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As Slick As Ebonee

Interview

“Have you ever flashed anyone?” Slick asked with her one-of-a-kind grin. Without missin’ a beat, I lifted every layer of winter garb covering my front side and showed them my full goods. It is the coldest night of the winter so far—15 degrees on the 15th of December—however, in that moment, in the basement of Dune Studios, we were chillin’ like a hot summer’s day.

 

When on set, there are several things you have to get used to, and being confidently naked is at the top of that list. The modeling world hasn’t made it easy for Black models to be comfortable in their luscious skin. But the industry can’t hide from reality anymore—Black and brown people are here. To stay. Ad campaigns are adjusting their marketing promos to reflect raw, natural beauty in all its many forms.

 

Ebonee has been modeling for five years. After all that time she is just now beginning to see the fruits of her labor after breaking what she calls “the model stereotype. You showed up to castings in a black tank top, black pants, black heels, and, as a Black woman, with a center part and a weave, hair straight.” Trying to fit their mold.

 

Listening to Ebonee, I couldn’t help but relate. I was five when I started modeling, landing big campaigns with brands such as GAP. But after years of being the token Black girl, or the “ethnic” friend, I rebelled, tattooing my way to self-identity and self-love. Very taboo. GAP would hardly consider a tatted teen to represent their product lines. Flash forward and you’ll see me in GAP’s 2017 Spring campaign—tattoos, like Black girls, now in demand. Which brings me to Slick. She has only been on the scene for little over a year, and she is progressing quite nicely.

 

“I’m the happiest I’ve ever been,” Slick expresses, and in her sassy boldness her bliss is apparent. When Slick and Ebonee are together they’re playful, honest and gratified. They don’t recall how long they’ve known each other, but Slick calls Ebonee her “Angel,” saying “It feels like I’ve known her my entire existence.” The two are different in various ways, but you can feel they’re kindred spirits, both benefiting from one another—symbiotic. Ebonee, as Slick says, “is full of passion.” Whereas Slick, reflecting on her childhood, “definitely lacked passion.” They have one of those scarce, rewarding loves; think Thelma and Louise, rum and Coke, Earth and Moon. On top of it all, they’ve worked on some of the same major campaigns: Urban Outfitters x Adidas, Calvin Klein, Kanye West’s Yeezy, showing up to Miami’s Art Basel both dipped in Moschino, and today, shooting a near twenty-page spread with Terry Richardson. They’ve come a long way from Seattle and North Minneapolis, indeed.

 

With their Instagram accounts collectively totaling more than 175,000 followers to date, more than ever these two public figures understand their roles and responsibilities as Black, professional women. Ebonee is no stranger to voicing her opinions. The day after the 2016 presidential election she took to the New York City subway and deliv- ered a heartfelt speech that she posted to her Instagram account. The sermon was unscripted and sincere. What better place to host a live speech than the underground railway? People of all backgrounds forced to tolerate one another, even if just for a train ride. She was conscious of America’s current situation and expressed herself accord- ingly. It ended with a round of applause from the city’s strangers, who are typically unreceptive to impromptu live performances.

“It feels like I’ve known her my entire existence.” – Slick Woods

“I think I have a responsibility, and everybody with a plat- form has a responsibility. I think for the most part fashion is pretty irresponsible, at this point, when it comes to addressing social issues. Aleppo is in the middle of a geno- cide right now, why do I care about who’s wearing the hottest and latest and greatest? I think we have a respon- sibility, regardless of the fact we’re fashion media. As far as fashion models go, we have a lot more influence than any politician. We have millions and millions of followers on Instagram combined, there’s no reason why we can’t unite and use that political power to our advantage. We’re influencing the youth. These are the people who are gonna be in charge of our future.” I could not have said it bet- ter. Ebonee makes me proud. She’s articulate, tough, and refuses to be hardened by society.

 

Slick ain’t no punk either, and with her ever-growing suc- cess, she realizes her duties. “[Instagram] is the best thing since word of mouth. It’s a terrible thing in the wrong hands, so if I’mma be up there, I have to use it wisely be- cause of how easily accessible it is.” I can understand how these two came to be an amazing duo.

 

Time is flying. Four hours have passed and these two are my newest allies. The problem in society today is the lack of compassion. Rarely do people see themselves in one another, usually meaning they lack self-awareness. I saw myself reflected. Yes, we are women, but it is not because of our gender. Yes, we are artists, but it is not because of our creativity. Yes, we are Black, but it isn’t because of genetics. It was our sense of self that bonded us.

 

Ebonee and Slick are growing. Unlearning things that have made them close-minded. Soaking up their sur- roundings and applying their experience when neces- sary. Fresh in their early twenties, they are already so ahead of their time. Their ability to self-evaluate is an art form. Slick deems our conversation “A real nigga interview,” and I know exactly what she means. When something is contrived you can feel it. Questions feel rehearsed and regurgitated, copied from one, pasted to the next. But tonight, there is no faking it. The energy is magic. Everyone can feel it, everyone is a part of it. It was as if we’d all gotten invitations to a secret loca- tion that read: LE AVE YOUR BULLSHI T AT HOME. The music loud and on point, wardrobe personalized to each individual, everyone a professional, sexy in the air. If 2017 can mirror this electric night, we are all in for a treat.

— END

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