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I first met Guetan backstage at a LCM show last year. I was nestled into a corner, in one of the busiest room imaginable at The St. Martins Lane hotel. The room was buzzing with male models, in various states of undress along with photographers, stylists and hair and makeup artists. The room was hazy with the flash of cameras and hairspray. Suddenly, a tall, dark, topless stranger sat next to me and quietly observed the beautiful chaos.
I was immediately intrigued by his calm presence in such a manic environment. We fell into effortless conversation and found that we had much in common. For starters, we both split our time between London and Los Angeles. We shared anecdotes about our experiences in both cities. We also discussed our multi-ethnic backgrounds and upbringings. We were both raised in London; he told me that he was of Angolan, Spanish and Congolese descent but was born in Paris, and I told him about my Jamaican, Swiss, Mexican and English heritage. He was so animated, grounded and passionate, I was captivated by him.
Fast-forward six months, I was sat in the quietest corner of the bar at the Malmaison hotel in Farringdon, nursing a martini. Suddenly, Guetan strode in, a vision in black, looking like he had just stepped off of a Yves Saint Laurent campaign. He was the epitome of tall, dark and handsome in his Roman Greco inspired black leather jacket and matching black skinny jeans. Before I could stand to greet him, he towered over me and showered me with kisses on both cheeks, apologising profusely for being a mere 15 minutes late.
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Guetan first made a name for himself as a successful male model. He was originally scouted by renown agent George Brown, who is with Red Models in New York. Guetan was immediately snapped up by Red Models and inundated with meetings with different agencies around the world.
He recalled a particularly memorable meeting with D1 in 2009.
He revealed: “I walked into the D1 office and was told to take a seat. It was really intimidating because everyone was staring at me. I wasn’t used to being judged so obviously and immediately thought that they all hated me.”
After the initial meeting, an agent shot some candid polaroid’s of Guetan, he was then shown back to his seat whilst he waited for their verdict.
The corners of his mouth curled up into a small smile, he said: “I could hear them discussing me with the boss. I was so paranoid that I texted my agent, told him that they hated me and that I wanted to run away. In a moment of madness, I stood up to leave, and then suddenly someone stopped me. I can still remember their voice when they told me they wanted to take me on. It was very overwhelming.”
He added: “It’s funny to think back to that time, it has been years since and I am still with them. The D1 team are like family to me now, they give me a lot of freedom and I have so much respect for them.”
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Guetan is now 26-years-old and although he is still working as a model, his heart has been stolen by acting. He has been kept incredibly busy lately filming ‘A Hundred Streets’, a hard-hitting drama that follows four people with four extraordinary stories.
The film stars the next rumoured James Bond Idris Elba and former Bond Girl Gemma Arterton, not bad co-stars for Guetan’s first film. I was keen to discover what it was like to work with the formidable Idris Elba.
Guetan took a sip of water and smiled softly, he said: “He is the nicest guy ever, nobody has a bad word to say about him. He’ll talk to you about anything, give you advice is also very professional.”
He added: “He’s just a humble guy from East London who made it happen. I have a lot of respect for him. For me, it’s an amazing thing to have my name attached to a project he is in.”
The issue at the heart of ‘A Hundred Streets’ is the fine line between poverty and excessive wealth in London. It is set in Battersea, an area that is infamous for its harsh social and economic divide; millionaire’s row sits comfortably next to notorious council estates.
Guetan elaborated: “There are so many diverse characters in the film, Idris Elba plays an ex-rugby player called Max who is estranged from his wife, there is also a cab driver and a model. It’s all about these characters from different backgrounds that live within a square mile of each other.”
Guetan plays the role of Louis alongside Franz Drameh (Attack the Block), a member of a notorious gang that cause havoc on the streets of South London.
He smiled mischievously, then said: “The story is based around Franz who is the leader of the gang. He is trying to leave the street life behind and pursue acting but he keeps getting dragged back in.”
Guetan smiled devilishly once again, he added: “I am the real baddie of the group, I don’t give a fuck about anything. I am selfish and a real arsehole, which was fun to play.”
Guetan was very surprised when his agent called him to say that he got the part, as he had been sure that he had messed up the audition.
He laughed deeply as he recalled: “You when you speak to someone and you can just tell that they are smiling? My agent was like that when she called me. I was in the gym at the time and when she said I had got the role, I was speechless.”
In true Guetan style, he didn’t immediately celebrate or even tell anyone he had secured the role. Instead, he just finished his work out.
He laughed long and hard: “Of course, I am going to finish my work out. I needed to in that moment more than ever. I knew the hard work was just beginning and I needed to be prepared for that. In fact, since I got the role I go to the gym more now than ever.”
The rest was a whirlwind, Guetan attended a reading the very next day and met the rest of the cast. He shook his head gently whilst he admitted: “Even at the reading I was still scared. I couldn’t believe that I had got it. Also I couldn’t say anything to anyone as nothing had been set in stone, you know how the movie business can be.”
He added: “The moment I eventually signed my contract, the first person I told was my mum. I rang her and told her I was going to be in a film with Idris Elba and she didn’t even know who he was!”
Guetan didn’t feel comfortable enough to share his news until the film was announced officially and the cast was published. He shrugged his shoulders and joked: “As soon as I saw it pop up on IMDB, I thought, shit it is actually happening. Now I just hope I don’t get bloody cut!”
The fashion and entertainment industries are notoriously social, however it is a rarity to come across hardworking people who aren’t afraid to put the hours in to perfect their craft and achieve success.
I thought back to the first time I had met Guetan, I told him that it had been even more of a pleasure speaking to him this time around. He smiled warmly, a smile that met his eyes, he said frankly: “Once I know you and we open up to one another, I get a feeling that I will know you for a while, I can see a real friend in you.”
He added: “Whereas if you sit with someone and all they are talking about is drugs, girls and parties, you immediately put them in the category of ‘industry friend’. When you can sit with someone and find out something you wouldn’t expect, such as their thoughts on marriage, children or their personal struggles you get an emotional connection. That is important to me because then I know they are real, they didn’t have to share that with me but they chose to.”
Guetan revealed that he believes that positivity is the key to success. He has made great changes in recent years to eradicate any negative influences from his life.
He bit his lip gently, lost in thought for a moment, then said: “When I was younger, I was a very negative person because I was surrounded by a lot of negativity. In my heart, I knew I wasn’t that person so I took a step back and re-evaluated who I wanted to be.”
He elaborated: “I was a dickhead. I’ve got loads of older brothers, so I was behaving like an 18-year-old when I was only 12-years-old. By the time I did get to my twenties, I was bored of that lifestyle. Fucking around with girls was fun but I was ready for a deeper connection, especially when you’re in a career where you are all over the place, you need to find that once person you can call home.”
He added: “Many young boys won’t understand this but when you get older, you seek love and affection from a person that you know is going to be there for you. If you are dealing with Sarah one minute and Shaniqua the next, you lose focus of what is important in life.”
Full look: Villain
Guetan assured me that he prefers to be in a relationship, but he admitted that at the moment all of his time and energy is focused on his career.
He sighed softly, then said: “I broke up with my ex of three years a little while ago. We just wanted different things and I am not the easiest person to get through to when I become engrossed in something.”
He added: “Acting is my life, I am so focused that unfortunately everything else is overshadowed by it. Even though I was physically with her, I wasn’t mentally. My mind was always full of ideas and future plans regarding my work.”
He looked up at me and smiled sadly, he said: “The worst part is that she gave me ample opportunities to fix it. We broke up and got back together again but it was never going to work. My focus is on my career and working hard to put myself where I want to be and I am definitely not there yet.”
I told Guetan that he was being incredibly hard on himself and I was keen to discover where exactly he wanted to be before he could be content.
He smiled a breathtakingly dazzling smile and leaned in towards me, he said playfully: “An Oscar would be nice someday.”
We finished our drinks and headed into the night. We hugged each other goodbye and I stood in the floodlit doorway of the hotel and watched as he strode towards the train station. There is not much that is certain in this life but there is one thing I know for sure, the future is bright for Guetan.
Coat + Roll Neck: Villain Sweatshirt: Ashley Marc Hovellle Jeans: Denim Is Everything
Ten Questions We Ask Everyone
1. What did you want to be when you were younger?
I used to be in a band that was signed to Sony, we had some success but then we flopped. I have always wanted to be a singer, so it is definitely something that I gradually want to pursue again once I have established myself as an actor.
I have a very soulful and indie vibe. I don’t care about selling out Wembley. I’m all about an intimate, acoustic live set, where you can really see someone feeling the emotion.
2. If you could offer advice to your twelve-year-old self, what would it be?
I would tell myself to pursue my ambitions right then and there. I have always known what I wanted to be but when I was younger I felt as though I had all the time in the world. The reality is, I didn’t. It got to a point where I was scolding myself because I should’ve started pursuing my dreams earlier.
3. You have 24 hours with no travel restrictions, how would you spend it?
Oh man, I would go everywhere; LA, Brazil, Dubai, South Africa, Australia, the Amazon and definitely the jungle of Congo.
4. What is the most exciting thing that has happened to you this year?
Definitely shooting ‘A Hundred Streets’.
5. The film you can watch over and over yet never tire of?
I have two, ‘Attack the Block’ and ‘Eden Lake’.
6. The song that always makes you emotional?
A gospel song by Marvin Sapp, it’s called ‘You Saw the Best in Me‘. It has a beautiful message. It’s my go-to song when I feel down.
7. If you could spend an entire day with anyone uninterrupted, who would it be?
Rihanna, it would just be crazy.
8. It is Friday night at midnight, where are you most likely to be?
At home, wrapped up in bed, catching-up on TV shows, at the moment I like Revenge, The Strange and Lottery.
9. What is your biggest vice?
The gym. People say I am in good shape but when I look in the mirror, I don’t necessarily like what I see. I won’t be completely happy until I see what I want in every mirror and I am not afraid to work hard to get to that point.
10. How would you like to be remembered?
If people can remember my smile, that would make my day.
A Hundred Streets is due to be released in Summer 2015.
Follow Guetan on Instagram: @thatboiguets
Follow Guetan on Twitter: @Guets_