Name: Shae McCoy
Job Title(s): Journalist/ Photographer (freelance)
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Baltimore’s own Shae McCoy has been consistently blazing platforms and leaving her media footprint within the DMV ( DC-MD-VA) area and beyond. At the ripe age of 22, she founded Uncommonrealist.com, a media source positively cultivating the minds of the public in not just the realest way but in a “realist” way.
McCoy’s deep passion for pop culture, the arts, and news has enabled her to expand her brand and be in the same room with the greats. Shae has had the honor to interview actors, activists, community leaders, and local politicians. One of the highlights of her career was interviewing the Michael B. Jordan, who starred in the Wire, Fruitvale Station, and Friday Night Lights.
Shae fell in love with words at an early age. She was enamored with its power to move, motivate, and inspire. As a young girl, she wrote personal narratives and short stories. As Shae grew older, she grew fond of journalism and realized that is how she would make her mark on the world.
She recently started Coy-Op Photos, a photography brand that caters to various types of photography.
Sapphire: Though you’re so young, your journey as a photojournalist has been a long one. Can you tell us how you got started? Which came first, your love of writing or love of photography?
Shae: I started this journey as just a blogger/journalist in 2013. Uncommonrealist really was something that was created in the same day that I thought about it. For years before that, I wanted to create a blog, but didn’t know where to start. I literally just had a day off from my retail job and got to work. The name of my blog came as fast as lightning, I didn’t have to put too much thought into it. I wrote my first article about Fruitvale Station and once I started receiving feedback about my article I knew that this was something I was meant to do and to keep it up.
I started doing photography in July of 2016. I originally picked up photography to be able to add photos to my articles so that I wouldn’t have to search for images via google. That plan didn’t stick too long because it was festival season, so I ventured out. I took my first collection of photos at the African American Festival and was pleased with results. That was also where I picked up my first paid gig.
Sapphire: Three years ago, you started your own company, The Uncommon Realist. What inspired you to launch your own brand? What did publishing under your own brand do for you as a journalist?
Shae: I’ve loved to write ever since I was a kid, I started out with creative writing. I always wrote the best stories, narratives and poems in my classes. Writing is something I can do with my eyes closed as long as it isn’t being forced, because no one wants to be forced when it comes to something they love. As I grew older I kind of strayed away from writing for a while because I was going through turmoil at home.
Once I got to college and saw that there were classes dedicated to writing, I picked it back up. I always knew that I would find a place in the media field, I just didn’t know where I would be exactly. News reporting always sparked my interest, but I didn’t think I was fit for TV so I gradually moved into writing in a journalistic style. I started Uncommonrealist in my sophomore year of college and then left school for three years. I didn’t think I was focused enough at the time. Starting Uncomonrealist definitely is shaping me as a professional and developing me as a person. As a journalist, it has presented me with plenty of opportunities.
Sapphire: You’re a contributing writer to the newspaper at the University of Baltimore, The UB Post; How long have you been writing for the publication? What are you majoring in at the University of Baltimore?
Shae: I have been writing for The UB Post since February of this year. My major is Digital Communications.
Sapphire: You recently wrote an article about the state of Baltimore’s inner city communities, focused on generational poverty and gentrification. What made you decide to write the story? What kind of response did you get?
Shae: I wrote that story because I am living that story as we speak. I am in a better space than I was growing up, but I am still in the same neighborhood I wrote about. The way that it is changing before my eyes is mind blowing and I had to express that because I know a lot of inner city residents can relate. The responses I received were mostly in concurrence with what I discussed. People were offering suggestions and trying to help.
Sapphire: There’s a huge LED billboard on Charles Street, a major Baltimore thoroughfare; it’s located practically right outside on Baltimore’s Penn Station which is a central transportation hub for the east coast. What does it feel like to have your work on a billboard with the capacity to reach millions of people daily?
Shae: It was a great feeling, a small success, but a great feeling nonetheless. It was just something on my list that I wanted to do. It was cool to see my work up that high and for people to stop and take pictures. I made sure that I included photos that I took of people I know so that they could see themselves up there as well.
Sapphire: Photographers tend to be shy, quiet thoughtful types. Who is Shae McCoy? How would you describe your personality and personal style?
Shae: I’m someone who appears to be very social, but really likes to be around a small amount of people or alone. I’m always shy in the beginning until I feels like she is comfortable enough to be open and fun around you. I’m outgoing and outspoken, which can appear as a contradiction to my usual laid back self. I just likes to be comfortable when not out working hard, that usually requires a loose outfit and a place with a great view.
Sapphire: Where do you see yourself five years after graduation from UB?
Shae: Working in a newsroom, but if print media is still relevant in 5 years I can see myself in that field as well. I see myself as a photographer for huge companies and both of my brands expanding in a major way. I never really answer this question too well. [lol] The world is forever changing I just hope to be on the good end of things.
Sapphire: I’ve noticed and have been enjoying your summer photo series. What can people expect from you this summer?
Shae: Thank you. I plan on having a book made for 2 of my photography collections, one old and one new. While preparing for that I will be around at some of the local events this summer snapping photos and doing shoots.
Sapphire: Where can people keep up with your work and find more of you?
Shae: People can keep up with brands by:
Visiting and subscribing to Uncommonralist.com
Liking “Uncommonrealist” on facebook
Following “Uncomonrealist” on soundcloud
Following “Uncommonrealist” on Tumblr
Thank you so much for having me!
Name: Latonia Martin
Measurements: 5’7″ 240lbs 42-46-48
Latonia “Shostoppa” Martin is an up and coming model and actress out of Chicago Illinois. A plus size model, Latonia is hoping to help change the way plus models are perceived in the industry. Also a budding actress, Latonia shows her diversity as she makes her way up the ladder.
Sapphire: I appreciate you taking time out your busy schedule to sit down and talk to me. How long have you been in the entertainment industry? How did you get your big break?
Latonia: Actually, I just got into the entertainment industry in November of last year. I got my big break at my runway graduation from Chocolate Modeling Academy, when Shettima Web, another plus size model, opened the doors to opportunity for me.
Sapphire: When we met, I thought you were just a model, I was pleasantly surprised to see that you’re an actress as well. Can you tell us about Undercover Detectives?
Latonia: Undercover Detectives is a show about corrupt detectives that will be starting soon. It is directed by April Whitaker, I play the part of Patience. The cast is currently on a radio tour to promote the show, we most recently did Intellectual Radio with Brandi Love in Chicago.
Sapphire: Inquiring minds would like to know, how did you get the name “Shostoppa”?
Latonia: A group of my friends gave it to me for my comedy and clothes when I come in people look at me so I’m the Shostoppa.
Sapphire: How long have you been working with the Plushsize Modeling Agency? How did you end up joining the team?
Latonia: I’ve been with them only for a few weeks. By chance meeting I met Felicia, who owns the agency. We hit it off and she scooped me up for her agency and pus sized magazine.
Sapphire: As a plus sized model have you found the modeling industry to be open and welcoming? What is your biggest challenge as a plus model?
Latonia: Many Designers still have to learn to work with diversity, the industry and world is changing as we speak.
Sapphire: You looked beautiful at your Scholarship 2017 event. For those unfamiliar with the event, can you tell us about it?
Latonia: I’ve been a part of St. John Grand Chapter in Chicago for 17 years. We raise money to give scholarships to High school Seniors towards college. Every February we have a large banquet
Sapphire: Are you more of a tomboy or a girly girl? How would you describe your style?
Latonia: Both actually. I can go to 0 to 100 real quick, switching from a fully beat face to gym shoes and jeans
Sapphire: What advice would you give to young girls who aspire to be models even though they don’t fit the traditional standards of the modeling industry?
Latonia: Learn to take constructive criticism you will be told no. You have just keep going and put God first
Sapphire: What’s next for Ms. Shostoppa? What can fans look forward to seeing from you in the near future?
Latonia: I’m planning to make My way to New York Fashion Week, see the Bulls play and to hone my acting talents
Sapphire: How can someone book you and keep up with your work?
Latonia: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nafrini is a Conscious Hip Hop artist hailing from the Midwest, on a mission to bring back authentic storytelling and substance to the art form of Hip Hop. In the spring of 2015 she released ‘All Day (Promo)’, a freestyle over Kanye West’s track of the same name where she addressed the braggadocio nature of rap music. She followed that up in the winter of 2015 with her first official single ‘In My Hands’—a laid back hip hop record detailing the obstacles of her spiritual journey followed by the release of the ‘In My Hands’ music video in the spring of 2016.
In the Fall of 2016 she released her second single ‘Lovin’ Him (That Was That Bullshit)’ detailing a past relationship that ended in regret. 2017 promises the next chapter in that tale with new music & visuals, live performances and as always, a focus on telling true-to-life stories.
Sapphire: Your portfolio on Model Mayhem is stunning. Each photo more mesmerizing. I see you’ve been modeling for 11 years, what got you started in the modeling industry and how hard was it to find your niche?
1.) You’re so multi-talented, a skilled model, dancer, singer, photographer and actress. How do you find balance and the time to pursue your passions?
Well as you may know that acting, modelling and singing is my main… rest are hobbies. However a lot of my focus goes in acting.. so when that’s gone a bit quiet, I then do more modelling and photography.. in between that I may have the odd singing or dance project to do or a film… Singing however has been on hold for a few months with me on the lookout for a producer.. So I started writing songs with my writer friend, Danny Wheelhouse, who also checks my film scripts etc as well. Since I’ve found producers so will be working with them very soon for my singing.
They maybe times where I’m doing a lot of one thing like for example filming and not much time to do others.. But I have a diary that helps me keep track when it gets crazy lol.
2.) You started your film career in 2011 and to date have appeared in over 20 short films, movies and video projects. Where do you see your acting career in 5 years. What is your ultimate goal as an actress?
I started out just doing short films and networking and slowly built up… It’s been tough years, on and off. However I like to think in 5 years time I’ll be more further than I am now.. with far more acting credits and TV credits to show that will eventually create into show reel and doing what I love.
My aim goal as an actress is to show people what I’m made of, work hard and constantly progress to active where I’d like to be. Working with talented people and being part of amazing features and TV programmes, that to me would be amazing.. I just work hard and see what comes out of it.. I can’t honestly say where I’ll be, only where I’d like to be. But whatever happens ill always work hard to get there in doing what I love.
3.) Can you tell is about appearing at Dance Academy?
When I was younger I joined a dance class Academy spent about 5/6 years there… Learning different dance styles.. such as street dance, hip-hop, cheerleading, break-dance, bit of salsa, contemporary and more etc.. the last two years of my dancing there… I was then in a team called ‘Villians’ doing dance competitions came 3rd place once. I then got more older moved onto a group called ‘Fusion’ (adult team) Doing competitions, competition against other teams coming 3rd the first time and 2nd on a different occasion and 5th solo, earning medals and group trophy’s.. also did live shows to where we performed dances we learnt each year… then things moved on I went college which then had not a lot of time to do it anymore there.
4.) You’ve done a lot of musical theater. Tell us about your training and if you can remember, what performance was the most significant to you?
I studied Musical Theatre level 3 at college and did two main musical shows… one being ‘A slice of a Saturday Night’ & ‘Our House’ and other musical shows at college.. The main one for me that I really loved and most challenging was ‘Our House’ The dancing was fast and energetic all way through, none stop. found it the hardest I’ve done as well, but loved it and the music. outside of college I did ‘grease’ play when I was younger at school and started be in ‘Mamma Mia’ musical when I was attending Dance Academy.
5.) You have an affinity for horror movies and had makeup done for that genre as well. How did your love for horror movies come about? What horror projects have you worked on ?
I’ve always been an huge fan of horror, I find a lot of work goes into them, love all the SFX makeup too.. I remember watching a film Called ‘The Ring’ that set my love of, since I’ve been constantly watching them… I’ve learnt a lot from them as well. Most recent horror features I’ve done where: ‘Lead me to the Dark, under my skin’ .
6.) Giving back is beautiful. I loved finding out that you work with a company to help youth develop their creative talents. Tell us about that.
I spent few years in youth work sessions, volunteering, Its great experience helping young people, gain a better future by inspiring them to do well in what they love to do. doing activities with them and passing on what I know onto them in projects, youth was really awarding and enjoyed my time there, I’ve also presented award on awards night for some of the young people. I did youth work course level 2 and passed just before I left the groups.
7.) What is it about modelling that interests you? How did you start modelling?
When I was younger I could never see myself modelling, down to low confidence about myself, however I did a one off shoot, I really enjoyed it, after that I had six months out and I then saw a casting of a group shoot, I went to it and it kicked off from there. Think most thing I love about modelling is seeing what different looks I can pull off trying different themes, I can’t stick to one theme I get bored, Like to experience different styles far more fun and interesting, plus makes your portfolio more versatile. I also love modelling because I’ve meet some amazing talented photographers, models and Artists and pleasure working with different people… one the reasons I carried on in modelling was to improve my confidence as an actress too.
8.) Do you do photo shoots only or are you a runway model as well? What’s your dream modelling gig?
I’m however under the height limit for cat walking, but it’s never been style I really wanted to be honest. I would love to aim doing international modelling, featuring on stuff, commercials, Beauty looks, photo shoots, Magazines and Catalogues etc mainly what I’m interested in as a model.
9.) Being so multi-talented and diverse I have to ask, if you could narrow it down to just one of your talents, which one would you focus on?
As much as I love Singing and Modelling and the rest, for me has to be acting, I love being on set and escaping into different characters… I find it more challenging and awarding. My acting really grow in passion once I started getting into the odd features, was great experience.
10.) Where can people find out more about you?
Name: Caitlin Tabilog
Location: Atlanta, GA
Talents: Photography, soccer, painting, drawing, and piano
Sapphire: You’re a great photographer, your range is awesome. How do you decide what projects to take on or start?
Caitlin: Thank you very much! I appreciate it! Being young, ambitious, and having a love for learning, I’m open to almost any type of project that arises. I want to gain as much experience and knowledge I can with photography and the business side of photography.
Sapphire: I love that you are not stuck in a studio all the time, you seem to have an affinity for nature shots. What so many outdoor shoots?
Caitlin: There is a special beauty and glow with natural lighting that is difficult to replicate with artificial lighting. I also love the bokeh effect (blurred background) that also causes the blending of colors found in nature that happens when you photograph a subject in a nature environment for the background.
Sapphire: I’m pretty impressed in this day and age that you’ve dabbled with actual film. What made you go retro and try it? How did you like the results compared to digital photos?
Caitlin: I took two film photography classes my freshman year of college (2014-2015). We were required to shoot our assignments with film and develop the photos ourselves in the darkroom. Photos taken with film have a particular visual result compared to digital photos and feel more personable. I feel more attached to film photos, because you are responsible for getting the exposure correct without a preview in the camera. Also, it’s important to get the developmental steps in the darkroom correct, because there is no undo, preview, or delete button unlike digital cameras and photo applications. Also, there is a distinctive color effect, sharpness, and grainy look to film photographs that I think many photographers, presets, and filters are often trying to replicate with digital photos.
Sapphire: So many photographers are stuck on models, you capture real people. What made you decide to go against the norm?
Caitlin: Due to not having that much experience yet with photographing portraits, I had to practice with people that I knew who I perceived would enjoy modeling in front of the camera to build my portfolio in the beginning. I also adore bringing out the beauty, or the best in people that many clients are not aware of or who are insecure about the way they look.
Sapphire: Switching gears for a moment I see that you have another talent. You’re a writer as well. Care to share more about that?
Caitlin: I was a writer for The Odyssey for a short period of time, but I enjoy journaling during any free time I have. I believe writing is another art form, and it is a healthy way to express and release your own feelings and personal experiences.
Sapphire: I love that you’ve taken the time to learn the process and not just point and click. How hard was it learning to edit your own photos? Do you offer editing services to others?
Caitlin: Thank you! Learning how to edit my photos took a lot of time, dedication, and trial and error. However, there is a lot of helpful and quality information that is easily accessible through the internet. Creative Live, Phlearn, and Fstoppers are great on-line resources for information. I do offer editing services to others. I have retouched other photographer’s photos before, and I can be requested to teach my culling, editing, and retouching process to anyone who is interested by emailing me at photography@caitlintabilog.
Sapphire: Do you remember the joy and excitement you felt when you first learned that your work had been chosen to be displayed at the Roswell Visual Arts Center?
Caitlin: I was very grateful to learn that my photos had been chosen to be displayed at the Roswell Visual Arts Center, but I was even more excited to learn that my photography professor organized a class field trip to have the class drive to the gallery to view my work.
Sapphire: What’s next for you? What can we expect to see in 2016?
Caitlin: I am currently communicating and working with a non-profit organization to help teach a photography class for children and teens who have loss a loved one to show them how they can use photography to express their emotions. Additionally, in 2016, I plan to learn as much as I can about photography and the business aspect of it through my internship with a local photography studio and work to save as much money as I can to hopefully visit New York City one day. I aspire to visit the Museum of Modern Art in New York someday and view in person the art pieces that I have been studying in college and adore.
Sapphire: Where can people keep up with you and your work?
Caitlin: People can keep up with myself and my work through my website and social media.
Name:DeMarcus D. Moore
Hometown: Winnsboro, S.C.
Sapphire: How long have you been pursuing a career in acting and modeling?
DeMarcus: have been pursuing a modeling and acting career a little over a year.
Sapphire: Do you remember your first photo shoot? What about it made you realize you had to keep doing it?
DeMarcus: Yes, I remember my first photo shoot it was with my agency FFS. That day I was thinking wow I like this. I thought to myself I can be getting paid to do this something I already love doing at that moment I knew I really wanted to pursue acting and modeling.
Sapphire: You’ve done quite a few fashion shows. What do you enjoy most about ripping the runway? What do you like least about walking in fashion shows?
DeMarcus: The thing I enjoy most about ripping the runway is actually being the center of attention know all eyes are on me as I am modeling the attire on the runway. The thing I like least about fashion shows at this point in my career I am fairly new so I have not being doing good a posing on the runway to get good pictures. But I am working on that.
Sapphire: Why acting? I see you’ve been an extra in a movie, have you secured any other movie or tv roles?
DeMarcus: I would say acting is really my passion. I’ve always wanted to do acting, the idea of portraying different characters and being on different sets and traveling different places is very entertaining. I have yet to secure another acting role. Its a work in progress though.
Sapphire: What is your ultimate goal as an entertainer?
DeMarcus: One of my ultimate goals as a entertainer is to some day land a main role on hit successful tv show that goes on for multiple seasons. That’s just one of my goals.
Sapphire: Do you have any other talents you are hiding?
DeMarcus: Sadly no I am not that talented, although I have been told I should be a comedian.
Sapphire: Have you ever considered moving to New York or LA to pursue your passions? Would you relocate to chase your dream?
DeMarcus: I would like to get a little more local experience and training that way I will be ready when I relocate.
Sapphire: To date, what has been your most memorable gig?
DeMarcus: To date I would have to say my most memorable gig would be working with the South Carolina film Institute as a movie extra under the direction of the director Terri. This was memorable because cause it was my first time being on a movie set and getting on set experience.
Sapphire: Do you find it harder to get gigs as a male model?
DeMarcus: I don’t feel its harder getting gigs a male. I honestly feel that it depends on the determination of the individual pursuing .
Sapphire: Where can people follow your career?
DeMarcus: Facebook https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009225659574&fref=ts
Patrick: I am fully digital particularly for the convenience. I get quicker results and turnaround and the software allows me to manipulate the data in the file artistically. It allows me the easy opportunity to present my clients with an artistic jaw dropping image.
Patrick: I am not sure how to answer this because beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. I don’t set out to to shoot the amazing imagery but while out something has to catch my eye and then the hunt is on. Have you ever been out; saw something that grabbed you and said to yourself ” Dam I wish I had my camera with me”. Every now and the I will grab Baby ( his camera), turn off the phone and go for a long walk with her butt just to be together.
Patrick: It was great working with him. This was before the movies and during “In Living Color”. I had auditioned for the show but of course he was funnier. Very talented and funny. Great at improv as well. It was so relaxing in the green room he was literally getting a hair cut. I learned a lot watching him.
Patrick: I posted an image one day and got a lot of comments on it. I can’t remember which image but for some reason people felt emotional about the picture. The image aroused an emotion but no two comments had the same reaction. One of the comments said that my work seemed to have a healing quality like I was ‘The Camera Whisperer.’
Patrick: I had the wonderful opportunity to go to Lindi, Tanzania this past August with Stepping Together on a health mission. They were a team of doctors providing from cervical cancer screenings. This mission happened around the week of the biggest celebration in the district called “Nane Nane” meaning 8/8. Most of the people are farmers and they bring in their crop and meeting with others who are producing in the region. It was an amazing festival. Seeing the culture and differences from my world opened my eyes. There was very little electricity and the use of the bathroom was different. You were hard pressed to find a toilet bowl. They have a hole in the ground. That is a whole other story. I saw the kids having creative fun like our kids. Instead of a Wilson soccer ball they have taken plastic bags wrapped in tape. They played like it was the world cup.
Patrick: I got into radio in my 20’s as a way to keep my instrument strong. It afforded me the opportunity to keep my improv sharp and my acting tuned. These tools make for good voice acting and what a lot of advertisers are looking for. I would love to do an animated film.
Patrick: None that I know of.
There are a lot of BLAZIN designers popping up all over the place. With the invention of sites like Instagram, facebook, Pinterest and Youtube we are are getting introduced to talented individuals we may have never even known existed. From city to city, coast to coast I want to shine the spotlight on those who impress me most. I will be bringing you interviews with some of the hottest established and up and coming clothing designers that I run across as I blaze my own path of fame across the net. Let’s get it on!! Time to meet one of them now.
Q1# I first became aware of your clothing brand about a year ago when another local model I had
attended some shoots with was rocking one of your shirts. How long have you actually been
building your brand?
Its been a little over two years now, and I love it. A couple people actually ask to wear my clothing and that’s when I remember, I love what I do. So yea a rough two years. Something that started as a college hustle.