I was so pleased when I immediately heard back from Marcellas to say he would agree to answer my questionnaire, I knew it would be difficult to catch him when he visited Chicago. I have known Marcellas for many years, he was one of my model “guys” and was always the consummate professional (actually, all my male models were fantastic and a joy to work with, more on them in future posts) and looked amazing, some things don’t change! He has traveled many roads since but always has the joy of that fantastic smile and a true interest in everyone he meets. It is with great pleasure that I feature him in today’s profile. Here is the candid Marcellas in his own words.
When was the first impression of your talent?
“My love for fashion stretches back as far as I can remember. Even as a child I always loved clothes and was VERY particular about what I wore. Most kids let their mothers dress them. Not me If I didn’t like something I wouldn’t wear it. Oh, the tantrums! My mother tells the story about a particular vest/shirt combo that I refused to take off!
If by talent you mean personality, or maybe charisma, I realized I had something special very early on. It’s odd to recognize within yourself. I’ve always been very social and wanted to be the center of attention. I’ve always received a great deal of attention, for better or worse. I grew up on Chicago’s South Side. We were lower middle class. It was not easy being a gay kid. I was bullied but that made me stronger. I knew there was more for me and I was responsible for finding it.”
When did you know you had “made it”?
“I don’t think you make it once. Life is a series of triumphs and failures. Of great strides forward and steps backward. I’ve made it several times: being discovered by Mary Boncher and Marie Anderson, the owners of Aria Models and Talent, in 1995. Closing the Nautica runway show. Opening for Ralph Lauren. Signing with Ford New York as a model. Shooting with Norman Jean Roy. I remember thinking I’d really made it when I wrapped CBS Big Brother in 2002 because I was famous in a national way. Recently I thought I’d made it when I became a regular on The Meredith Vieira Show. I think I have made it again because I just signed as a fashion stylist with Wilhelmina Models in Los Angeles, New York, and Miami.
The Meredith Vieira Show
What I’ve learned is “making it” really means something momentous has happened that causes a shift in your life in a positive way.
Now in a practical sense, I realized I made it when I knew my talent and hard work would support me. Making it means there would always be a way for me to make money and take care of myself and my family.”
How did your original passion bring you to where you are today?
“I don’t know if I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I knew I wanted more. I didn’t have a plan. I fell into modeling while going to university and became successful. I naturally progressed to fashion styling when modeling began to slow down. I was offered Big Brother by a friend in casting I knew from my modeling days. From there I fell into TV hosting and acting. Let’s not say “fell”, let’s say “lucked into”. But here’s the thing about luck; luck only works when you have talent and drive to back it up. I’ve always been very good at seeing all sides of a situation and working them to my advantage.”
Styling a TV segment
What would have been your alternate choice as a career? Was there one?
“I was working in retail when I switched gears and became a bartender and waiter. I was working at Chicago’s Marché when Mary and Marie discovered me as a model. I’d worked at some of the best and hottest restaurants in Chicago and Miami while modeling: Vivo, Marché, Cafe Absinthé, MK, RL, and Nemo in Miami. I really thought I’d open a restaurant or clothing store in Chicago.”
Book….The Little Prince
Movie…Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Musical…Into The Woods
Designer…Tom Ford, Dries Van Noten
Favorite Store…IKRAM, Blake
Favorite Chicago Restaurant…So many! Sunda, Ceres Table, Mia Francesca, MK, Chicken and Farm Shop, Bottlefork, Tru
“I really don’t have hobbies. I’m so passionate about my life that it’s all part of the same thing. My passions are my friends, napping (I can’t sleep enough), shopping (which is odd since I shop for a living), reading magazines, social media (I love Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram, they are a window into the world), and collecting books on art, film, fashion and photography.”
Home: Modern, traditional, eclectic, antiques?
“I just sold a home in LA that I never thought of as home. Now I live in a tiny studio that is basically a dressing room since I live out of a suitcase. I’d call my apartment “minimalist hotel chic”. LOL! It really looks like a hotel room. I like white walls and white high count sheets on a king size bed, stacks of art books and magazines, floor to ceiling mirrors in dark wood and tons of chotskies. I love globes and little boxes in wood, marble, and even mirror. I’m toying with moving back to Chicago and making it my base so I’m slowing looking at apartments there.”
Who would you have at your fantasy dinner (living or dead) and what would you serve?
“So my fantasy dinner party would take place at either Café Habana in New York, Sunda in Chicago, or be catered by Michael Kornick from MK. I’m addicted to Rosé and Lambrusco. We’d have to have fries with truffle sauce from MK, I love French fries! There must be Krispy Kreme donuts and Coolhaus ice cream sandwiches. And In-and-Out burgers, double-double, animal style. Obviously, my inner fat boy is creating this menu!
I’m going to make my guest list Chicago-based: Owner of IKRAM, Ikram Goldman, investment banker, Melody Hobson, legendary June Blaker (who I worked for at a store called City ages ago), the divine Nena Ivon (who was so kind to me as a model), Jovanna Papadakis, who managed Victor Skrebeneski’s photography studio, photographer, Michael Voltattorni, restauranteur, Jerry Kleiner, Eva, my former runway booker from Elite, Chicago, models Eleanor Mercado, Cynthia Moore and Lia Cruzat, and owner of Ceres Table, Caryn Struit.”
Favorite vacation spot visited and/or on your list?
“I haven’t been on a proper vacation in decades. The way I work as a fashion stylist and TV host doesn’t give me a lot of down time and also means I travel constantly all over the world. Plus, I live in Los Angeles where it is perpetual summer. I love Greece. I shot a TV show there, Perfect Catch (E! Network), where we visited 8 islands. Kos, Ios, and Paros were my favorites. I was sequestered in Mexico while shooting Big Brother All-stars. It was gorgeous. In January I spent a week in Key West shooting Hunting Vintage (HGTV). That was so fun; great food, amazing bars, and the locals were so kind to us. We got to tour Ernest Hemingway’s estate. He’s one of my favorite writers so that was unreal.
If I were to vacation I’d go to New York and see my dear friends. It would be a vacation not to have to work or take meetings. I love cities. I love the vibe of people coming and going. I adore people watching and conversation. I love shopping, dining, and museums. So yeah…my vacation spot is New York, my favorite city in the World!”
How would you like to be remembered?
“So many things are said about me in the press and on the internet by fans and detractors alike. It’s like the more notable you become the less people really know you. I want to be remembered as I see myself; a nice guy with morals and conviction, who tried to make things a little better. And who shared a smile.”
Nena….A million thanks, Marcellas, for joining me in my blogging adventure and be assured your smile always lights up the space you occupy! You are THE best!
All photos courtsey of Marcellas Reynolds