Dinner Lab, Minimal, Design, Los Angeles, Culture

|| DINING WITH T Y R A ||

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

-Eleanor Roosevelt

Dinner Lab, Minimal, Design, Los Angeles, Culture

A few weeks ago I attended a Dinner Lab event at the MaRS gallery in DTLA on behalf of Bunch Magazine. Arriving solo, I found I was in the company of a mature crowd. A situation that could have easily been intimidating I strangely found inspiring. I took the humid night in stride, determined to make the most of it all. I found comfort in the smell of fresh paint emitted from the artwork that hung on the walls. Maybe this accepting attitude amidst the uncertainty was the reason I later find myself face to face with a supermodel. I would soon re-define the impossible. Walk with me…

● ◎ ●

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with p5 preset

With my tea-infused Bombay elixir in hand, I make my way around the venue. Bold aromas fill the space as chef Wes Whitehead preps our meal for the evening. The dinner’s theme is a creative celebration of tea and food. The tables are set in a uniformed fashion, which nicely balances against the free-form paintings and adds a touch of needed structure.

As more guests begin to pour in so do the beverages. With great company came greater heat, and I begin to feel beads of sweat emerge on my face. I find a way to remain positive in thought and regard it as a lovely dewiness. My ears perk up as a familiar face walks by, mentioning something about the bow meticulously tied in my hair. For a moment I think I’m hallucinating as the woman who just took note of my appearance looked a lot like Ms. Tyra Banks.

Feeling a little too warm for comfort, I walk in their direction towards the back patio to grab some fresh air…and maybe excite my curiosity. I wasn’t trippin’ that was in fact Tyra Banks. Just as shocked as one of the cooks out back, he says, “Hey, tell Tyra I say hello.” I laugh it off thinking to myself ” Ya, you and me both kid.” Little did either of us realize I would be engaging in more than a simple hello.

The host approaches, gently coaxing me to take my seat as the dinner is about to begin. As I walk around to find a spot, I notice an opening directly across from the supermodel herself. Is this for real right now? The one spot you would think would be filled in a heartbeat was free and calling my name. I hesitate for half a second only to kill it with action. I decide this is no time to be shy. I make my move. As I draw closer to the table, I realize my feet are moving me forward and there’s no turning back now.

Processed with VSCOcam with p5 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with p5 preset

I approach the ladies at the table to ask if the seat’s taken. They instantly welcome me to the table. Tyra breaks the ice and relieves some pressure by saying “We were just admiring your bow.” I melt into my seat and begin to blush. Smiling from ear to ear I thank her, wanting to say more as I sit arms length from the woman who inspired me to model. I wonder how on earth I managed this one and then I begin to get nervous. I pour some water to re-collect myself and I start to reflect on the irony of the phrase, “Never let them see you sweat.” One thing was certain, with this heat, they most certainly did see me sweat. Humor comes to my aid and a lighthearted smile calms my nerves. I realize I’m sweating the small stuff.

           The conversations at the table come naturally. We discuss art, photography, Quixote Studios and random things like going to the movies alone. Tyra’s friend then asks if I came alone and I surprise him with a yes. They both applaud me for being courageous and mention that I appear young but disprove that notion when I speak. Tyra hints that I’m an old soul and that I fit in just fine. (Who knew sitting at the adult’s table would be so fun)

As the night comes to an end, Tyra begins to say her farewells and I feel an itch to show her my work. Not wanting to force the subject I hold back and almost forget tonight is about being bold. I ask. She openly accepts, welcoming me to sit beside her. She lands on my 4th of July shoot and mentions how photogenic I am to her friend. As she tries to recall the name of an a-typical agency I should look into, she hands the phone over to her friend. He takes a closer look and decides to go beyond the image by investigating my entire Instagram. He notes my catch phrase “transforming the mess into the message,” and begins following my account on the spot.

Processed with VSCOcam with p5 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with p5 preset

FullSizeRender (1)

@Tyrabanks Instagram

As they begin to clear the tables, we find we’re the last of the guests still around. Tyra reaches for her leather jacket and says she hopes to see me at the next DL event. Hoping for the same, I say goodbye as I float on thin air towards the bathroom to go pinch myself.

I close the bathroom door behind me and begin to second-guess this positive encounter. I try to figure out its purpose and begin to fearfully wonder if that was my only chance. Did I make a powerful enough impression? Could I have done anything to make a better connection? Then I stop to breathe, calming the unnecessary tension I created in my mind. Then I realize I made the impressions I was meant to make. Although the circumstances didn’t unfold the way I thought they might, I did make an impression. Tyra Banks noticed me. I received insights on the importance of providing context to your art. I was told I’m very wise and brave, and I earned a new follower.

If I learned anything tonight it’s that anything is possible. I imagined meeting Tyra ten years ago but never in such a casual context. What mattered most was that somehow without any effort, I was blessed with the opportunity to be in the presence of an incredibly influential woman. I got to share a moment with her, and in this light, it was far better than what I originally imagined.

Processed with VSCOcam with p5 preset● ◎ ●

Clearly you don’t have to have it all figured out, and maybe it’s better if you don’t. Maybe this was a lesson in accepting uncertainty, the space that lies between structure and free flow. This is the place where life naturally unfolds. With patience and faith good things will come in unexpected ways, you just have to allow it. As for Tyra, I have a feeling our paths will cross again. So until then, I will effortlessly continue to re-define the impossible.

W H I T E KNOLL DR.

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old,
but on building the new.”
 
-Socrates
 
Photographed by Evan Woods, Ace Hotel DTLA
When I first moved to Chinatown, I was curiously drawn to a large hill on White Knoll Dr. As I ascended, the familiar flow of Jay-Z and Kanye flooded my mind, “Made a right on 79th, I’m coming down South Shore Drive (I remain Chi-Town) Brooklyn ‘til I die.” Only in my case, Chi was short for Chinatown not Chicago, and, well, Brooklyn was close enough to my NY upbringing I suppose. If you’re unfamiliar with the reference, you best get up on your rap game. |Gotta Have It|.
Following my inner gut, I set out to tackle the steepest hill I had ever encountered; a surprising game changer ensued. I found a great view of Downtown Los Angeles including an abundance of accumulated litter. McDonalds wrappers and styrofoam cups adorned the pavement and grassy knolls by my feet. It was at this exact moment a thought ran through my mind and created an impactful wave of consciousness.

// We over-produce, over-consume, and as a result, over-pollute //

One thing was for sure, we need a change. But with change, I realized the first place to start is with yourself. I began to look within and make major amends to my lifestyle. I wanted to create positive and progressive habits for my future self. That same week I came across an article that emphasized the importance of creating a monthly focus and goal. Each month I would hold myself accountable for 31 days or longer, until it formed into an innate habit of everyday life. When I reached a point where I no longer had to think twice, I knew it had become muscle memory, much like memorizing a routine back in my dance days.

Last months focus was body image. This included all aspects such as fitness, my perception of my body, and my eating habits. Prior to setting this goal, my eating routine was heavily influenced by the typical Los Angeles “vegan stereotype.” This didn’t do much for my body, and I was often lethargic. So I took it up notch, tailoring it in a different direction more suitable to my lifestyle and body. Everyone is different. I am very active so I focused on a protein and veggie “diet.”

I say “diet” because I really dislike the word to be honest. When I hear diet I think of deprivation. Much on the contrary, this couldn’t be farther from the truth when it came to my new eating pattern. I began eating more from the earth, which meant less processed foods and I began reading labels.

I wanted to know what I was putting in my body solely out of curiosity. Like what the hell is maltodextrin, for real though? I realized unless you’re buying fresh foods, you’re most likely eating processed food. This then forced me to start from scratch and prepare and cook my own meals.

Green Machine Salad with Quinoa, Mushrooms & Hazelnuts

 

Mix it up

 

I saw this as another artistic outlet to express my creativity. I can honestly say I have never felt stronger, healthier and more connected to nature ever since. My body has noticeably transformed in a matter of one month, more lean muscle and less fat. I am excited to see and feel the continued benefits.

It seems things have a way of having perfect timing. A week ago marked the 3rd annual Food Revolution Day. This global action focuses on getting the youth excited about healthy food, teaching them cooking skills and raising worldwide awareness on the importance of better food education. I guess this is just another form of validation from the universe that I am on the right path. Others are taking note of the same need for a health shift in terms of the food we eat as well as in its production.
These are the things that deserve to be talked about, not Kim K’s extravagant wedding. Food is essential in our overall health and well-being. I know we need a transition, and I believe all aspects of our lives need to move towards a more holistic lifestyle. But first we need to begin with the most prominent, our eating habits.
Shrimp Lettuce Wraps Gingergrass in Silverlake
.  .  .
When was the last time you entirely sat down with company (without your cellphone in your hand) and entirely enjoyed a meal? No not enjoyed, thoroughly tasted the ingredients within the food. Did you pause to notice how the sweet taste of mint complimented the tang of the coconut sauce? Or did you just scarf it down in order to move onto whatever was next on your agenda?
Try using chopsticks next time you dine. It will help you slow your pace of eating as it forces you to consume slowly. (Like I said, Chi-town till I die). In addition, you’ll become a chopstick boss so the next time you’re awkwardly stuffing a whole roll in your mouth in front of your date, at least you can impress them with your technique while looking like a cute chipmunk.

That day on White Knoll Dr. taught me an important piece of advice. Nourish your body with the correct foods and re-learn your ability to taste.

// This is the key to avoiding gluttony and guilt //

No deprivation here, just a keen believer in listening to your body. Plus I’ve always been one to leave room to live a little. Dessert or cocktail? Yes please.

For more tips and insights on my fitness, health/diet and recipes contact me to set up a wellness consultation, msmorganryan@gmail.com

%d bloggers like this: