation of everyone, not just a minority, is really important. People can feel alienated if they have no one to relate to, this can lead to further issues down the line like not conforming to beauty standards leaving you feeling ugly or less valued than others.
What is one piece of advice you would give someone who is struggling to accept themselves?
One piece of advice I’d give is ‘hold in there’, it is something that takes time.
Who are your role models within and outside the fashion industry?
A huge role model of mine would be Shaun Ross, another model who paved the way for people with albinism. He was so unapologetically himself and really owned who he was, I don’t think I’d be doing what I’m doing now had it not been for him.
You have already achieved so much at a young age. Moving forward, what are the goals you would like to fulfill?
I’m happy to have achieved everything that I have so far, but I’m far from doing a lot of things that I want to. For one I’d like to be the first black albino TV presenter as this is a platform viewed worldwide it also helps as I want people to see my character and more of who I am as opposed to being just a look with modeling.
What is the biggest challenge you have had to face so far and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge I’ve had to overcome so far was being comfortable within myself. Before I was 100% comfortable with myself I didn’t feel comfortable sharing my true self with everyone else so I was very shy and conserved. Another big one being dealing with rejection, you’ve got to have really thick skin in this industry otherwise you’ll constantly be broken down.
How would someone close to you describe you as a person?
You’d have to ask them, but my friends and family constantly say that they’re inspired and proud of what I do. Besides that, they’d probably say I’m a joker, I like to have a laugh and a good time, as well as slightly argumentative.
What are the activities you enjoy during your downtime?
I enjoy playing basketball; this is my replacement for the gym which I just can’t get into. I love going to parties and events but it’s not actually what I’m doing but the company I’m surrounded by, good energy really helps me do what I do.
Is there any particular brand or designer you absolutely love?
It’ll probably sound cliché but I love Versace, the fact that it’s barely ever just plain clothes and the patterns are so transcending and beautiful. Their clothes really are a statement, and I feel like £1million when I’m wearing them.
Could you tell us about a moment where you went ‘I can’t believe I just did that'?
All the time. I love the feeling of being a bit nervous about something but still doing it anyway, it gives me such a rush. My comfort zone is a very boring place for me, so I often just say yes to things for the excitement.