Zaquan Champ: “I’m all about following your dreams and aspiring for greatness. Life is too difficult and, often times, too short to not be happy”

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Well, first off…heeyyy!!! My name is Zaquan Champ and I am originally from Brooklyn, NY. I was born and raised in the Bedford Stuyvesant and East New York sections of Brooklyn.

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My mother moved me and my 3 younger sisters to Waycross, Ga. when I was 12 years old and have been there ever since. Waycross is such a far cry from Brooklyn, but the change was definitely needed. I was starting to go down the wrong path and my mother wanted to change that so it was bye bye Brooklyn and hello to the John Deer tractors of Waycross.

I attended the Ware County School of Agricultural Forestry and Environmental Sciences (Whew…try saying that 10xs fast) where I learned everything Ag related; how to grow crops, raise livestock, fish, Forestry, all that so if the world is ever hit with an Apocalypse, I’m good! lol.

Looking back, I had the best time, but, at the time, I wasn’t at all enthusiastic about it. I say that I’m a city boy with country roots.

Modeling: how did all begin

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I actually didn’t start off as a model. I was a professional hip hop and jazz dancer for music videos, concerts, etc. while at college in Atlanta, Ga. I was signed with Bloc Talent Agency and one of the ways they promote their talent is through photos.

I had none and one of my homegirls who was a video vixen at the time (that was all the rage back then haha) introduced me to a photographer to test with. I didn’t know what to bring and had no style so all of my clothes were waaaay baggy. He saw that and still shot with me anyway. The photos weren’t the best AT AAAALLLLL, but they did get the attention of another photographer that was interested in testing with me. We shot and those photos attracted more photographers and before I knew it, I had the beginnings of a portfolio.

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I don’t know how, but a few of the photos made it to the FordModels.com “Become A Model” section and I was contacted by a booker a month or so later. I went to NYC, met with the booker and started freelancing. I didn’t do anything besides a few photoshoots so I moved back to Atlanta to continue school and ended up signing with Click Model Management. It was then that I started working as a model; shooting, runway, everything.

My first job was shooting a bridal/prom catalogue that my mother and all of her friends STILL have to this day! Probably the best thing about modeling to me is having my mother, the one person that means so much to me, proud. Although, I can do without the phone calls and Facebook posts of those old prom pics with me looking like a prepubescent teen when I was actually 19. >:(

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Posing to photographers: a cool atmosphere!

When working with a photographer, I like a super chill, laid back type of atmosphere. It helps a lot when the photographer is a crazy super fun person as well. It helps me relax and get comfortable with whatever we’re doing. Before I shoot, I put on music. I MUST HAVE MUSIC!!! Lol. All types; jazz, pop, blues, TRAP!!! Trap is my favorite. Shhh, don’t tell my agents! I like to dance on set and even incorporate dance into my photos. Photographers and clients like that because it’s different.

Not too many models put themselves into a photo. A lot of them are boring and I bring a good time while still “getting the shot”, lol.

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I don’t have a problem with artistic semi-nudity. If it’s just BAM, here it is…..then, umm, I’ll pass! I’m comfortable and proud of my body. I wasn’t always, though. As a child, I was very shy and didn’t do much. As strange as it may sound, but being a model and a dancer has really boosted my confidence.

I’m outspoken, direct and handle my business while still remaining light and seemingly carefree…..seemingly! lol

The runway shows

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Ok, so….it was my first New York Fashion Week, EVER, and I was walking 3 shows in one day. I thought I was doing it BIG! Haha. I don’t know if you know how NY fashion week shows are set up, where one show can be downtown at 1pm and your next show can be way across town at 330pm…and you have to maneuver through traffic and 6 million people to get there on time.

Well….this was the Anna Francesca show and I didn’t make it on time. I arrived with previous show makeup on, had to get that removed and prepare for this show. It was a mess. I actually made it right before it was time for me to walk out. I missed the rehearsal run through and didn’t know how the runway looked so I asked the guy behind me for the layout. I learned that day to NEVER ask another model ANYTHING!!!

He definitely had me walking off the runway and into model traffic!!! Haha. I laugh about it now, but, needless to say, I haven’t walked for that designer since!!! lol. Moral of the story is, models are evil! lol

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Male models x Female models

Female models still dominate, for sure! Women get the highest pay rates, biggest jobs and everything beauty is directed towards them. I feel as though, men have been getting more and more exposure in the past years.

 Maybe it’s because men from all over have started to value their appearance more and are actually becoming active participants in the fashion world or reality tv shows have been putting men in the forefront. Females still rule though, definitely.

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My favorite female models are Adriana Lima and Carmen Kass. They are beauty personified. Webster needs to take their comp cards and scan it into next year’s dictionary because it makes no sense how beautiful these women are!

My favorite male model-besides myself, of course-would have to be Will Lemay. I saw his New York Model Management show card on Models.com and thought he was an amazingly beautiful as well as masculine man of color. He was everything that I wanted to embody. The NY market has been trying to change when it comes to models of color, I believe. Slowly, but surely, we are booking good jobs and can be seen all over. It hasn’t happened to me yet, but this is my first full year working with an agent here in NY so I’m hopeful.

Zaquan´s style: a fashionista?

Hmm….definitely not! Haha. I like my jeans, sweatpants, t-shirts, fitted hats/snapbacks and sneakers. I tried to be a “fashionista” at one point, but I crashed and burned. I didn’t feel comfortable at all. I’m a dancer and couldn’t move how I wanted. Plus, I couldn’t afford it. lol.

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Imagine u a famous model surrounded by a huge crowd!

This has actually happened to me before. I was recently on America’s Next Top Model cycle 21 and while my friends and I were chillin at Blockheads in NY this girl comes up and screams out, “OMG, AREN’T YOU ZAQUAN FROM ANTM???” I smiled and said, “yes, I iz he and he iz I”.

We took pics and next thing I knew, everyone had turned around and were recording on their phones. Some people came up and started chatting, while others were cool and smiled from afar. I even heard one girl say while looking down at her phone (I think she Googled me or something) and said, “Oh, that’s him? He’s cute or whatever, but he aint all that!!!”

I died laughing and my friends made jokes about it for the rest of the night. You know there’s always a hater in the mix, but I bet she came over and got a pic though, lol. You gotta love them too!

On show business

I think show business is a great tool for getting you to where you want to be in life. A lot of guys and girls are modeling to help pay for school or to help their families. I know I started because I wanted help pay for school and in the process, learned to love myself for exactly who I am, flaws and all.

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Dating x Loving

 Even though I would LOVE to be dating, I’ve come to the realization that everyone is NUTS….except for me! lol

Sports

As I mentioned, I am a professional dancer as well. If that’s not a sport then I don’t know what is. We put our bodies through so much and are expected to perform at 100% every single time and if not, in the words of the ever so popular Donald Trump, you’re FIRED!

 I actually like playing American football. I don’t really like watching it though, I always fall asleep or zone out in my phone. Also, I was a Varsity Competition squad Cheerleader in high school; flipping, lifting and carrying on. It was great. GO EAGLES!

Superpowers and Super heroes

I already have this question covered, lol. I’ve been thinking about this for yeeeears. I’m the biggest anime, videogame and comic book nerd STILL! My friends and I have game nights once a month where we gather at someone’s house, eat junk food and GO IN on every videogame known to man.

BUT If I could have any superpower I would want to be an Omega Level telekinetic and telepath. My favorite superhero is Storm from the X-Men. I dream about playing Storm’s son on a reenvisioned X-Men movie. That’s how hardcore I am. lol

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Fav bookings so far and why

My favorite bookings so far would have to be CKOne and Italian Vogue.it last year. CKOne was a commercial for the Red Edition fragrance. Jourdan Dunn was there with other top models. I felt so honored to be apart of that group. You barely saw me in the commercial, but I’ll always have those memories. lol.

Italianvogue.it was an amazing and damaging experience as well, lol. We were shooting late night in the streets of Soho. I had on a blonde afro wig with 70s inspired clothing and was eating hot dogs the whole time. Hahaha. Art.

Atracting someone´s attention

Attraction, huh? I’m actually really shy when it comes to attracting a person. I usually give a 3-5 second look and if they don’t bite after that then I’m done and hiding in a corner for the rest of the night. Haha

Fav body part and underwear

My fav body part would have to be my torso. I’m starting to workout a lot more and I love how long, lean and cut up I’m getting. Sometimes I pass a mirror and say, “dizzzaaaammmnnn, who is that? Oh, that’s just Zaquan. He’s cute or whatever, but he aint all that!!” Hahaha

When I’m home, I barely wear clothes, but when I do, I put on my Calvin Klein BOLD boxer briefs. I have them in like 6 different colors. I walk around and even chill on the rooftop of my building in them. It’s cool, security knows me. Good underwear is one guilty pleasure that I don’t mind spending money on. When you feel good underneath, it shows in the streets—that’s my motto, you can borrow it lol

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If you weren´t a model, you´d be….

I’d probably be a doctor. My grandmother had that planned out for me since birth and when I became a model and a dancer, she wasn’t too thrilled. She’s cool now, but it took some convincing.

I’m all about following your dreams and aspiring for greatness. Life is too difficult and, often times, too short to not be happy. I say, go for your heart’s desire, but have backup plans A, B, C through J ready and waiting. I am actually recording music now and when all is ready, I’ll be touring, performing, making music videos, everything.

 It’s always been my dream to persue music and now that I have the confidence and experience to back up my talent, I am going after it with everything in me. In no time, you’ll see me in Brazil and all around the world with the likes of Chris Brown…..just dark skin. lol

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Zaquan Champ, 6ft,

BMG Models NY

http://www.bmgmodels.com/

Interview by Ed, the Brazilian editor

Ed