Julia Price: Q&A
BY TADHI COULTER
In light of recent civil & racial unrest around the world, particularly in the United States, this series timestamps the perspectives, experiences and desires of a current selection of talent represented by the Marilyn Agency.
TC: Have you, a loved one, or friend experienced discrimination? Describe that experience or combination thereof.
Julia Price: Growing up in a small town in Tennessee, I was regularly exposed to ways of thinking that my parents did not pass along to my brother and me. Seeing the rebel flag, whether that was on a pickup truck or in someone’s yard, was a fairly regular occurrence. Therewas even a local high school whose mascot was “The Rebels” and they would host rebelflag parades before every football game. Yeah…yikes. My family never supported suchdiscriminatory propaganda, and honestly, I was embarrassed of residents who didbecause I did not want harmful beliefs to represent my hometown.
Unfortunately, several of my friends’ parents had beliefs rooted in discrimination.I can remember having a close (white) friend who dated one of our black peers throughout the majority of high school, but it was always a secret from her parents. They did not approve of her dating him or any black guy, for that matter. I remember during our junior year of high school, her parents hosted a large group of us at their house for a pre-dance dinner, but he was not invited…I recall a conversation I had with my parents about my dating “rules.”
They reassured me that they would accept anyone – regardless of race, religion, socioeconomicstatus – I was with. Their only condition was that he was kind to me and made me happy.I was stunned when some of my friends would ask, “Julia, would your parents let youdate a black guy?” These girls had parents that restricted them from seeing black guys; itseemed to me that they felt skin color was the deciding factor of character. My friends,even those with racist parents, and I always disapproved of such bigoted thinking, and wevowed to be racial justice leaders amongst our peers and in our community.
TC: Describe the impact this kind of discrimination has had on your life, with special attention to the world of fashion & beauty, and whether you see yourself as a change agent.
Julia Price: I think that growing up in a very tolerant household but in a largelyconservative town aided my being able to identify discrimination and to use myprivilege to combat it. I was not sheltered from the fact that racism still exists; it didn’tjust dissipate after the Civil Rights Movement ended in the 1960s. Being in the fashionindustry, I believe it is very important for me to use my platform and voice to speak up wheninjustices occur. Social media is a great tool, and it is a major player in the world offashion & beauty, but it is very important to take matters beyond just posting orreposting. I started having conversations with my family about the undeniable truth of our significant privilege growing up white in America. I sought out Black businesses in my hometown and in NYC to support.
I started reading more literature to help educate myself on the difficulties Black Americans have faced since the founding of this country. I sent emails to government officials in Tennessee and New York, voicing my concern with current policing legislation that inadvertently targets Black Americans. I believe that if we start with ourselves, and how we can personally make a difference, we become more equipped to pass on our knowledge and insight to hopefully improve the thinking of someone who is less in-tune.
TC: How have you been impacted by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, and what would you like the fashion & beauty industry to take away from it?
Julia Price: The fashion and beauty industry is fast paced; trends, styles are constantlychanging. Social media is an ever-altering landscape of ideas and beliefs that makeit virtually impossible to stay “up to date.” However, we can never allow issues of humanity to go“out of style.” Every member of the Fashion & Beauty community must work to be and do better.“How can we constantly push for equal representation and diversity in our work?” is an important question we cannot forget to raise and address.
Everyone is constantly exposed to advertisements, campaigns, etcetera and the industry must consciously make the effort to make statements that go beyond an image or a video highlight. Perhaps that means having an all Black or POC cast for a show or a campaign. Or maybe that means providing models, artists, producers, directors, etcetera with the platform to speak up on issues that are relevant to today’s climate--conducting more interviews, or asking questions on set that get people thinking beyond work-related matters. For an industry that revolves around materialism and can often come across as superficial, I think now more than ever, it is vital that we focus on conveying genuine messages that dismantle racial injustice and support the betterment of Black Americans.