Making his mark
by Kimberley Cummins
Where have you been hiding all this time?
This is the question that many people have asked Michael Alexander. Some may now be scratching their heads and wondering: Who is Michael Alexander?
Well, this morning when the Barbados TODAY team visited the Colour Box Studio at the luxurious Crane Resort in St. Philip we were able to answer that question.
This newspaper was first introduced to him when he made a guest performance as an Over 21 contestant at the annual Richard Stoute Teen Talent Contest a few weeks ago.
He stood out like a sore thumb, not only because he was Caucasian, but because when he opened his mouth such a beautiful sound came from it that one would have mistaken him for an international artist.
What we learnt was that the man is much more than just an entertainer. At 24 years old, he is a photographer, an agent, an animal enthusiast and a man determined to take Barbados and the world by storm.
Apart from the Richard Stoute Over 21 contest, he has also auditioned for the United Kingdom hit reality music show, The X Factor, but did not receive the much desired “yes” from the judges. His story however did not begin with The X Factor. Rewind two years and you can see him sitting in class at the University of The West Indies at Cave Hill mingling with friends and being indecisive about his future plans. Not even Alexander would have thought back then he would have been auditioning for a reality show.
The former The St. Michael School student said in 2006 while he studied Ecology and worked at Ocean Park, Graeme Hall swamp and on the Sea Turtle Project all he knew was that he did not want an office job.
After just one semester he decided to quit and in 2007 enrolled at the University of Kent in the UK to study Wild life Conservation. It was then at Kent that his life’s direction began to change.
He said Kent had what he considered one of the best student unions in the UK as they have societies for everything imaginable.
“So I became a member of the Photography and Modelling Society because I was also interested in photography and sometimes when I was with the animals I would take snaps of them. So animals got me into photography and I branched off doing people when I joined the society. I never really thought about doing people before, I just liked it,” he said.
Barbadian bred but British born, Alexander said he then joined the Theatre Society but it did not fit him well. On the other hand, when he tried out for Musical Theatre that seemed to fit much better. As a result an opportunity arose for him to audition for The X Factor.
He said he arrived the night before, unable to sleep because of the cold, wet conditions and the noisy people. He went before the judges in a freezing, exhausted state and was unable to give his best.
“You get a little deterred when you get a no but reality shows are more scripted than we think; so there is no sense getting wound up by not making it into a show like that, or any competition for that matter, because you never know what the judges are looking for – there are things you can’t control.
“What I have been doing for two years since I got back is basically work on my photography because I wasn’t able to find any outlets for music.”
With an ambition to create the Michael Alexander brand, he decided to link with some of his connections in the fashion industry to help get started. He started doing work with designer Kesia Estwick and was then contacted by the late fashionista, Barrio Dimitri.
“Barrio definitely transformed me into the photographer I am today. We did a lot of stuff together – all of his personal photo shoots. He challenged me as a photographer so definitely I am thankful to him for letting me be a part of his blog; he was a great guy.
Eventually I got to meet Antonio Cumberbatch, Posh Punk. Also working with Antonio pushed me because he has some great quality stuff and I obviously wanted to know that I was producing something of a high quality.”
With the hope of raising the quality of photography and by extension the fashion industry in Barbados, he later met with models and designers with the aim of bringing the community closer.
This led to designers, make-up artists, stylists and bloggers associating with his brand to bring the best of the best into the light and showcase them, and they in turn help each other to get jobs.
He has many plans for the brand and himself as an artist; but stressed nothing compared to the thrill he got from being on stage and getting the crowd’s response and feeding off their energy he would choose one over the other any time soon.
“Even when I create an image that I absolutely love it isn’t the same as being on stage and feeling that energy. So this is actually the dilemma that I have been having recently and I have been really thinking about it a lot over the past few weeks but I have come to the realisation that they are all intertwined.
“Obviously performers they need photographers but not only do they get photos done but they are also fashion icons. I realised that I don’t have to pick one as long as I can manage my time appropriately, it very easy to do both things. I think I would really like to be a performer as well as a celebrity photographer but I am just gonna let life take me where it is supposed to take me with the whole Michael Alexander brand.
“As well, even if I don’t get to be a performer, I have always had an interest for scouting so I have options, but it’s just deciding which path to take. But I think anything I do is going to be along the same path,” he said. email@example.com