‘I feel like the hometown boy that did good’
Tyson Beckford talks family and plans to retire in Jamaica
“It’s not about keeping up an image; the fashion industry – being in front of the cameras on and off the runway – can be exhausting at times. There will be people who tease and make fun of you, but be yourself, be the individual that makes fun of his or her own self, and once those looking at you realise that nothing they say irks you, they will back off.”
Words of wisdom for youths about handling criticism and for anyone who may be dealing with an intimidator from Tyson Beckford, one of the world’s most influential male faces of fashion. Between his signature facial features and strong presence, Beckford is laid back, ready to offer an opinion about the goings-on of the world, and he can be described as a ‘simple yute’, not the millionaire model.
“It’s a gratifying feeling; I feel like the hometown boy that did good,” Beckford told The Sunday Gleaner in an exclusive interview during a meet-up with Cooyah’s directors at their store location earlier this week.
The model, actor and producer said he visits Jamaica at least once a month, and it’s never about the media or any public engagements. Before 2022, Beckford’s last trip to Jamaica was in December 2019. He recently travelled to the island in May and then again in June, and he is back in July, this time around, for a special occasion.
He shared, “I live in Miami, so it’s only an hour and [a] half on the plane, but my nephew graduated from Jamaica College, [so] I came to support him and show him some love. We’re getting in some one-on-one time, grabbing lunch together and just relaxing.”
ONE OF ‘PEOPLE’S’ 50 MOST BEAUTIFUL
He has been described as one of the most successful black male supermodels of all time and is one of the first black male models to receive supermodel status, achieving some of the most significant contracts since the 1990s. One of the more prominent deals was with fashion giant Ralph Lauren. Beckford, who is of Jamaican descent, was named one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in The World by People Magazine and was also one of the leading pop culture figures in the fashion industry for the greater part of 20 years, having appeared in numerous music videos, television commercials, and films. The billionaire fashion designer, Ralph Lauren, attributed Beckford’s success to his “all-American look with a dramatic edge”. He also stated that as the face of his brand, he conveyed power, style and intelligence.
That dramatic edge, Jamaica could take credit for. “As many times as I shoot for magazines, I always tell them Jamaica is a good place to use as a backdrop for the photoshoots,” Beckford asserted.
He has engages in many discussions on social media, speaking about the small country’s big influence, the economy, and socio-political issues, as a means to “[stay] informed”, he said, especially because he intends to retire in Jamaica.
“Honestly, it has been rough reading the Jamaican newspaper publications, just seeing from a distance what goes on here on the island as it relates to crime,” said an emotional Beckford, who has in several interviews agonised over losing a brother to the hands of violence. He has also revealed having anxiety during the earlier years of his career and being in the streets from one casting call to the next.
“There’s too much violence, and it’s so many young people [who are] being affected by it directly and indirectly,” the supermodel said. “It’s hard, but I continue to comment every day. I want to know what’s going on here because I eventually want to move back when I am finished in the States.”
Beckford shared that he is at the stage in his professional career where he can choose the projects he signs on to and can spend six months back and forth from Jamaica to the US. “I get away from everything else when I am in Jamaica. I love it here. My father and brother, family and friends still live in Kingston; it’s home,” he said.
Cooyah co-director Gary Codner said that Beckford’s Jamaicaness shines through in how he interacts with people and that the brand welcomes the supermodel with open arms.
“What he did for Ralph Lauren, no other model has ever done. He is truly a yardman by blood and by his spirit. That energy is contagious,” Codner said.