New York Fashion Week kicks off next week, showcasing some of the elite designers from around the world, many of which model Shaun Ross has worked for.
Ross, the first African-American albino model has been featured prominently in editorial campaigns in major fashion magazines, including British GQ, Italian Vogue, Paper Magazine and Another Man. Ross has also modeled for Alexander McQueen and Givenchy.
During an interview with theGrio.com, Ross spoke candidly about the much-talked about lack of diversity among the models on major designer runways.
“I think that there is a lack of diversity in general,” Ross said. “But when people think of diversity, they just want to say ‘black.’ Why does it just have to stop at that? Why does it just have to stop at African-American? Why do we only have models that are extremely skinny? Why don’t we have voluptuous girls anymore like they used to have in the Versace shows in 1991?”
“What I tell people is, stop waiting for the big brands like the Tommy Hilfiger and the Marc Jacobs to hire a black person,” he said. “How about we just push more of our people to be better designers, and they can just hire all of the African-Americans that they want?”
Ross opened up about being one of the albino faces in fashion. He says he feels like a “novelty” but uses that to his advantage.
“I feel like a novelty in anything that I do … I always feel like a novelty,” Ross said. “I don’t mind playing the novelty role to get where I have to get to show you what needs to be shown so I can give you a bigger message. Even today, I’m still the novelty. I’m always cast as that one ‘1 it factor’ or that ‘1 special person.’ I’m not a charity case, and I don’t need your sympathy. I don’t do the work that I do to get sympathy from others, because I work just as hard as anybody else.”
Up next, Ross will be featured in Visible Man, Jérôme Lagarrigue’s solo art exhibition and first series of paintings documenting Shaun Ross. Driscoll Babcock Galleries presents Visible Man September 4 through October 18 in New York City.
Follow theGrio.com’s Entertainment Editor Chris Witherspoon on Twitter @WitherspoonC.