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Ty Cole: ‘I want opportunities for everybody’

Photos: Jodi Foster

Ty Cole has always dreamed of being in front of the camera. From studying industry greats as a child to creating his own videos on his home computer—Ty Cole has worked diligently to perfect his craft as a media personality.

Whether he’s interviewing celebrities on the red carpet or online, Ty Cole always brings his unique, approachable persona to the table. But the content producer is focused on more than celebrity news, he uses his platform to highlight Black-owned brands—urging his supporters to follow suit.

GRUNGECAKE spoke to Ty Cole about his journey in the entertainment industry, fashion and the Black community’s fight for social injustice.

Photos: Jodi Foster

GRUNGECAKE: Do you still remember your first red carpet interview?

Ty Cole laughs.

Yes, I do. I remember it was literally a week after I met up with this company. Shout out to Your Voice Magazine, gave me my first start. Shout out to Wali Barefield, the founder and owner. I remember I’d met him at a volunteer event for DJ Self. I remember I was on as an assistant, but I remember there was an event that was happening for Dream Solve. I remember I was like to cover this event. Now, obviously, I’m saying that because I’m trying to do the interview. He said, “Cool.” He’s like, “We don’t have a corporate sponsor.” I’m like, “Oh, for real?” He was like, “Would you want to do it?”

I was like, “Well, you know those skills, I’ll definitely do this.” I said yes, and I pitched up for it. Shout out to Laurén Media Group, who allowed us to attend the event. I believe at that time, it was her client, if I’m not too mistaken, but don’t quote me on that. I got there, and I was nervous. I was on the line. This is how fate works. I was on the line right behind before now, my friend from Hollywood Unlock, Deja, and my best friend now, Kecia [Kae].

I got on that carpet. It was a nice, cool pink carpet. I talked to Cardi B. That was pretty fun, DJ Self—I was on the carpet talking to them, and then I was networking with so many people. I was next to Kecia on the carpet. She was doing her job, and I remember we got cool because she asked, can she use my light? Because we had a really nice light chat [in between interview]. I was on there nervous, and I started killing it. I remember she had asked, “How long have you been doing this for?” I was on radio in college, but the do-over carpet I was like, “This is my first night.” They were like, “No way.” I was like, “Way.” We ended up being—we had a good time. There was a great energy.

GRUNGECAKE: What do you feel makes a good interview, a great interview?

Tyle Cole: You can come with all the questions in the world, but if you go in there psyching yourself out, if you go in there low on energy, if you go in there not confident, that means you’re not going to perform as well as what you would hope for it to look like. What you would have hoped for to take form for you. I feel like if you come in there with that confidence, it’s going to resonate with the person that you’re interviewing because they’re going to feed off of your energy.

Even if that person on the opposite end isn’t giving you what you’re looking for, not giving you that much answers, you have to bring that out of them. People don’t know how to react when they are being asked questions; in fact, people also are nervous, but you have to make them feel comfortable. I would say good energy and comfort, stability because if you don’t have that, it’s not going to go that well. I always tell people when I’m interviewing them that this is the safe space, and I want you to feel you’re at home when you come talk to me.

Ever since I’ve been doing this, people have been telling me, “You’re awesome, I feel comfortable.” They always come back. Publicists give me their other clients, which is awesome, and I’m grateful for that because I always create a comfortable seat for anyone that I’m speaking with. Good energy and making people feel comfortable.

GRUNGECAKE: Your fashion sense is very bold. Where do you get your inspiration? Who are some of your muses when it comes to your style?

Ty Cole: I’ll be quite frank with you. I look at different people to have inspo to an extent. I’m on Instagram, I may find a fashion brand or a fashion boutique that I like, then there’s two good pieces, and then I put it together. Or maybe I’m on Instagram, and I happen to be on the Explore page, and I see something. I’m like, “This is cute,” and I’ll piece it with this and piece it with that. For me, I really [love] luxury, chic, calm but a little bold. I’m not a person who likes prints or patterns. I love bold colors. I love that rich, luxury look that you can get from someone. Even if I’m in a pair of sweatpants, I’m going to dress it up. I don’t have someone that I look at per se, but I do have a few brands that I do like.

I always look for other brands to see how I can take some of their pieces, mix it with this, and mix it with that. I just look at what I see, but no one in particular.

GRUNGECAKE: What’s your thing? Some people are shoe people. Some people like their jewelry. Some people, a nice coat or a bag. What’s your guilty pleasure?

Ty Cole: I really just started getting into clutch bags. Now, when I was growing up and finding myself, it was taboo for men to have bags, but then now they’re making stuff for men. I feel a clutch bag could really be for anybody, so I love clutch bags. I just got my YSL bag last week that I wanted. I’m also an impulsive shopper, so don’t ever ask me should you buy something, because I’m going to tell you, yes.

Ty Cole chuckles.

I love bags, and I love shoes. Then those are the only things that I feel I would buy that is luxury. I would never walk around with a Gucci shirt.

I also feel luxury items and luxury brands should be accent pieces to a look. You shouldn’t be walking around with name brands from head to toe.

I feel shoes, a belt, and a clutch or a bag. They’ll only be the luxury items that you should be buying. Even down to the shades because let’s be real, the shades, you can find the same shades for $20 or $5. The only difference would be the shades off the [rack] and the shades in Chanel, is the fact that Chanel has their logo on it. They’re going to put more pricing on it.

GRUNGECAKE: You’ve been using your social media to promote Black businesses. Why is that super important to you to do?

Ty Cole: For me, it’s important because when you look at our society, first and foremost, it is unfortunate that there are not that many opportunities for us. We are the trendsetters. Everything that we do, it seems to find its way in other groups, and then they capitalize on it, or they try to emphasize it and make it cool for the world. Where in reality, it was already cool for us. I feel a lot of times; we get the short end of the stick, especially Black women. I feel as though we need to make sure our black dollars are being used for that. I’ve noticed that a lot of times as a community we’d rather support those who aren’t supporting us but not support our own.

I think we say that we want to support Black-owned businesses, but are we actually doing it? For me, I’m going to mean what I say and do what I say. I want opportunities for everybody. A Black person gave me an opportunity. I want to give other Black people an opportunity, so my page is for the land of opportunities. I try to wear as many Black-owned brands that I purchased on my own time, and I try to wear them in my interviews. I try to wear them if I’m getting asked to do a video. Just recently, Hot97 featured me for their hashtag. It was the #EarnMyVote Campaign that they had.

I wore Black-owned brands that were from my friend. His brand was called Because I Am, and it was a hat. I started wearing things made from Black-owned brands, and so many brands, they’ve come in because it’s harder for us to get that visibility. I feel as though I know how hard it is even for myself to get visibility; I want to make sure that my brothers and sisters are getting the visibility that they can if I can help it. I feel there’s a lot of great, Black-owned businesses that people tend to overlook. I think that there’s a lot of great Black-owned businesses that people tend to steal from. I think there’s a lot of great Black-owned businesses that we should be catering to.

We all love a Louie. We all love a YSL. We all may love a Gucci, but there’s a lot of high-profile, luxury brands with Black-owned businesses. If you could spend $900 for some Chanel shades or $1,000 for a Chanel bag, what’s the problem with buying $200 in a Black-owned brand?


Ty Cole: There shouldn’t be a problem with that, now should there? No. We all are treated different; all of our creativity is of this value. It’s of value. I feel as though when you show that, and when other people recognize that because sometimes you have to put it in their face. Sometimes, you got to put it in their face like, “Yo, support this. This is why you should be supporting this.” When you put it in their face, they tend to want to listen because they’re, “Oh, okay, cool.” If you have an influence and you know your followers are going to listen to you, then you should do your due diligence and make sure you’re supporting those brands that you know are good that should give them visibility.

GRUNGECAKE: The Black Lives Matter Movement is at the forefront of everything right now. What can non-Black allies do to support?

Ty Cole: I would say for non-Black people or non-people of color, you have to want to know. That’s where it comes from because I could tell you what to do. I can sit here and give you a blueprint but, one that’s not my job to do that because it’s pretty apparent what’s happening. You literally saw a Black man die on social media, and that’s not the first, and of course, since we have screens, it won’t be the last. Someone got murdered in March we just found out about. There are so many hidden deaths that we don’t even know about from our people. Right now, as we’re speaking—God forbid someone could be dying right now.

I would say, for people who are non-Black or non-people of color, the first step is to want to listen because if you want to do something, you’re going to put in that will to do it. If you want to learn it and be a better human being, you have to want to do so. I would think wanting to do so is a big important step, and I would say listening because, in order to learn, you have to listen. You have to take out what you already thought of, what you were taught, and erase that because you are a fresh slate.

Once you recognize that you have that privilege and you have that power, it is your civic duty to listen to the issues. Since you’re the one in those spaces [and] we’re not given the opportunity to be in those spaces, it is your job to actually fight for us.

Fight for us in a professional manner, not walking around blowing things up and doing the most, because y’all don’t see that when y’all do that, it comes back to us. Because y’all community already has painted a picture of us being destructive animals.

I say listening, because they’re not fully listening. They’re putting Breonna Taylor on Vanity Fair. You’re putting Breonna Taylor on all these magazine covers. You’re trying to make a documentary about Breonna Taylor, but if you all know that what you did there was wrong, why are you not making them be accountable? That’s where the listening comes into play. You’re not listening. You’re doing what you think is the best that would please us. Nine times out of ten, what you think is best for us is really not the best for us. That’s trying to control a situation that you have no control of and that you don’t understand.

GRUNGECAKE: What have been some of your personal highs and lows for 2020?

Ty Cole: I had gotten released from my contract from a really big company in December. I was trying to find my way, and I knew I didn’t want to be an assistant anymore, and I wanted to be a full-on creative. I did not want to run and get someone’s lunch all day long. I knew that there was more to me because I’m over here running to get people’s lunches and being assistant during the day, but then, I’m doing high-profile interviews and hard research during the night time.

A low actually went to a high, because I got hired for a position that I felt comfortable with. Now, I’m a social media manager, but I literally get to learn and work and do different creative things. I get to create content. All these things I’m learning. That was a low to a high.

I will also say a low would be just how everyone else is affected by this. Just seeing how some people have passed away, and so many people have been dying lately. It’s just such a sad thing for me. Even though I haven’t had any personal tragedies of my own, I would say, just to see some of my friends and even family members who are losing people. I think that’s a huge low because there are just so many things that have been going on with COVID. So many things going on since people are losing jobs.

GRUNGECAKE: What are your plans for the remainder of 2020 going to 2021?

Ty Cole: I don’t want to give too much away. I can’t tell you that, but I can tell you, stay tuned. There’s just different conversations. I’m just exploring the opportunities that have found its way in my email and found its way into my publicist’s email. I would definitely say 2021—you will get to see more of the acting side of me. I’m not going to say how or where or what. Probably that, and I would just say, just, other great things.

If you want to know more, follow me at @tycoletv and stay tuned.

Written by Manny King John

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