Location: The Canonbury, Islington, London
We drank: Sambuca shots followed by whiskey on the rocks
The Canonbury was surprisingly quiet for a Wednesday evening. Which was a blessing, as the presence alone of our small party could overwhelm even the largest of venues.
I slid into a luxurious booth in the most private corner I could find, followed closely by the notorious Harry Uzoka, Boyd Alves and Chuck Achike. Jay Best slipped a tray of Sambuca shots on to the table, we eyed them with caution, but within moments there was a familiar slamming sound and an array of empty shot glasses lay scattered across the table. It was then that I knew that lines would definitely be blurred that evening.
Harry, Boyd and Chuck have made their names as models and are signed to the prestigious Premier model management. However, it would be a grave mistake to label them as simply models, there is so much more to these boys than that.
Harry, Boyd and Chuck are part of Justanorm, a six-piece creative movement set on conquering the world, one industry at a time. Justanorm is also made up of fellow successful models; Jeremy Boateng, Jamal Gordon-Lynch and Dylan Williams.
As Harry spoke about Justanorm, his infamously dark doe-like eyes bore into mine, the passion was palpable in his voice. He explained: “Justanorm is trying to do everything, we are not bound to any particular industry. We are very much in fashion now but we will get involved in music, film, comedy, anything we can get our hands on.”
He sighed and said frankly: “To put it simply, we are six young black models who want to learn as much as we can, as fast as we can and try to do it better than it has ever been done before.”
Chuck and Boyd nodded in unison whilst Harry spoke. Harry added: “We come from humble backgrounds but we are doing jobs that completely contradict that. However, when we go home after a shoot, we are back in those humble places. We are still normal boys and that’s what Justanorm is, that contradiction between high fashion and us just being out here. It is a beautiful contradiction.”
The Justanorm boys met each other whilst at castings and soon formed a close bond due to being a minority in a famously small industry. Harry said: “Models tend to all know of each other, especially black models. The percentage of us is quite small, so when you see one you tend to notice them. The rest just fell into place and Justanorm was formed.”
In an industry that is notoriously competitive, it was refreshing to hear that the Justanorm boys had used their similarities to their advantage. I told Harry this and he smiled softly: “Thank you, that is so kind of you. It makes us powerful and enables us to stand out. We are just working hard on everything we do. We want to put our souls into everything, we are going to give you our souls.”
He added: “We put so much love and energy into Justanorm that individual success is forgotten. Everything we do is for Justanorm, never for personal gain.”
Boyd looked up intently, he smiled softly then added: “We represent love, everything we do or say to each other is always said or done with love.”
At the tender ages of just 20-years-old (Chuck) and 21-years-old (Boyd and Harry) the boys have already had spectacularly successful modeling careers.
Collectively, they have modeled for a number of fashion powerhouses including; Alexander McQueen, Adidas and Zara.
Their most recent collective venture saw them starring in the fashion film for avant-garde sportswear extraordinaire Joseph Turvey’s collaboration with River Island.
Chuck flashed a sparkling grin, as he recalled the day that Justanorm shot the fashion film. He ran his hand through his thick golden hair and said: “It was a career highlight for all of us. It was a long day but everyone involved enjoyed it and embraced it. It really was a game changer for us, we all completely excelled.”
Thoughtfully, he added: “To be thrown in the deep end working with the highest caliber of talent such as River Island and Joseph was crazy. We really evolved as a team that day, it was an incredible experience that I will never forget.”
Throughout the interview the boys were relentlessly mischievous, faultlessly courteous and disarmingly charming. Without warning Harry took my hand in both of his and stared at them whilst Chuck commented that he liked my nail varnish.
They were high-octane and playful to say the least. On more than one occasion, Harry or Chuck accidentally kicked me under the table. It hurt more than I let on but they immediately noticed my discomfort and apologized profusely.
Boyd wore an exquisite gold ring that immediately caught my eye. He revealed that it was a family heirloom. He pulled the ring from his finger and it spun around the tip for a moment, before he put it straight back on. He said softly: “I don’t even want to take this off, I can never lose this! My brother and I both have one, it was given to us by our dad. We intend to always keep it in the family, I’ll pass it on to my son and he’ll hopefully pass it on to his son and so on.”
Behind their dazzling charisma, filthy humour and charm, their most admirable trait was the chemistry the three boys shared. They had an undeniable connection and would often get lost in what one of the others was saying. They shared the kind of intimacy that can only come from people who truly live out of each other’s pockets.
They constantly empowered one another, complimenting their fellow Justanorm boys or people that they have worked with or admire in the creative industries.
They often had us laughing until our sides ached but above all their positive energy that was truly inspirational. The way they repeatedly celebrated each other’s achievements was truly admirable. I decided to put their complimentary natures to the test and challenged the boys to reveal what they liked most about each other’s physical appearance.
Harry turned to Boyd and studied his face, then he smiled and said: “Boyd has this really regal look, he’s great with tailored shoots. Oh and I love his hair, he inspired my hair.”
Without hesitation Chuck chimed in, “Look at Harry’s cheekbones! They are so fucking sharp!”
Harry laughed long and hard, he pointed at Chuck and said: “Obviously Chuck’s eyes. Do you know how much trouble he gets us in with those eyes?”
Unsurprisingly the boys have a large female following. A peek at their Instagram comments will reveal numerous declarations of love from endless girls. On behalf of all of those girls, I wanted to find out what kind of girls caught the eye of the boys.
Without hesitation Harry adamantly said: “I don’t want a housewife, my girl has got to be a go-getter. We have to be out here, making things happen and being powerful together.”
He pondered: “The physical side of women doesn’t bother me so much, as long as she looks classy, then that’s more than enough for me.”
Chuck shook his head strongly: “I am the complete opposite. I would like my girl at home, looking after the children and the house. I want to go out to work and come home to my girl. Sorry, I am a traditional guy!”
He laughed mischievously for a moment, with a twinkle in his eye he said: “Now, physically, I like Asian girls and I really like big girls.”
Harry laughed raucously before he playfully slapped Chuck on the back. He added: Ahhh, I love big girls, we both really love big girls.”
Chuck smiled: “You might think that because I am a model that I would go for model girls but in reality it is not that at all, I really love a big girl.”
Harry then turned to Boyd and looked at him knowingly. He said: “Boyd definitely has a type, show the girls your arm!”
To our surprise, Boyd reluctantly pulled up his sleeve to reveal a tattoo of Angelina Jolie on his forearm.
He smiled shyly and clarified: “Angelina is my kind of woman. For the record, I am not interested in Tomb Raider Angelina, I like 35-year-old Angelina.”
Chuck nodded, and added: “Boyd likes really sophisticated women. To be honest, he is a sophisticated man and needs someone who can mirror that.”
Harry was lost in thought, he pondered: “Yes, I do love that ass but all jokes aside you can overlook all the qualities we mentioned if you meet the right person.”
He cocked his head to one side and said: “Forget all of these idealisms, if I can’t connect with your soul then I am not interested.”
Before we knew it, closing time was upon us, so we reluctantly drew the four-hour long interview to a close.
Chuck reached over for a hug but before we knew it, all five of us were enveloped in a group hug in the middle of the pub. The boys towered over me, from somewhere above my head, I heard Harry mumble “love, love, love.”
Indeed, when it comes to the Justanorm boys, it truly is all love, love, love.
Ten Questions We Ask Everyone
1. What did you want to be when you were younger?
Harry: I wanted to be a footballer, then a rapper and then a boss.
Chuck: I wanted to be a god! No, I am joking I wanted to be a footballer too.
2. If you could offer advice to your twelve-year-old self, what would it be?
Harry: Carry on doing what you are doing. Don’t overthink everything, just be and embrace every moment. Do more activities, the more you put yourself out there, the more you will learn.
Chuck: Learn a language!
3. You have 24 hours with no travel restrictions, how would you spend it?
Harry: I would go back in time and chill with Plato or another philosopher. I would love to be with them in their time to see what it was really like.
Boyd: I would definitely go back to some of the events that are dated in the bible to see what happened. I’d like to see another perspective aside from the bible’s.
Chuck: Oh, I’d go to the carnival in Brazil. I’d surround myself with 10 Brazilian women in their traditional outfits, an array of colours from reds, to greens, to golds. From 20-year-old women to 50-year-old women, from 10 stone – 20 stone, in all different skin tones. I’d just embrace that moment.
4. What is the most exciting thing that has happened to you this year?
Chuck: The release of the Joseph Turvey and River Island collaboration. As Justanorm, we couldn’t have had a better start to the year. We manifested what we wanted to achieve this year and it literally took off from 1st January.
Boyd: The night we first saw the fashion film is stuck in my head. We were all there, except for Harry. The film finished and there was a huge round of applause. A feeling of appreciation washed over me and to get that for something you did as a group which came from the heart was an amazing feeling. Then the cloudy lemonades and Cîroc started flowing, we really celebrated that night. It was one of the best nights of my life, one for the history book.
5. The film you can watch over and over yet never tire of?
In unison: Wolf of Wall Street!
Chuck: That film was made for us. In my eyes that film represents Justanorm.
Harry: We have that hunger and drive without a doubt.
6. The song that always makes you emotional?
Harry: “Everything in my playlist makes me emotional in one way or another. Joey Bada$$ gets me going one day but sometimes Erkah Badu makes me want to go out and find a soul sister. Saying that, the next day I am over it because I listen to some Juicy J.
7. If you could spend an entire day with anyone uninterrupted, who would it be?
Chuck: Ha! Give me Pinky (XXX), just her and I uninterrupted for 24 hours.
Harry: Cherokee D Ass
Boyd: Angelina Jolie
8. It is Friday night at midnight, where are you most likely to be?
Chuck: I’ll paint a picture of midnight on a Friday with Justanorm. Six of us and 24 women and some of bottles of D’Ussé.
9. What is your biggest vice?
Harry: Vice is a funny word because it represents what you shouldn’t do but do anyway. I don’t think that there is anything that you shouldn’t do. It is all relative to the individual.
10. How would you like to be remembered?
Harry: More than anything, just honest, an honest being of love and light.
Chuck: As a really chilled guy because that is exactly how I see myself.
Boyd: I want someone to remember as I was in the moment they met me. It doesn’t matter how I was in that particular time, as long as it was real and true.
Follow Justanorm on Tumblr: justanorm.tumblr.com
Follow Chuck on Instagram: @_chuckjunior
Follow Harry on Instagram: @HarryUzoka
Follow Boyd on Instagram: @boydalves