We had the good fortune of connecting with Ahmad Cisse and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ahmad, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
To envisage is very common for me. And often, the desire to express it surfaces. This attributes to the grounds of pursuing photography as my creative outlet, initially.
I was commonly found in circles in which my aesthetic and style was deeply admired. Modeling came into the picture quickly after. Though, I was not moved by the sentiments to seriously consider this as a career. I was very reluctant, given how fixated I was on photography; enjoying curating and having models help execute my visions. However, this principle could also apply to models looking to idealize their expressions as well. I found that I was able to commit to the transition of taking on modeling by allowing my inspiration to locate a photographer and produce these concepts.
My modeling career took a steady start at a Juneteenth block party in the middle of a pandemic. It was hosted by the well-known local fashion house ‘Detroit is The New Black’. I showed up just to network and ended up being spotted by Rosalyn Karamoko, the founder. We exchanged information with my intention being set as being available as a photographer. Ironically, I was contacted to sit in as a model for an upcoming campaign, although I have never modeled before prior to meeting Rosalyn. Nevertheless, I have always been creative and it is wholesome being able to express it in a myriad of ways, so pursuing a career that is rooted in creativity is a must.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My creativity is the way I communicate and empower this generation and the following generations of/Black youth. To love and admire their phenotypes and receive them as the gifts they are. I advocate for a constructive approach to media and the role it plays in rewiring the thought process of a lost generation. My work communicates that indisputably and it resonates with my audience.
In regards to what sets me apart from others, I would point out ingenuity. Which I feel has its roots in authenticity. Most of which contributes to my aesthetic and style are immutable. It was by staying true to myself that opportunities came knocking. Modeling made its way into my world in that regard. Authenticity and ingenuity are the driving forces behind this particular trajectory. Expressing yourself as you are but in an innovative manner. To bring something refreshing to the scene.
What I am most proud of is the quality work I deliver which reflects in the exponential growth in my growth as a creative and my expanding notoriety. The responsibility and the challenge to continuously deliver content of high caliber is one that I welcome. Because to have my current work eclipse my previous work is what I strive for.
The road to where I am today was not as steady. Keeping up with the pace of my fast growth overwhelmed me occasionally. As challenging as it was, I took it upon myself to remain independent and develop my portfolio to curate my style. Winthin a few months, many agencies came my way in an attempt to acquire my signature. But, it was best at the time for me to study the space instead of jumping to conclusions out of desperation. The determination to pull my own weight reigned over all other incentives. And through it all, I was booked for StockX’s Nike Air Max Day 2021 Campaign. Through patience, persistence, and the support of a few that wanted to see me excel
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Detroit is a city of many gems. Some may not be so popular but such is the nature of hidden gems. One of my favorite spots in the city are DeQuindre Cut for those walks and bike rides during sunrise, It is a pathway filled with art of many forms. From murals, to peculiar structures. It is always motivating being on this pathway because many would feel motivated to be physically active or be in a creative state. So for a stroll early in the day, Dequindre Cut is ideal.
For a place to grab something early in the day, I would say Moor Herbs. I am plant-based and it reflects in my intake of fruits on a daily basis. I love grabbing smoothies from this shop. Moor Herbs is a wholistic wellness store in the heart of the city focused on health and wellness. This is a shop that I have been patronizing and have watched expand over the past several years. If one is plant-based and is health-conscious, and looking to patronize a Black-owned business, look no further than Moor Herbs.
A place to go vibe out in nature would be Belle Isle because of how tranquil it is. To be embraced by the presence of many trees through its nature trails is rewarding. A feeling which evokes oneness with mother nature. Hinted by the name, Belle Isle is an island. With many lakes and ponds throughout, one is able to experience serene waters along with the scenery.
One of the most exciting activities for me is riding on the scooters. Going for a ride around the city is always a thrill. Downtown by the River walk and down to Dequindre cut is always exciting. One may be on the scooters for longer than they would realize given how amusing it is to just ride around town carefree.
As someone like myself that is fascinated by abstract art, Dabls Mbad African Museum is a sight to behold. An outdoor display of surrealism which is conjured when looking at the broken mirrors. Dabls expresses his visual storytelling through other elements as well. This museum nearly occupies an entire block. A lot more can be said about Dabls. It is best to be present and allow the visuals to take you on a ride.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My journey would not be the same had it not been for Matthew Neal. He has been the most invested. After our first photoshoot, he decided to be in my corner instantaneously. He conceived of my potential and acted upon it with such strong conviction. Matt dedicated hours out of the week getting me privy to the business and craft of the modeling and the entertainment industry in general. Through the medium of helping me understand social media, communication, and business etiquette, Matt made sure that I was well aware of where I stand in the industry as a model.
Matt was present for the decisive moments. Helping propel my career exponentially. Matt’s presence was the universe’s way of communicating to me that this was meant to be; along with others that have always stated I should consider a career in this.
Matt is someone I trust creatively. I am usually involved when it comes to ideas with any other photographer. Matt is an exception. He directs as I bring my own flair. The chemistry is evident. As I skim through my portfolio. Our work stands out. Matt’s style is rooted in his precise approach of colors, shapes, and styling ability.
Even outside of creating, He inspires me as the man he is. A husband and a father. A milestone I am longing to achieve myself. I will never forget when we first met. Reading his energy as his smile highlighted that moment. Genuine with pure intent. He is a big brother to me. For that, I express gratitude.
PERSONAL PHOTO @byjvsn ADDITIONAL PHOTOS (in particular order) @imxnder @jstylz.z @by.matthewneal @andreStefon @andreStefon @andreStefon @imxnder