Actor & fashion model, Quinton Coleman, joins Cayden for an interview regarding the barriers that Black people encountered in order to be accepted by the mainstream media and in learning to embrace the afrocentric features, historically ‘undesirable’ for television.


QUINTON COLEMAN: Hey, man! How you doing, bro?

CAYDEN: I’m well, how are you?

QUINTON: I’m good, man.

CAYDEN: First of all, this is just so crazy because I’ve been following you for a looongg time, admiring your work, and now we’re talking like friends of 10+ years.

QUINTON: Bro, it’s cause we’re both so driven and ambitious! There’s nothing more I like to see than someone who is striving to make a mark on the world. We get each-other, bro. [Laughs]

CAYDEN: Man! I love your responses already.

QUINTON: Thank you, man! I appreciate you reaching out for the opportunity! I’m beyond grateful to be a part of a project like this, man. And you, yourself, are doing a great job too!

CAYDEN: I wouldn’t want to have anyone else covering this segment! I appreciate you, brother!

QUINTON: Ah, ‘preciate you too mane!

CAYDEN: So before we got on the call, a few days ago, I texted you and asked you to send me topics you’re passionate about. Little did I know you were going to send me a three-thousand word essay. [Laughs] I was actually so impressed.

QUINTON: [Laughs]
CAYDEN: I mean, I asked you for topics of passion and topics you’re knowledgeable of and you sent me two different lists with perfect topics. You were ready!

[Both Laugh]

CAYDEN: So, Quinton, tell me about your career in modeling. How’s that treating you?

QUINTON: Just one thing… I was more into modeling before but recently my interest grew more for acting as I’ve been taking more acting classes/jobs, redefining myself as an actor.

CAYDEN: Oh! Really?

QUINTON: Yeah, man! I feel like acting is more engaging and impactful, I see myself being more connected with people in that career path.

CAYDEN: One-hundred percent! I love that. By the looks of it, you’re well on your way! So proud. Your catalog so far is insane.

QUINTON: Aye! Thanks man, likewise!

CAYDEN: How did you even get into wanting to model? I know that was your first pursuit.

QUINTON: You know, people have always told me that I could be a model, and I had somewhat of an interest in it, but it just grew on me over time. So I just started taking photos—and this was years ago, like 5, 6 years ago.


QUINTON: And I’d just post them and reach out to photographers and stuff like that. But I really started taking it seriously, I’d say, two years ago. Especially now that I’ve graduated high school last year, I auditioned for this acting & modeling school in Times Square and I was accepted.

CAYDEN: Wait, rewind. Did you just say you JUST graduated high school?

QUINTON: Yes, Haha. I graduated last June. [Laughs]

CAYDEN: So you were pursuing your passions before you even graduated?

QUINTON: Well, not to this extent but I was very involved at my school my senior year as well. I was very occupied. 

CAYDEN: I feel that. [Laughs]

QUINTON: Haha, yeah. Like, I ran track and I was in my school’s Business Academy for three years. I was the senior class Vice President and I was also an anchor for our school’s live broadcast. So yeah, I did all that while I was a senior and it was pretty fun though. Really fun year.

Oh, yeah. I was also the homecoming king.

CAYDEN: [Smacks Lips] Come on. Don’t try to slide that in there like that. 

[Both laugh]

QUINTON: But you know what? I definitely put in the work to get where I am now. Hours and days… Nights! You know?

CAYDEN: Amen. I feel it, a hundred percent.

QUINTON: Sometimes, no sleeping.

CAYDEN: MHM! Speak on it.

QUINTON: But, wait. You mean to tell ME that you’re still in High School? You really haven’t even graduated?

CAYDEN: [Laughs] I am a Sophmore in High School.

QUINTON: And you’re doing all this? Keep going!

CAYDEN: [Laughs] Hahahahaa! Thank you, bro.

QUINTON: But, yeah. Back to how I got started. I got an agent and she sends me a lot of castings and she really got my foot in the door when she had me audition for the International Model & Talent Association. I auditioned for two weeks amongst thirty-thousand people. 

CAYDEN: Good Lord.

QUINTON: [Laughs] Yeah. They only accept one-percent of auditioners to this event. There’s two per year. One in New York and one in LA and I’m going to the one in New York, this summer. 

CAYDEN: Wait a minute, you said out of how many people?

QUINTON: Out of thirty thousand people, only three hundred get selected.

CAYDEN: And you were selected?

QUINTON: Yeah. [Laughs]

CAYDEN: I know that’s right! 

QUINTON: Hahaha, thank you, thank you.

CAYDEN: So what made you decide that acting was more fit for you?

QUINTON: It’s kind of life-changing and it could change people’s perspectives on a lot of issues. I feel like life itself is about storytelling and living. That’s what the basis of acting really is to me because you are capturing moments. Like me, I’m more of a drama actor for TV and film, but that’s why I got into that because it’s realistic and I want to do A LOT. I want to have people be able to relate to me on screen and feel what I feel when filming. One thing I really like about acting is that the characters are allowed to express their rawness compared to modeling where it’s more vanity.

CAYDEN: Absolutely. I love everything you just said. Did you feel like you struggled to get into those rooms to do what you claim you want to do, coming up as a model and getting these acting roles?

QUINTON: Well, yeah. In a casting directors eyes, its hard to trust a model who wants to be an actor unless they have valid training and experience. Something that I learned through this whole process is that acting and modeling are two completely different realms and they both require different skills. But I’m glad that I got to experience both. You know?

CAYDEN: Absolutely, absolutely. So, you know that as a model, your image is very important. How you look and the way people perceive you.

QUINTON: For sure.

CAYDEN: It’s generally very easy to identify the ethnicity of a person just by looking at their outward appearance. Especially us of color. In fact, most of us Black folk are profiled in stores before we even get to checkout.

[Both Laugh]

CAYDEN: Yeah, but for real, it’s almost like a trap. I mean, We can’t escape our skin. You know? And I feel like a lot of us have missed opportunities, even if we were all overqualified for the task, we’ve missed those opportunities because we can’t take our skin off whenever its convenient. We can’t escape their perceptions.

QUINTON: Yeah! Like, ‘cause sometimes I do see like when I go to casting calls, sometimes they don’t treat all of us the same and I think when they see a person of color, then they start to decide if they’re really equipped to be there or not. 

CAYDEN: That right there!

QUINTON: And, it’s terrible because, you know, appearance—unfortunately, takes a lot to shine through and it’s not really fair that I have to go through my skin before they really see me. 


QUINTON:  You know, the first impression is lasting and like I feel like now, because it is a different day in age, there’s definitely less of this. You know, people of color are being represented more and I can see a change so, I’m really glad that they’ll be even more involved soon.

CAYDEN: Oh, for sure! Revisiting what you said earlier about the first impression. You’d have to believe that with having a bigger platform and public image, that it would give you a larger responsibility.

QUINTON: Absolutely. Responsibility with my behavior too. I try to set the standard of behavior and really just everything because there are a lot of people that easily influence kids, who are the next generation of our society.

CAYDEN: RIGHT! The literal future. And, I really liked what you just said about trying your best to set the standard because it feels to me, personally, like Black people, often, in every industry, are under a one-strike policy. Meaning they judge us before we even enter the room and then once we do enter the room, one mess up—and it could be the SAME mess up, the SAME way as our other colleagues—but we are immediately chastised. 


CAYDEN: And, here’s what it is. It seems like they already have their minds made up about who we are and they’re just waiting for us to mess up and prove them right. To reaffirm their speculations. And, so I’m wondering what your experience is, specifically in your field, with feeling like you have no room to make a mistake.

QUINTON: In my personal experience, I think I’ve been fortunate enough to have a lot of experiences where my resume spoke before I did. 

CAYDEN: Whew! [Snaps fingers] I know that’s right. Definition of Black excellence.

QUINTON: Haha, yeah. I feel that my confidence definitely shines through anybody’s perception of me. We do often have to prove them wrong. I have to always decide before I interact with people what I’m going to project myself to be. And I know that, in my field, they’re sometimes looking for a perticular person to fit the picture they’ve created, but you have to have enough self respect to know the difference. 

CAYDEN: Let’s go back and make sure to emphasize that piece about “fitting the image,” Because you know that this segment is entitled: ‘The Model Minority’ and I want everyone to understand where that idea comes from. Q, Have you ever seen the documentary: ‘Colin in Black and White’ by Colin Kaepernick? 

QUINTON: I haven’t, actually.

CAYDEN: Oh, my goodness. It’s a must watch, and I don’t just throw that term around. Essentially, in one of the episodes, he broke down his experience while being a biracial child. He grew up in a predominantly White populated area and anytime he’d have an interaction with Black kid’s, he was never able to fit in. He was really unable to fit it with either side. Okay? But what was so profound was the way he talked about defying the stereotypes that were set for us and also how when we surpass the expectations, we become “acceptable” for our kind of people. Now, we all know what that means. The term he used for this was: ‘The acceptable negro’. It was so touching and REAL. And I see it every day in my personal life. The expectations of so many Black students in my area have been set so low that when they see somebody, like me, pursuing areas in which we rarely see people of color and also, where we rarely see people my age, they see us as: “One of the good ones.”

QUINTON: Yeahhh!

CAYDEN: Right? It’s all so true. Colin explained it perfectly. The way in which these major business owners and these recruiters, and coaches, and everyone in charge of choosing people are all looking for a specific type of person and when they do, finally, decide to include some diversity, they’re not willing to include DeMarkus in the hood.


CAYDEN: I mean let’s keep it real. They don’t want your Blackness unless you walk and talk and act just like them!

QUINTON: Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s so interesting to see, like you said, it’s what they find desirable to fit their image. That was really intelligent, what you just said.

CAYDEN: Well, that’s really why I wanted to speak to you. Because, as a model, I know that when you’re going to these casting calls, you’re going up against all different varieties of people. Different ethnicities, sexual orientations, all of it. But Black people’s natural features have been demonized for generations. I mean, there was a time when biracial children were forced to take ‘The Pencil Test” to determine which side they’d be accepted to. What we were born with was unacceptable. So, what I really want you to talk about is, with you being biracial—what are you mix with, actually?

QUINTON: So, yeah, I’m Black, White, Mexican and Puerto Rican and Native.

CAYDEN: Oh, wow. But, yes, these people in charge of selecting people are only looking for a specific type of person from these groups to be able to check the box and say that they’ve included some diversity, but it’s not really a representation, all the time, of who we are as a people. So, do you feel like you often get the best end of the stick, representing both sides, simultaneously?

QUINTON: I never thought of that. I feel like the industry did select a lot of mixed people to represent Black people, but recently, they have expanded and people of darker shades are getting a lot more love. But at one time, it was definitely an advantage. As far as acting, being ethnically ambiguous, I apply for the roles that apply to me. I can say that I haven’t seen as much selectivity recently with this new generation infiltrating into this industry. It’s a new time and with that comes new people. And with new people, they do acknowledge. There’s obviously still racism going on, not only in this career, but I feel like the more our people get recognition and cross over to the other side, then eventually it will disappear. 

CAYDEN: Oh, yes. Absolutely. I think that what you just said was very, very important to reinstate. That the more and more people who look like us obtain those positions of power—


CAYDEN: Yeah, it’s all a system and it was designed this way and it was designed for us to remain at the bottom. So now, we’re seeing so many more people climbing to the top who look like us and we’re getting so much more representation and it’s starting to make the other side a little bit nervous and news flash: we are coming to take your seat.


CAYDEN: Yeah, I keep it a hundred on Trespass—Subscribe for more.

[Both Laugh Hysterically]

CAYDEN: See, the truth is, we’ve never been allowed to climb up—Well, actually, no. We’ve never been taught that we could climb up from the bottom of the bucket and so the more and more people who finally escape the system and start taking those positions, we’ll be able to inflict the change that we want to see. 

QUINTON: I love what you just said and that is absolutely a resolution to this systemic problem because I feel like as a society we’re conditioned to see certain people in a certain way. But yeah, what you said about taking the power is where I see hope. 

CAYDEN: Yes. Absolutely. 

QUINTON: And, it’s sad that so many can’t see that all of us are just human beings, you know? We all bleed red.

CAYDEN: I know. That whole piece about the childhood conditioning is so true, and I always go back to the George Floyd incident. Not because it was one of the biggest miscarriages of justice put on display for the whole World to see, but because I think that a lot of Black people expected to see an immediate shift following his murder. It’s as if we expected all racism to cease and it’s like: “why are we still continuing to see these issues?” Because, look at the generation in which it derives! It’s mostly coming from the people who grew up in the time where it was okay—more than okay, it was praised to crap on Black folks. Let’s just keep it real. And, again, conditioning, we’re raising this new generation differently. They’re being conditioned to speak out against injustice and to truly understand the system so that we can move forward. 

QUINTON: Those were some really great words you just put together. There’s definitely a change happening and you can’t feed a cup that’s full. 

CAYDEN: Say that again!!

QUINTON: [Laughs] But, for real! People who were raised in specific times are going to be less likely to change. It’s ingrained into their being. It’s what they’ve always known. And, I could definitely see major change in a couple decades. It’s definitely not going to be the same, which I am excited for because there are a lot of people who I know get blacklisted from opportunities now, even if they’re the right pick.

CAYDEN: Absolutely! And that’s one thing that’s always bothered me. The fact that you can be twice as qualified— because here’s the real truth… I know multiple people who’ve encountered this issue, one of them being my own mother, in pursuit of her PhD. She’s always been over qualified for any position that she’s applied for. She’s, at one point, had more certifications than my superintendent. Yet, there’s a particular factor in this equation—and we all know what the factor is—that limits her ability to acquire the same positions as her running mate, who is less qualified. And after speaking to my father, I do believe—because two things can be true at the same time—that Black people have been, once again, conditioned to believe that we can’t make it any further than that.


CAYDEN: You know? We’ve been conditioned to believe that: “Oh, we’re just going to have to work twice as hard to get half the recognition. That’s just how it is.” Absolutely not. This generation simply won’t accept it. We were being conditioned to believe that we’re not allowed to move further towards where we deserve to be and I think it’s partially the system and it’s partially our mentality.

QUINTON: YES. That’s what I was gonna say. The mentality. People who are comfortable where they are, don’t move. 

CAYDEN: EXACTLY. And I’m not going to say that the Black community has found comfort in our own oppression, but we have to move to see change. We have to Trespass.

QUINTON: Yeah! I like how you tied that in. [Laughs] In general, if you want some type of change, it does require you to be uncomfortable. It requires a shake and it’s not easy. It’s not your comfort zone that should be your default state of being. We could experience faster growth by being uncomfortable, which will inevitably help us to thrive in those settings. It’s like a chart. You’re either going up, progressing, or you’re not making any progress and that’s what people need to picture. 

CAYDEN: Absolutely. I like what you said about being forced to grow. This is why the name of this blog is so important to me and why I took so much time deciding on what I was going to name it. Exactly what you just said is by far the best definition in action because I know that we’re not comfortable, literally, in our oppression but it seems as though we’re trying to find comfort in what we have rather than attacking the areas we don’t. And it’s subconsciously decided that it’s better to just stay on this side of the line then to trespass and make THEM uncomfortable and also make US uncomfortable until we can reach peace. We can’t just keep having Black people over here, and White people over there, Hispanic people over there, etc…  Don’t get me wrong, it’s always beneficial to have a home base. A community of those like-minded and those who look like you. Okay? But, you can’t stay there all day. We have to trespass

QUINTON: That’s my goal as an actor. To represent where the rest of us aren’t. I feel like everybody should be heard and, you know, we’re powerful together and I’m glad people are finally realizing that now. 

CAYDEN: Love it. And it’s my mission to make sure everybody knows what’s really going on and to give them the necessary resources to be able to make the change that we all want to see.

QUINTON: Well, thank you so much for the opportunity, man. 

CAYDEN: Thank you for joining! I think we had a really good conversation.

QUINTON: Yeah, man. Keep it up! You’re doing big things.

[Both Laugh]

CAYDEN: Thank you! You do the same. I see so much success in your future.

QUINTON: Same to you, bro.

CAYDEN: Alright, well, that’s it, Q. I appreciate you again, and we’ll talk again soon!

QUINTON: Bet. See you, bro.


Featured Image: Lina Bo

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