Monday, September 26, 2011


I was chatting with a photographer and he expressed his frustrations with a black designer who hired him to shoot his lookbook and when several black models arrived the designer abruptly cancelled the entire shoot. The designer and his people didn't want any black models in the lookbook. The photographer (a non-blk) didn't understand why the black designer felt this way.

I told him that  many of us understand that  the current fashion industry is a white-owned industry. The majority of the design house, magazines, and beauty products are backed by white owned corporations and that in order for us to get a piece of the pie that we have "play their game". Black people in this industry  feel like they have to present a "white face" in order to be accepted by the industry - that we haveta "play the game" and adhere to the constraints of the fashion marketplace in order to be relevant and successful. They truly believe that if we "play the game", we can make significant changes.

I am always told (by other black people in the industry) that if I want to be successful in this industry that I need  mostly white models in my presentation and body of work so that white clients won't feel alienated and can see themselves. Many black stylist, modeling agents, MUAs, and other industry people have told me to my face that  they are reluctant to work with me specifically because I work with "too many black people." 

My upbringing in Memphis, Tn (the place where civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated) has taught me to have a deep level of respect for the sacrifices our people have made in this country and our place in history. I have always  felt a responsibility to represent myself and my black heritage in my work. 

When people tell me that I haveta "play the game" to win, I tell them why should I follow rules that aren't set up for me to win anyway. The people who truly win in this world know the rules but they  make their own rules. Just look at people like Oprah and Tyler Perry. They are 2 of the most powerful people in television and film. According to Forbes magazine, talented filmmakers like Jerry Bruckheimer and Steven Spielberg are the second and third richest men in Hollywood, topping the list with $113 million and $107 million while Tyler Perry has respectively earned over $500 million. He has clearly made his own rules in Hollywood and never "played the game". Had he "played the game," he would probably still be waiting for a white-owned film studio to back his film projects.

Everytime someone tells me to "play the game", I think about all the people who broke the rules in order for me to be here today.

I use my gifts to remind us of our presence and what we offer it in this world.


  1. This entry is SO true and and Inspiring Tarrice... Keep pushing man!!!

  2. We all have to make the decision at one point or another to play or not play the game. For those who play, success is more important to them than anything. Unfortunately, that success often comes at a cost, namely their respect and integrity.

    I love to see black folk like yourself who are self-possessed or individualized. Thanks for your presence! Godspeed!

  3. Yes this is so true! Now working in the beauty industry and also a budding photographer from nashville,tn I see alot of the limitations that have been set for us. Raised by a single mother of 4, I know that she has not spent 25 years in this industry to live and play by their rules. There are very few black owned haircare product companies, and the beauty supply market margin is far more unattainable,But I will not succumb to be overtaken. I am a game changer! Oprah and Tyler Perry are two of my favorite teachers, great examples! Love this post! Keep it up! You inspire us.

  4. I have so much more respect for you and wish you all the more power!

  5. "you can't lose if you don't play"

    "I always heard it
    that you can't win if you don't play"

    "The game is rigged
    But you cannot lose if you do not play".

  6. BEST LINE IN THIS ENTRY: why should I follow rules that aren't set up for me to win anyway.