age you feel: 80 life experience wise, but as far as my heart goes i feel as young as the day i was born
hobby: social activism, speaking, writing... getting the message heard
TGM: tell us why you chose to pursue modeling and how you got into that
ED: modeling is something that i wanted to do from a young age. i used to watch america's next top model and i felt like i wanted to do that, and i was lucky enough that i grew into model physique and have it be something that i could pursue as a career. so when i was 18, around the time i was getting ready to graduate high school, i went into a local agency in seattle and i was signed there. afterwards, i decided i wanted to take my modeling to the next level but i was attending college at the time as a freshman at the university of washington, so i chose to leave school and move to nyc.
TGM: that's a big life choice, how was moving to nyc
ED: well i didn't know anyone or have any money, i didn't even have an agency, but when i got here i figured it out. it was difficult on the agency side because every agency i went to i got a no from... but i went back a couple of times, like banging down doors-- and finally got the opportunity to sign. i've been working my way up for the last four years.
TGM: what's a campaign that you're really proud to be a part of
ED: i worked on the calvin klein campaign and i'm really proud of that because that was the first campaign that i shot with my natural hair. making the decision to wear my hair natural was a big step for me in this process of self discovery, because when i started modeling i was told i needed to wear my hair straight or that i had to wear extensions... you have to dress a certain way and be a certain way. and ultimately i now realize that that was stripping me of my identity as a black person, which is something that happens to all black people across america. we're told we're too ghetto or this or that, and we have to change ourselves to reach some sort of elite status. but i realized that that's wrong. so when i chose to wear my hair natural, i couldn't express all that in a comprehensive way, but i knew that it was something that i wanted to do... and when i did it, i actually got booked to do another calvin campaign right away. when the first campaign came out it was around the time that alton sterling was killed and i wrote a letter about the correlation between media and our responsibility we have to change the perception of black people and the killing of black people. because ultimately the media is responsible for stripping black people of their humanity! portraying them as thugs and gangbangers. and so after i wrote this letter, the cfo of calvin klein saw it, and she has two mixed daughters, and she said that they felt so beautiful and proud that their type of beauty is being represented in the industry, so they brought me back.
TGM: so being yourself and caring about the things that matter to you ultimately paid off in a big way
TGM: what helps differentiate you from other young women who are pursuing the things you're pursuing
ED: i'm not pursuing modeling for fame or money, and i think that's a lot of peoples motivation. especially in the entertainment industry, because the money is so present, the fame is so present, you know the accolades are so present. but when you're just doing it for self-gain, those things eventually fade away, and what do you have left? and so that's what makes me different. i'm doing this so i can give back and help other people achieve what i've achieved and go as far as they can.
TGM: what's one piece of advice you'd give to yourself on the first day of your first gig
ED: be you! have confidence in yourself and know that you can accomplish all things through god. i guess it was something that i had to learn overtime.
TGM: what's the funnest part about the work you do
ED: traveling and connecting with different people. i love seeing the world, the more i travel the more i get to see how similar we all are. i think that's something a lot of people don't get the chance to experience. and when you don't get to experience different people and see how we're all just human beings, we end up with these narrow minded ideas of how other people live their lives.
TGM: what's been one of your favorite places to travel to
ED: i loved india! i went there in 2014. the spirituality there is incredible! my spirituality started there and it's continued to evolve since.
TGM: what's the hardest part about your career
ED: the hardest part is that sometimes i feel conflicted because i want to raise awareness about social issues, but i also don't want to bite the hand that feeds me. but when you examine the fashion industry with a critical eye you see that they play such a vital role in the way that things are. for example, climate change issues. the fashion industry is extremely dirty when it comes to climate change. the over production and manufacturing of clothes is unnecessarily destroying our planet. so, how do i look at that in a critical way and still maintain relationships with clients? same with black models, how do i address that issue without stepping on anyone's toes? so those are moral conflicts for me, and i'm just trying to find that balance. i'm trying to fight something while still being such an integral part of it... that's really hard for me.
TGM: where do you see yourself in the next five years with modeling or any of the other art forms you're pursuing right now
ED: in the next five years i really just see myself focusing on my social activism, i feel like modeling i'll just continue to do and build on, but social activism is very important to me and i'm going to use the modeling as a platform to develop that further... my passion lies with helping people. modeling can be a self-serving career and that's not completely fulfilling to me. i want to start my own foundation for health and wellness, making sure that people get mental health and drug counseling -- that's something that matters to me.
TGM: if you weren't doing this, what would you be doing
ED: in school i wanted to be a doctor, i've always wanted to help people ... i just didn't know how. so i'd probably be somewhere in the medical field.
TGM: there's a fire in your apartment and you can only save three items from your closet, what are they
ED: oh man, this is so hard! definitely my fleece camo sweatsuit that's super comfortable, my leather jacket because i feel leather jackets go with anything, and my doc martens
TGM: name your fav stores to shop at, online or in person
ED: urban outfitters, i do a lot of work for them, but honestly i just shop all over
TGM: what's something you own that you'd pass down to your future daughter
ED: my jewelry, like my name plate
TGM: if you could do a brand collaboration with any makeup brand, which would it be
ED: bobbi brown because i know they make a really good range of shades for brown skin, like their concealers are really on point, so i'd definitely want to work with a brand that i feel caters to many women
TGM: ok, now name three items from this brand collaboration
ED: something's got to be named ebonee! (laughs) something in the color brown... angel cause angel's are my favorite, and rainbow cause that's the color of my soul!
TGM: whose closet would you raid
ED: rihanna no doubt! (laughs)
TGM: whose runway would you like to walk during NYFW
ED: hmmm... i met jeremy scott at the moschino party in miami, so maybe moschino because they make some hot shit, plus he was really really cool... i'd like to walk in the vs fashion show as well
TGM: describe your style in one word
ED: i'd say comfortable
JUST FOR FUN
TGM: tell us your favorite sound
ED: i do like the sound of an electric guitar, like i watched the jimi hendrix documentary and i was like hmmm i kinda want to pick up a guitar... i also love the sound of lauryn hill's voice
TGM: tell us your favorite smell
ED: dolce and gabanna the one is my favorite fragrance
TGM: the sweetest thing a guy has ever done for you
ED: sent flowers to my house for no reason
TGM: you win a trip around the world, what's your last stop
ED: africa! i want to go to ghana and egypt... all over really. it would be a great opportunity in going deeper into discovering who i am
TGM: biggest guilty pleasure
ED: (laughs) wine!
TGM: top five apps on your phone
ED: instagram, twitter, facebook... (laughs) i'm basic! ... my email app and texting app
TGM: favorite person to follow on social media
ED: chrissy teigen is phenomenal! she's well informed and hilarious
TGM: your memoir just dropped, what's it called
ED: evolution of a butterfly
TGM: you're breaking up with drake, how do you do it
ED: oh! we would never date in the first place! but probably in a very gentle way, otherwise i'd get a song written about me
TGM: favorite cartoon and cereal combo as a kid
ED: rugrats and fruity pebbles
TGM: you get to have a private dinner with four people, who are they
ED: oprah, obama, michelle, and ava duvernay
TGM: you're doing a ted talk, what's it on
ED: i'm actually going to do a ted talk! originally it was going to be on sexual empowerment and mental health but i switched my topic to black identity, because as we were talking about before that's something that i really struggled with and had to come to understand through this process of just life and modeling... i'm still going to do a talk on sexual empowerment and mental health but it will be at my own event
TGM: hollywood called, they're making a film about you, what's the genre and who do you cast to play you in this film
ED: i'd want to play myself! (laughs) maybe yara shahidi, but i'd want to play myself. the genre is a coming of age story ... as realistic as possible
TGM: you just won an academy award for this film, what's your acceptance speech
ED: i'd say "first i want to start by thanking god, giving him all the glory because without him none of this would be possible. i'd like to also thank the friends god has surrounded me with for lifting me up and encouraging me everyday... my mom and dad, everyone who has supported me, and everyone who didn't support me... because everything that happens to me is a necessary part of my growth". something like that!
LETS GET PERSONAL
TGM: tell us about the last time you had a good cry and what was it about
ED: well i cry like everyday, or every other day at least... i cry because i really really love people so much and it's not just something that is found commonly. the type of love that i have for people is just so unconditional, and it really saddens me that people don't love themselves and one another truly without judgement... if that love was easier to find, the world would be completely different
TGM: what scares the shit out of you
ED: i really try not to entertain any sort of fear because i know fear can be paralyzing in a persons life... but i'd say what scares me is that i'm so much a part of this fight for social justice and as much as i want to see things change there's also other people who don't want to see things change, they want things to remain as they are so a small group of people can remain in power. so that can be frightening because you're going up against such big powers, but i got GOD on my side so!
TGM: amen to that!
ED: hell yea!
TGM: what makes you feel vulnerable
ED: my humanity makes me feel vulnerable. but i think the fact that i'm so open about it, so vocal about the things that i've been through that that vulnerability has turned into power for me, so it's not really a defeating thing that i think it is for so many other people. I think so many people are defeated by their vulnerability... they're so afraid to be vulnerable that they feel like they have to put up these extra layers of armor, and i find that when i remove that extra layer of armor and get closer to my neighbors and show them that i'm so human that's where the power comes from
TGM: name something about yourself that you love
ED: i love that i can write and that i can express myself because without self-expression i'd go crazy
TGM: name something about yourself that you're working on
ED: i mean, everyday is a work in progress... i'm working on praying more
TGM: name something about yourself you've made peace with
ED: i've made peace with my past. for a long time it was something that i tried to run from because i didn't have the easiest upbringing. i was out here in this modeling world and i felt so fraudulent because i hadn't made peace with my past and i was still running from it... that was one of the reasons i moved to new york, to run away from that. and i felt like such a pretender because i was out here enjoying the gifts of modeling... you know-- the fun, the clothes, the parties and people... but i hadn't gone back and mended anything that had to do with my past. so taking the time out to do that and talking to my dad and mom, really helped
TGM: what's a piece of advice you'd give young girls that want to pursue a career that doesn't seem like the norm to others
ED: well i'd say, don't try to do things because they look cool. find your passion and find how you can incorporate your passion into your work because that's what your purpose is. i'm a model, but i'm really a social activist at the end of the day, modeling is giving me a platform. don't chase the stardom, don't chase the fame. if you're an artist, ask yourself: how are you using your art to send a message? how are you using your talents to be a light in this world? think of that and that's where you'll find your happiness... so many people have great careers and make so much money but are so unhappy, so don't chase the money
TGM: being on social media, what's one misconception you feel people have of you
ED: that i'm perfect... i think that's the misconception about anyone in entertainment because we do have influence on our platforms, and so there is this pressure to uphold this image of celebrity, and i don't want to uphold that image. i want people to know how human i am because that idea that people have that i'm not as human as they are just creates more separation in the world... it's another layer of separation that creates an elite and a superior category, and that makes people have low self-esteem. people are suffering from mental health issues because of instagram, thinking that they're not good enough... and i never want to be the reason for why people feel bad about themselves
TGM: speaking of having a large influence on social media, what do you feel is your social responsibility after seeing that we are now under a new president with very extreme views
ED: for me, i'm going to continue to use my platform to spread awareness and engage my followers to get them to wake up and see the bigger picture... because we live in a world that's so self-involved and self-obsessed that now we have a reality tv star as a president... we're obsessed with fame and money, and i want to push for that mindful change... and i'm also going to continue to speak up on police brutality a long the black lives matter movement
TGM: what's a way your supporters can help you in your social activism on a larger scale
ED: i think my overall message to them is to have a conversation, especially in communities where there aren't a lot of people of color, the conversation on race isn't something that comes up because it's not at the forefront of what's being discussed in that community. but if you're a person who isn't of color, and you see this topic isn't being discussed --- take it upon yourself to sit down with your family and friends and say ' hey this is what's happening to this group of people, and i know it doesn't affect you directly but you need to be aware of it' -- i think that's really important. breaking down the invisible barriers that divide us is so important. it's about supporting each other and being there for each other. it's not about race, color, sexuality, gender, or religion, it's about humanity
TGM: what's one thing you want the world to know about you
ED: i love everybody! i genuinely do
TGM: what's one thing you want recognition for
ED: i don't want that... if i get recognition for anything i give it to god, it's never about me, i'm just a vehicle
TGM: write your 12 year old self a note on a post it
ED: everything happens for a reason, it will all make sense one day
TGM: finish these sentences... i love _______
ED: myself therefor i love others
TGM: the world is _______
ED: something we should cherish
TGM: my family is _______
ED: extremely important to me
TGM: the women in my life are ________
ED: an inspiration