Raquel Heslop...runway girl
BY CECELIA CAMPBELL-LIVINGSTON Jamaica Observer staff reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
THIS is the 10th in a 12-part series looking at Jamaicans who have excelled in the tri-state (New York, New Jersey and Connecticut) area's entertainment and leisure industry.
RAQUEL Heslop has had a pretty successful career as a model in the United States. She credits the lessons she learned from her grandfather for those achievements.
The Kingston-born Heslop migrated to the US in 1995 at age six and has forged a solid fashion career, appearing in ads for United Colours of Benneton, JetBlue and iPad.
"Being a Jamaican, I stay on my Ps and Qs. I keep my National Anthem in my head and always keep the principles I learned from my grandfather in my back pocket and front pocket," she told the Observer.
One of the New York-reared Heslop's biggest assignments was the JetBlue commercial in March 2009. It was not her first gig for the airline but she beat over 500 aspirants for the job, which gave her a sense of pride.
However, she says the most fulfilling job was strutting the runway at the BMW Fashion Show in South Africa that year.
"Nothing has topped it. Being in the Motherland, I felt comfortable and at peace. I travelled through Cape Town as if I was back home in Jamaica... free and at home," she said.
Heslop spent her formative years in Havendale and attended Lannaman's Prep School. She got involved in the fashion industry in 2000.
Her first job was a spread in the New York Daily News. There were challenges then and now.
"If there are 30 black models being booked, only one would be chosen at the time I started, until now," she said.
Heslop has sought a career in acting. She had a non-speaking role in the Oscar-winning movie The Wolf of Wall Street and appeared in the popular television sitcom, Ugly Betty.
For Heslop, giving back to Jamaica is important. For the past eight years, she has returned to the country for a New Year's Day treat for children at the University Hospital of the West Indies.
"It's great for them to start their year off with a smile," said Heslop.
Looking ahead, she plans to train up-and-coming models through her New His Her Walk school in New York which she hopes to launch this year.
Heslop is a board member of Fashion Week Brooklyn and a host of the television show, Fashion Forward on Dancehall Connections which airs in the tri-state area on Cable Vision.