Name: Eddie Jarel Jonesx
Claim to Fame: Eddie was seen shutting down the runway in color looks from Chromat two seasons in a row. They have also hosted countless red carpet events in New York City including this year’s third annual Heirs List Awards.
Before Eddie Jarel Jonesx was stalking the fifty-foot runway in the center ring of the circus that is New York Fashion Week they were strutting around their mother’s Ohio bedroom wearing her size 7 heels.
“Whenever she wasn’t home I would always like walk around in her high heels,” said Jonesx. “I was always like into walking in heels I just liked the way it felt.”
Years later Jonesx graduated from practicing their walk to teaching it when they served as an instructor for runway hopefuls during their time as a student at Lincoln University. “In the HBCU culture and lifestyle there are modeling troupes that compete against each other,” they explained. “They come together and compete and put on shows for their school and that’s where I was introduced to runway.”
They found camaraderie with their classmates who were also interested in fashion and spent hours and hours practicing and preparing for shows with them but while the troupe tradition was steeped in creativity it was also restrictive.
“I wasn’t allowed to walk runway in heels because I was a boy. They had very heteronormative standards when it came to modeling, men were to walk ‘all-American’, meaning they were to walk masculine,” revealed Jonesx.
Lincoln University’s Ziana Fashion Club troupe was completely fine with allowing Jonesx to instruct the young cis women in how to arch their backs, pop their hips, and out step their competitors but they weren’t comfortable allowing them to express the entirety of their person by presenting feminine.
“At practice I would always play and walk in heels and whatnot, and I ended up being the female runway director: meaning that I taught other girls how to walk in heels but I was not allowed to walk in heels.”
Even as luxury fashion brands like Gucci and Prada were sending models down the runway in looks that prioritized style over traditional gender roles the old guard was unwilling to expand their view points. The situation might have been frustrating for Jonesx but it didn’t alienate them from their connection to the institution of HBCU culture at large. Instead of abandoning their alma mater they are going out of their way to educate and create change from the inside by returning to the university and connecting with stakeholders. They’re currently planning a trip back for their Spring fling and looking forward to it.
College in rural Pennsylvania might not have been ready for the change being ushered in by non-binary individuals determined to live authentically, but New York City was prepared for change. After completing back to back internships at Fox 29 Philadelphia and The Good Day Morning show and serving as a social media coordinator for a talk show being tested for national syndication, they got a taste of what it would be like to be fully submerged in the entertainment industry.
Not long after a six-week gig in Philadelphia ended far too soon, Jonesx was stacking paychecks from Verizon Wireless to make money to move to Manhattan. “Once that six-week contract ended I gagged because I had to go home. I was living in Philly and I was like ‘oh’. I didn’t have any other job so I need to go home and figure out what I need to do with my life.”
What they did was hustle. They reached out to Global Queer Media Network Slay TV and began applying their industry experience to hosting red carpets, driving in from Ohio to make it happen.
Shortly after finally moving to New York they ended up appearing in major magazines including Paper and Vogue and walking in three major New York Fashion Week shows by following the strategy Issa Rae advocated for and networking across.
They added people on social media and used the algorithm to their advantage ignoring concerns about ratios and adding anyone they thought might be in the sphere they wanted to gain entry to. One of those people was Sherrod Lewis founder of annual The Heirs List awards who honored Jonesx last year on their coveted “Watch List” and asked them to return this year as a co-host for the event.
“It’s really important for me to support Heirs List and everything that Sherrod is doing. People knew me a little bit from Slay TV but he gave me a literal space for people to see me,” said Jonesx. “It really jump-started my career. Sherrod is one of the nicest, most hardworking people. That’s his whole thing to create a platform that is highlight people of color doing dope shit!”
Like many models they would be willing to work with retailers that don’t prioritize inclusion neutral in their stance towards corporate responsibility, but it gives them a unique sense of pleasure to work with companies that share their beliefs. “At the end of the day I am a model so I still have to get my coins, but I wouldn’t work with anybody that has dissed any community. I don’t care if the community is marginalized or not if your brand and company has a negative aura around or you do foolery like Gucci, I just can’t.”
Chromat was an appropriate debut for Jonesx to experience the “burst of excitement,” they described feeling before stepping on to the runway. The brand is famous for its determiniation to make sure that everyone see themselves represented on its runway. Jonesx says the experience “opened a lot of doors.”
Today Jonesx spends a great deal of their time away from the runway working to tell the stories of their community on platforms they can be proud to uplift opening doors for others in the process.
Curating events designed to “elevate our conversations and take control of our own narratives,” including brunches and talks with the Phluid Project, a popular retail destination in Soho.
They are also developing Custom 3D printed frames for a collaboration called “King Children” for WORLDPRIDE to share their glamour, passion, and influence with the world.
Jonesx maintains that no space is really completely “safe” for anyone but maintains that creating spaces where everyone “can be validated, elevated, and respected,” is achievable.
“I’m producing a story telling series that is going to feature trans, gender non conforming and non-bianry individuals where they’ll get to tell a fun outrageous story of something that happened throughout their daily life just because of who they were and how they choose to present in the world. This is gonna allow mainstream society and other people not within our community to see that these people are human.”
One of the goals of the series is to deter those not within the community from deeming its experiences part of an exclusive subculture. “Like ‘Oh my God ,look what they’re doing’ or ‘Look what happened to them’ like we live in a zoo. ‘Let’s go see the gay people’ or ‘Let’s go see the trans people’ or ‘Let’s go see the non-binary people,’ no! We’re just regular people living our regular lives and this is what happened to me when I was at the grocery store because I actually ran out of groceries because that actually happens to regular people.”