Grandma’s Boy

24 August 2016

Instant analogue by Cecilie Harris
Words and interview by Ede Dugdale
Special thanks to IMPOSSIBLE

Welcome to Kingston, Jamaica. Home to Jonny at Established Models, his Caribbean heart grew up surrounded by tropical mountains, ripening fruit and a colourful city. Trees sway, dancing to the cool, tantalising breeze and the comforting sounds of tiny feet from kids playing their games on sandy streets. They taunt Jonny, with his rhythymless hips, but this is his hometown; a place that makes his eyes glisten when describing and a smile mask his face.

Now, picture running away down a chalky road of familarity and comfort to a completely different setting of the unknown. Transported from one city to another, a whole host of new surroundings, smells, people and culture. Crowded beaches replaced by crowded tube stations teamed with business suits and chitter chatter. Fast trains whizz by, dotted with empty Starbucks cups and umbrellas; welcome to London.

Jonny ran down this road and ventured far from home. Leaping from his life in Jamaica into a sudden world of castings, shows and interviews, we caught him within his first 24 hours in the city of London, as he eagerly seeks to make his beloved Grandma proud. His somber eyes shine beautifully, dark and full of mystery, as he stares into his new landscape. Childlike and endearing through his vulnerability, he is a real life Paddington bear stood on a busy London platform.

As the minutes pass by in a new city, you can breathe in new cultures and surrounding energies. Look at that building! Is that how they dress? What do they like to eat? Questions of unfamiliarity lead you to ask yet more questions. Hold hands with your new perspectives and let the endless possibilities lead you into a new horizon. Jonny is taking on his new adventure with an affectionate smile and polite bravery.

Hey Jonny. Tell me a bit about where you’re from.
I’m from Kingston, Jamaica. It’s a big tourist attraction and the people there are friendly and have a good energy. I think people like to come mainly for the weather; there’s a lot of beaches and when it’s hot, it’s really hot. Jamaicans also love the nightlife, sometimes they party for three weeks straight without going home, their eyes are just hella red from lack of sleep.

How would you describe the people of Jamaica?
They are very different to other people in the way they talk and act; they often talk in patwa, which is a kind of language. I think they're also quite unique in the way they live life, they're very happy. I like it.

Are you into music?
Yeah. Dancehall is really big in Jamaica after reggae, younger people especially love their dancehall. We have lots of carnivals and big music shows, which people go crazy for. I also think food is different in Jamaica compared to London and Paris, which are the only two other places I have visited. In Jamaica we eat a lot of different types of food like ackee and salt fish; I think a lot of people are scared of that here, because it can poison you if not cooked right.

How do you spend time with your friends?
We like to hang out and go to each other's house. We just have fun, sometimes we play video games, and then some of them smoke all day haha. We listen to music and enjoy life, the weather is always good there; kids are always playing.

Tell us about your journey.

My aunt told me to try out modelling before I lose my looks. They sent a picture of me to an agency and they really liked my look, so they put it on Instagram and Premium Models in Paris saw it. They liked it, so they put it on Instagram as well, and that's when Louis Vuitton saw it and said they wanted me for a show.

How do you find the shows?

I really liked them. I’ve walked for Louis Vuitton, Acne Studios and some other big ones. At first I was nervous, but now I like it. It just goes really quick. It also makes my grandma really proud, she likes me being a model and encourages me to do it. She is the best grandma, a lot of people I’ve met in life are really nice, but I think she’s the nicest in the world. She’s very wise and told me to be myself and to chase everything that I want in life. She also told me that if the first option fails, you must find another way to achieve it.

What about the future?
I’d like to open my own business, maybe like a restaurant or a clothes shop. I’d probably do food that I like: fries, burgers and chicken, but I can’t cook good stuff, so I’d probably get one of my cousins to do it. In Jamaica we don’t really have loads of clothes, but everyone knows how to dress well and they make it look expensive with swagger. So if I opened my own store I’d like to do nice t-shirts and jackets for everyone to wear.

What do you think about London?
I like it, I’ve only been here one day though! I’ve seen the London Eye, the Houses of Parliament and where the Queen lives. I prefer to meet people than go and do stuff, I met a few people in Paris and I’ve started to recognise people. It’s nice, because you meet people from all different cultures and everyone is so different. I’m learning new things, like how expensive London is! I’ve also learnt that it’s crazy about fashion and I find it interesting, but then I hear the prices of certain clothes - the price of them can get you a really nice car in Jamaica, haha.

Do you have any hidden talents?
I thought I could sing, but I can’t, and dancing just doesn’t work for me. Jamaicans can normally dance, but not me.

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