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NUNN ON ONE: TV Chicago native Law Roach on judging 'Next Top Model'
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times

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Stylist Law Roach is hitting the big leagues these days. Hailing from the South Side of Chicago, this fashionista is changing the way celebrities are viewed. After taking over singer Celine Dion's wardrobe, the media has taken notice and applauded the change for the icon.

Roach has designed for performer Zendaya since she was 14, turning the Disney star into one to watch. He created the shoe line Daya with the young artist as well.

Now he joins singer Rita Ora, model Ashley Graham and Paper Magazine's creative officer Drew Elliott on the judging panel for the newly revamped America's Next Top Model.

Roach dropped into his hometown to talk about the show over the holidays.

Windy City Times: After watching America's Next Top Model, are you happy with how it turned out?

Law Roach: I was really happy. I think they did a really good job. It is hard for me to listen to my voice sometimes.

WCT: This was your first time on a reality show?

LR: It was.

WCT: How were you with the cameras?

LR: I had done everything that I needed to do with my clients to prepare. I did all of the award shows and the press. When it came time for me to do this I understood the dynamic of it. I was still a little scared.

I sat next to Ashley Graham. She held my hand through the first few episodes. She gave me a little nudge when I was supposed to say something. She was really great to me.

WCT: You are from Chicago?

LR: Yes, the South Side. I grew up all over the city. I went to Chicago State University.

WCT: Did you study fashion?

LR: No; I actually studied psychology.

WCT: Well, you are getting inside the head of celebrities these days. Is your real name Law Roach?

LR: My name is Lawrence. It is a derivative of that. I have been called Law ever since high school.

WCT: You made the stylist gig happen yourself?

LR: I did. I had a store called Deliciously Vintage in Pilsen that I owned with my best friend. It was really popular. One day Kanye West came in. We got a lot of press after that. We started getting many calls from different stylists. We had people stopping in from Paris and Milan.

It became interesting to me that this was an industry that was thriving. That is what I was doing anyway. I was very hands on with the customers. I was doing shoots for the store.

I decided to be a stylist. I was at the right place at the right time.

WCT: What's your opinion on stylists like Rachel Zoe?

LR: She is someone I would love to pattern my career after. The brand she has become and built for herself is enormous. She's very inspirational.

WCT: Talk about your journey to America's Next Top Model.

LR: It was through word of mouth. The producers of the show had heard about me and my clients. They called me in for a informal meeting. I told them my story about how I didn't grow up with much in the South Side of Chicago. I was very transparent about the things I had to grow up with. That spoke to them. I had the opportunity to work with some great people in my career. I think they thought it was interesting and they offered me a job.

WCT: You had some strong opinions on the show.

LR: I am definitely opinionated.

WCT: I liked your braids that you wore for panel.

LR: Thank you. You will see more of that throughout the season. I wanted to create a character. I wanted to have ambiguity if I am with my clients. If I am on TV I would have the long hair. With just my baseball cap I can sneak through!

WCT: We might get mobbed at the coffee shop next time. Why did they revamp America's Next Top Model?

LR: It is a totally different demographic. I think we are able to reach a different girl that didn't watch Top Model, as well as the faithfuls that follow it.

WCT: Was Tyra Banks hands-on [in] producing it?

LR: I am not with that part of it, but she was very hands on in the editing. I saw a post that she was in the edit bay.

I did get to meet her on one of the episodes then she called me and we had an amazing conversation. I thanked her for being her. I don't think Tyra gets enough credit for everything that she has done and the career she has had.

This woman had an enormous franchise then went back to business school. That is something to be congratulated. She didn't even have to do Top Model. She could have just been pretty.

WCT: I don't think she needed the money…

LR: No. For me, she is a role model because she is not complacent. She wanted more knowledge and success. People don't talk about her enough in that regard.

WCT: She's very smart.

LR: And so beautiful. When she walked in I was so nervous. I was on the panel and really into it. I was on fire! I didn't know she was still there. I'm glad I didn't know she was there, because she makes me nervous and they wouldn't have gotten any of that.

WCT: How was Rita Ora to work with?

LR: She is so sweet and a beautiful spirit. She has a really innocent quality about her. She showed that a lot with the girls. She cared about every single one of them. Every cut took a little piece of her. She is very sincere. I hope people get a chance to see that, because we saw that every week.

WCT: There weren't any Chicago models?

LR: There was one from Chicago, but she was cut.

WCT: That was a tough round before the finalists.

LR: There were a couple of plus sized models that auditioned. I know Ashley wanted to have a plus size girl on the show, as we all did, but if they don't have it then they don't have it.

We had to pick the best girl that could win the competition and represent the brand.

WCT: I was hoping the trans model would go further.

LR: She was a mess. I heard the story about a girl bullying girls, but we didn't know who it was.

WCT: So you won't ever see the behind the scenes at the model house?

LR: No, but we do hear the gossip. We might have heard about about a certain model, but that is not what the show is about.

WCT: Are there photographers from past Top Model shows on this season?

LR: Drew, from Paper Magazine, was the creative person on the show. He put all of that together. We did have some amazing shoots and challenges.

We had several social-media stars come on the show. Zendaya is on the show.

WCT: That is your girl.

LR: That is my girl!

WCT: What is something about Celine Dion that surprised you after working with her?

LR: How human she is. When I got the job I was freaking out and wondering if she would be a diva. I thought, "If she is a diva, then she deserves to be a diva. It's Celine Dion!" I was ready to shut my mouth and do my job.

From the first fitting we were rolling on the floor laughing with each other. She is humble and silly.

She is like an angel. If I come in and my energy isn't what it should be, she will stop me and ask me if I am okay. [Does Celine Dion French accent impression] "You are not the same today!"

It is so refreshing that someone with that amount of success is so tangible.

WCT: Is there someone you would like to style, but haven't?

LR: I don't have a dream client. I believe we are put in each other's lives when it is supposed to happen.

Celine has said it in many interviews that what we did in Paris for her clothing and fashion helped in her healing. I think the universe put us together at the right time. She was there creatively and let me fly. She gave my career a huge boost. When she said that it brought her happiness to work with me, I was done! I was in tears.

WCT: That is beyond money that you were paid.

LR: That is beyond everything.

WCT: What are you hoping to get out of being on Top Model?

LR: I wanted to step out in front of the camera and do something for me. I wanted to build my brand more. I wanted a platform to teach people about this business. I didn't get a chance to be anyone's assistant or intern. For me it was trial and error. If I can cut down the errors for someone else I would love to be able to do that.

WCT: Have you ever talked about being gay?

LR: I have not. I did an interview for Out Magazine but they didn't ask. They automatically assumed. Yes, I am gay.

WCT: What would you say to the little gay, Black, South Side kid growing up there now?

LR: Standing here is proof that anything can happen. Everything is possible. I went from the South Side of Chicago catching the 4 Cottage Grove bus to flying private with Celine Dion!

America's Next Top Model airs Mondays at 9 p.m. CT on VH1.

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