Video

Shaun Ross 'Defines Beauty' In Jonas Åkerlund's Short Film 'Beyond The Skin'

Albino male model Shaun Ross stars in 'Beyond The Skin,' a short film by Swedish director Jonas Åkerlund for #Define Beauty on NOWNESS.


For model and actor Shaun Ross, learning to love the skin you're in is a rallying cry as well as a way of life. The fast-rising star, who holds the distinction of being the first albino male model, embraces his uniqueness wholeheartedly and has appeared in videos for Beyoncé, Lana Del Rey and Katy Perry since he first burst onto the fashion scene a few years ago. Most recently, Ross shared his experiences growing up with albinism on NOWNESS for the final installment of their #DefineBeauty video series aimed at challenging stereotypical beauty ideals.

Directed by Swedish filmmaker Jonas Åkerlund, the frenetic, mind-bending video portrait offers an intimate look into Ross' ethos of self-love and acceptance as he wanders through Los Angeles recounting the taunts of schoolyard bullies. The film takes the form of a stream of consciousness interview spliced with footage from a handheld camera provided to Ross, and Åkerlund's gothic psychedelia captures Ross' triumph over naysayers perfectly. "He [Ross] took all those things that was negative for him in his life and turned them into something really positive," Åkerlund told NOWNESS. Scenes shot in the thick of Hollywood Boulevard's rubberneckers represent only a minute aggregation of the double takes Ross has encountered throughout his life, and at one point during the film he drops one of the most self-affirming quotables ever: "If people are always looking at you, give them something great to look at." Watch the short film below and learn more about Ross' In My Skin I Win campaign here.

Music

6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

How Nigerian Streetwear Brand, Daltimore, is Rising To Celebrity Status

We spoke with founder and creative director David Omigie about expression through clothing and that #BBNaija pic.