« Take a break with… » Tyson Beckford – Actor, Model – Paris
New York – Soul Artist Management
After a day of intense shooting, Tyson tells us about himself.
Remember this guy with an exotic beauty, stunning and exquisite, almost unfair, known by this legendary advertising for Ralph Lauren where he emerges from a pool; there were publications in various media. He was named as one of the ’50 Most Beautiful People in the World’ by People magazine.
Now in his early forties, he has not changed except with perhaps a touch of wisdom added to this supermodel who has fed our most intimate fantasies. Today, his fame and glory have not altered him, we remain dazzled by his simplicity and humility.
Tyson, tell us about yourself, how did you get into the fashion business?
My mother put me into all the fashion stuff around the neighborhood when I was 13. As a boy, all I wanted to do was ride bikes and skateboards. I ended up doing few shows but then I just didn’t want to do it anymore.
Then I grew up and graduated from high school then started a semester at college but didn’t want to pursue.
Beside that, I wanted to be an actor. So, there I was in New York City, going backstage and reading about all the information I could find about the industry.
I was in Washington Square Park one day and was scouted by a guy from The Source Hip Hop Magazine, that’s where my story begins. A year or two later, I went to an agency to do a shooting and I showed them what I could do. They were like ‘oh this guy can do something…!’ So, I did my interview with them for the first time and it was more like ‘what would you want to do?’ I replied ‘I just don’t want to do modeling; I just don’t want to do only that. I wanted to be able to act and do a lot of different things. They were quite surprised because they never had anyone come and say that. Most of the kids that come only want to become models. To me, modeling was just an opportunity, a stepping-stone towards an acting career.
This is where I am right now but I miss the excitement and atmosphere of the fashion world. So, that is why I’m back.
I just left IMG and was sitting around for a couple of months and then Jason from Soul Artist Management said ‘Hey, you want to come over here?’ I said ‘Yes, for sure!’ No hesitation. So, I’ve been with this agency for almost 3 years now. The first year it was really quiet; it’s hard when you change from one agency to another. Personally, I had to get into “model shape” because I was in “movie shape”. To me, the difference is that you have to be a lot leaner for fashion because you have to fit in a certain size. So, I went through a period of intensive physical training, watching my diet. Luckily, I wasn’t too far from my goal.
You know, this industry has changed a lot because male models have to be really skinny now! They have unrealistic body shape. I don’t know if I can ever get down to that size.
How do you stay fit, give us your secrets.
I don’t have to follow a strict diet. Most of the time, I eat a lot of fish, salads, chicken and stay away from carbs.
How does it feel to be the most desirable man in the world?
Oh, I don’t know how to answer that one… You know what? It’s so still surreal! Like really?!
Sometimes, I look at my girlfriend and say ‘why are you with me?’
I guess we’re all humans in some ways. Sometimes, I forget to take care of myself so sometimes I go and get my nails done. My hands have cuts caused by my bicycle and my motorcycles. I’m always doing something that I think is unsexy but some people think it is very sexy, like working on my cars or my bike.
I don’t take it seriously, I just embrace it. I don’t take myself too seriously but I think that it’s cool. It’s a good feeling.
You pursued a film career and we could see you playing your supermodel self in the hit movie Zoolander?
That one just kind of fell into my lap!
I received a call from Ben Stiller who wanted me to be in. When I read the script, I was totally in. He wanted me to be one of the guys who gets burned in the gas station and then they said ‘oh no, we’re going to make him be the trainer!’ It was cool, I had to switch around and spend a few days with Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller. He’s amazing, very good and incredibly funny! No one knew at that time what was going on but I think because of 9/11, we didn’t have such a big premiere, people were really afraid to leave their homes. So, it wasn’t the right time for a red carpet. I was a little bit disappointed because it was my first big film. There were other movies after that; “Into the Blue”, “Hotel California” and “Kings of the Evening” which I produced.
What are your future projects?
I just finished a film called “Addicted” which I didn’t produce but in which I acted. It looks really good and I’m proud of it. The film is set for release in February 2014. So, I’m looking forward to that. I think that women are going to react really nicely.
Who according to you is the best actress and actor in Hollywood?
There are a lot of actors that I looked up to when I was a kid: Sidney Poitier, Robert de Niro, Al Pacino, Denzel Washington as well as Lauren Hutton, Cicely Tyson. There are so many I like. When I watched them as a kid, I loved to observe how they moved, what they did on set, how they developed their characters; it was brilliant! I think that people forget that acting is an art form. Spectators just sit down, watch a film on TV, without realizing all of the work that goes into acting.
How does your ideal woman look like?
I guess my ideal woman looks like my girlfriend. To me, she is my ideal. She has dark hair, olive skin and green eyes. As soon as I saw her, I was seduced.
I think it was mutual; she had the same feeling when she saw me. We’ve been dating for almost 5 years. So, she’s definitely going to ask me ‘when I’m going to get the ring?’ and I think I will do it. It’s just that at the moment she is very busy with her work and I don’t want to interfere with that. She’s modeling and she’s doing very well.
I think the ideal woman is totally different for everyone. There are so many beautiful women out there but for me, it’s her. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That is something that a lot of us don’t really understand.
What is your typical day like?
Oh, there is so much going on right now and so many things coming through for me.
In the morning, I first try to do my abs, stretch, take vitamins, breakfast then start planning. Answer my phone calls, emails, plan meetings, take a look at the social media, tweet, re-tweet somebody else’s. Today, I was tweeting something for Bethany who has a new book and a new TV show. We’re trying to schedule an appearance for me on the show. Then, I’m organizing a fashion party since there is no fashion night planned. So, I’m trying to get it all done before the fashion week starts.
Some days are busier than others. Last week, I had to be on set at 8.30am to shoot a music video with an artist.
Sometimes, I go home to cook dinner if my girlfriend is not there or away but we take turns. Lately, I’m the one who does the cooking and I’m pretty good at it!
What’s your favorite place to eat in New York?
I have so many, right now « Catch » is one of my favorite restaurants. My friends Mark Birnbaum and Eugene Remm are the owners. It’s a contemporary seafood restaurant and like that.
They just opened a new place called « General » and I was there for a date with my girlfriend. She really enjoyed it. These are my two favorites right now. They always take good care of us when we go there.
There is also an Italian restaurant but I won’t say the name…
What is best memory regarding your career?
I would say my best memories would be shooting with Bruce Weber, working for Ralph Lauren, winning the VH1 Award, People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful… Sometimes, I forget about everything that I’ve done.
I have to say that my time with Ralph Lauren was really a thrill. I was quite young at the time; I went from being a kid in Washington Square Park trying to get a job, to being the “face” of a huge brand. That helped me to grow up fast. Having somebody like Ralph Lauren and his whole company, believe in me, that’s amazing! I’m really blessed to represent a company like that.
What is your best memory regarding your personal life?
I would say that having my son, forced me to grow up even faster. I had him when I was 27 and it made me realize that it was no longer about, it was another person now, someone who depends on me, someone who has to be educated by me about the game of life.
Do you have any crazy dreams?
Yes! I would have loved to be a champion in some sort of extreme sport.
So, women or cars?
You know, cars can’t break your heart but cars can’t give you love either. So, I must say, I choose women.
What did you think the OOB photo-shoot? You were amazing by the way….
I loved it! I love where the magazine is going and I think it’s important that in this digital age, we encourage the printed media. Grasping the magazine, holding it in your hands is extraordinary. Soon, there will be a generation who won’t even know what a magazine is. They will think a book is just an Ipad, a mobile device; they will lose out on something special.
I love the concept of the magazine, the colors, and the lay out.
It was good to do the first story. We shared ideas to build step by step the story of the series. It was a real teamwork. When I’m doing “Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model” in London, I constantly have new ideas of positions and images. Creating great images and positions is not easy. I was very excited by this series. Ines was so cool and incredible. She is a sexual being so I could feed off of that. There was no hesitation for her, she didn’t hold back. You know, some girls just don’t want to get in trouble with their boyfriends. When you’re at work and you can create and just let go, that’s great, you don’t always get that unfortunately.
I really loved the story and the guys were awesome, they let me do what I wanted to do. Me being in this magazine is another door opened for me and to anyone else who is fashion wise.
What did you learn from your experience?
Patience is one thing I’ve learned from this business and you have to find a place where you can have your “Zen time”. Coming from a Chinese background and culture, I learned that from my grandmother. She used to make me just sit still because I was a little kid full of energy. I would sit still until I was calmed down. It’s very good when you can do that, just do nothing and not need anything. Otherwise, you can go crazy; everyone needs some “Zen time” in a day to focus on what you want to achieve. I’m still questioning myself.
Bruce Lee said something that I always keep it in my mind ‘There are no limits. There are only plateaus, you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.’
Interview by Sophie You @ OOB Mag