Written by Jeanette Chiu
“I like my girls just like I like my honey; sweetA little selfishI like my girls just like I like my money; greenA little jealous”
View “Honey – Kehlani” here.
Written by Jeanette Chiu
“I like my girls just like I like my honey; sweetA little selfishI like my girls just like I like my money; greenA little jealous”
View “Honey – Kehlani” here.
Photo | Bridger Scott | @bridger
Creative Direction | AllanTroy | @allantroy_
Fashion Editor | Alex Shera | @alexshera
Graphic | Jeanette Chiu | @jeanette.sc
Grooming | Jacob Aguirre | @j_adz
Keiynan Lonsdale better known as Wally West on CW’s hit series The Flash sits down with us to talk about him coming out, his favorite actors and his other not so hidden talents.
Kode | You’ve been a part of big projects like “The Flash,” and even joined projects that hit social issues like some of your latest projects, “Like.Share.Follow.” and “Love, Simon.” Do you connect with any of these projects on a personal level? What do you look for in a role?
Yes, I connect with them all in different ways. For “Love, Simon” in particular, I feel like this movie can change the world, and I know that because if I got to watch something like this growing up.. I would have realised that I wasn’t alone.
In terms of what I look for in a role, now that I have a few credits under my belt, I look for at least 1 of 3 things: Will this provide an opportunity to make ridiculously fun memories? / Do I feel challenged by and connected to this character? / Does this story have the power to shift the way the world thinks?
Kode | You had several projects release in 2017, as an actor and an artist how do you manage to make time for yourself and really stay balanced with your hectic schedule?
Yeah that’s something I specifically focused on this year actually, finding my balance, finding myself amidst all the chaos. I’ve taken a fair amount of time away from work this year to figure a lot of things out about my spirit and about the world. I thought all of my problems would go away when I found “success,” but the line always gets further…and the personal issues eventually creep their way in and build up to a boiling point – this is for anyone. I never hung with friends, I never partied, I never just went to a beach to relax, and I never wanted to ask myself deep questions…I just spent my days trying to work hard and push my career forward…I was unconsciously stuck on a loop.
Eventually I broke at the beginning of this year and I started getting anxiety attacks in both private & public environments. I got to several breaking points for several different reasons…and thank god, because they actually led me to learn how to let go and enjoy life. Through that process, I found myself in the most special way – I went to this music festival in May called Lightning In A Bottle, and on the 2nd night I got struck (pun not intended) with an epiphany/answer, and from there my world changed forever. I still work hard because I enjoy being challenged, but I now know that my worth is much more than a TV show, a movie, an album, a whole dream even… ultimately my worth is in my heart, my worth is in the fact that I’m a living and breathing human being who gets to experience what it’s like to be alive. Everything else is just a bonus, & when it stops feeling like a bonus, when it makes me forget my worth, I take time away.
Kode | You’ve sang several genres with the songs you have released or featured on. As an artist What kind of music genre would you like to dabble in and explore? Is there any specific artists that influence or inspire you?
I want to dabble in and learn from all genres. I especially love popular artists who’ve become genre defying – Rihanna, Michael Jackson, Pharrell, Frank Ocean, Beyoncé etc. I think anyone who brings new life into music, whatever kind they do, is inspiring.
Kode | In Your recently released single, “Good Life” you talk about the ease and freedom or living life without complications. What inspired you the most for creating “Good Life” and what does it mean to you?
When we were making “Good Life,” it was me projecting what I wished my reality could be, but when the time came to creating the music video months later…I had actually gotten to the point where it really was my reality! I didn’t even know it could exist. The experiences I had this year with my friends…the love, the honesty, the highs and lows…they define such a life transition for me, and we all came together to represent a celebration of that in the video. It’s essentially how I view the future of the world, and I want to share what I see in hopes that others can see it too one day.
Kode | Wally just recently decided to leave Central City after feeling like he needed to find himself after his breakup and the return of Barry. Does that mean he’s off the show for good? Can we expect a Wally West spin off?
Hmm… Nothing’s permanent. I don’t expect a Wally West spin off, but it would be cool.
Kode | If you could write your own spin off for Wally West, what would he be doing besides being a kickass superhero of course… Any other CW franchise that you would love to make an appearance on?
Wally and I are in a similar place, he’s on the path to finding himself and he’s giving himself the space to grow and learn beyond what he currently knows. I think it would be awesome to see that journey, to see where his travels take him, and to find out what being a superhero actually means to him. You can have powers & save the world, but what if even that didn’t fulfill you anymore? You’d need to reassess your values and your views on life.
Kode | We’ve seen actors like The Chris Hemsworth bloom from Australia to World famous with his character of Thor. Are there any influential actors that inspire you in your career?
I love how many Aussie actors are killing it here, I hope it opens up even more opportunities for the industry back home.
I love actors who transform, not necessarily in a physical way…but more so in their essence. I think people like Dane DeHaan, Tom Hardy, Michael Fassbender (to name a small few) do that extremely well. I also love watching someone like Michael B. Jordan, he’s a great actor and I think he’s portrayed some really important characters.
Kode | You mentioned you came out publicly 5 months ago, while also promoting a project you’re a part of, “Love, Simon.” What was your personal struggle with coming out? You mentioned that you wanted to stay quiet about your sexuality until you were around 80, what changed your mind? What was it like when you finally did?
It’s been a life long struggle, as many, (if not all) queer people will understand. At an early age in childhood, you can very quickly pick up on the views of society and even though you may question them at first, at some point over the years you start to process those views as fact. When the lie is embedded in you that non-straight people are less human, less incredible, less valuable, and less worthy…you do what you can to change your identity…because nothing feels worse than believing you as you are, is less than enough. I placed my significance on being liked, being loved, because I didn’t love myself. I became obsessed with the idea of fame, success, and perfection, because I hoped it meant that I mattered, it mattered more to me than being happy.
When I first came out to my friend Dylan at the age of 20, it wasn’t by choice. I felt pure devastation and at the time it seemed like the worst thing that could ever happen, but he told me an important thing…that I was just Keiynan, and maybe I don’t have to be anything other than that. It planted a seed, cemented our friendship, and gave me a safe space to be myself, but it wasn’t enough to take me out of my almost 20 years of self-training where I believed the opposite.
It was through both beautiful and terrible experiences, through pain, through desperation, through falling in love, through heart break, through overcoming fear, through friends/family, through my therapist (thank you lol), through questions, and through searching for answers. It was through the story of my life as Keiynan…that eventually enabled me to unlock the key to my heart. I felt it opening, I felt what it was to actually like myself for the first time ever in my life…and it felt so fucking cool. I’m crying as I write this now because sometimes I forget how long I spent hating Keiynan…I get complacent with the fact that now, I love him. He’s (sorry for the third person) a fucking great human being, who only wants to learn about the world, and open up other people’s hearts to believing in real magic. When I finally came out publicly this year, I allowed myself to become the guy I was destined to be – a man who knows what it’s like to experience love in the highest possible form, a man who loves existence itself, & absolutely everything within it, whether it loves him back or not.
Kode | Recently a lot has come to light on the pressures of making it in the industry and serious issues of sexual assault. What are your thoughts on being an actor in Hollywood since the recent news of all the sexual allegations with Harvey Weinstein and now Kevin Spacey?
I think it goes hand in hand with what I said at the end of my second answer, ya know we’re taught to believe that we are just a small piece in this industry and that we should feel nothing but lucky to get a role or a great career opportunity (I’ve been told this by bosses in the past, it’s a form of deflection and manipulation). But, this is another lie. The film, the show, the art, the industry, is equally as lucky to have us, as we are lucky to have it… this is a MUTUAL exchange in all forms. Unfortunately, our society doesn’t think that way, nor does Hollywood, therefore abuse of power is bound to happen, and it’s bound to be supported. It can be scary world, and there are monsters, but there are angels too.
Kode | Have you ever been in a situation like this? How would you encourage future actors and actresses to stand up for themselves?
Thankfully, I haven’t. And who knows if I would have had the courage to do anything about that kind of situation if it happened to me while I was starting out…I honestly don’t know.
I will say this for actors though, you chose this path so that you can create art and live your dream, not to be assaulted. If you are being abused, mistreated, disrespected, and/or cornered into uncertainty, then you must speak up, and you must do it knowing that you have the right to speak up. Times are also changing, and although your bosses or the company you work for might not help you, there are plenty of people out there who will. Hollywood does not own us, it only thinks it does, so we either let the cycle continue, or we break it.
Kode | You have worked on many big acting projects in the last three years and have even taken up singing, with your own released singles and some Instagram videos on your personal profile. If you had to choose between acting or singing, what would you choose?
I get asked this all the time, but I don’t believe we should compare art forms and I don’t really want to. Whether or not I do them professionally forever doesn’t matter, I will always act, I will always sing, and I will always dance. Right when I neglect one of those things, I become imbalanced.
Kode | Now that you have come out and have become a public figure for the LGBTQ community, how do you use your social platforms to speak on social issues, especially the ones that affect the communities closest to you? How is it important?
All I really do right now is share my truth, lead by example, and let others know that they’re not alone. I do that through my music, fashion, social media, etc. I want to creatively destroy our perception of normal, and in turn open up people’s minds to be accepting of what is different or unknown to them.
But in general, when there is something I don’t feel equipped to speak on, I keep the thinking process to myself and within my close circle of friends. This is all still new ground for me. I need to educate myself on LGBTQ issues I probably don’t even know exist. I can preach about how wonderful my time has been since coming out, which it has, but everyone’s situation is different. The best thing I can do is learn and hear people’s stories, that’s what I’m focusing on right now & that’s what I think will help me help others.
Kode | After being a superhero, you have basically accomplished everything but what’s coming up next for Keiynan Lonsdale?
No idea, but I can’t wait to find out!
Chameleon actor, theater kid, and philharmonic artist, it’s easy to fall #InLoveWithDove. Fresh off her “Descendants” run, Dove Cameron lets us in behind the scenes of her upcoming projects and gushes about her beau.
Photo | Nikko Lamere | @nikkolamere
Creative Direction | AllanTroy | @allantory_
Fashion Editor | Chanel Gibbons | @chaboonski
Hair | Rob Talty | @robsalty
Makeup | Julianne Kaye | @juliannekaye
Design Director | Tony Todd | @xtonytodd
Associate Designer | Jeanette Chiu | @jeanette.sc
Kode | Dove, You’re currently filming for the movie Dumplin’ with Jennifer Aniston, an actress well known for her work as Rachel Geller on the hit show “Friends” and other projects. What are other big name actors you would like to work with? Any specific storyline or roles?
Dove | I am! I am so happy to be a part of such an incredible cast and work with such an incredible director. I’ve always been a huge fan of Jennifer and she’s been so kind to me. In terms of other big names, I’ve been lucky enough to work with a lot of my heroes already…Kristin Chenoweth, Kenny Ortega, Jennifer Hudson, Ariana Grande, Jennifer Nettles…a lot of Jennifers! I would say, after those, next on my list would be Stanley Tucci and Jessica Lange! They’re my favorite film actors.
Kode | You seem to connect with your co-stars on projects like Descendants and develop strong friendships. Do those relationships come naturally for you or are they more of it takes a while to build these friendships? Are there any actors you’d work with again?
Dove | What a cute question! Yes, I’ve kept practically every friend that I’ve ever made on all of my projects so far. People are my favorite part of being alive, and loving them comes easily to me! I am in almost constant communication with my peers and loved ones. It’s a treat, and I feel lucky that they love me back! I would work with everyone again, ten times over.
Kode | Your range of characters have gone from good girl in “Liv and Maddie” to bad girl with your character in “Hairspray”… When you’re handed a script or think of characters you would want to play what comes to mind? What draws you to a certain character or role?
Dove | What usually draws me is a number of things. If the character is well-written, the lines come easier, there’s less of a struggle to sell the lines. So, I notice that immediately in any script, when they read like a real human being. Second, even though I have played a wide variety of characters, they’ve all had a through line of what I would call “healthy mania”. I am definitely a high energy, highly emotive human with lots of thoughts in my head all the times, and I want my characters to reflect that! So, they have to be interesting and watchable and multidimensional.
Kode | You recently posted on your Instagram about your upcoming single “Talks About,” what can we expect from the single and is there an album we can look forward to in the near future?
Kode | As a Disney artist you’ve been able to sing songs for the Disney brand. What kind of music genre would you like to dabble in and explore? Is there any specific artists that influence or inspire you?
Dove | In terms of announcing “Talks About”, it was a little premature because I don’t have a release date, but I just needed to give my fans something to chew on and feel like they were on the inside of the process. I know they’ve felt that my music has been something they are a bit in the dark about! The song is a bit edgier, a bit louder than a lot of what my fans have heard from me so far, but my true fans will know that it’s nowhere near outside my wheelhouse. It’s the kind of music I’ve always wanted to create! In terms of an album, I have more announcements coming soon…but you’ll have to stay tuned for those!
Kode | It’s your day off and you’re relaxing, sitting on your couch and listening to your favorite jams… Who do you listen to? What genre is the most played on your ipod?
Dove | I have always been a fan of blending genres. I would love to blend pop and jazz in the future, as I’ve always had a romance with older music…but as of right now, I’m a bit of a noise-pop girl! I love heavy production, and I love to sit on the floor of a studio and play for hours. I love to be very involved!
That’s actually what I’m doing right now! Currently playing is Witchcraft by Frank Sinatra, next is Amy Amy Amy by Amy Winehouse, then Misbehaving by Labrinth. I love music that makes my heart swell right out of my chest, music with a sense of humor and a dark note to it. Music to grin and smirk to and dance barefoot on a hardwood floor.
Kode | You started with theater at a young age and have worked on theatrical productions Hairspray Live and Mamma Mia! What sparked your interest and you drew you to entertainment? What production(s) would you like to work on in the future?
Dove | Since I can remember, I’ve vacillated between musical theatre, film, television, and music. Right now, theatre has somehow found its way to the top of my heart all on its own! My experience with Hairspray Live and Mamma Mia left me breathless and so creatively and emotionally fulfilled that I can’t help but think about theatre all the time, like a new romance. I have been wanting to revive “The Light in the Piazza” FOREVER now, star as Clara…Lucy in “Jekyll and Hyde”…obviously Glinda in “Wicked”…Baby June in “Gypsy”…I’m also going to need them to turn “Bombshell” into an actual musical, and I’ll be first in line to star as Marilyn. I also REALLY want them to make a Stepford Wives the musical! I think it would lend itself SO WELL! Ok, I’ll be done.
Kode | The reaction to both “Descendants” and “Descendants 2” have been overly positive and fans have said they’re excited for the third. Are there any upcoming Disney projects outside of the “Descendants” brand you’re excited to be working on or looking into?
Dove | I love the Disney Family so much, and I’d be grateful and excited to work with them on new projects in the future, but with a full 4 years of my sitcom series under my belt, and a happy franchise that’s on wheels at this point, I think my relationship with the channel is coming to it’s natural, happy end! I’ll always kick about with the family, be happy to produce or direct some channel things, but I definitely feel like I’m in senior year and I should move out of my loving parents home and pick my major!
Kode | Many Disney stars grow out of their Disney image through the roles or projects they take on. Are you planning on leaving your Disney days behind and trying to develop a more edgy, grown up image?
Dove | I don’t think I would ever say that I am purposely attempting to create an edgier image to depart from my “Disney image”. Just as I’ve never attempted to cultivate an inauthentic image with my Disney life, I would never try to do the same as I naturally grow up and into whomever I am on my way to becoming. Attempting to be anything at all communicates an insecurity in one’s own sense of self and level of self-respect. The only person I need to prove anything to is myself! And I think ones work stands on its own, much louder than any projected “image” one could cultivate.
Kode | A lot of the time actors do their best to fully immerse themselves in a role and really connect to the character they’re portraying, for instance you got spray tanned, outside in a tent, in Georgia, at night, in a hairnet. What’s the most strange or difficult thing you’ve had to do for a role? Are there any limits to the strangest or most difficult thing you would do for a role?
Dove | I love to transform for a role! I think that physical transformation is such a huge part of acting. I’ve never had to do anything too too crazy, just the basics: getting in better physical shape, lots of cardio, spray tans, wigs, dying hair…covering some of my tattoos. But there is virtually no limit to what I’d do! I’d love to either lose a ton of weight or gain a ton of weight or maybe even shave my head!
Kode | You and your boyfriend Thomas Doherty met on the set of “Descendants 2”, What does your perfect date night consist of?
Dove | We are all over the place. We’re practically the same person, which is actually a phenomenal thing for us in our relationship! We range from ditching major holidays or parties and lighting candles, buying bags and bags of candy, closing the blinds and not coming out of our apartment for 3 days, to flying to a random city on a whim, getting dressed to the 9’s and ordering $100 worth of pastries. We’re a tad dramatic, and it works for us.
Kode | You both have such demanding schedules with music and movies, how do you guys manage to balance that and keep your romance burning strong?
Dove | Well, if one of us is working and the other isn’t, we will always fly out to the other and just stay attached at the hip no matter what we’re doing. We never get sick of each other, and we’re always flying anyway, so it’s not hard to catch a random red eye and disappear together for a week! It also doesn’t hurt that we’re crazy about each other. Doesn’t take much to keep the romance going.
Kode | Some would compare your relationship with your castmates from Descendants to that of the camaraderie of the High School Musical gang. Do you guys still keep in contact? Can you share any really fun war stories with us from the set?
Dove | We all are insanely close. I’m honestly closest with the boys. Dylan, Mitchell, Thomas and I were INSEPARABLE on Descendants 2. Also, Boo and Cam are like my real life siblings. We all just got so lucky! It’s a lot of big hearts, and a lot of trust. We are also a group that loves to laugh, so that keeps us bonded.
Photo | Courtney Phillip | @courtneynp
Fashion Editor | Joey Bevan | @joeybevan
Styling Assistant | Abbie Wood | @thefashion_assistant
Hair | Chloe | @wig_london
Makeup | Maria Malone Guerbaa | mariamalone1122
Graphic | Jeanette Chiu | @jeanette.sc
Video | Josh Kinsella | @ninetyone.films
Acting, singing, dancing, and geeking out to Lord of the Rings, Thomas Doherty never cease to surprise us. And this Scottish actor, best known for playing Harry Hook in Descendants 2, is just getting started.
Kode | You’re originally from Edinburgh, Scotland. With both parents in the banking business, how did the acting bug find you?
Yes I was born and raised there my whole life. I grew up playing football and was seen as a ‘footballer’ than anything else. But that’s partly to do with the fact that I kept my love for theater and acting a secret. I’d go to football training, leave early, jump on a bus, and find myself an hour later in a studio pretending to be the color purple. It was a gradual process falling in love with acting, but I was first introduced when I was about 5. Me and my best friend Ronan Burns used to go along to amateur theater, and I guess I just never stopped.
Kode | You started acting at the age of five, what was your first role?
My first role when I was five was as a farmer, but being five I never stuck by the script so who knows how it ended.
Kode | You were trained in acting, singing, and various types of dance including contemporary, hip hop, jazz, and ballet, besides acting, would you want to delve into any other talents?
I was yes! I went to the MGA academy of performing arts in Edinburgh for 3 years, but I always wanted to try TV and film. Since then, I guess I want to do everything. I have such a respect for people who can play musical instruments – I played the piano for a few grades but I’d love to be able to write something of my own one day. I also want to make a film one day, direct it, travel and see more of the world, do it all. It’s also imperative that I finish the US office before I do all of this.
Kode | You and your Descendant’s castmate and girlfriend, Dove Cameron have been dating for almost a year now. What first drew you to her? What is your favorite thing about her?
I am dating her, lucky girl. I’m joking, I am the lucky one. She’s just a wonderful human. She’s so kind and loving, funny, extremely talented, has the most beautiful eyes, and puts up with me being weird. She’s also weird – that’s why it works so well. Dove’s very down to earth and real.
Kode | You and Dove go on plenty of dates, take us back to your first… What was it like? What did you do? How did you feel?
Our first date was at a pancake cafe. It was one of those things were she was sat opposite me, drenched because it was raining outside, making terrible jokes that I was obliged to laugh at, and I kinda just fell in love with her.
Kode | You developed a love for musical theater after the Lothian Youth Arts and Musicals Company, is there a musical or anything in the Theater that you would love to be apart of or tackle?
YES. I would love to do live theater and live musical theater. There are so many incredible artists and performers out there that it would be an honor to work along side. I’m the list is too long for print. Musical theater wise I’d love to have the opportunity to perform on Broadway in a number of shows, the top of the list would maybe be spring awakening if they ever revived it or next to normal. But I mean regardless of the show, if someone’s going to put me on Broadway I’ll probably say absolutely.
Kode | You’ve acted in both Disney’s “The Lodge” and the Descendants films. What is your most memorable Disney project?
Both DISNEY projects have been incredible experiences. I’ve met some superb people and had so much fun on both. In terms of scale and career exposure, Descendants 2 is up there. To be part of such a globally adored film is pretty humbling, and to work with such an incredible cast of wonderful people under the direction of Kenny Ortega is a dream come true. But the lodge was my first and will always have a special place in my heart.
Kode | You’re in post production for High Strung: Free Dance, where you play a choreographer. Was the choreography hard to get a grasp of or just the opposite?
I am in post for High stung: Free Dance – it’s exciting times, I can’t wait for everyone to see the film. I played Zander who is a choreographer in Broadway. Fortunately for the film I didn’t dance a huge amount. I do have a small dance sequence which is pretty special, but generally I’m just directing the insanely talented professional dancers. After a take of shouting at them and “correcting” them, I always had to apologies and remind them that I was just acting because I didn’t want to insult their craft.
Kode | Since you’ve studied contemporary, hip hop, jazz, and ballet, what is your favorite type of dance?
My favorite type of dance is tap. I love how charming and sexy it can be, but also how entertaining. And I love the noise it makes. A good taper’s shoes are an instrument in them self.
Kode| Living in America, we have our own mix of cultures and lifestyles. What is better in Scotland versus America, whether it be food, fashion, etc.?
You know I guess you’re accustomed to what you are brought up in and it’s all a subjective matter when comparing. But y’all don’t have IRN-BRU (Scottish carbonated drink). And y’all are missing out. Big time.
Kode | When choosing a role, you probably look to other shows and actors for inspiration. Is there a Netflix show you just have to binge or anything that inspires your choice of choosing certain characters and roles?
I’m always grateful to be offered a role or a part – it shows that someone has the believe in you to bring their creation to life. It comes down to whether I can connect to a character and do it justice. I will sit for hours and hours watching actors like Christopher Walken, Christopher Waltz, Dicaprio, Streep, Gosling – you name them, I’ve probably watched their interviews and films.
Kode | Titanic inspired you to become an actor. What film is your secret obsession?
My secret obsession film is Lord of the Rings. I’m obsessed and heavily judge those who refuse to watch it – including my own girlfriend. She’s watched the first one but I just can’t get her into the second and third. I have a tattoo in elvish (the language they speak in LOTR) from a line from the first film. Gandalf says “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that’s given to us”. I try live by that simple way.
Kode | Lastly, to wrap this whole thing up, where you do you see yourself in the next five years?
You know I try not project that far in advance. I don’t know where I’m going to be by the end of the day so five years is quite a tall order. If I can still be acting and meeting new characters and people, I’ll be happy. After all, happiness is all a state of mind.
Photos | Courtyney Phillips | @courtneynp
Creative + Fashion Direction | AllanTroy | @allantroy_
Fashion Editor: | Alex Shera | @alexandersherastyle
Hair + Makeup | Mateo Sifuentes | @mateo_sifuentes
Video (Shot By) | Dallas Hurt | @dallrulz
Video (Edited By) | Serrandon | @shotbyserrandon
From singing, acting, and dancing, there’s nothing Cameron Boyce can’t do. The talented 18-year old lets us in on what it’s like growing up as a Disney star and behind the scenes of the widely successful Disney original movie, Descendants 2, where he plays Carlos.
Kode | The entertainment industry has a reputation of being very cutthroat, especially for young talent. Have you always wanted to be apart of this world and at such a young age?
I’ve never wanted to be a part of the politics and exploitation. I had a pretty rude awakening when I found out the agent I had hired almost a year ago was involved in a scandal involving sexual assault. The only thing I can think of when something like that happens is how much of an outlier I must be. It’s difficult to find honest people with pure intentions in this circle. That cutthroat approach only breeds more, turning artists pure intentions into something very different. I stay away from that as much as possible and remind myself why this is what I chose to do in the first place. What I love about this industry is everything but the “industry” itself. I love the artistry, the storytelling, the unifying nature that steers our entire population in directions we hope will better us as a whole. We change lives and ways of thinking. Being a part of an exclusive group of people who influence others through creative means makes working around egos, and in some cases, real monsters, worth it.
Kode | You’ve been killing it on Disney for almost a decade, what are you thinking the next decade is going to look like for you?
In a perfect world the next decade of my career would include acting, dancing, directing, developing, fashion and philanthropy. In a broad stroke, I want to create.
Kode | Has there ever been a moment where you wanted to live a “normal life” and what are some of the most challenging things for you personally in regards to being in the public eye?
At times I envy 10 year old me, who would get recognized 2 or 3 times a month. That was probably the last time my life was still relatively normal. I’ve been lucky enough to have a steady increase in the number of people who recognize me, unlike a lot of my peers who’s rise to fame was quick and over-whelming. On the street I went from “The Lunchables kid!” to “Sandler’s son! Remember? Stone-aged shiznit!” to “Luke Luke Luke!!!” to, finally in the past couple years, Cameron Boyce. At every stage I learned to cope and embrace. I hold on tight to the personal details of my life. Having secrets is normal, and when more than just school friends want you to spill, you cherish them even more.
Kode | You’ve garnered a fervent following of dedicated fans. What would you say has been your most memorable encounter so far?
I’ve never understood how the sight of me could bring someone to tears. That’s happened a bunch of times and when it happens all I want to do is cry with them. To mean so much to someone is still crazy to me, it’s one of those things you’ll never get used to. I remember there was one time I was doing a radio call and a Descendants fan and I were talking about the ultimate cosplay. We decided she would have to incorporate a piece of every villain kids look in one. Long story short I forgot all about it, and months later she showed up to the D23 convention meet and greet decked out as Mal, Evie, Jay AND Carlos. She didn’t cry, but that was only because she had already cried the first time she met us at the same event a year earlier. That was pretty impressive.
Kode | You’ve already appeared in standout roles with some of the biggest names in Hollywood. Who are some of the names on your list of upcoming or hopeful collaborators?
I’ve been lucky enough to gain a lot of knowledge from people who know what this line of work entails. I’d love to work with well rounded people, most of which seem to have an amazing head their shoulders. Jaime Foxx, Sandra Bullock, Jake Gyllenhaal, Tom Hardy, Halle Berry, Donald Glover, Andre 300, Ryan Gosling… The list of people I want to model the way I approach my decisions after is pretty extensive. If I could gain an ounce of the respect that those names command I’ll have done something right.
Kode | Descendants 2 garnered smashing ratings for Disney. That must have felt awesome to be a part of something that resonated with so many people. What was that process like?
The movie performed better than most of us expected, it became a global phenomenon. I was riding a bike through the dirt backroads of Urubamba, Peru and spotted a little girl walking home from school with a Descendants backpack on. It’s crazy to experience the overwhelming approval from so many people. So much so that people buy anything with your face on it. Lunch boxes, balloons, cakes, anything. I guess we did something right… It really starts with everyone buying in to what we’re trying to accomplish. Once we all direct our focus to making an entertaining and inspiring movie, we’d do anything to make it happen. Even if it means embarrassing yourself in the recording studio or on the dance floor. Once we get that out of the way, we all feel ready to tackle the filming process and both times we’ve ended up with a pretty fantastic result.
Kode | The Descendants cast seems pretty close. What was daily life like on set and what’s your thing about your costar the gorgeous Dove Cameron?
We’re a driven bunch, that’s for sure. It’s hard not to become close with people who you spend every day of a two month period with working to achieve the same goal. Yeah, Dove is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. She thinks things through like 12 times over. We have an interesting bond in that we’d both been on the channel for a long time. We discuss a lot of the ins and outs of the business and keep each other in check. It’s a crazy life we live, so it’s really nice to have intelligent people you can talk to who are going through similar stuff.
Kode | You act, sing and dance. Are there any other avenues in the entertainment industry that you’d like to try?
By the time I’m done I like to think I’ll have tried a bit of everything. Maybe Broadway, maybe stand up… I’m open to it all. I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.
Kode | You’ve accomplished so much at such a young age, what’s coming up next for Cameron Boyce?
I have a whole lot in mind. No spoilers…
Kode | Growing up I’m sure you had to be so inspired by some of the greats and were influenced by their legacies. Who were some of your biggest inspirations and what kind of legacy do you wish to leave?
The reason I jumped over two dancers and landed in the splits in the finale of D2 was because I idolize the Nicholas Brothers. (look them up kids!) So yeah, I’ve drawn inspiration from a lot of different places. I just hope people remember me as a student (hopefully with something to teach one day) and a good person who volunteered his opinions in the hopes that he could improve the lives of others.
Kode | You have so many young people who look up to you and what you do as an accomplished actor. What are some tips you would give your fans who would like to be in your position in the acting field?
Without persistence nothing will ever come to fruition. It takes a long time to find your footing in this business and on this Earth. Try things. Be creative. Stay truthful. Above all, trust your gut, do what you feel makes you happy, and reject what you disagree with even if you’er advised to do otherwise because it would be “good for you”. Everyone’s path is different, so there’s no way to truly mold your career after someone else’s. Trust that your current position is the one you’re supposed to be in!
Photos | Bradford Rogne | @bradfordrogne
Fashion + Creative Director | AllanTroy | @allantroy_
Hair | Cesar Ramirez | @cesar4stylez
Makeup | Rebekah Aladdin | @rebekahaladdin
Retouching | Felipe Menezes | @menezesdigital
Art Direction | Tony Todd | @xtonytodd
From X Factor to the top of the billboard charts as a member of the girl group, Fifth Harmony, Normani Kordei is officially on fire. We sit down with Normani to catch up on everything from Camila’s exit, the VMA’s split seen round the world, and even her new solo deal.
Kode | You and the ladies of Fifth Harmony released new single “Down” back in June, and your latest album in late August. What was your personal favorite or highlight from the full album and the era itself?
I would say my most significant highlight from this era would definitely have to be the four of us being able to have freedom for first time as artists and musicians. In all reality we are a group that was manufactured from The X-Factor, so people automatically expect us to play by the rules and do what we are told, which we did for a long time – but we got tired of going through the motions and getting on stage performing songs that we didn’t fully believe in. This time around we took initiative to grab hold of our business as business women. We’re so much happier. We wake up every day motivated, inspired, and excited. We are heavily involved—more than ever before. We co-wrote more than half of our self-titled album, and the records that we did not write, we still had a great influence on. It’s a body of work that people can definitely hear is truly from our hearts. We have fallen in love with music all over again.
Kode | Fifth really seems to shine when they are accompanied by a Hip Hop artist, as some of you ladies’ highest charting singles have featured guests; and you’ve recently worked with Gucci Mane for your single “Down”. Anyone you would like to collaborate with?
I would definitely like to collaborate with SZA. I think that she’s such a unique artist and one that is important for this time in music. She came in and completely changed the game and direction in which music is taking. I think that she is really important for the culture and I would love to be a part of something like that… AND she’s the sweetest human being ever and were really great friends. The week that CTRL was released, I had it on repeat. “Broken Clocks” is my favorite record.
Kode | How would you describe the the Fifth Harmony aesthetic and what do you believe each girl contributes to the group?
I think the Fifth Harmony aesthetic and who we truly are as individuals are four strong, individual, independent women that love music and love people. We never take the opportunity and platform that we have for granted and being able to shine light in other people gives everything that we do meaning. We’re really about women empowerment and self-love, and it’s amazing because we have so many fans that trust us with their stories. For me personally I struggle with letting people in which makes me appreciate our fans being able to talk about their insecurities and fears. It warms my heart and puts a smile on my face knowing I can be that light or that outlet. We hope to be remembered by our legacy. It’s an incredible honor being the biggest girl group in this decade but an even greater honor to make a difference through our music.
Kode | Fifth Harmony is the biggest girl group stateside currently. What advice do you have for future girl groups?
For future girl groups out there, I would say: Know your worth. It all starts with you as an individual. Before you are able to confidently step out amongst talented striving artists, you have to be happy with yourself. It’s human nature to compare yourself to the next person, which we have all experienced. But through that we recognized that everyone has something special to bring to the table. If you believe in the skin that you’re in and also recognize that other people can shine, you are on the right path. Take time to focus on the qualities that make you feel good about yourself and know that nobody has the power to take that away…AND communication is key – we learned that the hard way, haha…
Kode | Any girl group influences you look to stateside or international?
I really looked up to Destiny’s Child growing up as an African American young girl having someone that represented me, the color of my skin, and my culture (which is something I’m very proud of). Self-identity is important for anyone so the fact that I was able to watch music videos, awards shows, and look in a magazines and see women that looked like me made me feel I could do the same thing. Its artists like Destiny’s Child that have helped pave the way for girl groups like Fifth Harmony. They mean so much to me personally and will forever be my favorite girl group.
Kode | Fifth Harmony had 2 of the most talked about moments at this years VMA’s. One, the obvious hint at your former band member Camila Cabello’s exit from the group. How did that viral moment come into fruition?
The four of us have been through so much together. We’ve been eachothers’ strength thorough absolutely everything and we feel like we’ve finally come into what it is that we were supposed to be all along. We are Fifth Harmony and we wanted to make that known to the rest of the world. We’re in an amazing place, and at the end of the day it’s about happiness and being able to go to sleep at night. We love what we’re doing and were continuously inspired by one another.
Kode | The second epic VMA moment had to be your now iconic split during the performance. Was that rehearsed or improvised at all?
Honestly, I would have to give the credit to my choreographer Sean Bankhead. He pushes me to the fullest of my capacity, and inspires me to think outside of the box and never limit myself. He said, “For your verse I was gonna have you do a split,” and I was like “What? I have to sing and bust a split?!” I wasn’t sure if I was gonna do it, but when it came time for the live show I went for it! There’s no better place to “go for it” than the VMAs stage. I remember watching the VMAs for the iconic moments like Beyonce’s baby announcement and Lady Gaga wearing a meat dress. This awards show is different than any other.
People were coming up to me weeks later telling me how iconic it was and all I could do is laugh about it. I remember this guy coming up to me and telling me it was iconic and I laughed and his reply was “You’re laughing but it goes down in history as an iconic moment.” I didn’t think it was that big of a deal but apparently it was! Haha…
Kode | You recently competed in the 24th season of Dancing with the stars, what was that experience like and what would you say you took from it most?
Honestly I got everything I wanted out of the show. The first thing that my amazing partner Val Chmerkovskiy asked me was what my expectations were and what I wanted to accomplish and all I said was, “I want to grow,” and I feel that’s exactly what I did in so many ways more than imaginable. Being able to see my family in the audience having fun and having something to look forward to each week was a highlight. It was so rewarding for me to see the smile on their faces, especially for my grandma, who is a huge fan and was able to be a part of one of the dance pieces. She went to wardrobe and everything. That was amazing. I can’t thank my partner Valentin Chmerkovskiy enough. I’ve always had a passion for dance and I feel like it’s the time to be my truest self. I learned so much about myself as a performer, creatively, and personally. For me this experience led me to my breakthrough. I could’ve never imagined the fulfillment that I would gain from a celebrity dance competition. DWTS has elevated me immensely and broadened my expectations with myself. They allowed me the creative freedom each week to become a different character to step into different worlds. This was honestly one of the best times of my life. I can’t imagine having gone through this experience with anyone else. I consider him family. I have a lifelong friend, I love you Val!
I miss it a lot – I reminisce and I watch my own videos and see if I could still do some of the choreography, haha!
Kode | You finally turned 21 this year in May, do you feel any different? What did you do to celebrate the occasion?
I finally turned 21 this year! I feel like it’s been a dream of mine since I was five! I celebrated with family and friends in New York City. On the day of my birthday we went to Beauty & Essex for dinner and then after that we went to 1 Oak Nightclub and it was all that I expected my 21st birthday to be. Every birthday I get emotional because I think back on everything I’ve been through and I’m still so young but I feel like I have years beyond my years. I don’t feel like the average 21 year old. My lifestyle is so busy that sometimes I forget to stop and reflect. I have to remind myself to be present… Dinah bought me my first bottle of champagne now that I’m FINALLY LEGAL!!!
Kode | Did you happen to celebrate with any certain significant other? There must be a special man in your life?
No … just no.
Kode | You and all the ladies of Fifth Harmony have truly come so far in your journey as artists. What do you feel you’ve learned most from that journey?
(sigh) It’s kind of a whirlwind. I think I’ve learned to trust myself in absolutely any situation I’m put in – because a lot of the time people react and make decisions based off of circumstance they’re in and I’ve been thru a lot good and bad but I’m grateful for all of it and I’m really proud of myself. I guess it’s like me witnessing myself flourish from the outside perspective – like an out-of-body experience. I would’ve never imagined that I’d be in this position, to be on stage in front of thousands of people a night, being able to inspire them the way that my inspirations did. The woman that I have become is a reflection of the women that I am around. I love my girls with all my heart. They’ve allowed me the space to grow and have been there for me in times of hardship. Our bond is one that isn’t easily understood. Only we know our truth and are able to be there for each other in some of the toughest times. It’s always been us against the world and I think it’s proven more now than ever before.
Kode |It’s unfortunate, all the tragic events that have taken place recently, with the political climate and tragic events that take place, such as hurricanes and shootings, how are you using your platform to make a difference?
The official Fifth Harmony Instagram posted in honor to the victims of the Las Vegas shooting. How connected are you to your fans? What do you do to connect with them on a more personal level?
I’m using my platform by speaking out. I feel as a public figure and someone that has an influence on millions and how they think and handle certain situations and act towards another human being, it is my responsibility to do so. I’m grateful and blessed to be able to have my opinions and thoughts on what’s going on and able to speak out about it whether people agree or not. It’s important to make it a conversation and not sleep but being awake and realizing the reality of what our world. Climate change is real. Racism is real. The violence is real. All of these things do exist. We have to know that we have power through our words and through a simple act of kindness that can change someone else’s life or be the difference between if they are here or not.
Devastations like the Las Vegas shooting really did hurt my heart. Nothing can prepare us for devastations as great as the these. I think what the world is in need of is fearless individuals to speak up on these matters like gun violence and that’s just what we do – which is something that we use our platform to do.
I connect with my fans on a very personal level. We all go as a group. I think that it’s been like that since the beginning, that’s just how we work. We consider our fans family—they are the reason our dreams have come true, and the reason we’re able to pursue what we love every day. We don’t take that for granted, we know there are so many we still haven’t been able to meet. Social media is an incredible tool if used properly.
Through tragic events we have to recognize that the only this we have is each other and we need to be unified in order to survive. At end of the day were still in this together point blank, period.
The families of those who lost their lives are in my prayers.
Kode | Of all your musical influences – Beyonce, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, and Janet Jackson, who would you want to collaborate with first?
Honestly I can’t even choose because I feel like collaborating with any of them would be such a privilege especially because they influence me in different ways. Choosing one artist would be like me neglecting another part of myself…so I would love to collaborate with all of them, they’re amazing and they’ve changed music for the better. Being a woman who is all about girl power and feminism, I would love to collaborate with one of the ladies first.
Kode | Last year you released a cover of Solange’s “Crane’s in the Sky” Any plans for a solo endeavor anytime soon? If you branch out for a solo album, what path would you like to take in terms of musical genre and style?
I think the beauty of art is not having to restrict yourself and music is not meant to put artists in a box and make them feel that they have to choose a musical genre. For me, music for the last five years has been an evolution and it will continue to be as I hone into what it is that I hope to create. I have recently been in the studio and it’s been such a spiritual experience, it is like a playground for any artist.
As for A Seat at the Table, I may say that this woman is one of my ultimate favorite artists and she is a true innovator. This is a monumental time in her career, she is the truest version of herself and she is not afraid to share that with the rest of the world. Her music has done so much for me personally. I aspire to have the freedom that shines through her and not make it anyone else’s choice but my own. I witnessed her in concert for the first time at the Hollywood Bowl and it was one of the most magical experiences of my life. Yara Shahidi is like my little sister and I was over the moon when she invited me to attend with her. An ordinary Sunday turned into one of the most memorable and impactful moments. Solange walked through the aisle and was literally a foot away from us. We froze, which doesn’t typically happen us. She is a super nova.
Kode | Any thoughts of jumping into acting a little more in the future?
Being a leading lady in film is a challenge that I would love to take on. I have always visualized myself on the big screen any time I went to the movie theater. It has played a very important role in my life and has been my escape many times before. Because there is such a wide range of creativity, I feel like it can be like a best friend or shoulder to cry on when you need it, but it can also be an educational tool that keeps you consciously aware or brings up a conversation regarding social issues that need to be talked about. Sometimes it’s as simple as bringing up the conversation that makes the greatest works of art.
This is something that I have wanted to be involved in ever since I was a little girl. I look forward to immersing myself in it. I would love to find myself at the intersection of music, dance, and film. I have dreamt of this my whole life.
I’ve been following Oprah for many years now and I would love to work with her. Just throwing that out there, haha!
Kode | Where do you see your career in in five years? Any plans?
Well considering I’m only 21, in five years I’m only going to be 26, lol. By then I hope to achieve many of my aspirations while still being a work in progress and continuously growing and learning. I have a lot more career ahead of me! I want to be making music that I’m proud of that is timeless, to have a lot of amazing records, and influence music, film, fashion, and this generation and those to come. I want to be working towards my own empire.
Kode | Rumor has it that you and Khalid have been wanting to do some sort of collaboration? Can you share any info on that, any sneak peaks or collabs to look forward to?
Yes, OMG this question makes me so happy! Khalid and I have been wanting to work together for some time. We actually got into the studio and were excited about a record we wrote together along with Taylor Parks. It was all one huge vibe session. We wanted to create something that our peers would fall in love with. I remember him telling me “I want this to be my favorite record, if I were listening, I want it to be something I vibe with that’s just dope,” which is something I relate to because I listen to our song every day. Issa vibe. But the greatest part of it all is that were genuinely two friends that created something special that were so proud of. We’re in two different countries on tour but we still text each other sometimes like, “but that record though…” Haha. We’re so excited!
Kode | We saw you this past fashion week and your outfit at the VMA’s stood out, being very fashion forward. How has your has your fashion evolved over the years? Who are your favorite designers and why? What fashion brand would you love to have a campaign with and why?
I would love to influence fashion and the culture in the near future. I have always been inspired being able to express myself through what I’m wearing. Many barriers in the fashion industry have been broken and I aspire to break even more. Rihanna is the perfect representation and example of dominating music as well as fashion. I intend to do just that. Think music meets Vogue. Such a dream of mine.
I have a few favorite designers! Dqsuared because they are edgy yet always on trend. Tom Ford because its just continuously classy and makes me feel like the woman that I am. Moschino because its playful yet fun. Reminds me not to take life so seriously. Christian Louboutin literally has a shoe for EVERY occasion and type of individual. And last but not least, Yproject definitely complements my tom-boy esthetic but doesn’t neglect my feminine side
Kode | Let’s dig a little deeper into something more personal, we know you and your family are Hurricane Katrina survivors and relocated to Houston… Hurricane Harvey has just hit Houston. Is your family doing okay? How are you coping and are you able to discuss the losses and how you deal with devastation and struggles such as these?
I’ve been through hurricane Katrina in 2005. I was 9, it wasn’t easy to process that you have to leave everything that you’ve known your whole life. It really took a toll on me.
I remember my best friend and her family. They decided to stay and ride it out, but we had to leave and it hurt me inside. I couldn’t understand and still don’t understand why these things happen. But through it all, it really did bring people together. In such a hard time, it brought the good out in people, it was cool to see neighbors healing neighbors. But my family is okay, they’re safe. A few friends got flooded and had to get out, but they’re safe at end of day. We are healthy, strong, and resilient. One thing I definitely took away having gone through this two times, is that I recognize that humans are resilient. Also, thank you to anyone that has contributed in helping the city of Houston.
Kode | What’s next for you as an artist?
As an artist I’m just having the time of my life finding myself and being in the studio figuring out what music means to me. It’s kind of like being in an amusement park, there are so many different possibilities, especially because of having the freedom, knowledge, and wisdom that I’ve taken from last five years with Fifth Harmony. It’s amazing because it’s like a new beginning within a new beginning. We were reborn and now I would be able to take away everything that I’ve learned. I’m ready to see what is next for Normani.
Photos: Scott Hoover | @scotthoover1
Creative + Fashion Director: AllanTroy | @allantroy_
Contributing Fashion Editor: Lizette Pena | @lizettep
Grooming: Rene Aleksander | @renealeksander
Production Assistant: Kingley Karr | @karrkingsley
Between living a life on and off the screen, Edward Adam Senn, is becoming a national film star and model. Recently, you may recognize him from VH1’s, Hit the Floor, where he takes on the role as a bisexual basketball player who’s secrets continue to unfold throughout the series.
Photos By Bridger Scott, Creative and Fashion Direction by AllanTroy, Styled By Morgan Pinney, Grooming on MGK Christine Nelli, Female Model Xwnia Rey, Hair by Mateo Sifuentes and Makeup By Josiah Cracraft with Design Direction by Tony Todd.
Kode: So, your whole trajectory of becoming MGK. Cleveland obviously isn’t necessarily known for its musical diversity, yet your music has different influences. What inspired your musical style and aesthetic as a young artist?
MGK: I think that when you come from a town like Cleveland there’s this automatic edge and attitude that’s kind of instilled in you, ’cause…I think not just to make it out but to just even survive in this town you have to have a certain edge about you and a certain attitude to keep you alive here, I guess. So, I think I was just really gravitating toward any artist or band that had attitude and that really stood up … not just stood for something, but stood up for themselves. And I think when you get in the public eye you can easily be bullied and easily be told who you are or what you should do and who you aren’t… I was just really into the people that didn’t let anyone tell them anything.
Kode: Being in the public eye and being bullied and things like that, with rap music being predominantly a black genre, do you feel like you faced certain struggles being a white artist, and how did you overcome that?
MGK: Absolutely. And I was having to be a white rapper before there was leaders of like YouTube or viral videos, you know what I’m saying? I’ve had to really go out there and show them what I was about. Go out there and at the time, when I was first coming out… Like, I don’t know how to describe it. There wasn’t like families just embracing hip hop, you know what I mean?
Kode: Yes. It wasn’t as mainstream.
MGK: Yeah, the streets was what the breeding ground for hip hop truly was. So nowadays, yes. In the past three years we’ve seen hip hop become the most popular form of music, which then means that most households like it, love it, embrace it. When I was coming up, the streets were the only breeding ground for hip hop, so if you wanted to be in hip hop, you know where you had to go? The streets. When you’re in the streets and you look like me you’re gonna have a lot of resistance. There’s a lot of adversity to fight through, so I think that the respect that I have now is there because of that. I had to constantly add stripes to the uniform before I was respected as who I am now.
Kode: With bloom and your recent releases they all seem to have a lot of emotional connectivity to it. What do you feel like you really want people to take away from your music?
MGK: Probably the feel. You see all these people numbing themselves now, and I’ve been guilty of numbing myself too, but I think when the music started to turn towards numbing people it was just weird for me because music always made me FEEL and I think bloom came at a time where a lot of the music is not-feel music and it’s just numbing music, It’s a music that’s kind of meant to keep you spaced out and not really facing the realities of the world and wishes, pain, happiness. Those are real things that you have to deal with, and you can’t fake like you don’t have to. So, I think that when bloom came out, and you listened to it, it reminded you of those feelings and reminds you to be open to those feelings.
Kode: And I mean, obviously as a young father you are open to more emotions as I’m sure that opened up a lot of more feelings for you. What are some obstacles of being a father at such a young age while having also such a successful career?
MGK: I think because my kid’s so intelligent at her age you can’t fool her, and I think that if she feels like more effort is going into me as an artist rather than me as a father, you can see that and feel that and those are all lessons I’ve learned the hard way the past couple years and I think I’m just really proud and at a good point right now that I feel like I have a best friend in my kid, She kind of reminds me how to stay human and not numb that part out, like we were just talking about. The album did that. I feel like, for this young generation, but she did that for me.
Kode: So you’ve been obviously topping the charts for years now. What’s the ride to success really been like for you, coming from such a small town? What do you feel has kind of changed the most in your life and what have you tried to keep the most the same?
MGK: Maybe even just from a demographic standpoint, on this latest tour I went to I was just shocked at the amount of women that come to the shows just wanting to sing their hearts out. You know what I mean? Like three albums later, this many years into my career, what a beautiful thing it is to walk out on stage and just see this whole new wave of energy that’s coming from the crowd. I feel like I’ve toured the world three fucking times, and I hadn’t seen that crowd yet, and it’s my first time just seeing it. And it’s like, dude, wow. And then you play a set and then you realize … bloom was the first album I ever sang on, and then you do it live and you’re wondering, “What are they waiting for?” And then you sing, and they’re like … They just wanted to sing all fucking night, and it was like, whoa…
That was really a shock for me, ’cause I think a lot of people seem to say that they grow older. And I mean, I’m still really young because I came in the game young, so even though it seems like I’ve been around for a while I’m still young. So it’s cool that it feels like I’m getting better with time.
MGK: I don’t really know if that made sense, haha, but I think you know what I’m trying to say.
Kode: No, it makes complete sense.
MGK: I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s been really cool seeing so many diverse people at my shows and tapping into this whole new fanbase. I think sometimes you can take perceptions of who I was as a young artist, and I think maybe it wasn’t connecting with a young female demographic, and then you grow, and then you go through things, and then you fall in love for the first time, and then you start to see people in such a different light, and you write about it, and then it’s like it clicks. All of a sudden all of the women were like, “Wow, this is what I’ve wanted you to say. This is speaking to me.”
Kode: Now, you’re not only an artist but you’re also an actor. You have shows like Roadies, you had the movie Nerve and other things coming up. With all these projects, what made you start acting?
MGK: I am just in love with the idea of just being an entertainer and just being an all-around creative person… I could not tell you how much I hated the first couple of years of my career just literally being referred to as the Wild Boy. You know? Like it was just so underwhelming as a sum-up of my career at that point.
Kode: Yeah, to feel one-dimensional.
MGK: That’s it! You know what I mean? And there was so much more. Even at that time there was so much more, but I can’t blame the world for what they saw at surface value. So I was like, “Okay, we need to branch out and show the world how deep the rabbit hole goes in this person that is Machine Gun Kelly,” and I think that going on screen was one step. I think modeling and embracing fashion was another step, especially coming from someone like me who was almost like anti-fashion just a couple years ago.
And again, you just get exposed to other things and you embrace how big the spectrum goes when people start coming up to you after you have those accomplishments, and now it seems like people that come up to me are truly in shock of me as a creative rather than just as me as a guy known for his wild antics.
But now, looking back now, to come from being the Wild Boy to being this cultured young man who is responsible for certain trends and styles and genre-meshing of music and stuff, it’s like that’s the coolest come-up story ever. So now I love it, and I will embrace the Wild Boy in me forever. I just didn’t like it at the time because that was all they were attributing to me.
Kode: Speaking of your growth and you becoming more cultured of a young man and a true artist, your style has obviously increased and improved so much over the years.
MGK: Yeah. Absolutely.
Kode: What can you kind of attribute to bringing you out of your box of one fashion to the other?
MGK: Part of the death of Bowie and the death of Prince. I never saw the world stop over losing someone before … Except for Michael Jackson. I was a lot younger when Michael Jackson died, but I remember that and I remember that feeling, but it didn’t hit me that way that when Prince and Bowie died because I was actually in the industry at that time that they died. I was just a broke kid in Cleveland when Mike died, and I was like, “Whoa, no, one of the greatest musicians has passed,” but it didn’t affect me as a person. It just affected me as a fan, but when Prince and Bowie died it did hit me as a person. I felt like the world is now a little bit emptier and I think that I was looking around and I was like, “Dude, who’s gonna be here to push us, push our opinions and push the boundaries?” You know what I mean? There are many artists now that are pushing the boundaries, and I think I just want to join that club as well, and I’m trying to. I guess… I’m trying to carry on a legacy that I didn’t appreciate while it was here.
And now that it’s gone and we’ve been doing all this to revamp an image like what mine was and have it be what it is now, it’s also a really huge challenge, which turns me on because the easy shit is wack and I think the stuff that makes people feel uncomfortable is really, really cool. And when they finally get it, that’s the most satisfying feeling ever, and I think people are starting to finally get it. I don’t think a lot of people got it until Prince and Bowie died, with them, and I think that that made me realize it more as well.
Kode: I agree. I definitely think when Prince and Bowie and those major trailblazing artists and fashion and cultural influences died, there was a slight shift in the DNA of a lot of artists.
MGK: Yeah. I don’t think we realize how much they did until they were gone and it was like, “Okay, they had the right idea.” And I feel like it made a lot of us go back and change our game plans for what we wanted to do with our careers, and it pushed us to expand and become broader than just music.
Kode: Speaking of broadening on more than just music, you recently inked campaigns with John Varvatos that launches August 6th and Reebok that launches today August 3rd. What can we expect out of those partnerships and collaborations?
MGK: Well, me and Varvatos are just two rock and roll souls that I feel like was bound to come together and we have and it’s been a really cool collaboration that I am very proud of. We recently shot a couple really cool ad campaign videos, and the billboards that’ll be going up in all the Varvatos stores and around the world by mid-September. We are putting together a lunch event in New York that is gonna be really, really, really fucking cool, and definitely a cool image for our name.
And then the Reebok thing, I think we were always looking to kind of do lifestyle stuff, because I think even with all the high fashion, I don’t wanna alienate all the people that that type of shit doesn’t turn on. You know what I mean? Like Some people don’t like high fashion and it will never be their cup of tea, and I would never ever want to push that on people because I think that is something you have to naturally want to either wear or look at or be around. That’s definitely a particular taste. But, lifestyle shit is everywhere and Reebok is such a classic brand and I think that we wanted to be a part of a revamp of something special, and Reebok was the perfect match, and that’s because one of my favorite things to do is take something that is not at that moment in the world the biggest thing and make it the biggest thing… Like Machine Gun Kelly is that…haha… Naw really, it’s going to be a cool collaboration, a total revamp of the 90’s and all about owning your style, taking risks and being unapologetic about who you are – values that are close to the roots of what Machine Gun Kelly stands for with my music and style…
You ask the cool crowd right now, “Who do you listen to?” They’re gonna give you those names that are just like, “Duh.” But if you’re fucking awesome and you want to push the boundaries and you want to start some conversation, you might fuck around and say, “Yo, Machine Gun Kelly.”
Kode: You recently had hits with Camila Cabello, Ty Dolla Sign, Quavo, Hailee Steinfeld and a few more. What’s been your experience creating with such a talented young crop of artists and really cultivating that kind of experience?
MGK: It just feels really cool to be open to collaborating with people. I know that it’s weird because if you look at my album it seems like I’ve collaborated with a lot of fucking people, but it was just different this time. This time it was really a true collaborative experience. And going traveling the world with Camila and performing at all those award shows, that was something really cool, and I always see people refer to that time as the “Bad Things” era, and it really is like an era. Yeah, I don’t know, it’s a time in my life that I’ll never forget and it almost made me feel like I was in fucking high school again or something, you know? It’s a really relieving time and something really cool for our generation of kids. Like if you’re 15, 16, and “Bad Things” was like your summer song for your crush or your girlfriend at the time, that shit is an honor, to be the voice of that moment. Because I think there was certain songs and collaborations that happened when I was growing up that I always looked at and was like, “Wow,” and I think we gave that to people. You know, just speaking on me and Camila specifically.
Kode: Yeah, definitely.
MGK: And we also were both breaking out at the same time, so that was why I just particularly love that collaboration because there wasn’t one person more established than the other. It was very, “What are these two new people gonna do?” And we took it to the top. And that was an accomplishment.
Kode: So what would you say, if you could pick one track on bloom that you feel is your favorite or the most comprehensive or the one that really speaks to you the most, what one would it be?
MGK: I think “27” is that song for me.
Kode: And why is that?
MGK: I think, one, a lot of people thought it was like a suicide note when really it was just a song that was expressing that with everything that we’ve been through for all of this to finally start happening, meaning like three albums later for things to finally start feeling like they’re happening, really going our way, it just seemed like it was too good to be true, you know? And I turned 27 this year, and there’s the obvious notion of the 27 Club, which is all these iconic and huge voices and artists died at 27, and I think that with the way that I lived my life and the fast pace and the kind of big not-giving-a-fuck attitude I have, a lot of people questioned like, “Well, if you’re going that fast, are you gonna crash eventually?” And that question just made me write that song, ’cause sometimes you’re wondering like, “Damn, is this all too good to be true?” I’ve waited for this moment forever and it’s finally happening. I never thought it would happen at this moment. I thought it was gonna happen years ago, and it’s finally happening now. Is this even supposed to happen? Like this is all too good to be true.
And you know, I put those words down on paper and I recorded the song, and I had this suite in Las Vegas that I blasted that song while I was standing on the balcony looking at the whole city of Vegas while the sun was coming up. And you would associate that with being a sad song or a sad moment, but that moment when I was looking out on that city and that song was playing, at 27 with all this success, looking around this beautiful Vegas suite that you could’ve never imagined me being in a couple years ago, that was the best feeling in the world. It was one of the most happiest I’ve ever been. So I think the complexity of that song, because surface value it would seem so sad, but it being such a happy song, is what makes that so beautiful.
Side Bar: This interview was taken two days before the death of Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington… we will relay the interview and answers, but will also add MGK’s moving tribute to him, written on his Instagram page, the day he heard of his passing…
Kode: So you were about to embark on a tour with Linkin Park. Now, I don’t know about you, but we all definitely grew up listening to Linkin Park’s music.
MGK: Oh absolutely.
Kode: So that had to have been quite surreal for you. Did you have any specific plans for the show?
MGK: Well, I mean, I wanted to step out there and do my best every night. Those are my boys. They have a torch I’m trying to carry. They’ve had it lit for so many years, and I’m ready to honor them and carry on that torch.
Not long ago we were talking about, when we were overseas this summer touring Europe, all the festival headliners were artists that have been headlining those festivals for like 10 years, and we were like, “Well where are the new kids, who’s gonna be the next generation of artists to headline these events? Who could really put on a show that is of this caliber and that’s gonna entertain this many people?” ‘Cause hype is not gonna entertain that many people. And someone who’s just hot on the hype train and doesn’t really know anything other than getting their ass kissed, we always see them fizzle out and fade out. That’s why those real artists are still headlining the festival, because all the hype people come in and go away, and come … The new ones come in and then they go away. I’m trying to be the next go-to band to control the crowd, and who better to learn from every night than Linkin? And who better to pass the torch from an artist that meshes genres like Linkin Park than Machine Gun Kelly? And you know what? It’s funny. I was into them at that point when Hybrid Theory, that first Linkin Park album, came out and I’ll never forget, me and my friend would switch the CD player between each other. He had College Dropout and I had Hybrid Theory and they both came out around the same time and so he would have Kanye and I would have Linkin Park, and halfway through the bus ride to school, we’d switch and I’d listen to Kanye and he’d listen to Linkin Park and it was really cool to see that black, white, Asian, and Latinos were vibing… It was just people were just digging the music and that was fucking cool. They are legends for that right there. It is crazy. You can go to the hood and just pop in and ask what people think of Linkin Park and they are like “Oh, yeah, dude. I fuck with that.”
MGK: That’s really cool, and I wanted to be the same and it is the same with us, actually…
Kode: MGK’s Tribute from his Instagram page
MGK: My heart hurts in ways I never thought it could. I heard the news when I was driving in the car with my daughter and I couldn’t even finish the drive. I pulled over and lost my shit. I remember watching [him] perform “Crawling” stripped down with just Mike Shinoda playing the keys in Poland when we did that show together the other week, [Chester’s] voice spoke to my soul. I’m re-living that moment now because that’s how [Chester] deserves to be remembered: a voice for those who wanted to scream out, who had pain and no way of expressing it. [Chester was] that for me since 11 years old and I had the honor to become friends with [him] and share the stage with [him], but I never got to say thank you. [Linkin Park] invited me on tour this summer and it was the happiest I’ve felt in my career, I’m sad to not be able to see it happen, but mostly just sad for music, the Linkin Park family, and the fans – [Chester was] one of the greatest frontmen of a band to ever live and I just want [him], wherever [he is], to feel loved and to be happy. thanks for everything Chester.
Photos By Bradford Rogne, Creative and Fashion Direction by AllanTroy, Hair by Mateo Sifuentes and Makeup By Alexx Mayo with Retouching by Felipe Menezes.
Kode | You’ve been on the Disney Channel for years now and are starting to transition to more mature roles and subject matter with your roles in The Thinning and Anthem. How is that change? Do you feel like your fans are growing up with you?
Peyton | It honestly feels like a natural progression I’m growing older and so are the original Jessie fans. I feel like they are both projects that spoke to me and are more of who I am and what I like now versus when I was 12, and first auditioned for Jessie. However, I am seriously grateful for all the people who have grown up watching our show and I want to keep creating for them.
Kode | Outcasts had a pretty all-star young Hollywood cast with the likes of Victoria Justice, Avan Jogia, and Will Peltz what was that filming experience like?
Peyton | I was the only one actually in high school at the time so while they could all go party I was stuck at the hotel haha, but they were all so down to earth, embracing of everyone, and chill. We all had such a good time on set though and having a school all to ourselves with a whole classroom as our dressing room was so fun and sometimes creepy when the lights would be out in some hallways.
Kode | What can we expect from you coming up?
Peyton | I just wrapped a young adult coming of age movie based on a YA novel ‘Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet.’ I play a character Faith who loses her boyfriend and ends up coping with his best friend who saw a prophecy of the death.
Kode | Your twin brother Spencer is also an actor. Has there ever been a sibling rivalry between you two?
Peyton | When Spencer and I were younger we would get a little competitive whenever it came to sports or video games. Now that we are older though we are the most supportive siblings and always want to see the other one get a part they really want and will run lines with each other. I think the first time we realized how much we appreciated each other was the first time we were away from each other filming something clicked and we stopped fighting after our time apart.
Kode | You juggled your senior year of high school with filming and press appearances. How was it being a television star in high school? Did you have a normal high school experience with homecoming games, senior prom, and etc.?
Peyton | I went to public school in Brooklyn, NY until middle school, but then with acting it became hard to make it all work with the schedule. So then it became school on set in between takes in our classrooms that were on the sound stage so that is what is normal to me. I could’ve went to prom, but honestly didn’t want to.
Kode | Do you have plans to design clothing or become even more involved with fashion?
Peyton | I love fashion and am so passionate about it one day I would love to make my own clothing line.
Kode | Vogue recently included you in their list of “8 Teen Styles Stars Set to Rule 2017”. How excited were you when you found out?
Peyton | So damn cool. I idolize everything Vogue puts out so the fact that I am one of those people they have their eye on is mind blowing. It also validates being different and continuing to play around with my style and people will take notice.
Kode | Speaking of style, what trend do you want everyone to leave in 2016? What are you feeling for 2017?
Peyton | Over sized chokers, floppy hats, and matching print crop top/skirt sets. I am loving the fishnet socks and tights under jeans, printed oversized denim jackets, and 90’s shades.
Kode | What’s your favorite way to relax and unwind? Any guilty pleasures?
Peyton | I love to eat Nutella straight out of the jar while binge watching something, or a hot bath after a long day.
Kode | Do you have any hidden talents that your fans don’t know about?
Peyton | They know so much about me, but I don’t think they know I used to run track when I was younger and ran really fast 100m dash.
From Fox’s hit show “Star”, Ryan Destiny lets us in on what it’s like being one of the most gorgeous girls in the world and why she loves a good harmony.
Photographed by Nikko Lamere with creative and fashion direction by Allantroy and styling by Scot Louie in H+M, Erin Fetherston, Sandra Daccache, and more. Hair by César Ramiréz and Makeup by Alexx Mayo.
Kode | You come from a musical background as your father was in an R&B group himself, was music a big part of your life growing up and when did you decide that you wanted a career in in the industry?
Ryan | It always has been, yes. My dad had me around the studio before I even knew what it was. I knew at around 7 I wanted to be a singer. Then at around 12 I knew I wanted that and then some.
Kode | You have a long track record of being associated with girl groups from age 12 to now. What do you love most about being the member of a group?
Ryan | Yeah, I’m not in an actual one anymore BUT one of my favorite things was literally the music. Harmonizing is what made me fall in love with it all. Accomplishing a harmony with 3 or more people legit gave me goosebumps always.
Kode | Your last group Love Dollhouse was beginning to make a name for itself, why did you guys choose to part ways?
Ryan | We knew it was time. Gut feeling. It had been a different variation of the group a solid 5 times. So 2 months before “Star” was even heard about, we made the hard decision.
Kode | Who are some of your biggest inspirations and why?
Ryan | My parents. They’re just boss. Michael Jackson because he is the only one of his kind. Freddie Mercury, Prince. They’re untouchable performers. Aaliyah because she did it all. Pharrell for killing fashion and music effortlessly. Oprah for being Oprah. Every black actress I’ve watched growing up. I could go on.
Kode | You definitely seem to have a flare for fashion, can you let us in on your process and how you would describe your aesthetic?
Ryan | I usually get inspired by a piece or pair of shoes I bought and build off of that. I’m a laid back clean cut person yet still eclectic.
Kode | Lee Daniels hit show Star has definitely been your breakout role, what did you do to prepare to take on the Character of Alex and what’s been the biggest challenge so far?
Ryan | I had to use my imagination with Alex and almost go off of people I hadn’t even met before. The biggest challenge was finding out who exactly she was and putting whatever similarities we both had into her organically.
Kode | On the show your parents are played by two legends Lenny Kravitz and Naomi Campbell what was it like working with two industry heavyweights and did they offer you any advice?
Ryan | They’ve been super humble since I met both of them. Naomi gives me advice on anything.. she just oozes experience in life. Haha! Very mother-like. Lenny is casually one of the nicest rockstars ever. Every time you talk-he listens. It’s refreshing to have people like them around. Best parent friends ever;)
Kode | Lenny’s real life Daughter Zoe Kravitz is also a musician and actress, have you guys met and if so what was that like?
Ryan | We have met, it was recently and pretty brief. She’s a chill person and just as striking in person.
Kode | Lee Daniels has created numerous successful shows, did you feel any pressure going into the filming of “star”?
Ryan | A lot. With the success of Empire, it was a lot to live up to. We’re here though! Getting renewed felt like “Yes, we did it!”
Kode | Can you give us any spoilers for the second season of Star?
Ryan | All I can say is that you’ll get really happy and really sad all in the first episode.. lol
Kode | What can we expect from you upcoming on the music front?
Ryan | My EP release! It’s the introduction to me. I’m too pumped about sharing it with people that ride super hard.