Intimate Moment With Canadian Top Model, Herieth Paul
Dress to Kill Magazine’s favorite Canadian model, Herieth Paul, recently poses for the lens of photographer Richard Bernardin. During this intimate photoshoot, she shared with Richard and us exciting news about what is happening in her life.
Dress, GRETA CONSTANTINE. Earrings, JENNY BIRD.
WhatsApp – Montreal, February 2, 2021.
RICHARD BERNARDIN: Hey Herieth! It’s Rich! Is now a good time for you?
HERIETH PAUL: Hello, how are you? Yes, it’s a good time!
BERNARDIN: Hey! Amazing!
BERNARDIN: Let me first say that I am so happy that we can do this together… So sorry it took so long to organize but there are a lot of moving parts and I wanted to find a way that is both accommodating and truly representative of the times that we now call the “New Normal” 😅
PAUL: Haha yes, the new normal is definitely taking some getting used to on my part as well. Thank you for your time
BERNARDIN: I hear you… As a photographer, I am so used to moving around constantly and hopping on a plane to go shoot somewhere every week, so it’s been quite the adjustment with the travel restrictions and multiple lockdowns… Anyway, enough about me!
BERNARDIN: So, how’s it going? And I’m so happy to finally get to chat with you! You know I was so excited for us to shoot together again? How has it been since our last shoot together? I remember it was a denim story for Elle Canada… And it was a summer issue (June or July) … Was it 2010 or 2011? Wow it’s been 10 years?! That’s just crazy! Can you give me a quick recap of the decade since I last saw you? 🙏🏾
PAUL: Wow. It has been that long? Exactly 10 years since we last shot together. So, here’s a short recap… I moved from my hometown of Ottawa to New York. I worked with literally every fashion brand I have wanted to work with. I worked with so many amazing people in this industry. Travelled to so many countries. During the pandemic (2020), I got pregnant with my first child and now I’ve moved back home to Ottawa to raise my son. I will still travel but will definitely take it slower now.
Dress, GRETA CONSTANTINE.
BERNARDIN: I know right? 10 years literally flew by… That said, this has to be hands down the best 10 year recap I’ve read ever! So, congrats once again on the pregnancy! You guys must be really excited! I believe you’re due soon right?
PAUL: Thank you, yes super excited. I’m due any minute. But I’m truly excited about meeting my son. I feel like we already know each other since I’ve been with him 9 months now.
PAUL: I feel this intense bond and he is not born yet.
BERNARDIN: I hear you… I have two boys who are now young men, but I completely remember our excitement and the sense of connection during the pregnancies. Good times to cherish!
BERNARDIN: So, it’s Black History Month and I wanted to chat with you about being a Black woman in today… It goes without saying that 2020 was a pretty rough year for everyone, myself included, and the enormity of the social, emotional and financial pressures was truly felt by all. But it was also a year of fundamental growth in many areas of my life: mentally, professionally and artistically. Even if the landscape was unclear at first, I found new and interesting ways to do what I love. How did you “survive” 2020 and how did it affect your vision as a Black woman, actress and model?
PAUL: 2020 was such a challenging year for me as a black woman. I cannot express how much anxiety I felt during those times. Same as everyone, I felt the financial pressure, emotional stress, and physical as well. Especially being in the center of it all while all the balcony lives matter protests were happening. There were days where I felt truly down. But what made me get up every morning was knowing that my ancestors endured so much so that I can be here today, as a black model, on magazine covers, and on storefronts, etc. I think the biggest lesson I learned from the year 2020 was standing up for what I believe in and that so many black women paved the way for me to be able to do what I love. I’m still reminding myself of these lessons today.
BERNARDIN: I completely agree… Despite the enormity of the pressure and stresses we have to remind ourselves that so many before us paved the way for us to now stand up for what we believe and for racial equality. The Black Lives Matter protests inspired many, myself included, to spread awareness of social and racial injustices and systemic issues…
Fabric, STYLIST’S OWN.
BERNARDIN: I’m working on my photographic portrait anthology of Black people of all walks of life (artists, models, actors, politicians and everything in between) who share their insights and personal journeys of Blackness in these times and I’m so glad you agreed to be a part of it! Do you feel called to spread awareness and help people “understand” racism and how has it affected you personally?
PAUL: Congratulations. I’m looking forward to dive into anthology. I don’t feel called to help people understand what black people have been through. Everyone should educate themselves on this. It shouldn’t be up to me to spread awareness. Although, I do feel like I have a voice and I should use my voice to speak about things that matter to me. And that is that black women especially have been put down, abused, disrespected for generations and I feel the need to use my voice to say: Black Lives Matter… Black Trans Lives Matter… Black Women’s Lives Matter… And Black Men’s Lives Matter.
PAUL: I must say, I put industry. I do see a little difference in the way shoots are happening. More people of color are on sets. More hair stylist and makeup artists and photographers and I even had a full black team on a photo shoot a few months ago. And we created magic. Black magic.
BERNARDIN: Amen to that sister… We could all use some more Black magic! And I could not have said it any better… When I first came up with my idea for my Black Is Us anthology and was talking to different people for partnership and collaborations, I always felt that I was explaining racism and worst, justifying my need and the reasons why I was doing this book. And it really got to me. It’s not up to us to educate… All the material is readily available out there if they chose to do so. My ultimate goal for this book is to photograph and immortalize the Black People who have always inspired me and to give them a place to share their thoughts with me. That’s it. But thanks H for your eloquence and candor… Beautifully put!
Dress, GRETA CONSTANTINE. Earrings, JENNY BIRD.
BERNARDIN: So, speaking of the fashion industry, yes I’ve seen a slight amelioration in that there are certainly more Black models on covers, shoots and advertising but I still feel like it’s illusory and not enough. Do you think the fashion industry is really and fundamentally coming to terms with racial inclusion and equality?
PAUL: The industry has been white dominated for so long, and it so lovely to see a little inclusion. I’ve also realized that I can contribute to the change as well, by requesting makeup and hair artist that are people of color. And making sure even production takes part in having more people of colors on sets and behind the scenes. And I don’t believe when I hear people say that there aren’t good/high ranking makeup artists/people of color in this industry. There’s plenty of very talented individuals who never get a chance because of their skin color.
BERNARDIN: I completely agree! Actually, I never told anyone this but to this day I still remember the immense excitement I felt when we first shot together 10 years ago… When I showed up that morning to see that there were three Black people onset (you, Fritz the stylist and myself), I realized that that was the first time in my entire career that I had more than 2 Black people on one of my shoots! Insane right?
PAUL: Yes, me too! That was one of favorite shoot for so many reasons. So many. I’m so grateful to have had this experience shoot with you. Twice now.
Dress, GRETA CONSTANTINE. Earrings, JENNY BIRD.
BERNARDIN: Thanks H. Me too… For soooo many reasons but mainly I am always so grateful to photograph someone as wonderful as you, not only because you look like me and may have lived similar experiences, but you’re also someone understands the significance and the immensity of effort that it took to be the first Black Man to shoot for the Canadian and Quebec editions of ELLE Magazine.
BERNARDIN: I know, thought provoking when you think about it… Anyway, I know this has been longer than we had previously anticipated… Are you okay answering a few more rapid-fire questions before we wrap it up? 😉
PAUL: Yes sure!
BERNARDIN: Thanks H! You are the best… So here goes!
BERNARDIN: What impact do you want to make with your voice in the fashion industry?
PAUL: I want to inspire young women coming into this industry to know their worth. They are beautiful, worthy and highly favored and they should never forget that.
Dress, BALMAIN at THEFASHIONEDIT.COM. Earrings, JENNY BIRD.
BERNARDIN: What has been the most valuable lesson you have learnt about yourself from your work and life as an internationally recognized model?
PAUL: To trust in myself, this industry is so great but crushing at the same. To trust the process and know that a lot of good will come out at the end.
BERNARDIN: Considering the events of 2020 and the still prevalent racial injustices both here and in the US, what tools will you give your child to help him navigate, grow and be strong in this world?
PAUL: To love him unconditionally and teach him that he is a Black Man and he is going to be seen as a threat. To always protect himself.
BERNARDIN: What advice would you give to aspiring models and actors?
PAUL: Stay true to yourself.
BERNARDIN: And finally, what are you most looking forward to in 2021?
PAUL: To be to have my whole family over for lunch. We haven’t all been in the same room in in a very long time.
BERNARDIN: Thanks H! You are the best for agreeing to do this conversational interview with me and an awesome the shoot! All the best to you and your amazing family in 2021!
PAUL: Wow!! Thank you Richard!🙏🏾
Photographer: Richard Bernardin @richardbernardinphoto
Post-Production: Patricia Sinclair @retouche_patriciasinclair