SKYN: We appreciate you taking time out of your life to interview with us Macee, so first things first, can you tell us about how you got into modelling?
ML: Well when I was eighteen I tried to get started by going to different modelling agencies in New York, The fact that I am only 5'1" stopped agencies from even wanting to give me a chance. They wouldn't even call me in to look at my photos so as a result I ended up finding modelling websites online and started modelling through there instead. I got a chance to meet with different photographers and I had really great experiences but I had really bad experiences with internet modelling as well. Either way I got modelling work through the internet for about 6 years.
SKYN: You peaked my interest when you touched on ‘bad experiences” Could you tell us a bit more about that?
ML: Basically…I met people who did not have my best interest at heart and I met a lot of people who just wanted to use me. I took a lot of photo's that I regret taking today because of false promises made. What I learned is that where there's good, there's also bad. I ended up meeting photographers who filled my head with promises that I would become more popular if I took certain types of photos. I met photographers who made sexual advances towards me, tried to force me to take certain types of photo's and touched me in ways that made me feel extremely uncomfortable. I once met a photographer who refused to give me my images after the shoot because I wouldn't pose nude and I wouldn't go out to "get something to eat" with him. Don’t get me wrong, I met a lot of great photographers but I mostly met bad people during that time in my life. A lot of women do not realize that anybody can call themselves a photographer these days but most of the people are just men with camera's and thats it.
My worst experience in the internet modelling world started with a photographer that I thought I could trust. I got booked to model for a clothing line's look book. At the time, I knew the particular line was very degrading towards women but I took the job any way because I was focused on the fact that I would be in a look book. They even had an extremely degrading slogan for the line that I won't repeat because I refuse to give them any sort of publicity through this or anything else.
I had never been published anywhere and at the time I was so obsessed with being "famous". The photographer and I discussed my limits and he knew that at the time I had never done nudity and i wasn’t interested in doing nudity yet. He asked me to sign a contract and I agreed not being wise enough to know that signing that contract meant I gave up my right to contest anything meaning I gave up any sort of rights to my photos. When the photo's were finally published and posted on the internet for the world to see, I was devastated to say the least. My breasts were completely exposed. During the shoot, my top came up and I hadn’t noticed. I contacted the company and I was completely ignored and a few days later, I finally received a response but they only made the situation worse. The photographer didn’t seem the least bit concerned about the situation and he told me "Well its too late”, I was so hurt and angry. I tried to reach out to other people through twitter and blogs to warn them about the company. I was contacted by them through twitter one day and they basically mocked me. I was angry for so long and the fact that they saw it as a funny situation hurt me more. I had to become strong enough to move on and let it go. After that situation, I started doing more nudity because I felt like it would take away from what they did to me. I felt like if I expose myself now, they can't hurt me with what they did to me. It only made things worse though and I never gave myself a chance to grieve and get past it. I was robbed of the personal choice to be nude and it hurt me. It made my self esteem issues worse and it's something I regret to this day. I've heard nothing about the clothing line since the situation so I am assuming karma got to them at some point *laughs*. I know it's something horrible but I actually learned from the situation; I am smarter and stronger because of it and I know the best revenge is simply living. I can't change what happened but I can help other women learn from me and make sure they don’t make the same mistakes that I made.
SKYN: Oh wow thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing that with us, I know that it couldn’t have been easy but hopefully someone who is reading this can gain some insight. Moving onto a lighter topic though, Is there anything else you are passionate about aside from modelling?
ML: Around 24 after getting tired of the negative experiences I had with photographers that I talked about, I decided to start photographing myself. After a while I began to realize I loved fashion and decided modelling was no longer a really big passion of mine, now fashion and writing are really important to me. I ended up finding my true calling while trying to be a model; I love expressing myself through clothing and through my writing andI've become so passionate about voicing my feelings and opinions about life.
SKYN: It’s funny how one thing often leads into something completely different huh? I actually went on your personal tumblr and read a post that you made a while back about how you were bullied when you were younger, kind of going through an ‘ugly duckling’ type of situation. People told you that you were anorexic and they would make you feel inferior because you were darker skinned, how did the way you felt then, create the ideas and frame of my mind that you have now?
ML: The bullying stage of my life will always be the best and worst memory for me. Those people actually made me who I am today, I am very strong and words no longer hurt me. Being hurt at that age allowed me to see the world for what it was early. I realized people will try to hurt you by making you feel bad about how you look on the OUTSIDE. Knowing that made me realize I not only needed to show people the outside of me but the inside as well. That is one of the things that helped me get into writing. I wanted people to know that I was more than a pretty face, more than a girl who likes to dress up. I am so in love with my skin colour and my body now. Being bullied made me realize how incredible I was. I went through that horrible phase but I am still here. I overcame all of that and became the women I have always wanted to be.
SKYN: How does it feel to be featured in places like maxim.com? Do you feel that is validates your beauty in a way? Especially on a platform where plenty of women trying to be a part of?
ML: Well honestly I don't like to use other things to validate my beauty, my beauty comes from within. I know that I am the only person that can make me feel beautiful. However, I am completely thankful for it. When I first found out I was going to be featured on there, my heart dropped. At the time I had not been featured anywhere, I actually cried! I was so proud of myself.
SKYN: With that said, I’m sure you have googled yourself, we all have, have you ever seen anything off colour?
ML: I decided to stop when I found escort ads of myself on backpage.com. I was so angry but at the same time I knew there was nothing I could do. I also found pages saying that I was transsexual! I was so shocked and so angry that I knew it was time for me to stay away from googling my name.
SKYN: Jeez thats rough, especially when image misuse and hate comes to such a positive person as yourself. If a black female or male was to come up to you now and tell that you are ugly because you are dark skinned, how would you respond to such a statement?
ML: I think I would just laugh! People like that make me laugh now. I know how it feels to have a deep hatred for yourself. People like that are obviously hurting within so I can’t take them seriously.
SKYN: Couldn’t have said it better myself, who is someone that inspires you a lot and why?
ML: Well there are so many people that inspire me so It’s hard for me to choose one but I would have to say my mom would be the first women I can think of. She is so incredibly strong, I've seen her go through things but still manage to keep a smile on her face, she is the strongest person I know. I hope to become like her when I am older; she is full of wisdom and always knows what to say. Her life is completely inspiring to me. She’s been through everything you can imagine and yet she's one of the funniest people in the world *laughs*. She will always be my inspiration.
SKYN: Shoutout to all the amazing Moms out there and shame on all the people that don’t appreciate them enough. Your style is probably one of the most distinctive aspects about you what three designers you are loving right now?
ML: Right now I am completely in love with everything Balmain! I also love Wolford and Chanel.
SKYN: Thats interesting because Balmain and Chanel are so wildly different. I’m curious about your thoughts on plastic surgery is that something that you plan on doing?
ML: I have never gotten plastic surgery but it is something I have considered. Lately I have been thinking about getting my breasts lifted and maybe a little botox *laughs*. Nothing major! I kind of hate how low my breast are so I would love to have them lifted so I wouldn't have to tape them up every time I have to go braless *laughs*. I would like the botox for my laugh lines, I know they're natural but I hate mine. I haven't decided if I am going to go through with it or not, but If I do, I plan on letting people know about it, I'm a very open person.
SKYN: Honesty is key; it tends to be pretty irritating when people lie about things as benign as plastic surgery in this day and age. One thing that I think you are pretty well known all over social media and even in the vein of your fashion blogging is your mimicking of Kim Kardashain outfits, so basically for SKYN readers that aren’t familiar with what I am speaking on, you basically have photos of Kim Kardashian in certain outfits side-by-side with photos of you rocking the same or very similar outfit. Tell us about how and why that came about?
ML: Well Kim K is a very inspirational person to me when it comes to fashion. I fell in love with her style years ago. Everything about her style speaks to me. There are other women that inspire my fashion sense but I feel that Kim's style matches me so well. She’s become my stylist in a way *laughs*. She rarely wears something that I wouldn't wear. I love showing side by side comparison's to show people that you can get the same look as today’s celebrities without spending everything you have. People don't know that I either make my Kim Kardashian looks or I buy them from thrift shops. I have some expensive pieces but at the same time I love saving money. Labels are not everything to me and I love to show women you can dress incredibly well and save *laughs*.
SKYN: You’re right, people get too fixated on the wrong things, a lot of times its not what you wear but how you wear it. How do you feel when people refer to you as a ‘Black Barbie’ and has anyone every called you that to your face?
ML: I don't mind it at all but at the same time I feel like it isn't an accurate description of me. When I was younger I would call myself black Barbie but it was kind of a trend. Who wasn't calling themselves ‘Barbie’ after Nicki Minaj came out? *laughs*. People call me a Barbie all the time, it isn't insulting to me but I feel like Barbie is this perfect person with perfect teeth, perfect hair, perfect skin, and a perfect body. That doesn't describe me at all. I’m far from perfect *laughs*.
SKYN: Amongst all of your many accomplishments, which do you feel is your most notable?
ML: My most notable accomplishment would be me getting over my self-esteem issues. I had self-esteem issues for years during my modelling career. I had to work on myself every day to get to where I am now. I say that because during my modelling career, I developed this need for attention. The attention I received from men gave me a false sense of confidence. I needed it to feel good about myself. I would pose nude or half nude because I needed to feel special. I wanted to feel sexy and at that time that was the only way I felt attractive. Women feel empowered in different ways, some feel empowered by being nude but for me it only made my self esteem issues worse. I decided to quite modelling and work on myself. I became empowered by taking control of my own body and sexuality. Now when I decide to look or be sexy, it is my choice. I no longer do it for attention or validation from men. If I ever decide to pose nude again, it will be a personal choice. I no longer feel like I have to expose all of me to be seen and I no longer have to be naked to feel beautiful. That is the biggest accomplishment in my life. Seeing my beauty in every way instead of just one way.
SKYN: A lot of people are still struggling with that so its dope to see you confronted your insecurities. You are probably familiar with the weave versus natural hair or natural look debate, I have seen you have hairstyles in both categories, what is your take on the debate as a whole and do you have a particular preference?
ML: I think the whole debate is a little pointless honestly. Black women have come so far and we should be able to wear our hair anyway we want. I don't believe one way is better than the other. My natural hair is long and kinky but I choose to not wear it out all the time. I have a head full of hair but some days I feel like wearing blonde hair. That doesn't make me any less attractive or any less special. I prefer wearing my natural hair because I feel more confident with it. I am so proud of my natural hair and I feel sexier in my natural hair but I also feel sexy when I am not wearing it. Every women is different.
SKYN: I see what you are saying, I thought it was important to ask because it is such a defining issue for a lot of women. You have gotten a lot of heat from women of colour for being a woman who seems to have a strong appreciation for the Kardashian they seem to see it as you hailing or preferring Eurocentric beauty rather than embracing and improving Black beauty, what is your take on such criticisms?
ML: I find it crazy that the people who seem to have a problem with me being inspired by the Kardashians are women. I don't believe it is really a race thing, I think its a women thing *laughs*. I feel like women can be very catty and some will try to pick you apart. When they can't call you ugly, mean, or anything else *pauses* they look for other ways to bring you down. In my case, whenever a women tries to insult me on social media, they'll bring up the way I choose to dress and its kind of funny to me *laughs*.cThey can't seem to come up with anything else *laughs*.
There are so many black men and women who support me and thank me everyday for uplifting black men and women because they see beyond my hair and clothes. They read the things I write, they allow my words to inspire them. I embrace my black beauty everyday and a lot of women know it. If I hailed Eurocentric beauty, I would never wear my real hair, I would bleach my skin, I would put down my own race and no one can accuse me of doing any of those things. Its not about hailing ‘ white people’ its about not allowing the negative things in this world stop you from being inspired. I would never decide to not take inspiration from someone because they're white. If i was that kind of person, I would be a walking contradiction of everything I stand for. I want to change the world and finally stop separating each other by color. Deciding to not allow a white person to inspire you is a step in the wrong direction. Pro-Black does not mean Anti-white.
I improve black beauty everyday. I am an example of a black women who is fearless. I’m not afraid to wear blonde hair, I am not afraid to be fashionable and sexy, I am not afraid to speak my mind, I uplift black people and speak on issues within my own race, f that isn't improving black beauty, I don't know what is.
SKYN: Those are great points, I must admit. I know that online forums seems to be fond of commenting on you so I figured it was worth bringing it to the light. Changing pace a little bit, what do your DM’s look like? Do you have any celebrities that have given you some love?
ML: *Laughs* I get some crazy stuff, I get so many messages and I can't read them all but I have gotten some crazy messages from people. Some of them have scared me, grossed me out, made me laugh or made my tear up. There are some celebrities who follow me but I have only gotten an actual direct message from one.
SKYN: What makes you happy Macee?
ML: Laughing makes me happy. I rarely smile in photos so people think I never laugh. I am actually always smiling and laughing. I love making people laugh. I love funny things and I love funny people. I am a very silly person so being around funny people makes me happy.
SKYN: I agree, people who are funny seriously make the world a better place to live in. Speaking of funny things, I was looking at this allhiphop community forum and once again there were pictures of you thrown up there, the majority of the commenters were clearly males where they said things such as “I'd nut in her with reckless abandon”, “i’d wife this bish” and “Macee Legree thats her name
I had plans to make her my next kid's mom, Now that I know her name”…hearing statements like that, what is the first thing that comes to mine and how does that make you feel?
ML: I have to laugh firstly *laughs*. Men will be men *laughs*. I’m a very confident and sexy woman so I know that there are always going to be men who talk that way about me. I don't really have any feelings towards it because I know I am not alone. As long as women are posting photos, there will be men who talk that way. I know no matter how much clothing I put on, there are some men who will still see me as a sexual object, that is just the world we live in.
SKYN: It’s sad yet true though I personally know several feminists that would disagree. Anyway, as a lover of makeup myself, I was curious about whether you taught yourself how to do your own makeup and hair and how did you go about doing that?
ML: Yes, it took me years to get to where I am now. I finally think my makeup skills are pretty good now. It took me two years to learn how to contour *laughs*. I started doing my own hair when I was around thirteen. I started with ponytails and worked my way up to wigs. I taught myself to cut and style my wigs on my own. It was hard in the beginning. I always tell girls that there are going to be some days that you go outside looking crazy because that's just apart of the learning process *laughs*. I learned a lot of my makeup tips from youtube but I learned how to style my wigs and my own hair on my own. I have never been a weave person. Weaves are too permanent for me. I love changing up my looks and you can't really do that when you have a weave sewn in.
SKYN: Thats interesting that you say weaves are too permanent thats definitely a novel take on that entire thing. I noticed that you had Prince up on your instagram, what with his passing, what does prince mean to you?
ML: His passing was absolutely devastating to me. I have an old soul. I love older musicians. I loved Prince so much. It hurt so bad because it was so unexpected. I had no idea he was sick or suffering so it hurt. It still hurts. I'm actually thinking about doing something personal in memory of him. He was one of the best musicians this world will ever see. No one can ever replace him. In a world where you don't need much talent to be famous, he represented that time when you actually had to have talent to get by in the entertainment industry. I am still grieving his passing and I will never forget him.
SKYN: Yes his passing has affected many people and it shows. Do you consider yourself a role model?
ML: I feel that that in many ways I am. I try to show women that inner confidence is the best confidence. I love showing people that role models come in many shapes and forms. There is no age limit, color or gender restrictions when it comes to being a role model. You can be a role model to anyone. I have made many mistakes in my life and I love sharing them with other women so that they can learn from me, I think that alone makes me an excellent role model.
SKYN: Speaking of models, you have a line that you are working on can you tell us about your upcoming foray into that?
ML: Yes! I have so many plans for my line but I don't want to give everything away *laughs* I would love for my line to be a mixture of different styles. I love changing up my style and I want my line to reflect that. I want my line to go from floral ballerina skirts, to vintage to studded motorcycle jackets! *laughs* I really want a mixture of everything.
SKYN: With the advent of instagram models, selling fit tea and photoshopping one’s self with this explosive advent of photoshop, what is your personal opinion on the whole phenomena?
ML: I PERSONALLY hate the whole fit tea trend. I find it so annoying. Most of those teas are full of junk and don't add any sort of improvement to your life. These women love pushing these tea's and waist trainers but they don't push anything that is really valuable to women. I think it's really stupid. I also hate waist trainers because they are very unhealthy and only add to society's obsession with ‘quick fixes’. No one wants to hit the gym and work hard for their bodies anymore.
And I’m not going to lie, I love my little photo apps as well! *laughs* but I am not a fan of women over doing it. When I first started editing I went over the top *laughs*, soon I realized it ruined my natural beauty and I didn't look like Macee any more. In my opinion, if you are going to do a little editing I don't think it's a problem as long as you look like the same women after the editing *laughs*. I hate when women do it until their skin looks completely unnatural. It looks a little cartoonish to me.
SKYN: As a team of experts regarding that kind of stuff, we agree, there certainly is a line that you gotta draw. Do you consider yourself a feminist?
ML: I really don't want to label myself as a feminist because I think of myself a someone who thinks freely. There are somethings that I have heard feminist say and I totally disagreed with it. I believe what I believe and that's it. I don't like labelling myself as this or that because what I believe works me for me and I am comfortable with that.
SKYN: Alright thats fair. Are you in love right now and what is your opinion on love?
ML: I’m not in love right now but there is someone special in my life. I believe love comes naturally. It shouldn't be forced. When you try to force love or force yourself to find the right person, you end up finding the wrong person. Love should feel as natural as breathing. Let love find you, don't look for it.
SKYN: Well thats great i’m glad you hold that belief. From our previous conversation I remember you telling me that you are planning on writing a book on that can you give us a an exclusive on it?
ML: Yes, I have had many experiences in my life. There are so many things that I have gone through and I would love to share that with other women. The purpose of my book is to help women who are struggling. I want to talk about my experiences as a child, being a women of color, and my sexual experiences as well. My book will make any woman laugh and cry.
SKYN: When next we get to your city do we have an open invitation to spend some time with you?
ML: Sure, I would love that. I love letting people see different sides of me so it would be great to let people inside my personal life for a little while *laughs*.
SKYN: Where can our readers find you on social media accounts.
ML: INSTAGRAM: @MACEELEGREE
@sofxposh | www.sofxposh.com
@maceelegree | http://maceelegree.tumblr.com/
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