I believe that anything can be conquered if there is a strong work ethic along with a high degree of perseverance involved. A year ago I fell in love with the idea of walking on a beautiful runway. I did not envision just any runway; I envisioned walking the one at Park Avenue Fashion Week. I wanted to be on that runway, and I wanted it badly. Yet I said to myself, “I have never modeled in my life. How can I even expect to be on a stage like that? Stop dreaming.”
A year passed, and even though I had no experience, my heart and intuition were passionately telling me to go audition. After a long battle with myself, I did. Little did I know that I would be pulled aside at a hair boutique for small talk: “What’s your name? Have you ever modeled before? Can you dance? Can you sing? Can you name influential African-American women?”
Suddenly, I felt as if the interview turned into a history exam. I felt apprehensive yet I persisted, remaining calm and collected on the outside. The question that followed was ultimately the one that would determine it all—“Do you know who Josephine Baker is?”
I paused as my stomach started to turn some more. “Her name rings a bell, but if I’m brutally honest, I don’t know who she is,” I responded. I saw intense eyes go wide, staring at me as I awkwardly smiled.
Let me just say: the rest was history.
I went through six weeks of training with Joyce Ward, the owner of a wig boutique on Park Avenue named Glorious Beautiful Hair and Modeling School. I was assigned to study and learn the ins and outs of Josephine Baker’s life. Most importantly, I had the task of studying what her personality traits consisted of with the vision of bringing her back to life. American-born French actress, dancer, and singer Josephine Baker (1906-75) took the world by storm with her charisma, beauty, enchanting voice, and, fundamentally, her grace.
After the six weeks, I had the honor of stepping on this year’s Park Avenue Fashion Week runway in a stunning black and white dress purchased from Bébé’s and Liz’s boutique, also located down Park Avenue. It was paired with a gorgeous pair of black, shimmery clip-on earrings, black heels, a four-piece extravagant wig, and breathtaking makeup done by aesthetician Kristie O. I was transformed into Josephine.
Music started and I lifted my hands slowly, looking up to see a huge spotlight on me. It was my time to shine. With every step I took, I felt Josephine’s presence take over me; I was no longer Georyana, but the charismatic, legendary, and powerful Josephine Baker who not only fought to seek light within her, but also within others.
I had one minute to walk to the runway pit and back. Cheering, flashing lights, cameras, and dozens of people yelling out beautiful comments that I quite frankly thought I would never receive. At the pit I struck the signature Baker pose, and nothing but her grace was captured.
After exiting the stage, I was humbled by the amount of praise I received, realizing I had not only made one of my dreams a reality, but had also influenced others to do the same. A flow of inspiration and contentment filled me as I left after the show.
Josephine Baker was brought back to life, and it could not have been possible without the stupendous support of my entire team. Park Avenue Fashion Week 2015 treated me greatly, and I could not have been more grateful for the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone. When I told myself to “stop dreaming” a year ago, I could not believe I had said that. Stop dreaming? No way. This is only the beginning.