Meet Felicia Hyson:
FORTY, FEROCIOUS, FEARLESS, PHENONMENAL, FELICIA
It was April 1999, and I received a call from a young woman asking that I produce a fashion production for the brand Seagram’s America called “Absolut Africa”. I called a fellow fashion producer/director and asked if he knew of any female models to participate in the show. That was the moment I met Felicia Hyson.
Barely 19 years old, and standing at 6’ Felicia reminded me of a clean canvas ready for artistry. She had no make-up. She wore a black catsuit. She stood with her hands at her sides as if she’d done this type of interview many times. She had a refined quality about her that was poised, elegant and regal. When she spoke, you could hear her innocence. But when she was asked to walk, she demanded every step she took. Even in a catsuit, I envisioned her wearing every designer collection I could imagine. I knew I had to work with this vision of runway royalty. Now, in her fabulous 40s, a mother, a licensed aesthetician, and still one of the most incredible models King & I Productions have worked with, WE are honored to present the April Model Spotlight – Felicia Hyson.
ALVIN: What first inspired you to become a model?
FELICIA: The first thought that comes to mind is being 12 years old, standing 5’8” and constantly being told by so many people that I should become a fashion model because of my height. I admired and idolized top supermodels like, Iman, Tyra Banks, Veronica Webb, and Linda Evangelista. Growing up, I would flip through fashion magazines at the grocery store instead of the popular magazines for kids just to see fashion models. I couldn’t’t wait to see who’d grace the covers of Vogue, Elle Magazine, and especially the featured designers that caught my eye. I gazed at the pages for hours cutting out certain ones and making collages of all my favorites. I was even interested in becoming a fashion designer. One of my favorite American designers was witnessing the clean lines of the Calvin Klein collections. Seeing Calvin Klein models walking the runways in his clothes increased my desire to jump on the runway that very instant. Another designer that inspired me was John Paul Gaultier and his eclectic, flamboyant collections that brought out that burning desire inside of me to become a fashion model. I surrounded myself with fashion inspiration. From the ages of 12 to 14 I envisioned myself on the runway in my head, in my bedroom, and down any hallway I could find to finally being booked for my first runway show at the age of 15.
ALVIN: How did you feel when you did your first ever fashion show or a photo shoot?
FELICIA: Well, (giggle) I was so incredibly nervous because everything was so foreign to me. At the time, all I’d been exposed to were the pictures of models through magazines and movies. Unfortunately, none of those things came close to preparing me for what was actually happening behind the scenes, the amount of work that goes into being a professional model, and the amount of people that it takes to bring a fashion show to life. I was so excited, yet I also felt like I could blow it! It was a local fashion show. I remember my first outfit being styled with a 6” stiletto of which made me feel amazing in some way and kind of ridiculously awkward all at the same time. I said to myself, “this is it, and you’re going to kill it!” And at that moment, it hit me that I had absolutely no idea how to walk in 6” heels so I envisioned Tyra Banks walking down the runway. I was giving the "walk" all that I could and was doing just fine until making my exit from the runway and my ankle twisted and I thought I would fall but I caught myself. I remember feeling my entire body tensed up as the heat rose from my toes to my heart! I felt like I going to be sick. The audience gasps were so loud it was like a roar. I regained my composure as I found my stride, turned around, took one last pivot, and walked off the runway as gracefully as I possibly could! But to my surprise, the audience actually clapped for me. That feeling was exhilarating! The butterflies never went away but, I was so relieved, and grateful that moment was over. It was at that moment I realized this is something I want to do over, and over, and over again.
ALVIN: Did you have a role model as a child and how did that influence you to become a model?
FELICIA: My very first role model was the actress Diahann Carroll and her role as Dominique Deveraux in the Dynasty television series. I seriously wanted to be this woman when I was a very young child. Her finesse, grace, poise, sharp tongue and of course her wardrobe had me captivated as a young girl. It was because of my interest in Ms. Carroll that persuaded my mother to enroll me in etiquette classes and I still remember some of my lessons to this day. As I grew older, I realized it was my mother and my aunt Sharon that are my actual role models. My mother, a strong willed, caring and considerate woman opened my eyes to so many new things. My aunt had the wit and sharp tongue which helped me in many different arenas in life. Diahann gave me the visual of what I could become by displaying her poise of which I’d been copying since my childhood. Without a doubt, it was my mother that motivated and encouraged me as a teenager to always follow my dreams. My aunt was the one who instilled in me the confidence and would tell me, “screw everybody you’re the best” which was what I needed to hear to keep going forward in the most difficult situations.
ALVIN: What did your parents think of you being a model and were they supportive?
FELICIA: My parents were extremely supportive and always believed I was meant to be a model because I talked about it from a very early age. When I began modeling professionally, my mother was literally my “Momager”. Her excitement kept me excited and I loved the time we spent together as a team going from one audition and “go see” to another. My dad was a “Proud Dad” and would support financially and attend just about any show he could. He’d make a point of staying out of photos so I could be the center of attention, and was delighted to be called for a photo-op with me.
One particular experience I recall was getting my first opportunity to model for a King & I Production during the National Urban League Conference in New York City. My mom was over the moon ecstatic about this booking and was not going to miss this show. For our evening prayer, we decided to walk around the city, reveling in all the sites, and talking about the future. The next day, I recall returning from an early morning fitting when my mother fell ill in a cab. She had been dealing with cancer and I didn’t know to what extent of where she was with her treatments. My mom was not always forthright about her illness with me and my two brothers. As she rested for most of the day leading up to the show, by showtime she was bright eyed and in attendance concealing pain and sickness. I didn’t’t understand how she managed to make it but she always did, with a radiant smile that never broke. She was my cheerleader and all that I needed. The following year, my mother with all of that love, excitement, and fervent persistence passed away. I still feel her presence alongside me paving my way and rooting me on in every moment and milestone.
ALVIN: If you were not a model, what other profession would you be doing instead?
FELICIA: In addition to modeling, as a kid I thought of becoming a school teacher. That became a deferred dream because while my mother was battling cancer, I would often find joy in massaging her legs and feet which she enjoyed. She always said I had the best touch so I became interested in massage therapy. This ultimately led to my desire of owning my own spa. While pursing my dreams of owning and operating my own business, I’m currently a licensed esthetician and I specialize in waxing, facials, and body treatments of which I thoroughly enjoy providing great services to my loyal and new clientele through my business KoySkin LLC! My focus and most sought-after services are Brazilians waxes and brows for women and men.
ALVIN: How do you cope under the pressures of being a model?
FELICIA: (Sigh and Smile) I give my mother full credit for giving me the strength to not always listen to those people who are so “industry” they don’t understand how poorly they speak to other people. In my more professional shows, I have always been on the bigger side at either a size 6 or 8. There were plenty of “fitting dilemmas”, yet I never felt too bad because if there was nothing to fit me then I guess that show just wasn’t for me. I’d only been excluded from one show in my career but there have been plenty of times where I felt like I had to wear the shapeless garments. However, there were fabulous shows where I was chosen for my curves and those were the absolute best kind of shows!! The pressure for me always fell on weight but I never got to a point where I felt something drastic had to be done. There were not so good days but I put on my smile like my mom taught me and did my job! I’d tell myself, “they’re going to get this lil’ tummy today!!” (Laugh)
ALVIN: Would you allow your son/daughter to become a model if he/she want to?
FELICIA: As a mother I would support my daughter if she wanted to become a model. I would want to be very present throughout her journey. As a teenager I’d want to make sure she is equipped to handle the things people say and how she would be treated working in the fashion industry. I’d also want her to know that I would always be her support system so anything she needed she could come to me and I’d be her biggest fan just like my mom was for me
Photography Credits: by @domoshotme @phelanmarc
Makeup Credits: @akuarobinson @fvartistry/Danni Sellers, @mywinknpout, @theekymlee
Hair Credits: @phrenchmade; Angela Phrench, @only1gerald
Styling: @fvartistry/Danni Sellers, @Kingandiproductions, @sylverwear
Video Presentation by: @kxdache Avyon Lanier
Designer Collections: @earlebannister, @urbanarmor by Sandy Neal
King and I Productions LLC “Absolut Africa Tour” DC / CHICAGO / PHILADELPHIA