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Author / Imagine More

My Name is Bond, Cory Bond.

I’d argue that the best male model in the world is Cory Bond (@THECORYBOND). True, my biases may be involved here but he’s nevertheless my favorite. He’s like a new generation Paul Newman to me. I’ll always remember the day my mom excitedly told me there were models who moved into our building. I’ll also remember how she went out of her way to tell them (without my knowledge of course) how she thought I should be a model (because that’s what mothers do), thanks mom.

Naturally I refused to go and meet them initially but she forced me because my mom isn’t someone you say “no” to (and I suspect yours isn’t either). Moments after my initial no I was making my way up the stairs because the elevator would have been too quick. I recall how embarrassing it all felt. I couldn’t help imagine how many times a day these models got asked how to become a model or if they could get “hooked” up with a modeling agency. Then I imagined how these models probably laugh about it all behind closed doors and got a kick out of sharing similar stories with their beautiful model friends… and now, I was one of those stories, thanks mom.

I became more nervous with every step I took because being rejected isn’t on anyone’s to-do list and at the ripe old age of 19, this was going to be my first memorable one (high-school crushes don’t count). So I finally made it to the front of their door and stood there for a moment before slowly letting out a deep breath. I knocked. The door opened and I was already apologizing for what I referred to as a “misunderstanding” but somehow the model who greeted me brushed it off with his model “coolness” and introduced himself and his girlfriend. The model who opened the door was none other than Cory Bond and he just invited me in.

I don’t recall much from the conversation we had in his apartment that day partially because of the blur of excitement from the moment and also because I repeatedly thought to myself “Wow, this couple didn’t close the door in my face! They’re actually talking to me!” The crazier thing was that Cory decided to call his modeling agent right then and there to tell him that he should see me.

So at that point, I was anticipating Cory hanging up his phone (an orange Nokia cellphone, remember those?) and jokingly saying “Just kidding dude.” And then we would all have a great laugh about it because stories like this are “too good to be true.” But that never happened. “Too good to be true” turned out to be the reality for me that day. I eventually found myself asking, “When did I have such luck?” Thanks, mom.

Before I knew it, I was taking the train downtown to DNA modeling agency (@dnamodels) to meet the colorful Earnest Williams.

Little did I know at the time, it was going to be the beginning of a long journey. Not towards fame or riches but towards discovering my identity and character.

It’s been over a decade since the day I first set foot inside that modeling agency and Cory Bond has flourished into an iconic model who has graced the covers of major magazines, who’s worked countless high fashion editorials, participated in exciting campaigns and walked famous runway shows.

When I was 20 I was featured on as “model of the week.” After some agency shuffling, FORD models (@FORDmodels), one of the biggest names in modeling, signed me under a multi-year contract. I was personally requested 75% of the time by clients according to FORD’s own records. My resume included work spanning from Adidas and United Colors of Benetton to Cosmopolitan and GQ magazines. I enjoyed reaching a level where clients knew me by name and regularly expressed gratitude working with me. Unfortunately, after all the time and investment I made into modeling, I didn’t work or earn much for the majority of my career.

I’m a 6' 2" athletic blend of Puerto Rican and Dominican… not exactly the typical white, blonde hair blue eyed “type” found prominent in the modeling industry. While it’s obvious the modeling industry is notorious for its racism and prejudices, this article is not about the industry’s superfluous tendencies, though, I do find the humor and irony of living everyday with people assuming that I’m some big time model, actor or celebrity. Alas the reality remains that I’m just another ethnic New Yorker who, more often than not, finds himself ice skating uphill in life… at least that’s what I initially concluded.

I want to share two critical things modeling revealed to me. One was the nature of my character and the second was the invaluable worth of someone believing in another.

If it weren’t for my mom, pushing me to meet Cory, I probably would have never journeyed down the path of personal discovery so timely. Furthermore, I’ve grown to appreciate such a journey, noting its worth far more than any fame, money or status I could attain. The discipline to consistently make all my castings and appointments on time, the commitment of staying in physical shape and eating healthy, the craft of networking and building relationships with clients and remaining professional in the face of frequent rejection all built character, strength, integrity and professionalism. I learned the trade of commerce and business as a self-employed individual. And all these elements became fundamental foundations that would later prove to become paramount as my career evolved.

In the same fashion, Cory demonstrated how the action of believing in someone remains invaluable. His support and encouragement, when I first began modeling, not only reflected the quality of his character but eventually became a source of inspiration for me to emanate. Because of Cory, I have had the opportunity to learn a new profession and come across the likes of Latoya Scott-Brown (@candygirleditor), iconic agent John Babin (@jwbabin327)and Boss Models founder, David Bosman (Rest in peace). These men, throughout my modeling career, invested in me and equipped me with tools that not only refined my approach in the modeling industry but also for life. I don’t know if they realize (realized) the enormous lasting impact they’ve had in my life, but till this day their wisdom and knowledge remains instilled in me.

I’m grateful to Cory Bond in being the catalyst for this. It’s been a privilege knowing him and seeing his successes brings me joy. Back when we lived in the same building, I helped him in any way I could in appreciation for his kindness (remember those apartment struggles Cory?)… hell, I’d still help him if I could but he’s far from needing any help from me and that’s a better scenario. Cory is happily married (to a model of course) and father to a baby daughter now. Him and his wife continue to have a wonderfully successful modeling/acting careers (thanks his agency, @soulartistmgmt). Perhaps someday when Cory’s daughter grows up I can tell her that her dad was responsible for my very first clubbing experience… with her mom’s permission of course.

As we journey down the path of life, embrace the structural components that refines the nature of your workflow and personal evolution.

We are constantly learning, but it’s imperative that we maintain a balanced perception with our encounters so we may extract the elements we can utilize to build upon as we progress. Yes, it would be the ultimate fantasy for Cory and I to be featured in the same modeling campaign (It’s America, I’m allowed to dream) but even if it never happens, I’ve been rewarded far more in experience and relationships.

Jubei RazielComment