|The Art of Modeling with L. Shima | Sarasota, Florida|
|Angels - Interviews|
|Written by Khalid "Bless Theangels" Bey | Editor in Chief | As Seen in NY Times Bestseller: Rat Bastards|
When someone says their biggest fear is of “failing”, you wonder how resolute they are in securing a successful life and future. How does one even become a failure at life? Do they fail to live out their dreams, fail to embrace their destiny, or is it simply a matter of not achieving a specific set of goals? Failure varies from person to person, each of us fails at something at one time or another and fear of failure shouldn’t stop one from worthy pursuits, chasing their dreams; seeking to achieve all their hearts desire. Our featured angel, L. Shima says failing petrifies her; this I will take as a sign that she has big plans for herself.
Born and raised in Texas, Austin specifically, L. Shima now lives in Sarasota, Florida, a city that lay just north of Miami. She has only lived in Sarasota for a matter of weeks and quickly fell in love with the beaches. “I have never lived so close to the ocean and not to brag,” she says, “one of the beaches named Siesta Key Beach is ranked the top beach in the country! Sarasota is also known for the arts so I enjoy the galleries!” I too enjoy visiting art galleries whenever the chance presents itself. When it’s time to party she looks to New York City and Austin. “Those are the two cities I’ve enjoyed the most when the sun goes down.”
In Sarasota, in her living room, L. Shima answers my questions as a Pandora selects songs for Kanye West radio. Her dog Mercedes lie next to her, unaware of the intimate exchange of ideas happening so close by. “Thanks for giving me the opportunity to chat,” she says fittingly. But I feel it should be I thanking her. She lets us into her home, where her and her love recently moved (“we still have to make a trip to IKEA”) and original art cover the walls of her favorite room, which happens to be the living room. “Hopefully my office will soon be my favorite,” adds our angel.
Since her biggest fear is of failing, it serves that she’d be most passionate about succeeding; it balances out perfectly. Modeling is our main subject of discourse and I must admit, L. Shima is good at it. There is a poignancy to her photos, a fierceness that works wonderfully with her abundant femininity. Each frame holding my attention like a child might his favorite toy. Unsure as to how she actually began modeling, she embraces it as destiny. “A few people growing up said I should try it because of my very mixed look,” she recalls. “I was interested and decided to go from there.” She soon started a Model Mayhem account, which she confesses was easy enough, photographers began to contact her, a few successful shoots later with a push from a “certain someone” she finally took it seriously.
“I love meeting new people,” L. Shima says of modeling. “For the most part my teams are all sweethearts. It will never get old. I also appreciate the confidence that it has taught me.” She also has a few companies she would love to work with. “As far as magazines, I would love the opportunity to be [on] the covers of GQ, Esquire, Treats, Vogue and Elle among others,” she says. “I would like to work with Terry Richardson and MILK Studios, as well as branding with design houses like Weiden+Kennedy in large advertisement campaigns. I would also like to work with musicians I respect, not just as eye candy, but as peers in the creative aspect using my modeling as my medium.” Ultimately she wants to be able to “make a comfortable financial living and work with top creative teams” and be a role-model for other aspiring female models who may question their qualifications. “I like to challenge myself by pushing the different genres.”
September of 2012 saw L. Shima on a road trip. A memory she’d no sooner forget than a biker would his Harley Davidson. “Six cities in one month,” the memory dictates. “I will have to say it was one interesting trip, I met a lot of people and shot so many photos. It ended with me tearing my knee from a fall and emergency dental surgery right after a shoot. I grinded through those last shoots, but felt like I was falling apart,” she states with a laugh. This trip signifies a willingness to take chances for a career she never knew she would have. “Dedication, perseverance, professionalism and a developed aesthetic,” notes our angel about what it will take to succeed as a model.
Somehow she has discerned that most models I’ve interviewed were ‘tomboys’ growing up, a still surprising fact. “I wore jeans all day long even when it was 110 degrees outside,” Shima offers, “it wasn’t until high school did I discover heels and more flattering clothes.” Shima was a good student, like me, but soon found herself getting into trouble… like me. And at just over five feet tall, “I did dominate hurdles in track,” she adds. “I worry about my looks and body type a lot more,” she says of what’s changed since becoming a model. “I am also learning a whole new skill set such as networking, business and etiquette. I also am completely in control of my schedule and am my own boss which is incredible. The modeling has exposed me to how important it is to develop good taste in art and photography. I also realize how important it is to pursue something you love, even if it as crazy as being a professional model.”
Shima’s look is genre pushing indeed and it has everything to do with her not-so-linear lineage. “I am African American, Irish, German and Japanese,” she says. “I know I have family in Japan, California, Indiana, Texas, Tennessee and Florida.” The definition of ‘mixed-beauty’, she is a stunning subject for any set of artistic eyes. “Beauty lives in someone’s personality and how they hold themselves,” she suggests. “After that comes looks. I don’t think I’m particularly stunning just reading a book in my studio, but when it’s time for a shoot I’m the baddest female in all the land; you better believe it! And it comes out in the photos: confidence!” When her beauty isn’t advancing some campaign or project, it helps out a little in the everyday world. “Being attractive is pleasing to people. Taking care of your appearance shows that you care about yourself and whether they know it or not people are drawn to that. It doesn’t hurt to look good but that can only take you so far. Smart hotties are the people you have to look out for!” I find myself in complete accord. I love a smart, sexy girl.
The images that are the product of creative endeavors between sexy model and photographer only show the performer; rarely do they reflect the true spirit of the model. L. Shima tells me she is actually a bit shy until the topic of modeling arises. “If I’m meeting a photographer or model for the first time, I could talk non-stop.” Still, modeling isn’t all she is working on. “I am currently re-learning sewing,” she says, “I love to sew and in the next ten years you will see my clothing designs.” Clothing optional, her photos are artsy and provocative, just how Angels Playpen likes them to be. Her personal taste in fashion isn’t quite so forward. “One day I am in the girliest dress, the next day I am rocking some Filas and a fitted cap, and the days after I am styled like a ‘hipster’. I like to mix and match different types of styles. She even shops at Thrift shops. “Shout out to Macklemore,” she says.
As well put together as she is, L. Shima wants to improve on her body and skin. “I can always find a better routine and diet to help both of these things.” She has already committed to cooking most of her meals at home, minimizing fast foods and dining out as well as running three to four days a week. She has a tattoo she got when she was fourteen, a heart with a scroll across it that states ‘Love’. “I don’t regret the tattoo,” she confesses, “but it is totally the ugliest thing on my body and just as silly.” She is a seasoned player at Sims 3 and Grand Theft Auto. “Those two games are my secret weapons,” she says excitedly. “I also love glamour modeling which I do a lot of but I aspire to explore more challenging themes in my work with an emphasis on gallery themed imagery.”
Well… we come to a point where the end of our exchange is near. Intriguing to look at, L. Shima is just as intriguing to converse with. She is a girl with a love of chocolate, pizza, ice cream and most certainly smoothies; her ever-guilty pleasures. “Which means I love the gym the next day also!” I laugh internally at this admission, her tough exterior giving way to a most appreciated pleasantness. “Negativity is lame,” she says, “Be positive. Really, it’s easy to be negative. Challenge yourself to be positive.” Her heaven on earth would be “lying in the sand on a secluded island with mountains behind me, with everyone O love in a luxury hooked-up mansion on our exclusive mountain property.” It’s a scene as descriptive as any adjective; she obviously gave the question serious thought. Therefore I suggest we leave on this picturesque note, envisioning heaven on earth tucked into a remote mountainside peopled by a group of loved ones in their own utopia. Thanks angel!
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