[edgtf_dropcaps type=”normal” color=”B80B0B” background_color=””]T[/edgtf_dropcaps]he great thing about being an introvert is that you’re content with your own company. The downside are those rare moments when you want to be social, the invitations with the opportunity to go out for fresh air have dried up because of the previous times that you’ve declined. I swore to my best friend, event planner and socialite, Waverly Coleman, that I was ready to turn off the “Law & Order: SVU” marathons and turn over a new leaf. I asked her to keep me in mind when it was time to go out.
We just so happened to be at lunch when she extended the invite to attend singer/songwriter Trent Park’s holiday party that evening. On an unseasonably cold night in LA, walking into Trent’s Mid-city home was literally and figuratively the warmest place possible. Amongst a room of creatives, a slender brown skin man with long locs and an island accent sat in the corner. I learned that this handsome man was Jamaica native Jordan Lyle. Over the healthiest meal I’ve ever had at a party, quinoa and sweet potatoes, Jordan, Waverly and I had the most engaging conversation about cultural stereotypes and the legitimacy of horoscopes; Jordan is very much a Taurus.
I was curious to know if his island upbringing had shielded him from colorism? Jordan shared that his experiences were more so with racial profiling (i.e.driving while black) in L.A. And oftentimes he’s only the person of color in his field of animation and design but that hasn’t stopped him from building an extensive resume of house hold names. From State Farm to Hennessy, People Magazine to Ritz, Skullcandy to Propel; Jordan’s creativity also includes finding a way to ensure that people of color are represented within his work.
In true millennial fashion, I followed Jordan on Instagram and I can honestly say that he has one of the most aesthetically cohesive, well curated pages that I’ve ever seen. After seeing this photo and saying “yes” to him being my “MCM” [Man Crush Monday] I slid in his DMs [direct messages], for strictly professional reasons, and asked if I could interview him for the site. Without further ado, keep reading to learn how he became the poised and confident man he is today.
Zon DAmour: Growing up, what did your parents teach you about having self-confidence/self-esteem? Who were positive examples/role models for you that helped to build your self-esteem?
Jordan Lyle: I think my mother especially was always aware of and would ask me about my happiness as a child, which consequently makes me more conscious of my happiness and the things that affect my happiness now. My parents try to always reassure me of how capable they think I am and how proud they are. Without really giving me a mantra per se, they still managed to build a foundation that has allowed me to think well of myself. I can’t recall looking towards anybody as a specific marker of my own self-esteem, though I did admire my father for always being a very poised, well put-together, polished man. I think over the past 8 years, I would be lying if I said I didn’t hold Barack Obama in high regard as a man whose qualities are worthy of trying to emulate.
ZD: At 26, I’ve finally begun to really believe that I was beautiful and carry myself with confidence. Was there a particular age and/or turning point in your life when you truly felt beautiful?
JL: Only recently, and even then only in a handful of moments, have I truly ever felt ‘beautiful’ and have contemplated what that means. There’s always a difference when someone else tells you versus when you start to believe it for yourself. I find that I usually feel handsome when I’m getting ready for a photoshoot or to go out. In those moments certain things have to align in order for me to feel that way; some things physical and some mental. Not to say that if those things aren’t in order then I feel ‘ugly’ but if all those different areas of myself aren’t working together then I don’t feel like that complete, beautiful package.
ZD: With your appearance being a big part of your brand, do you feel added pressure to maintain your body and look a certain way?
JL: I don’t really feel pressure to maintain my personal look because I will always just look the way I look. I think social media has definitely placed an unspoken pressure on me and I’m sure many other men alike to want fit an archetypal look. I genetically will probably not be able to look like that 6’3, bearded hyper-muscular guy doing work out videos at the gym, but does Instagram make me feel like that that’s the black male mould I need to fit? Hell yeah. I think my personal brand and style is less about a focus on my physical features and more about portraying and curating an aesthetic and vibe that I like and that is inherently me. I’ll just continue to offer up these sensitive, brown boy vibes until I feel like showing something different.
“…Self-love is a skill, it takes continual practice to master…”
ZD: What advice would you give to other young men who may be being teased about their complexion? How can they move past the criticisms and develop confidence?
JL:Though easier said than done, my advice would be not to react to the things you hear from the people who don’t increase your value as a person. In learning to truly appreciate the skin you live in, you might not stop them from criticizing you, but if they’re attempting to make the very thing you like about yourself seem like a flaw then their comments ultimately hold no weight. Focus on liking what you see in yourself first before allowing what others say to influence how you feel about yourself. Self-love is a skill, it takes continual practice to master.
ZD: A few years ago, my hair fell out and I started wearing hats which have become a signature part of my style. Was there something that you previously viewed as a negative or a ‘flaw’ that you’ve learned to embrace and work to your advantage?
JL: To many it’s not necessarily a flaw, but I didn’t always like having a slimmer physique. Now I’m grateful for being able to wear almost anything I want to and not having to worry too much about it fitting or looking nice. I appreciate my metabolism more and more the older I get.
“…Focus on liking what you see in yourself first before allowing what others say to influence how you feel about yourself…”
ZD: How have you changed spiritually and mentally within this year? What would you tell someone that’s 21 who wants to move to LA? What do you want for yourself at 30?
JL: I’ve definitely had my share of hiccups, disappointments and tragedies this past year with friendships and relationships. I’ve learned a few things that I hope to continue to practice moving forward. It is okay to treat yourself. I have a habit of doing the minimum for myself because I don’t need many things but for as hard as I work I’ve learned that it’s okay to reward myself for doing so. If not, then what’s the point?
Also, I’m usually hyper-aware of how I contribute to good and bad situations. By trying not to overthink and weigh every situation, conversation, decision or choice and to just experience the moment, I’ve found that it’s easier to take risks and enjoy things.
Lastly but most importantly to me, I’ve chosen not to create and hold people accountable to expectations that I have set for them without their knowledge. It has made for fewer disappointments altogether and a greater appreciation for the differences and nuances of the people I interact with.
Being patient in finding your ‘tribe’ might be one of the tidbits I would share with someone deciding to move here. LA can feel like a vacuum but it can be a place to find and feed many different aspects of yourself when you have meaningful people to journey along with.
(Photos Courtesy of Jordan Lyle)