How To Elevate Your Style, Overcome Adversity And Forge Your Destiny - Interview With Joss TM, Model/Actor/Photographer/Videographer/Entrepreneur
Welcome to the very first HLD - Light Blog!!
I am D-lighted you chose to explore this space for Tomboy Style! In this very first Tomboy Style Blog, it is my great pleasure to introduce you to one of the most stylish, resilient, dedicated, kind and hard working people I have the privilege to know - Los Angeles based LGBTQ Tomboy model Joss TM.
If you are ready to learn some life and style tips from a model who has walked the catwalks during the New York Fashion Week for the 5th Annual DapperQ Fashion Show in NYC and the Inaugural Equality Fashion Show in LA and has worked with the likes of Jessie J, read on!
LH: In your own words, who is Joss TM?
JTM: I am no different than the person next to you. I deal with the same insecurities, struggles, challenges, hardships and triumphs we all face in life.
But to entertain the question, Joss TM is a creative visual artist. Whether from behind the lens with photography, film-making, to even being in front of the lens with modelling, dancing or acting. Sometimes it’s through the clothes I wear by remixing of patterns, unafraid if it doesn’t match the typical normalities of status quo.
There are also word flows I write in hopes to inspire. When I write, it’s mostly geared to remind myself to have faith and believe to push forward. I’ve experience those dark days when no one was around and if what I’ve been through can be a testimony for others not to give up, than it would have been all worth it.
To sum it all up, visual expression is what I crave - doesn’t really matter how it’s displayed because the main objective is to get people to think outside of the box. Underneath it all, I’m just someone who values aesthetic as an opportunity to see the world from different perspectives.
LH: What is the biggest misconception people have about you?
JTM: Most people see me as this highly crazed extrovert who’s unapproachable, but honestly I’m more introverted then what people think. I have the demeanor to appear very intimidating, but I’m a softy and adore meaningful conversations beyond the surface.
LH: What is one thing that most people don’t know about you?
JTM: In the summer of 2013, I was stabbed at a failed attempt to being robbed for my car. It was a traumatic experience that could have happened to anyone, but I’m honestly grateful to be alive. I still deal with PTSD from time to time, but more so on the aftermath of the incident. It put my life on a whole different path to desire different things, which has actually led me to meet some amazing people.
LH: What do you do for work?
JTM: I freelance as a photographer & videographer. From time to time I get the opportunity to be on the reverse end of the camera to make a few appearances in commercials and music videos.
LH: What would you ideally do?
JTM: I’d love to be able work on various productions with a whole crew of friends. Passion projects that involve shooting in the awesome destinations of being out in the elements with nature or in studios capturing footage of artist at their crafts. I love developing concepts for music videos and the essence of creating lifestyle commercials for small businesses that represent different dynamics and diversity.
LH: What does fashion mean to you?
JTM: Fashion is a visual expression to announce to the world who you are without saying a word or making a sound. It’s liberating to be able to wear what you want and how you want. It highlights your self-confidence within and sometimes when you dress good, you feel good.
LH: How and when did your interest in fashion begin?
JTM: As a kid, I had to remix the clothes I had. Most of the clothes I got were hand-me-downs, from second-hand stores and if I was really lucky, something new. It got me to be creative with what I had and to think of ways to wear things differently. I was shopping at thrift stores back when it wasn’t cool. In fact, I was often made fun of for not having new clothes or shoes at school.
I remember my mother taking me to Goodwill to buy clothes for back to school and how I used to hide to make sure I was unseen entering or leaving the store because I was completely ashamed and embarrassed. My mother would express that these are practically good clothes and would hunt for brand name clothing of what was in at the time. I will admit it took a while for me to drop the insecurity once she reminded me that my options were limited to have 1-2 new things from the mall versus making those same dollars stretch to have more or get nothing at all. This forced me to see beyond the situation and to be creative.
I’ve always gravitated to men’s clothing. I felt their clothing was more suited or comfortable for me personally. I used to borrow my brother’s clothes, but it wasn’t until I stayed with my grandparents when I started to have fixations to ties, hats, scarfs and suspenders. There was just something about my grandpa’s style that I admired. I used to go through his closet seeing the many patterns, fabrics and variations of suits, ties, shirts, trousers, handkerchiefs and hats. Nothing really seemed to fit so I had to make alterations to wear things a bit different, but I somehow made it work.
LH: Why is fashion important to you?
JTM: Fashion is important to me because it’s my way of expressing myself however I so choose or see fit.
LH: How would you describe your personal style and aesthetic?
JTM: I like colors and patterns. A remix of a modern dapper splash of that BBoy flair.
LH: How do you select your outfits?
JTM: It’s based on the color I feel that day. I usually get inspired in the moment before an event. Sometimes weather plays into it. I do like layers when it calls for it. Sometimes outfits aren’t as functional in the heat, but I believe if you stay cool, you’ll be cool under pressure.
I can totally go for a simple look but I will always have something extra just in case, to switch it up from casual to add some swag. But I will also say my amazing partner, Irie Rose, has great taste and has been my personal stylist. So much credit goes to her.
LH: How has your sense of fashion and style evolved over the years?
JTM: I’ve had a ton of different styles and take what I like from all types of genres and remix to be something unique to me. These days I wear clothes that fit me better, but I think that’s due to the fashion industry changing and shifting to fit all body types and sizes.
LH: Where do you shop?
LH: What brands have you found fit your aesthetic and body type?
JTM: Asos men’s section, because they have XXS. But the cuts are sometimes a big too long, so it’s a hit or miss.
LH: Do you prefer shopping online or in store? Why?
JTM: Online for convenience, but sometimes in store gives a better visual to see how things fit.
LH: You recently had the opportunity to participate in the annual DapperQ NYFW as a model - can you share your experience of this event?
JTM: It was such an amazing experience! The energy from the runway was electrifying. The whole environment was exhilarating, supportive and inspiring. There aren’t many spaces centered on the LGBTQ community to be in the spotlight that celebrate each other in a positive, uplifting way. Honestly my perception of a fashion show, which is usually purposed as being high EGO centered, was actually the complete opposite. Everyone from the models, designers, hair stylist, make-up artist, photographers, videographers, organizers, crew workers, volunteers and guest were all there for a single purpose - to support one another for the greater cause.
Sure there were hectic moments when it was cutting down to the wire, but the communication barriers that you would normally experience in events or big sets were almost nonexistent. People were just grateful and happy just to be able to be a part of something that proudly represents us for who we truly are without the discrimination, the guilt, the shame, the side eye or back talk. To freely express and embrace our authentic fabulous selves in the flashing lights felt surreal!
Made some amazing friendships that will last a lifetime. So glad to have met Dapper Mindy who is just full of life and such contagious energy that you can’t help but feel excitedly happy about life. It was also an honor to walk for Jag & Co. with such groundbreaking designs that shattered the mold of what status quo is. Jag’s vision is to bring out a part of you that not only commands your attention, that you can’t help but come to respect, because the heart of confidence shines within and the craziest part, no words are needed.
Jag gave me one of the greatest gifts of silk screen printing a Prettyboi Couture sweatshirt by hand. One, it was magical, two, it was inspirational to be able to create something instantly with your bare hands and three, my brain exploded with many ideas that it showed me you can literally do anything your mind can think of. The key element was doing this right before we headed off to the fashion show. Connecting the dots, I must say, that was clever and genius. Jag definitely knows what she’s doing.
It was such a long day that seemed to pass by so quickly. It’s amazing what a whole team can do! One of the most rewarding moments was having people come up to me after the show asking about how to get involved and wanting to know how to be a model. Some even asked me to speak encouraging words to their friends because they were inspired by the whole event. This was confirmation that more events like this are needed because it serves a greater purpose. Representation to shine with visual activism is how DapperQ has been successful in impacting the hearts and unheard voices of the LGBTQ community. Big shout out to Anita Dolce Vita and her whole team. They have been working so hard, diligently and in style with ALL the colors of the rainbow. Cheers to an awesome fashion show and to many more to come.
LH: What advice do you have for other fashion enthusiasts who are still experimenting with and searching for their own personal style?
JTM: Don’t care what others think or say. It’s really about how you feel and remember, the sexiest thing you can wear if self-confidence. It really is how you carry yourself that will make any outfit you wear stand out.
LH: As a successful model and actor, what advice would you give to someone looking to start either a modelling or an acting career?
JTM: Just start. Don’t give up and keep showing up to auditions, casting calls and network with others. You gotta want it to survive in the industry. It’s not always about your looks, it’s about your attitude and outlook. You need to put yourself out there and not be afraid of what others will say.
Be your own PR agent. Collaborations can help jumpstart your career. Remember people and their names because they will remember your face and your energy. Find a good photographer and experiment with different looks. Don’t just be about the selfie, get real portraits and headshots done.
How you carry yourself and treat others is your calling card. The camera sees everything, so be mindful of your inner thoughts. And remember to have fun.
LH: Which of your modelling or acting projects are you most proud of to date?
JTM: Being in Jessie J’s Queen music video was such an amazing and powerful experience. I’m still very connected with a lot of the women from the shoot.
DapperQ’s Dress Code fashion show still echoes, because it was where I just got to be me and shine in the spotlight with amazing, beautiful individuals to rep our community. Plus, Jag & Co. made me look so fly that I discovered a new side of myself.
LH: Are there any brands you would like to work with next?
JTM: Always open. Anything dapper related or awesome funky colors and patterns I’m totally all about.
LH: What projects are you currently working on or will you be working on in the near future?
JTM: I’m currently working on a few watch commercials that I got to shoot in Colorado with my best friend. The goal is to represent all dynamics of real people with all types of aesthetics. Those videos will be released in the beginning of next week.
I also have something special brewing with Dapper Mindy for some really innovative, dapper inspired lifestyle swag. We’ve really been magnetic since we met at the DapperQ Fashion show in NYC. When the vibe is right, ideas are able to flow and dreams truly can become reality! We're sooo geeked out about creating unique dapper inventions to add to your wardrobe! Once things are up and running, we made a pact to give back to the LGBTQ community. We believe it's so important to give back and know how much it means just to have someone say: “Hey, I believe in you and support you.” Putting actions behind words makes the world go round!
Lastly, I'm super stoked about the 1 year anniversary art show happening on Nov. 24th. Long story short, my partner and I met at an art show and ironically, we now throw art shows called LAgom Like Minds in the LA area. This has been our passion project to bring unity within the community that caters to ALL artists from ALL walks of life. It's crazy to see the progression of how a tiny idea has grown and blossomed. We have such a huge line up of such eclectic and incredibly talented individuals! It feels more like an extension of family and friends getting together for a big fun art party.
We've done so many back-to-back photoshoots and video promos that across the board everyone involved says how much they appreciate the energy. When like minds connect, nothing is impossible! These shows are truly a labor of love and sometimes it feels like our way of giving back - much like a community service. We honestly put so much time and hard work into these shows! If you're in the LA area and looking for something to do during the Thanksgiving weekend, come and party with us at the Palm Trees and Power Lines Show on Nov. 24th!
LH: Final question, how many short sleeve button ups do you own?
JTM: They go into rotation so a few will stay me and then I trade them out for something new. But maybe somewhere in the 30’s at the most.
Joss TM can be reached through the following: Photography Website, Personal Instagram account, Video and Photography Instagram account, LAgom Like Minds website, or Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Did you enjoy this interview? What did you take away from Joss and her journey? Let me know in the comments below - I'd love to hear your thoughts! -LH