Oraine Barrett plots new path

BY RICHARD JOHNSON Observer senior reporter

Saturday, September 17, 2016

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The fashion industry is known to be fickle — one day in, the next day out. The same goes for models — today you are high-flying and adored, tomorrow forgotten. Models are, therefore, generally encouraged to think of an escape route, a Plan B, for the day the agents and clients stop calling.

Oraine Barrett, Jamaica’s most successful male model, is already on his path to the after-modelling life, even while still being in demand. The St Elizabeth native, who now calls New York City his base, is now a certified personal trainer.

"It came to me about five years ago. I was talking to a childhood friend and he explained that he was now a personal trainer and it’s like a light went off in my head... I thought, that’s great and it is something I could do," Barrett told the
Jamaica Observer. " After all, physicality and playing sports have always been part of my life," he said.

"My interest in sports and fitness goes way back to days at Siloah Primary School where I played cricket... cricket was really my first love in terms of sports. I was a batsman and wicketkeeper. At Munro, I got involved in more sports — track and field, volleyball and most importantly, football. As a 13-year-old, I went to Norway as the captain of a team from St Elizabeth to participate in a tournament there. I also made the daCosta Cup team at Munro, and played in the finals in 2000 against Cornwall College."

Following the conversation with his friend, Barrett, 32, set out on his path to become a personal trainer by applying for a job at Equinox Fitness Club, one of the largest health clubs in New York and, after an interview, was hired on condition he become certified.

In between modelling jobs, Barrett quickly became certified and has since been chalking up successes. He has set up a website and personal YouTube channel to promote his services with the mantra ‘Own Your Body’.

"Right now, anything that has to do with fitness triggers excitement within me. I am pleased with the way this career path is progressing. It’s not about making a lot of money right now, but rather building a steady base of clients and providing a service that will bring in new clients. I feel that so far, my hard work is paying off. I have been named among the top 10 trainers at Equinox and that’s a big thing for me. When you consider there are about 3,000 trainers in the gym... to be named among the top 10 is really great," Barrett stated.

While he enjoys his new-found profession, the man whose face and form has graced numerous glossies, including Italian and Japanese editions of Vogue, for clients such as Ralph Lauren, Lord and Taylor, Macy’s and Target, has no plans to walk away from modelling anytime soon.

"I will continue doing both as they work with each other. I recently did a campaign for Equinox and just completed two shoots for a really good client, but I can’t speak of those just yet as they are not yet out. Retirement is not on my mind just now."

Barrett shot to prominence 12 years ago when, fresh out of high school, he won the Male Face Competition in 2004, organised by local model agency Pulse. Months later, Pulse principals Kingsley Cooper and Romae Gordon took him to agencies in New York where he was signed to Major Model Management and was immediately booked for retailer Abercrombie and Fitch.

"There have been so many great experiences. One that stands out for me is the shoot for Italian Vogue with photographer Steven Meisel. The theme was ‘make love not war’, and it was the time when there was a lot of challenges in the Middle East. It was fun and fascinating, but at the same time there was such a deeper meaning. It has, however, not always been easy and I always tell younger models not to be fooled by what they see. It is a challenging career and not to be taken lightly. Patience and confidence is critical, and that’s the harsh truth. You must be able to cope with a harsh industry."

He reflected on an incident early in his career as a model which was a learning experience.

"I recall going to a casting in my early days. When I got there, the casting director had a photographer and set all laid out. I kept saying to myself this is just a casting, not a shoot. He then told me it was a nude shoot. I was not prepared for this. I was fresh out of Jamaica and St Elizabeth — this was just very weird for me. I could not do it, as I found it inappropriate, furthermore I was not confident enough. The fact that I was so uncomfortable may have been the reason I did not get the job but it was a life lesson."

In addition to nurturing his careers, Barrett has also taken on a new role. He is father to an eight-and-a half-month-old daughter Melraine, who is now his pride and joy.

"I have always prided myself on being responsible and now that is one of the things I think I bring to fatherhood. Because of her, I have so much more drive. I am working to ensure that she has it all... emotionally, physically and financially."


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