• Class of 2017: Alton Mason

    With eyes ahead to the new year, we brought together the fresh new faces that are challenging the status quo. Artists, activists, musicians, and writers, our Class of 2017 is forging the path ahead with hope and optimism.

    Alton Mason practically beams when he talks about the things he loves to do. Whether he’s modeling, dancing in the latest Blood Orange music video, or singing a song that he just wrote himself, he’s focused on progress, not just for himself, but for his generation. 

    Age: 19
    Occupation: Model, Dancer, Singer, Actor
    Sign: Scorpio 
    Senior Superlative: Most Genuine 

    Who is Alton Mason? 
    Alton Mason is this 19 year old boy who's loving, who's caring, who sees people for who they are and is forgiving, accepting. I'm still finding myself. Part of me doesn't really know who Alton Mason is, but another part of me wakes up and looks in the mirror and sees this black boy with dreams, with growth, with gratitude, faith. 

    What’s the last beautiful thing you made?
    A song I wrote in my journal while I was on the plane to Rome. That was two days ago. I landed from Rome last night. 

    Are you jet-lagged?
    I think I’m just hype because I’m not on any type of time. 

    Photo by Logan Jackson

    You were singing a few minutes ago. Do you sing often? 
    Yes, I sing and I dance. Dancing is my first love. I was supposed to play basketball, but modeling just took me to a place where I was surrounded by so many beautiful people, so much good energy, and I've learned to not be affected by the negative energy.

    That's great. When did you start dancing?
    I've been dancing all my life, but professionally, like three years ago. 

    You dance in the new video for “Better than Me” by Blood Orange. What was that experience like? 
    It was amazing. Dev Hynes is just such an outstanding artist. He's so unique, and his delivery is beautiful to me. We got the chance to work with Luke Gilford, who directed the video. His eye is just outstanding. 

    Photo by Logan Jackson

    What did you learn from that experience? 
    Amandla Stenberg was there and some advice that she gave me that inspired me was just to be yourself and not to be quiet about anything. I love how Amandla speaks out about things. I got the chance to meet her, and I've always been that way, but it kind of was a confirmation when you see other beings who are the same way. It was a confirmation that there are people on this earth who are just like me.

    You speak eloquently. Did you do theater growing up? 
    Thank you, I did do theater all my life. Growing up, I was in Hairspray as Seaweed. I played Charlie in the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I played Oliver in Oliver Twist. Theater definitely helped me with my words, but I spend a lot of time writing spoken word, poetry, songs. Anything that comes to mind, I like to jot down. 

    Photo by Logan Jackson

    What are you working on now? 
    There's a lot under wraps, but I want you guys to be surprised and follow the story.

    What new ideas will bring people together in the next year? 
    I think a new idea that will bring people together is just having no fear. I think this whole year and these past years have been so judgmental and critical, and if people are just not afraid of anything ... There's so many people who are scared to just be them, because they're afraid of what this person might think, what they might say. I'm scared to love because of my trust issues. I'm afraid of being hurt. I'm scared of being genuine, because I don't know if you trying to play me. You know what I mean? I think if everyone's just direct, if everyone speaks about how they're feeling in that moment, it'll be way better. The world will be a better place.

    Photo by Logan Jackson

    What do you hope for yourself in 2017? 
    I hope that my focus remains where it is, if not climaxes. The moment you wake up, what do you do? You unlock your phone. You go on Instagram, you scroll. I do it too. I think what I want to do is just remain focused, because it's a vital time to have your attention on the destiny.

    Say something to your generation. 
    Be you. If you're soulful, be soulful. If you are loud, be loud. If you like to be goofy, be goofy. You know what I mean? Don't care about what people are going to say. They're going to talk about you either way. If they're making negative comments, or beautiful words are being shared with you, take it how it is and continue progressing. It's okay if you don't know who you are right now. It is okay, because that's what we're here to do is to find and to search and learn from other people that we encounter.