TC: How did you get to the point of wanting to become a model?

JP: I remember watching this show called America’s Next Top Model (ANTM) on the WB—now a part of the VH-1 lineup—with my mom. These were some special times because they taught me a lot about the importance of family and of sharing moments with my mom. I guess my mom picked up just how much I enjoyed watching and talking about the show, and I’ll never forget when she sparked something inside of me when she said, “You can do it!” I think it was during this time that I felt en-couraged and supported to go for it, to become a model. My dad before he passed a few years ago was very supportive as well. He wanted me to be happy. He was the one who signed all of the paperwork for RED, so I could work. He would say, “It’s one thing to survive but another to find joy in the things you love.” I’ve learned from his example to take ordi-nary pebbles and make diamonds out of them. To seize opportunities, making the best out of life, is something that models can do to make a positive difference in the world.

TC: Are there any models you look up to...any who inspire you?

Watching African models Armando and his brother Fernando Cabral on the runway for major, iconic brands and houses has definitely been a source of inspiration for me. A true example of what it means to be a world citizen, he is a cultural icon. Born in Guinea Bissau, he reminds me of my Afri-can roots; raised in Portugal and educated in England and living in New York, he is a constant re-minder of just how connected the world is and an example of what it means to turn pebbles into dia-monds. It is important, especially for rising models, to see people in the fashion industry at every lev-el who look like them, who share similar looks and personas as them. Growing up in the Congo, it was difficult to find models, especially men, who looked like me. Armando Cabral isn’t just a face on the runway but also an entrepreneur and businessman with his eponymous, luxury-brand of foot-wear and accessories. They are from Guinea. Dark and were dark and beautiful like me, with great posture, and an unforgettable presence that made me feel like I could actually become a model. He and his brother

TC: Do you still have plans of becoming a doctor or surgeon?

JP: I’m happy with being a model. Right now, I’m giving modeling my all. This is a tough business, with disappointment, heartache, and pain. But it is also one of the best experiences I’ve had. I’ve got-ten the opportunity to meet a lot of wonderful people. Is the most exciting businesses because it brings some of the best creative individuals around the planet together. They bring themselves, their cultures, and so much more to every shoot, campaign, editorial...For me, resilience is a key ingredi-ent of this business. in words but you know it when you experience it. When you love something, you don’t give up on it at the first sign of rejection or failure but that’s an opportunity to believe in yourself and keep going. Some people in the business do it because they are trying to chase after something outside of themselves—the money, fame, the status, you name it! I do it because something inside of me won’t let me quit. It’s hard to describe it

TC: Do you have a favorite artist or group on your playlist whose music inspires you before going on set?

JP: I really don’t have a favorite artist or group. Usually, when it comes to a shoot, the music is al-ready playing and it’s sort of like arriving to a bar or club and coming into an experience already laid out for you, and when you hear your favorite song being played it stops you in your tracks and you create special moments out of it with friends. Part of getting to know people, too, is getting to know their choice of music as well. I guess when you walk onto a set, it is important to be open to possibil-ity and getting to know others through their music choices as well. This is no less true of getting to know the people and creating the right looks and collaborative vibe for the client and campaigns.

My playlist has a lot of different kinds of music for different occasions and moods. Someone listening to my playlist will discover and find something in it for them as well. I have an assortment of music from a variety of featured artists and their influencers from festivals taking place right now from all over the world. A lot of my friends enjoy listening to hip-hop, so that’s a must, especially at shoots you can find any number of hip hop tracks on set. I love it! On the alternative side, I listen to house, hip-hop, and electric tracks by Belgian artist Stromae. You’ll also find tracks by the English Indie rock band Alt-J, as well as tracks by Irish musician Hozier.

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TC: What about a favorite designer, or is there that one select-piece of clothing from a capsule collec-tion that you cannot do without?

JP: I don’t have a preference for designers. I enjoy mixing and matching different pieces from de-signers. The only thing I require is that the clothes are well-made. I do love the ready-to-wear looks of Saint Laurent; their leather jackets and skinny jeans I would definitely wear. Clothes have a majes-tic quality of revealing things about you that otherwise might go unsaid or unnoticed. They can reveal things about your personality and character, even things about you that you strive for, or how you feel at any given point of your life. Saint Laurent is known for creating adaptable, sheik, ready-to-wear fits for every occasion.

TC: How would you encourage other aspiring models and creatives in the industry to stay grounded?

JP: Learning to be a part of a story or collaboration is important. A lot of us have scars and they have stories behind them. No matter how difficult life can be, and trust me, it can be pretty difficult. I took time off from modeling when my father died, and learning how to live through pain and loss is some-thing that everyone faces. It is important to hold onto and be reminded of that pain too. It can help you continue on your journey. No matter how hard life gets, you can still find room for peace, joy, and love in your heart.