LGBTQ&A: Cory Wade
Cory Wade is a gay model, musician and activist best known for appearing on multiple seasons of TV’s America’s Next Top Model. We caught up with the Philly celebrity on his current endeavors and why he still finds it important to speak his mind on social issues.
Years ago when G Philly was a print edition, you graced one of our front covers. How has life been since then?
I look at that cover as if I am gazing into a time warp. I see a more sassy, fiery and perhaps ignorant version of myself, but with sharper eyebrows … I used to get them done ritually. Life has been oh so beautiful since then! I have experienced life for the ebb and flow of highs and lows that it is, and I have stood true to one main objective through it all: to promote free and honest self-expression through multiple artistic mediums.
How have you evolved in the modeling world since America’s Next Top Model? Has the industry changed you?
I probably have a lot of people fooled, but I don’t really come from a modeling background. My first aspiration was in live theater. I was a professional stage actor before I ever really started modeling. Once I started receiving opportunities in the fashion industry, I squeezed each one for everything it was worth. I have had some incredible defining moments along my journey. I hosted and helped to coordinate the world’s first-ever Queer Fashion Week, which is now in its second season. I walked in the final Mercedes Benz Fashion Week show at Lincoln Center in New York, and I have helped to put an emphasis on the local design talent right here in Philadelphia by hosting and coordinating multiple runway events throughout the city. I have definitely evolved in the modeling world for everything I have learned along the way. The industry itself is always evolving. You sort of have to move with it and continuously look for new ways to contribute something of importance.
Has it been a challenge being a social-issues advocate while being a face of multiple commercial brands?
Using my voice for what I know in my heart to be right is never a challenge for me. In the past it has proven to be a challenge for brands that were considering hiring me. Some would say that through running an ad campaign starring Cory Wade, it is as if you are publicly stating that you are for LGBT equality and authentic self-expression. To them I say “Damn right!” I don’t really care if this hurts my potential for commercial success. Supporting the LGBTQIA community right now is supporting the even larger community we know as humankind. I would implore the commercial world to get on board with this sentiment. A lot of brands already are on board, and those are the brands that I am most interested in working with.
You carry various identities being gay, young, and interracial. How do those aspects intersect when you’re striving to pursue your professional career?
I am being genuine in saying that I don’t typically pay attention to these classifications, but I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that they have been imperative in some casting situations. I could be a key component in making a cast of models look culturally diverse. I’ve also played many times a racially ambiguous drag queen. On the flip-side, by the repugnant racial standards of some, I could never be cast as the leading male. As every experienced model or actor knows, typecasting is a business mechanism. It all has to do with our collective stream of consciousness and what we are willing to buy into. If we don’t really believe that a young, gay, black woman could ever be the hero of a story, than she never will be. When we start to truly see people as people, things like race and sexuality will have nothing to do with a casting director’s job unless a storyline specifically calls for it.
Being a local celebrity who has achieved national recognition, what is one serious piece of advice you would give others in this city to consider that you originally didn’t?
When I first started my career in entertainment, I didn’t realize how many resources I had in Philadelphia. In this city, we uplift and support those who are noticeably trying to make a difference in the world. For the most part, we are a loving and forward-thinking community of people. Use this to your benefit! Network with the amazingly talented and noteworthy people who reside here and have connections all over the world! We are also ridiculously close to New York. Take advantage of that as well! I guess my advice put simply would be: EMBRACE Philadelphia. Wear it with pride.