Whether you’ve seen his beard or witty captions on your Instagram feed, Joshua Gbelawoe is someone you need to keep on your radar. He comes from humble beginnings but has big plans for furthering his brand and using his good looks in the modeling world. Here are his keys to the game.
“I would define confidence as an internal thing. It’s being comfortable in your own skin, being secure within yourself and not having to compare yourself to others, and being at peace with what you have to do. Anything you have planned to do and want to do in life… you don’t let outside factors or inside factors get in the way of what you want to do. This is who I am, if they don’t like… oh well.”
Tell us your story - the good, the bad, and the ugly
“I come from a Puerto Rican mother and Liberian father who were only together for three years. My mom moved us out of the hood and into the suburbs and I went to public school. I didn’t gain confidence until college. In middle and high school, I was not @suaveguapo that you see on the ‘gram. I came from a very humble beginning because I saw what my mom did for me - getting me out of a place that wasn’t good for me. I went to Rider College and was the first kid to go to college, coming from a sheltered and religious home. The good was definitely going to college and learning that everyone is different and that you can have multiple views. In college, I started to become more outgoing… and here I am now, focusing on my brand and growing as a person.”
What are your plans for modeling?
“I never thought of myself as a model and then as I grew into my features and felt more confident with myself, I realized I was photogenic. It all started when my best friend from 2nd grade built a studio in her garage and we just started taking pictures. I am leaning towards Instagram modeling, urban modeling, and clothing brand modeling. However, I’m realistic...I’m only 5’11 so I know I’m not tall enough to be on somebody’s runway wearing Calvin Klein. All your goals are attainable, you just have to be realistic with yourself."
What makes you jump out of bed each morning?
"What gets me out of the bed each morning is my family. Coming from a big family, I want to be provide for them and make sure they are good because it’s a lot of us. I don’t want them to worry about bills and money, I want them to be comfortable...that’s the American dream. I’m an Aries so I’m very driven. I have these goals in my head and I know I want to accomplish them. You have to be patient and take it one step at a time."
We’ve scrolled through your Instagram and can tell that you’re pretty fashionable. How would you describe your style?
“My favorite article of clothing would have to be jackets. I’m usually going to have on a pair of boots, fitted jeans, a long lined shirt, and a really dope jacket. I’m not a big sneaker person, I’m trying to get into it but I’m more into boots”
What was your biggest failure and what did you learn from it?
“I view failures as lessons. My biggest failure is slacking and not realizing my potential earlier and maximizing on it. This caused me to be less confident in myself in regards to modeling and creating my brand. I learned that if you give your viewers something good, you will get a buzz and you just need to be patient and stay consistent."
Tell us about No Shave November
“I found out about No Shave November when I was in college. In high school, I worked for Abercrombie and I wasn’t allowed to have facial hair. After going to college and stop working at Abercrombie, I began to do No Shave November consistently. You are suppose to shave completely down, let your hair grow out, and donate whatever money you saved from not getting haircuts to a cancer charity. I found the official website and made an account to raise money. I then paired this with my Instagram account and found out that the money went to help St. Jude's, a philanthropy under my fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. The thought of taking this money and donating it is really dope and reminds me that even though I am not at the top, it’s important to reach back. I raised $250 last year and made a big jump to raising $650 this year. The overall goal is to be one of the top accounts that donates a lot of money and eventually turn No Shave November into a banquet."
Tell us what’s next for you without exposing too much of your game plan
“Reaching out to other males and letting them know that we have to start seriously grooming ourselves and then boom… from there a conversation will be started and I will tell them what they need to know”