Humans of Manhattanville


Andre Blue

When did you first get into music?

“I started singing in church choir when I was five. I don’t like my voice though. I think its weird. I remember singing for a chorus at my high school. I sucked. I knew I sucked. But there was something about being on stage. I loved it. I started writing rap music…Just the fact that people come out to see me perform is a landmark. I could just be making music in my room.”

What do you hope to be?

“I hope to be hope. My mentor from my freshman year of high school, he was so big on poetry, went to poetry slams every weekend. He’s my homie, my big brother. ‘So you want to be a poet,’ I said. He said ‘Nah, I don’t want to be a poet.’ I was like ‘what do you mean?! Of course you want to be a poet!’ But he said ‘I want to be hope. I want to bring hope to people who listen to me. Poetry is just my tool.’

I could write about all that I’ve been through in my life, but… no, I want to tell people to keep going and stay hopeful.

I want to make people smile.”


Aashana Weekes

When did you start modeling?

“I’ve always been afraid of the camera;I had really low self-esteem. I went to this very Afrocentric event back in September, [the 2016 Essence Music Festival,] and I was like ‘wow there’s so many beautiful people here with their beautiful afros and their beautiful skin tones.’ It was amazing to kind of see a reflection of myself in that way. A couple of photographers stopped me and were like ‘you’re really pretty; can we take pictures of you?’ and I was like ‘what? I’m on the same level as these spoken word poets and these models… People actually wanted to take pictures of me.’ A modeling agency reached out to me, but I’m scared because I’m short. Most modeling agencies will take you if you’re 5’10” and I’m 5’2” so I don’t know how this is going to work. I really want to do this but I don’t want to put my neck out there and then they’re like ‘hey, you’re really pretty, but you’re too short.’”

So what do you like about modeling?

“Ahhh. I don’t like it. No. It scares me. I’m doing it mainly to boost my own confidence, but I really don’t like it. I feel like when you’re being captured, you have a lot of ‘derpy’ moments and there’re a lot of flaws about you that the camera will capture that you don’t necessarily realize. I’ll be like ‘oh okay, I have a pimple.’ But then on camera there’ll be the pimple, and then the pimple has like 20 different cousins that haven’t become pimples yet. And I’m just like ‘Ugh. This is why I don’t like being in front of the camera.’ But I don’t know what I’m doing with my life so this is pretty cool because I can meet people and go to different places.”

So is it boosting your confidence?

“Uh, getting there! Like I’m not afraid of the camera anymore. And it’s not because I’m like ‘oh I look so pretty’— I mean I’m not saying I’m ugly. I’m looking at it like ‘oh, you’re doing this thing that scares you. So you’re getting over your fear slowly but surely.’ It’s a good little thing I do on the side.”