Rihanna knows a muse when she sees one! Fenty Beauty has teamed up with Jazzelle, a model, artist, and friend of the brand who embodies that there’s beauty in defiance. As such, the new collaboration brings together the boundless creativity of two trend-setters who play by their own rules. The collection was inspired by Jazzelle, or @Uglyworldwide as the non-binary star is known, and includes two kits that behold seemingly antithetical ideals: the xxxtra icy face, eye, and lip set, and the xxxtra hawt face, eye, and lip set. We called up Jazzelle to chat about what this collaboration means to them, diversity in the industry, the progress made and the work still to be done, the art of self acceptance, and a demand for more unhinged celebrities! Right this way…
Let’s take it back! What was your first impression of Fenty and what Rihanna was doing in the beauty space?
Well, when it came out, Fenty really opened up the space. There was a lot more diversity, even just with their gigantic range of shades, different colors, and opacities. I always really appreciated the brand and that they are making something for everybody, whether it’s a different skin color, texture, or skin type. I thought it was really groundbreaking for sure.
Rihanna was kind of the first to do such a wide range of shades like that!
Exactly. She definitely put her foot in the door and kept it there. And now a lot of other brands [have followed].
How did you start working with the brand?
I first met Rihanna when I walked for, I believe it was Fenty x Puma. That was an amazing experience. It was when Rihanna was stepping into the [fashion industry] and outside of music. That was really cool to be part of. And then, it just kind of grew, you know, I did stuff for Savage x Fenty like runway, some campaigns, and then Fenty Beauty. I did some stuff with the beauty brand prior to this collaboration. So it’s been a really, really beautiful journey.
And this line is all about the duality of experience, I wanted to know what that means to you?
As a person, I like to think outside of the box. As opposed to just doing everything that makes me feel comfortable, I like to do things that make me feel uncomfortable as well, just in terms of growth and pushing myself. So in terms of duality, it’s about accepting all parts of you and both sides of the spectrum. Kind of realizing that, even if you’re all the way to the left, you can be all the way to the right side of this icy, hot spectrum too. Instead of everything being in a line, it’s more like a circle. I really just want for this collection to be for everybody to kind of explore and experiment. Do things that they might not think make sense together!
It’s about embracing it all! And something I feel that you and Rihanna have in common is the ability to be totally yourself. What would you say for people who might struggle with that? Would you have any advice?
I guess on my journey to being confident within myself, and kind of not giving a f*ck what people think, that really came from…well, I’m from Detroit originally and when I was growing up there I was bullied a lot, until one day I was just like, ‘Ok, no matter what I do, somebody’s gonna have something to say. So let me just do whatever I want.’ That was kind of my first step to kind of relinquishing control over what other people are going to say or do. And then, when I moved to Chicago, I met some of my best friends in the world on the street and got heavily into the drag scene and being a club kid. I was a club kid for a long time. All of the queer culture there, and finding my community and my support from like-minded people, that definitely really helped me on my journey to being able to be authentically myself. When you surround yourself with people who are similar to you, or people who you look up to, especially as a kid, that definitely really served its purpose in my life.
I guess if you’re being yourself, you attract the right people. And so what inspired the name uglyworldwide?
Initially it came from when I was in high school, when I was about 14 or 15. I drew and painted a lot back then. One of my friends who was a bit older than me was an artist and I thought that he was so cool. One day, I built up the confidence to show him my stuff to see what he thought of it. And then he laughed at it and said it was so ugly! And I’m like, ‘Ok, ummm.’ I didn’t really know how to take the criticism, but I though I should run with it and use it to my advantage. Then I started tagging uglyworldwide on my drawings, just in the corner of it or whatever. The drawings were always kind of the same silhouette with, like the exaggerated shoulders and a similar face type, look, and makeup. And everything would always change in the world that they were in. Some years later, when I was maybe 20, I found some of my old drawings and realized I’ve kind of personified this character I’ve been drawing for years, so I just changed my name to Uglyworldwide! Now it could take on so many different meanings, and so many people take different meanings from it, which is really cool. But, yes, that’s where it originally came from. But, you know, it’s, it’s grown in meaning since then.
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I love it. It’s from the same seed as owning everything. So you were talking about friends and their influence and meeting people who had more in common with you. Now you live in New York, how does the New York creative community inspire you?
There’s so many different facets of the New York creative community and people coming from all walks of life. I think that there’s always something new to be discovered. I’m in an artistic community as it is, but there’s still so much more out there. Whether it’s fashion or kids or whatever, to the cool older people walking down the street, it all has a charm. I think the most inspiring thing is that the creativity in New York City is just never ending. It’s around every corner, and you never know what you’re gonna stumble into. And that really keeps me excited and makes me love to live here.
Agreed! Having followed you for a long time, I know when you started out in the modeling industry, you felt that agencies didn’t always take you seriously because you had a different look. Do you think the industry has changed? Or do you feel like you were a part of that change?
Um, you know, I always find it really funny to take credit for anything. But…I definitely did! When I came into the industry, there wasn’t anybody who, I felt, looked like me. And at that point, I had tried to model before. But it just wasn’t really my thing because it was like I didn’t fit into this cookie cutter mold of what was happening then. When I came into the industry in New York, I had a rebelious attitude I guess, against everything. I didn’t want to show up to castings in a little black cami and high-waisted jeans. I didn’t want to strip away my personality or change what I’m wearing just to get a job. That doesn’t serve any purpose to me. So, I think that maybe my stubbornness has had some effect—and that’s also was what I was trying to do. I thought, if I have this opportunity, considering, you know, when I did get signed and first came to New York, I was coming off of a co-sign from Nick Knight, who had actually scouted me and we had just done a really big shoot for Commes des Gaçons. So I was just like, ‘Listen, if I’m pushing this door down, let me keep my foot in the door for everybody else to come in after with me.’ I realized that there was real change that needed to be made. Beyond people who look a little bit different but also in terms of diversity in so many different ways.
Do you think that the industry is still lacking when it comes to diversity and inclusion?
I mean, absolutely. I think the biggest thing is, of course, now there’s a lot more diversity, even in the past five years than there was before that. But I’d say representation [in the industry] still has a very long way to go. What I’ve noticed now is that a lot of the things brands will do feels very inauthentic. Authentic diversity—not just trying to tokenize queer people, Black people, or trans people—is a bigger topic. Now, nobody wants to be cancelled. I think that we need to move in a direction where people are genuinely doing the work and accepting other people in their lives. Not just being worried about making money and this and that, but genuinely caring about what they’re doing and what they’re saying.
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Are you hopeful for that?
I am hopeful for that. I think that as time goes on and we continue the good fight, everything will be heard in the end. I mean, we’ve already come a very long away from where we were 10/15 years ago. I am hopeful. But, I mean, that’s all you really can be. You gotta keep your hopes up and look towards a brighter future.
Let’s do some quick fire questions! What Fenty products can you not live without?
I love the Fenty Heat lipgloss, the Cheeks Out cream blush, and I love the Profiltr Instant Retouch concealer: I use that every single day. I love the Diamond Bomb [highlighter] that’s in one of the kits that we just came out with. I’m sorry! This list goes on and on and on! I do so many different looks and they all come in handy and I really do be using Fenty everyday not just because of this collaboration!
Do you have a beauty icon? And if you do, who is it?
I don’t believe in having icons or the idolization of people—I really think that it takes away from you being however you want to be. I do have people who I respect though: David Bowie, Grace Jones, the Spice Girls, and Rihanna, of course. There’s Paint Girl too, that’s a comic book character. But I wouldn’t call any of them icons or idols. I just think that they’re all people with really cool styles!
What else is special about New York to you?
I always grew up wanting to live in New York, because it did seem like such a safe space for people like me. It’s like there’s more like-minded people here, I think. And it’s just been a dream come true to actually make it here after dreaming about it my whole life. And also to be surrounded by such a spectrum of different people and cultures all in one place. Its just really inspiring to live here. I love it!
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What’s something that you value in people?
I value honesty and loyalty and a sense of humor.
What’s something you want to see more of in the future?
I wanna see more unhinged celebrities! I want that old TMZ era back! I obviously want to see more diversity, and to see more people like me, and to see more people not like me. I wanna see more fearlessness in the future. I want to see, I don’t know, more big boots!
Ha! And last question, do you have any NYFW plans?
I always say every single year before New York Fashion Week that I’m going to take it easy and I’m going to be chilled. But I’m sure that I won’t! I’m just gonna be out here in the streets, or at whatever it is that I’m at, serving looks.
Shop the Fenty Beauty x Jazzelle collaboration here.