On the blustery streets of Brooklyn, spring is yet to truly arrive, but in a studio up a steep flight of stairs, a leafy, tropical paradise is under construction. Dilone arrives and whoops with excitement, declaring it ‘the coolest shoot ever’. She pulls off her beanie to reveal a very short, very blonde crop — the result, she says, of her innate impulsiveness. Add to that a fizzy enthusiasm and a social conscience and it’s not hard to see why the rangy 24-year-old is so in demand. But modelling is only the beginning. We have a quick-fire question round with fashion’s new face.
1. Were you always interested in fashion?
‘I grew up on Long Island and wore a lot of Abercrombie. When I moved to New York City, that was the first time I really felt comfortable wearing the clothes that I wanted to wear, which were boys’ clothes. I’m so glad that unisex fashion is finally being taken seriously.’
2. You’re one of 10 children — are you all close?
Yes, my oldest sister is like a second mother to me. They are all still in Long Island, but one sister is moving to California. I have been thinking about getting a place in California, too, as I’ve been taking acting classes. The goal is to transition into acting, music and writing.
3. Why acting?
It’s a great way of getting out all the things I want to express — like my righteous anger. I’ve been going on auditions and I am working closely with my acting coach, but I haven’t booked anything yet. We’re going for big roles — I’m shooting for the top.
4. What sort of music do you make?
I have been learning to play the guitar, the piano and I just got a drum set and started to take bass guitar lessons, too. I am so grateful to be modelling because it has allowed me to earn money and pursue interests that my parents couldn’t afford for me — they are both immigrants from the Dominican Republic.
5. You only use your surname in modelling — will that be the same with music and acting?
When I release my music it’s going to be under my full name, Janiece Dilone. I am a huge manifester and I thought that, if I went by my surname, it might bring wealth to my entire family. And I think it has. But I want to bring my name back now. Marky Mark did that when he started acting — he went back to being Mark Wahlberg.
6. You’ve never been shy of speaking out — do you ever worry that people will take things the wrong way?
I think we all worry about that now. I have become so afraid of posting things lately because everyone is so sensitive and you don’t want to say the wrong thing. Differences of opinion turn into people feeling that they are defending their identity.
7. Are you dating anyone?
[Squeals] I am. I’ve been dating her since November and it’s going really well. I’ve met her family and I love them, and they love me. I only came out two and a half years ago because it took me a long time to accept it. I felt like there was a certain way you had to be, as a gay woman. So, to be able to find this connection with her is really amazing. I am too excited about it. I have to pull back on what I post of her on Instagram sometimes. I post things that are a little too risqué and then think, oh, I might delete that, actually.
8. Is fashion doing a good job of being more inclusive?
I came in at a great time — I feel very fortunate. But at the same time, I am tired of talking about diversity. Let’s stop talking about how great it is that you have put a black girl on the cover. It is great, but everyone has read it a hundred times now and I think they get numb to it.
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