Matisse is a multi-faceted woman whose presence is strong and mesmerizing. She’s bold, funny, and blessed with the voice of an angel. Intelligent and thoughtful, the make-up artist and model brings a well-rounded perspective to the table. Named after the painter and a living vision of timeless beauty, we’re pleased to publish her first editorial as an agency-represented model. Photographed by Taryn Anderson, the images represent the dynamism of Matisse. I wouldn’t dare tell you the wonders of this woman without allowing you a glimpse into her mind – get to know her below.
LF: You’ve spent the majority of your career as a makeup artist, but was recently signed to Wilhelmina as a model. How does being in front of the camera differ from being behind the scenes? Which do you prefer?
MA: It’s still something I’m getting used to. As a makeup artist I don’t have to worry about someone capturing my double chin when I’m zoned out! I’m a control freak and as a model you have very little to no opinion onset. It’s something I’m learning to be okay with. At the end of the day, I don’t get to decide what images of me the world gets to see. That is a terrifying thing for someone like me, but one that is also helping me see things about myself that I didn’t see before. I’m learning to appreciate someone else’s perspective of me and who I am, how I look, what I give off.
As far as careers go, I can’t say I prefer one over the other. I’m enjoying being a model, having my face painted and being pampered more than usual – but it’s all so fresh. Me and makeup go way back. It’s my art. I get to create something beautiful on people who trust me and allow me to use them as a canvas. I get to work with people who I respect in my industry. It is definitely my comfort zone.
LF: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment thus far?
MA: Self acceptance. Self love. Being able to accept my body in all of its forms. If you told me in high school that I would one day be signed to a modeling agency and actually work, I would laugh in your face. My self-esteem was pretty tragic growing up. When no one looks like you in magazines or on TV or in any other available spectrum in the media, it makes it hard to keep the bullies’ comments from sticking. I was called ugly for being different or chubby or wearing my dad’s jackets to school, so it was hard to build that hope that one day things would be different because I wasn’t seeing that anywhere. It’s been a journey to break down the negative voices and I’m proud of where I am.
LF: You use your social media platforms to speak out on social justice topics. What role do you think social media plays in the fight for human equality?
MA: It’s imperative. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr. While it might not be perfect, these tools are where the majority of us are getting our news today. I didn’t become aware of social justice issues until I was grown, which I can thank social media for. We’re glued to our phones. Social media is how to stay connected to what’s happening, it’s how we get organized and it gives us the opportunity to learn about issues locally and globally in an instant. It’s not a solution by any means, but I think a necessary tool. In order for there to be change we need to also do the work, get involved locally. Reposting/reblogging is just one of the many steps to take. I’m blown away at the fact that my niece who’s 14 knows and has opinions on feminism and the Black Lives Matter movement. That’s social media working, and it gives me hope for the future. The last thing I was thinking about at 14 was feminism, unless you count wanting to be a member of The Spice Girl feminism.
LF: What are your top three life goals?
MA: Move to Paris. Hang out with baby sloths. Marry Ryan Gosling.
LF: What inspires you to be driven?
MA: I have a career that affords me downtime when I want it and sometimes when I don’t – so I have to hustle to make my goals my reality or I can easily get too comfortable. Also, women who are out there creating, using their voice and talent to carve out spaces for themselves, which in turn paves a way for me. Seeing that lights a fire under my ass because I want to be right there with them inspiring others.
LF: Last place you traveled to? Describe your experience there.
MA: Work Travel: Miami Swim Week as the beauty director for the HOT AS HELL runway show. Miami was a wild ride and I am beyond honored to have been able to create with those amazing women.
Fun Travel: New York, where a piece of my heart is. A lot of my chosen family live there so I try to go as often as I can to get my fill. They are my people and it’s tough to not be able to be around them every second of every day eating pizza and drinking wine but it makes me cherish those moments even more. Thank goddess for FaceTime.
LF: How do you define love?
MA: One word: Dogs.
LF: What is one example of progress you hope to see in your lifetime?
MA: How do I pick just one? For trans people to be able to exist in public space without being othered by society – like being able to use the bathroom or serve in our military. For the police to be held accountable for the murder and mistreatment of POC. For the government to allow women to decide what is right for bodies instead of a room full of men deciding for us. For climate change to be seen and treated universally as a world issue and not a political choice.
LF: What’s on your bucket list?
MA: I don’t have a bucket list because I intend to live forever.
LF: How fast do you live?
MA: I schedule naps.