Multi-talented Don Benjamin transitions from modeling to music
→ Los Angeles, California June 2020 – After a successful modeling career and placing in the top three of hit modeling competition show, America’s Next Top Model (ANTM), Don Benjamin takes aim at the music industry.
Benjamin’s music isn’t the traditional mainstream rap we’re used to hearing. He hopes his music influences our society in a positive way. “I’m a fan of Drake and J Cole. Lately, I’ve been listening to more gospel rap, artists like Bizzle, Eshon Burgundy, and Lecrae [noted Christian rappers]. Music lately feels so negative. It’s all about doing drugs and degrading women. I need something that is gonna feed my spirit and motivate me to be a better person,”
Don Benjamin on distinguishing himself from the direction of current mainstream rap artists: “I don’t feel like much rap nowadays spreads positivity. Most songs that take off aren’t really saying much of anything. I want to spread a good message.”
During this time of unrest, Benjamin has taken a stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and joined the music industries Blackout Tuesday. Other celebrities, including Beyoncé have used their social media platforms to demand justice for George Floyd and encourage their followers to take action.
→ PUMA × The Hundreds – California streetwear brand The Hundreds joins PUMA to debut a new line of footwear, apparel and accessories inspired by the last three decades, called “The ‘90s Cliques”.
→ Shaggy – Grammy award winning artist Shaggy, known for top hits “It Wasn’t Me” and “Boombastic,” discusses the variety of his music and how he remains grounded.
→ YaVe Tequila by Joe Cruz – Motivated by his passion for family and community, Joe Cruz creates YaVe Tequila. After many attempts to get the right formulation and an incredible shift to a team of female chemists, the world’s first naturally flavored tequila was born. Although this tequila was introduced shortly before a world-wide pandemic hit and YaVe’s original plan of having a large presence in bars is impossible, they’ve managed to grow their online presence with partnerships and influencers. YaVe has angled themselves as an essential for a stay at home happy hour.
→ Michael B. Jordan × BODYARMOR – BODYARMOR’s largest campaign to date, voiced-over by award winning actor Michael B. Jordan, is rooted in the belief that no matter who you are, only you can make you better.
TRAVEL JOURNALIST THOMAS WILMER INTERVIEWS 360 MAGAZINE PUBLISHER VAUGHN LOWERY
Small to medium sized business often fall short due to high turnover. Vaughn Lowery, Publisher of 360 Magazine, provides listeners with first-hand knowledge on the ever-shifting world of digital publishing and content creation through a youthful lens. Likewise with his innate ability to be accessible, he speaks to working in tandem with emerging generations and how their input could be detrimental to the survival of a brand.
An Additional Conversation with 360 Magazine’s Publisher Vaughn Lowery
If Vaughn Lowery was asked what his idea of success was 10 years ago, his answer would be very different from what it is today. He may have said that success means doing what he loves to do, being accomplished, or having a certain amount of material things.
“Success to me now is having a purpose in life and feeling passionate and fulfilled by it,” says Lowery.
Lowery got his first taste of the industry while interning for Vibe Magazine while on Summer vacation from Cornell University. His sister drove him into New York City every morning to drop him off and always advised him to be the first one at the office. One morning Lowery found himself alone with the publisher of the magazine at the time, Keith Clinkscales, which gave him the opportunity to speak with him one-on-one. It was due to his sister’s advice that he got the chance to do what no other intern would normally get to do.
After finishing up at Cornell in just three years, Lowery became an executive trainee with Saks Fifth Avenue. He was able to get along with everyone in the office and was doing great when he was called into his boss’s office one afternoon.
“She told me I was in the wrong business; that I was very charismatic and should try acting,” Lowery says, “but, I liked the path I was on at that time.”
It wasn’t until Lowery was asked by someone connected to the talent industry if he was a model that he truly considered breaking into the talent industry. Shortly after taking professional photos and getting them out to agencies, Lowery ended up with Ford Models. From there he did photoshoots, tv commercials, and ad campaigns, all while still working in outside sales at Aetna US Healthcare. Once he began modelling full time his face was in the pages of GQ, Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, and Gap. By being around people of all different positions, primarily in the magazine publishing industry, Lowery came to understand how content was produced. It was right before the recession hit while he was living in LA that Lowery made the transition from modelling to the publishing industry.
It was his experience in modelling that inspired Lowery’s creation of the 360 Magazine. While working on any given shoot, Lowery was often one of just three or less black men. Often times he was the only black man on a set which drew his attention to the lack of representation in the media industry. Lowery’s goal for the 360 Magazine was that it would fill this niche and promote diversity across the publishing world, specifically the covers of its magazines.
For those wanting to work in the media industry, specifically in the publishing world, Lowery suggests starting from the ground up.
“Being self taught and learning as you go is something you need to be open to,” says Lowery, “Ask tons of questions, and learn everything you can from every position.”
Lowery warns that it’s important to be open and cordial to everyone, because you don’t know when your paths will cross again. Making connections and using them is how most people gain opportunities. He also adds that just by hanging out with people you’ll always learn something that you can apply to aspects of your work.
Things in the industry have been changing and becoming more digitally focused since the beginning of 360 Magazine’s launch. The magazine was started during a time of e-zines, so it’s not a surprise that the website came first. Lowery had experience with creating websites from a young age so the move from print to digital was natural for him. It was clear to him where the industry was going.
“Print was getting costly, bookstores were looking dilapidated and even Barnes and Noble was focusing on their version of the tablet, the Nook,” says Lowery, “All the magazines were looking alike anyway.”
Print was still important though. Besides the fact that advertising agencies want to see a physical copy of a magazine before working with them, print is taken more seriously due to its cost. Other companies will be aware that a certain magazine has the funds to support itself if they have a print copy to show for it.
360 Magazine printed their first issue in 2009, but it was costly. Lowery began thinking that there had to be some other way to work with print. It was then that he decided to do print on demand publications. 360 Magazine linked with Blurb, which allowed anyone to order a print copy of the magazine right from our website. They’ve been distributing to them for 9 years now.
The magazine’s estimated circulation, which is based on print, is 110,000 from print on demand. This number doesn’t tend to move much, but most people end up reading 360 Magazine’s online articles through WordPress.
When asked what makes a media contributor most marketable, Lowery says that in this industry you need a social following and the ability to network. Being accessible and having a portfolio of published work is a great place to start as well.
“Do it all,” Lowery says, “monetize, write, take photos, be on time, and take initiatives.”
The hardest thing about the industry in Lowery’s opinion is breaking into it and surviving on freelance jobs along the way. Writers should be prepared to sacrifice mentally, physically and financially. While working for a publication, Lowery says that writers need to do what they can to become a valuable asset to them. That way, a publication will be more likely to keep you on board and help you in the future.
As for internship positions at 360 Magazine, Lowery aims to teach interns everything that he didn’t learn. He’s assigns articles for interns to write, pushes them to network, has them do coverage and teaches them how to get published or to self-publish.
“We teach interns how to be resourceful and find themselves in the organization,” says Lowery.
When interns can bring business to the magazine, the magazine will bring business to them. Special assignment opportunities are available for interns who finish their program and are still looking to remain involved. Lowery says that while the magazine is specifically looking to groom editors, that if a publication wants to really pop, then they have to have a revolving door.
When asked what goals he has for the future of 360 Magazine, Lowery responded that he aims to keep it three dimensional with podcasts and web series.
“I want to be able to put the brand out to different countries and places in America,” says Lowery, Local presences would strengthen us.”
He also says that he’s interested in the possibility of a reality spin off or docu-series, as well as introducing more formal programs for educational purposes.
Michael Letterlough Jr. is an Award-winning fashion, commercial and portrait photographer whose work has been seen and published in national and international magazines such as Forbes, Vogue Italia, GQ, Vibe, EuroMoney, Ebony/Jet and Essence to name a few; as well as international selling CD and book covers, national ad campaigns, top modeling agencies, and countless celebrities – including Janet Jackson, Kevin Hart, supermodels Beverly Johnson and Janice Dickinson, and Hip-Hop mogul, Russell Simmons.
However, it’s the work Michael has created with such companies as American Express, Nike, and the Bravo TV Network, as well as smaller businesses and individual personalities that positions his style of imagery as strong, commercial branding tools. When aligned with businesses – big and small – Michael has the ability to creatively and ingeniously produce photographs that not only perfectly represent their brand, but also command an audience’s attention.
Michael was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated with a degree in Communications/Magazine Journalism from Temple University. After beginning his professional career as an entertainment journalist, he eventually discovered his passion for photography and developed much of his photography career living in New York City. Michael currently lives in Los Angeles, California.
Jerris Madison is a Los Angeles-based noted Fashion Photographer who is also the Publisher and Editor-In-Chief at OBVIOUS Magazine. OBVIOUS Magazine is one of the most influential magazines with a global reach of 4 million each month via social media and obviousmag.com.
Among his clients are Kevin Hart, Essence Magazine and Eva Marcille. Jerris’ most recent work was featured on the Dianne Reeves 2015 Grammy win for Best Jazz Vocals Album.
A Detroit native, Jerris finds his stability through family and friends. Noted for always “living his best life”, this perspective was put to the test in November of 2014 when Jerris lost his right leg to Chondrosarcoma Bone Cancer.
Not one to be slowed down, Jerris views himself as a survivor and continues to play varying roles such as Image Consultant, Social Media Expert, Film/TV Wardrobe Stylist, Motivational Speaker, as well as Photographer. He hopes that his story and experience will lead him to become an author, global philanthropist, potential talk show host, and even docuseries that focuses on his life and the stories of other amputees around the world.
Editor. Fashion Chief. Photographer. Survivor! Jerris Madison, you deserve this ovation!
The 2018 #NBA#AllStar Weekend will be in #LosAngeles, February 15th-19th. The world will be in Los Angeles and the world will be watching. Let’s show the world we can have a great time while still exuding compassion for humanity. There will be a series of Celebrity Charity Lifestyle Events. The purpose and objective of this All-Star Weekend Celebrity Charity Lifestyle Events are to bring awareness to homelessness in Los Angeles as we are asking every attending guest to bring a blanket, a coat/jacket, socks and hygiene products. The items will be donated to help assist one to four organizations that provide assistance to the homeless community.
Los Angeles is America’s homelessness capital. About 58,000 people in Los Angeles County experience homelessness on any given night. L.A. County is known for glamour and glitz, but if you look past the bright lights, you’ll see what angels see — men, women, and children of all ages that have lost their homes — and their hope….http://urm.org.
These Celebrity Charity Lifestyle Events will be during the 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend here in Los Angeles, February, 15th-19th. The main-event will be on Thursday, February 15th at the Crocker Club 453 S. Spring Street/DTLA, 5P-8P: Happy Hour, 8P-10P Red Carpet/Celebrity Arrivals and 8P-2A #PartyingForAPurpose. These events will bring awareness to the homelessness epidemic in Los Angeles…
WELCOME TO LA Celebrity Charity Party, Thursday, February 15th, 5p
1P-5P Celebrities/volunteers/brand reps participation will meet at Culver City Plaza 9400 Washington Blvd. to drop off collected goods to one-four chosen non-profit organizations who provide goods and services to benefit the homeless.
Kristoffer Forby is a 21-year-old Scandinavian celebrity/model who hails from Denmark. Over the past few years, he’s been featured in numerous ad campaigns around the world: ASOS, Adidas and Nike.
In 2015, Forby was discovered by a Barneys New York store manager while shopping. Shortly after, he booked various editorials for online fashion magazines. Fast forward two years, he’s become one of the most sought-after international talents of today.
As of late, he’s become a top digital influencer who boasts over 548,000 Instagram followers and has recently set up a YouTube channel where he curates his daily travel adventures alongside of his closest friends.