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.
Some of the biggest stars in the world rely on Erodney Davis and his agency, Basic White Shirt, with its roster of the world’s most sought-after Celebrity Hairstylists, Makeup Artists and Nail Artists, to look their best.
After graduating with honors from North Carolina A&T State University in 1996, Davis accepted a job at ad agency, Y&R New York, while also moonlighting as part-time personal assistant to Celebrity Makeup Artist and Author, Sam Fine.
After more than a decade developing his acute business acumen alongside visionaries from the world of advertising, beauty and fashion, Davis changed course, leaving corporate America behind with only his savings and a desire to work in a more creative capacity. A month later, he began assisting top Casting Directors in NY, Paris & Milan, helping designers like Ralph Lauren, Proenza Schouler, Alice Temperley, and J. Mendel choose the most elite models of the moment to bring their designer collections to life on the runway.
During this time, Davis experienced a full-circle moment when Sam Fine tapped him to manage Fine’s freelance bookings and eventually other clients came calling, giving rise to Davis’ boutique agency, Basic White Shirt, boasting a cadre of talented beauty professionals. Davis continued casting models for New York Fashion Week for another 8 years while simultaneously running BWS. Currently based in Brooklyn, NY, Davis’ main focus is growing his agency’s roster with select, creative clientele and managing the needs of his world-class talent.
Oslyn Holder Celebrity Makeup Artist whose clients include Bette Midler, Vanessa Williams, LionBabe, Bernadette Peters, Kelly Clarkson, Tia & Tamera Mowry, Danaii Gurira, Holly Robinson Peete & Regina King
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.
TUNE-IN: Tyra Banks discusses her all-new novel, “Perfect is Boring: 10 Things My Crazy, Fierce Mama Taught Me about Beauty, Booty, and Being a Boss” and reveals runway model tips and tricks as she chows down on a round of spicy hot wings; and screenwriter Lena Waithe discusses her life in Chicago prior to fame and more on an all-new Complex x Fuse this Wednesday, June 20th at 11 p.m. ET/PT on Fuse.
Supermodel and producer Tyra Banks reveals some of the most memorable moments of her modeling career on Hot Ones. Later, Top Chef judge Padma Lakshmi visits the legendary White Mana Diner, a New Jersey hot spot for celebs such as Al Pacino, among others on First We Feast’s The Burger Show.
Screenwriter and producer Lena Waithe talks growing up in Chicago and being influenced by Kanye West, Michael Jordan and more on Sneaker Shopping, while model and actress Karrueche Tran strolls down memory lane to let fans know all about her past Myspace profile and favorite songs on Delete Your History. Afterwards, celebrity culture savant Angie Nwandu of The Shade Room talks her transition from growing up in the foster care system to now running one of the most well know media sites in the world on Blueprint.
ABOUT: Complex x Fuse features exclusive first-looks of athletes and celebrities eating killer food, answering burning questions, and revealing the secrets behind the hottest kicks. The weekly Complex-branded block features first-run segments from Complex’s core slate of more than 20 digital shows including signature series like First We Feast’s Hot Ones, Sneaker Shopping and Everyday Struggle.
· Amazon joins (RED) in the fight to end AIDS with special holiday shopping experience and exclusive content on Amazon.com/RED
· Special edition (RED) Echo launching today, Amazon will donate $10 to fight AIDS for every (RED) Echo sold
(RED) and Amazon are teaming-up for(SHOPATHON)RED – a special holiday shopping experience offering people a selection of exclusive (RED) products that raise money for the Global Fund to fight AIDS in Africa.
From November 20th through the end of December, shoppers can choose from more than 150 (RED) products including fashion, cosmetics, kitchen goods, tech and more at Amazon.com/RED or via the Amazon App. On December 1st, World AIDS Day, Amazon will highlight (RED), the Global Fund, and (RED) products to bring awareness to the fight, and throughout the campaign special video content from (RED) celebrity supporters will encourage people to shop (RED) and save lives this holiday season.
To underline the impact shoppers can have by choosing (RED) products this holiday, Allison Williams, Jay Ellis and Yvonne Orji came together with (RED) in Africa to visit (RED) supported programs on the ground. You can see and share this short video here.
As the Official Payment Provider of (SHOPATHON)RED, long-standing (RED) partner Bank of America is making every dollar spent go even further. For every dollar spent on Amazon.com/RED from November 20 until December 31, Bank of America will donate 30 cents – the daily cost of life-saving HIV/AIDS medication in sub-Saharan Africa – up to $1.5 million.
Among the selection of tech products is the brand new (RED) Amazon Echo. Amazon is donating $10 from the sale of each (RED) Echo to the Global Fund. Learn more about the new Amazon (RED) Echo here: www.amazon.com/redecho
Every (RED) purchase made by shoppers this holiday will have real impact. The life-saving ARV pills, when taken daily, save not only the life of mothers living with HIV; they also prevent the virus being passed to their unborn babies. As well as providing medication, (RED) money to the Global Fund also supports prevention, testing, counseling and care services programs – all key pillars of the fight to end a disease which is preventable and treatable; a disease which needlessly sees an adolescent become infected every two minutes.
Deborah Dugan, CEO, (RED), said: “Our collaboration with Amazon will make the gift of giving more impactful than ever before. I’m so grateful to the incredible team at Amazon who have made our ambitions of turning the holidays ‘(RED)’ a reality. Together with their enormous customer base, Amazon is helping to ensure lifesaving HIV/AIDS services are being delivered to communities most in need.”
The biggest and sexiest Halloween party of the year will be on October 21st in Los Angeles. This annual event features musical performers, live entertainers, sexy costumes, and guarantees to be a night to remember. Tickets and VIP Table Packages are in limited supply so purchase yours before they sell out.
Join One Concierge and all of this year’s top musical artists under one roof on November 19th for a dazzling lineup of performances and surprise appearances. From after parties to VIP experiences, this year’s event is not to be missed! Contact your One Concierge lifestyle team to learn more about this exclusive event.
The year’s final race on the F1 circuit, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on November 26th is one of the premier Formula One destinations. Stakes will be high and excitement is guaranteed! One Concierge is your race weekend expert for private VIP suites, luxury accommodation, and exclusive experiences such as meeting the drivers and touring the pits and team garages. Get Race Package
The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is one of the most anticipated and most exclusive events of the year. This year’s show will be the first ever held in Asia as it moves to Shanghai. Angels such as Adriana Lima, Gigi Hadid, and Ming Xi will join a cast of all new models. Contact your One Concierge team today to learn more about this year’s exclusive event in Shanghai.
We had an opportunity to chat with Andrew about his🔥 (lit) Instagram and what inspired most of his photos.
“I love photography, and some of my favorite photographers are Mert + Marcus, Harry Benson, Herb Ritts, Steven Klein, and Jason Bell (who I worked with on the ad campaign for “The Crown” on Netflix). As a creative director for entertainment advertising, I’ve directed over 100 photo shoots with people ranging from Al Pacino, Missy Elliot, Drew Barrymore, Zendaya, Taye Diggs, and Helen Mirren.
I shoot everything on my iPhone–it’s always there, easy to use, and takes pretty good pictures. I use VSCO app for editing; it’s a free app that pro photographers use, and has filters that are more subtle than the ones on Instagram.
Why do I take so many pics of myself? When inspiration strikes, I need a model that is right there, is patient, does what I say, is kinda cute, and doesn’t charge me for their time. So that’s me! I’ll set up the shot, place my iPhone on whatever’s handy–an old Starbucks cup, the base of a street sign, a window ledge–set the timer for 10 seconds, and…bam!
Clothing-wise, I’m inspired by the understated elegance of Helmut Lang, clean lines of Alexander Wang, sporty comfort of Zanerobe, and the accessibility of Target. I try to feature my shoes in my pics, since I am a sneaker head: I have over 100 pairs of sneakers from Adidas to Louboutin to Zara so I can coordinate my shoes with whatever I’m wearing.
Next projects: a book on everything I’ve learned directing photo shoots, and a photo exhibition on androgynous guys in NYC–their beauty, style and courage intrigues me and I want to explore their world and help give them a voice.”
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