Today we’d like to introduce you to Anthony Okray.
Anthony, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I do a multitude of things. I consider myself an overall creative and don’t really like to restrict myself to anything particular. I do poetry, I do modeling and I am one of the founders of a community restorative-oriented 501c3 nonprofit organization known as The Healing Circle Los Angeles. My journey began as an adolescent. I flirted with writing in the 6th grade. More so love letters and writings of affection. I was the kid who passed notes in class or gifted women with sweet sayings. It wasn’t until high school that I fell in love with the art of it. In the beginning of 2018, I officially decided to begin my journey towards compiling a poetry book. This is most notably one of the things I want my legacy to be remembered by as an established author. As far as modeling is concerned, it’s something that I do on the side. I honestly never thought I’d go far. I just loved to express myself through images or create moods through poses, gazes and outfit choices. I’ve worked with some of music’s most amazing talents, i.e., Jennifer Lopez, Trevor Jackson, Melii and Lisa Yaro. I’ve also modeled for SheaMoistureMen, Milano Di Rouge, Tote & Carry and countless other clothing brands. I just signed to Aston Models a few days ago. Lastly but not least The Healing Circle Los Angeles. This is the foundation of the man I am becoming. We established this simply because we felt compelled to create a space where we could be unapologetic about who we are. There aren’t enough platforms for black people to unpack their trauma and be emotionally validated. I was inspired to the advocacy of black men and women as a result of the harsh realities we face on a daily basis. For so long, we’ve been deprived of the most fundamental necessities and I just want to show the world that we do matter.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Nothing worth it is devoid of obstacles. Every monkey wrench thrown my way I was able to maneuver. My immediate environment is one of them. I grew up in South Central Los Angeles. I was surrounded by constant pressures. Gang violence, drugs, incarceration, peer pressure, moral uprightness. Yet, I chose not to succumb to any. I’ve had my fair share of stories that I’ll take to the grave, but overall I chose a different route. I didn’t want to become a statistic or be confined to deteriorate away. It took a great deal of discipline and self-appreciation to understand that I’m much more than the pressures that constantly coerced me.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I’m known for writing, modeling and being an active member in my community. I’m going to publish my first poetry book in early 2021. I’m also an IBEW Local 11 Electrician currently in my second year of school. I like to refer to myself as a philanthropist, an activist and just someone who made the most of the opportunities presented before me. I’m most proud of how far I’ve come in life. I defied all odds stacked against me. Black man, raised by a single black mother, graduated college with my Bachelors of Science in Business Management and becoming a better man daily. I’m most proud of how black people as a collective have been stepping into their purpose. How the majority of us have decided to dictate where we go. I like to think of it as a time of enlightenment. I think my generation is going to be the group to disassemble those generational curses that haunt us. The only thing that I’d say sets me aside from others is my drive. It’s really about how much you want it, how disciplined you are. Those two things will determine how far you transcend in life.
The crisis has affected us all in different ways. How has it affected you and any important lessons or epiphanies you can share with us?
I’ve learned so many lessons in 2020, I think that I can speak for all of us when I say that this year has been a catastrophe. But I’m learning to realize the blessings in the disguise. I’ve learned that there is enough time, it all depends on how you apply yourself. I used to be under the impression that there was not enough time within a day to accomplish everything that I wanted. This pandemic has displayed to me that I’m just rationing my time towards the wrong things. I’ve learned time management above all else.
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