22 year old male model Shaun Ross was discovered in 2008 when a model agent spotted a video of the albino teen voguing on myspace. He has since swiftly made his way up the fashion ladder; being shot by yours truly amongst many others and working the runway like he was born to do it. But the confident young man isn't content with simply modelling. Calling Beyonce a friend, he has already strutted his stuff in two of her music videos as well as starring in Lana Del Rey's short film Tropico as the Adam to her Eve, grinding all over her in heaven. We caught up with Shaun as he geared up to give a TED talk on his new charity, In My Skin I Win, through which he hopes to inspire others and promote healthy beauty standards. Ethereal and otherworldly, Shaun marks an exciting new era in fashion and modelling, one which celebrates the differences that make us who we are. Welcome to the future.
How did you get involved in the TED talk?
I was invited across to London to join the talk and immediately said yes because I love TED.
Can you tell us about your In My Skin I Win campaign?
I was on a plane when a lady sent me a picture of her daughter who has albinism. I thought she was so cute and I wanted to post it but I couldn’t figure out what to say in the caption. I had to come up with something really fast before take off and I wanted to make my own hashtag, something inspirational. I just came up with that name and people loved it. And slowly but surely it’s becoming a thing.
And what do you hope to achieve with it? It’s a proper charity now isn’t it?
It’s becoming more proper as time goes by, but what do I expect? Oh man, there are so many things I wanna do but I want it to become a phenomenon. Something that’s as regular as salt and pepper.
You’ve said before that you felt people saw you as a novelty choice when casting. Do you still feel like that’s an issue?
I did feel like I was a novelty in the beginning but now I don’t because… well, this is my thing! It doesn’t matter if you’re a model, a dancer, a chef, whatever... as time goes by you have your own vision, you start to create that, so that’s what I started to do. Now I feel like I’m being casted because of me and who I am, which is what I’ve always wanted. I guess you just have to go through what society perceives you as for a little bit first.
And where do you see the future of modeling going? Because for a while it was very much just clones walking down the runway but obviously now it’s branching out...
I hate the whole clone thing - it really pisses me off. I've always felt that it shouldn't matter if you’re tall or short or fat, the job of a model is to model the clothing. So why do we make the models so specific?
What were you like as a kid?
I was very experimental, always wanted to discover something, but just by myself. My grandfather had this room full of junk that I loved so much. I used to glue things together and make things. My childhood was quite rough but you know, most kids have a rough childhood with teasing and cruelty from other kids! It definitely helps you become a better, stronger person as you grow up.
And what did you want to grow up to be?
I didn’t want to be a firefighter or a policeman or anything like that… I just wanted to be brilliant. I wanted to be THAT.
What was it like when Beyonce asked you to be in her videos?
It was really really crazy. I’ve known Beyonce for like 4 years through her stylist Ty Hunter, who is like a godfather to me. I don’t get to see her that often but she’s such a cool, humble person. The first time I met her she told me I was beautiful – I’ll never forget that.
What was it like grinding all over Lana in heaven?
Oh Godddd. Lana is amazing. Her fans are really nuts. She’s ridiculously sweet and so down to earth, so softly spoken – she says ‘baby’ in like every sentence. ‘You okay baby? Let’s get you something to drink baby!’
Is acting something you’d like to pursue?
Acting is something I'm pursuing right now actually. I’ve just signed to my first acting agency in LA so we’ll see what happens there! I feel like there’s gonna be some major shit happen, there really is.
Stevie Wonder – Love Is In Need Of Love. I feel like everybody should hear that song. It is so powerful! My father used to play it. Don’t hesitate to send your love to others, even if it’s just a little bit.
Who’s the most beautiful person you’ve ever met?
What’s your plan?
The plan is being written as we’re living. I don’t make plans. We just wrote something just now and started this story book. People think that there’s a blueprint for your life that you have to follow but actually you’re living the blueprint - you’re actually writing it as you go. Then when you’ve died your blueprint will inspire others to make their own. Your life isn’t supposed to be structured.