September 17, 2020
Stylist, host, and icon Law Roach joins Jameela this week to discuss growing up gay in the southside of Chicago, going from stealing clothes to attend balls to judging HBOMax’s ballroom competition show Legendary, how dressing Celine Dion in a Titanic sweatshirt went viral, how he became Zendaya’s stylist, and his passion for giving black people opportunities in the fashion world.
24 — Law Roach
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to another episode of “I Weigh” with Jameela Jamil. You’re alright? I’m fine. I have been overwhelmed by the amount of wonderful, wonderful DMs and messages and comments from all of you about in particular last week’s episode with Katherine Ryan. She is a fabulous comedian and writer and actress. And she was on the show talking to me about many things to do with feminism and, and surviving comedy as a woman. But also she came on and talked to me in depth about a miscarriage that she went through this year. And she was so, so open and vulnerable and informative about it. And it was really in the thousands and thousands of messages that I got from all of you that I realized how little that subject is spoken about. And I so appreciate your support. I also got a text from Katherine yesterday who told me that she has never had a response like that from a podcast where all of the listeners reach out to her to send her lovely, lovely messages of support and thanks. And she told me what a wonderful and kind audience I have. And that made me feel really, really good. And I, I fucking love that about you. The fact that every time there is an episode that moves you, you guys kind of swarm my guest with support and love and, and real connection. And it means the world to me. They always comment on it that it’s unlike any other podcast experience they have. And it makes me just feel as though I’m really with my people when we are having these conversations and learning about all of this very difficult and nuanced and often quite stigmatized, stigmatized stuff together. So thank you for that. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy and, and just excited to keep bringing you more of these conversations that we all so desperately need. Today, we are covering a very different subject. I am interviewing my stylist, who is also, and way more importantly, Celine Dion’s stylist. And then even more importantly, he is Zendaya’s stylist, the ultimate style icon of our generation, maybe of any generation. Maybe there will never, ever be another icon to come who can match Zendaya. And so after seeing all of her iconic looks and all of Celine’s looks, I, I slid into his DMs as, as I do many of the guests I have of this show. And I begged him to try styling me. And it’s been a year and we’ve fallen madly in love and we’re best friends and we are colleagues now. We both judge on the Ballroom show “Legendary” on HBO Max. And the reason I wanted Law to come on here not, is not just because I love him, but also because I think he has such an important and inspiring story. He grew up with no money in the rougher part of Chicago as a young, gay black man in America during a time where all of the things that we’re seeing in the news were happening. But they were just going on unreported and so he’s been through so much and he has worked and crafted and innovated his way to a point where he’s gone from that young kid who was broke having to sometimes admittedly steal fashion in order to wear things that made him look nice to now being one of the world’s, if not the world’s most respected and loved and iconic stylists. He is on every single big list. He is on the speed dial of every big superstar in the world. Everyone longs to be styled by Law because, not just because Law has a great eye, but also because he is such an extraordinary man with such an extraordinary vision. He has so much ambition and he’s a kind friend. He practices tough love. I can tell you that from experience. But he’s so empowering to women. He loves women, in a way that I have never heard a man in this industry talk about. The way he respects our form and the way that he finds us to be so fun. He loves our bodies. He loves our hair, our makeup, all of it. And so I think that he has such an interesting perspective when it comes to racism within the fashion industry, which, as we all learned this year, or were made more aware of, is unbelievably, you know, whitewashed and very, very kind of elitist and nepotistic. He has somehow managed to break through that and is bringing everyone with him. He is not closing the doors behind him. He is focusing so much on making sure that he makes space rather than just take space. So you’re going to love his story. You are going to love him. He is a very, very sassy man. He takes no shit. He does not mince his words. And he is truly an inspiration to us all and gave me such an interesting insight into his journey and what the industry currently is like and where we need to go. And so I hope you enjoy this. This is absolutely iconic Law Roach. Bloody hell. I’ve only gone gotten the best stylist on Earth on this show. Welcome to “I Weigh”, Mr. Law Roach. How are you?
LAW ROACH [00:05:14] I am well, thank you for having me.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:05:16] I’m so thrilled you’re here. I. OK. So this is how I know you, which is that I have been studying Zendaya’s style for a really long time. And then I started studying Celine Dion’s style for a really long time, realizing we are both styled by you and you are just so iconic and inimitable and your choices are so left field and you are, you dress women to make the absolute most of them. And you celebrate the female form. And so I slid into your DMs, like a little creep, and I beg you to take a chance on me. And you said yes. And so for almost a year now, you’ve been styling me, we’ve been working together. We’ve become colleagues. We’ve become friends. We’re now co-hosts, I guess, and colleagues on “Legendary”, a new show about Ballroom on HBO Max. And you have become a, whether you like it or not, one of the true loves of my life and-.
LAW ROACH [00:06:10] I know. Which. which scares me. You know? I’m, I’m so petrified when people care about me, it is so hard for me. And you have been very assertive with your love for me. Although I appreciate it so very much, I am a bit nervous.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:06:33] Well, my love is forever. So you’re just going to have to deal with it. It’s permanent.
LAW ROACH [00:06:35] I’ll deal with it. Yes. Yes.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:06:37] Oh, my goodness. You have had such a wild ride over the last decade. And I kind of just want to take it back to the beginning before we get to where you are now, which is a world class stylist. Truly one of the most famous and celebrated stylists in the world. Talk me through what you were like as a child. Were you always interested in fashion and style?
LAW ROACH [00:07:00] Yeah, I think I always say when I write my book, the first sentence would be I was birthed from a whimsical womb. Which isn’t the truth, but it just sounds like, you know, I came out. I feel like ever since I was a little boy, I always remember being attracted to, to fashion and to style. You know, for, for black people in America, I think our first encounter with fashion is church. So I remember my grandmothers getting ready for church on Sundays and their whole practice of, you know, bathing and doing their nails and putting curlers in their hair and picking out the outfit and the hosiery and the bag had to match the shoes. And I learned at a very young age, how being a woman is an art form. And it was art form that I thought was, was incredible. And I wanted to be a part of it, some type of way. And that just started out with, you know, picking out my grandma’s dress every now and again and did it with my friends and yeah, so I’ve always been this person. It just took me a while to learn how to get paid to do it. But I’ve been doing it my entire life.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:08:15] And so you grew up in Chicago?
LAW ROACH [00:08:20] Mmhmm.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:08:20] And what was that upbringing like? I, I know that you don’t come from extreme privilege.
LAW ROACH [00:08:26] Mmhmm.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:08:26] And so you, tell me how you got from Chicago to where you’re at now living in Los Angeles styling all the biggest stars in the world.
LAW ROACH [00:08:34] Yeah, well. Oof. Yeah, I came from shit. I really came from absolutely nothing. You know, I’ve, I always had big dreams. I always had the ability to see myself in different places. But, yeah, I came, I came from absolutely nothing. My mom told me when I was like, you know, eight or nine years old, she’s like, “Listen, motherfucker, if you don’t work, you don’t eat”. You know what I mean? So she ingrained this kind of sense of hustle in me. While I always had to kind of fend for myself and figure out where my next meal was or my next pair of shoes were coming from. And then I had to carry that same kind of mentality into like raising my brothers and sisters. You know, my mom, rest her soul, had a huge problem with addiction, my entire life. And so when you grew up in those type of environments, it makes you a different type of kid. Right? And it makes you a different type of person. But, yes, so I dealt with that, and, you know, it, it’s just. But she also, she also, also learned a lot of things from her. She was also very charming. You know, my mother was the type of person that could go into a supermarket with no money and walk out with an entire basket of groceries. You know what I mean? She just had this, she had this thing where, where people, people just liked her for a certain reason. And I think that’s one of the traits I either learned or inherited that I got from her. So, yes, although she taught me a lot of bad things, like, this is going to sound so bad, but it’s the truth. She taught me, like, if you in the store and it doesn’t have a price tag on it, that mean it’s free. So just take it.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:10:22] Oh my god.
LAW ROACH [00:10:23] So, I mean, she taught me a lot of good shit and a lot of bad shit, you know what I mean? Like-.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:10:26] Not taking you to any art galleries.
LAW ROACH [00:10:29] No. Why? She’s like, there’s no price tag on it, so it’s, it’s free. So I thought that was the truth for a number of years until, you know, somebody grabbed me and say, what are you doing with that candy bar? You know what I mean? So, yeah, it’s just, I just grew up a different type of way. I grew up nowhere near the type of life that I’m living now.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:10:47] God. And so, you know, your sexuality. How would you define yourself? I’m not going to define you for you.
LAW ROACH [00:10:55] I define myself as a strong black woman.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:10:58] Yes. A strong black woman. So as a strong black woman who has feminine ways about you, typically, traditionally feminine ways about you. What was it like growing up as a young black man who isn’t as traditionally quote unquote, “masculine” as maybe young black men are expected to be, especially in Chicago, especially in the roughest areas of Chicago? What was that experience like for you?
LAW ROACH [00:11:25] You know what? It was, it was similar to a lot of people’s experience growing up in a black community being gay. But. I also had, I also was always really, really popular, and I also always had really hyper masculine best friends, right? It was, my dynamic was really, was really weird, I think, and different. That I was, when I was coming up, unfortunately, there wasn’t a relaxed attitude about homosexuality as, as relaxed as it is now. Not saying that, that the world is exactly where it should be, but come in at the time I was growing up and I was always like this, I always had a really strong feminine energy. Right? But I also had people who would call me a fag, but also call me a fag in a loving way. So it was like this weird dynamic. They’d be like, oh, that’s my fag friend, you better not fuck with him. You know what I mean? So it was like should i be? Should I be offended? Or should I be, like, happy that you’re protecting me?
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:12:30] A protected token. Basically.
LAW ROACH [00:12:32] Right. Exactly. It was exactly, so I always, I always had the same energy, always dressed really nice. I was always outspoken and fun. So like all my friends were like drug dealers and like some of my friends like went to jail for murder and stuff like that. So I always felt protected and I always felt protected enough that I could always be myself, like I always spoke, spoke, spoken this way. I’ve always had these mannerisms and, but I know I’m different and I’m not sayin’ everybody should had that experience where they should be able to be themselves. And I know everybody doesn’t, but my truth is that I didn’t have that hard of a time growing up gay in the middle of the south side of Chicago.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:13:14] That’s unbelievable. And it’s amazing. And I’m really glad. And also knowing you, I can see that sense of self acceptance that lives so strongly in you as soon as you will come to a room. I mean, A, everything gravitates towards you. But that’s because you have, you are the kind of center of gravity in any room because of that sturdiness. And I think that really shows. So I’m really, really relieved to hear that. And that’s something that you and I have never really spoken about personally. So then, I mean, how are you affording all of these cool clothes? You were just working in retail or?
LAW ROACH [00:13:47] No, I’ve never had a job either.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:13:50] What?
LAW ROACH [00:13:50] Oh, I think this, this interview is going to go into some places. I can tell. Well, to be honest, I’ve always been a hustler. Like, I had a best friend who did hair in her grandmother’s basement. So I taught myself how to do nails, you know? So it was always trying to figure out a way to make money and to hustle, you know? And I did a lot of things. I used, I tell a story, I’ll just tell this story because it came full circle, like I used to steal, like I used to shoplift. And I told Tommy Hilfiger that for me to play a part of that collaboration with him is a day for me to walk out shoulder to shoulder with them to, you know, to find a walk on that show meant so much because I used to go and steal those clothes, you know what I’m saying? We used to steal those clothes. We bought them, you know, write bad checks. We used to do anything we had to get those fashion. Yeah, so it was just, it was that, it was like, you know, had a couple drug dealer friends that they used to, you know, look out for a girl, you know? So.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:14:55] OK.
LAW ROACH [00:14:56] It was, it was a lot. Yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:14:59] So eventually, I believe you found a vintage store that you started working in later.
LAW ROACH [00:15:05] Yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:15:05] So tell me about that. What were you doing there?
LAW ROACH [00:15:08] Again, another hustle. I started to go thrift shoppin’. I learned thrift shopping from my grandmother and then I revisited it years later. And I did it out of necessity because, you know, at some point, those, doing the bad things to get clothes were, wasn’t acceptable anymore. You know, I had outgrown that and I used to thrift shop out of necessity. I just go find cool stuff. And then I started collecting, you know, vintage handbags and dresses and I just start collecting them and then I start selling them out of the trunk of my car. And it was so funny because I told, it was a bag, Tracy Ellis Ross on “Girlfriends” used to wear these like elongated clutch bags.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:15:52] Yeah.
LAW ROACH [00:15:53] And I found, I found, I found a few of those and I showed a couple of my girlfriends and they was like, oh my God, that’s the Joan Clayton cluch. So it kind of, it kind of sparked my business for me and then selling from the trunk of my car, I started doing trunk shows in hotel rooms and then I open up a store. So it was just, you know, it’s this overarching idea of, you know, you’ve got to work to eat.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:16:20] And you make your own dreams come true. So then how did you get to Los Angeles and how did you find a very young Zendaya?
LAW ROACH [00:16:28] I had a, a client who was best friends from my store in Chicago, who was best friends, was Zendaya’s father.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:16:37] Mmhmm.
LAW ROACH [00:16:39] And she introduced us. She flew me out to L.A. She wanted me to bring a whole bunch of clothes so we could just have a fitting and a little vintage party. And that day I met Zendaya and she walked in and we kind of like, were goo goo eyes over each other. She was going to Justin Bieber’s “Never Say Never” movie premiere.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:16:58] Yeah.
LAW ROACH [00:16:58] And she was going to the mall to buy something to wear. And our friend, her name is Chasity. And Chasity was like, you should take Law. He’s a stylist. You know, he can help you. And literally, we went to the mall and we’d like branched off and we left them. And when we got back, her dad scolded her, he was like, you don’t run off with this man. You don’t even know him. But we when we found her a look and that was my first time, you know, dressin’ Zendaya for a red carpet.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:17:24] Oh, my goodness. How old was she back then?
LAW ROACH [00:17:27] She was 13, going on 14.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:17:31] Wow. That’s around the first time I ever met her because I did her first ever UK interview. I used to be an interviewer back in the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, I never got to meet you all the way back then. And how fast was it before people started to really notice Zendaya’s looks? Because I feel like it’s been a decade of just her owning any red carpet she stands on.
LAW ROACH [00:17:51] Yeah, it took a minute. It took a minute. There was a lot of no’s, like people didn’t want to dress her. And I just, I didn’t understand it. And then when I started to understood, understand it, I understood that it’s a game of press. Right? The designers want to give the dress to the girl who gets the most press. So I had to figure out a way to make her that girl, to make her the girl that people would talk about in the press. And what I did was I started to only put her in clothes that people have worn already because, you know, a few years later, you could really like the weeklies, like US Weekly, and they all had the-.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:18:29] Who wore it better.
LAW ROACH [00:18:30] Who wore it better. Yeah. So I was like, OK, so I’m only gonna put her in dresses that women have wore ready and then she’ll get press because they’ll put who wore it better. And she’s tall and gorgeous and young. I was like, well, we already know who’s going to wear it better. So she would, you know, 90 percent of the time win the who wore it better. And so people started to pay attention. And I think our career changed when she finally made it to “Fashion Police”, when Joan Rivers was still around and Joan Rivers ranted and raved. And after that, the phone started ringing. It was like all these designers wanted to dress her and you know, wanted to lend clothes. And we end up getting an invitation to the first, to our first Met gala right after that. So, yeah, it was those little sneaky things that, that nobody told me. I just kind of figured out on my own, that worked.
LAW ROACH [00:19:25] You just found a supermodel teenager who you had amazing chemistry with and what an interesting strategy. I think that goes, that charts back throughout your entire life of just figuring out a way around or a shortcut. And it’s such a small, innovative idea. And so then Zendaya goes on to become, I’d say, probably the biggest style icon of our generation.
LAW ROACH [00:19:49] Thank you.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:19:49] And that’s fully in collaboration with the two of you. And she trusts you so much and you love each other so much and you have such a special bond. And you’ve now gone on to, as you mentioned earlier, design these clothing lines for Tommy Hilfiger, which were the coolest clothes I’ve seen come out of that brand ever. So well done.
LAW ROACH [00:20:07] Thank you.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:20:07] I love, I love a polkadot. And, and then Celine Dion does a me. And she slides into your DMs, is that correct?
LAW ROACH [00:20:16] Well, Celine, actually, no. Celine had her people find me and call me.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:20:20] OK fine, it was fancy. I’m the only scumbag.
LAW ROACH [00:20:26] I don’t even know if Celine knows how to DM. But yeah, she, I got a call and I got a call from her team a few years ago and they said that, you know, Celine wants to meet you. I was like, Celine who? They were like, Celine Dion. I was like, Why? Why? Why does Celine Dion want to meet me? But yeah, they invited me to Vegas. I went to one of her shows. I met her at a show. And then they invited me and it was the Billboard Awards and they invited me to wait for her after, after her performance and to talk. So we sat in a room, and it was so cute because I was, she was in a room and she was sitting on a sofa in her dress room. And I walked in and she said, You want to have a seat? I’m like, sure. And she was, she was like, you want to sit right here? I was like, next to you? And she was like, Do you want to sit next to me? I was like, Yeah, I want to sit next to you. And so I mean, because, you know, this is Celine Dion, right?
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:21:33] Yeah.
LAW ROACH [00:21:33] You know, the ultimate pop star. And we sat for two hours and we just talked about style. And I told her that I understood what brand she wore and the way she did things that I wanted to, if I got the opportunity to show her some different brands and some other things I thought could be cool for her, and just kind of like, you know, just, just show her a different, a different face of fashion, you know? And that happened. And then, you know, she gave me a hug and she, she touched me and I couldn’t breathe. And the next morning, they called and was like, Celine is going on tour in Paris and she wants to know if you can come to Paris for two months and do her street style.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:22:17] Shit.
LAW ROACH [00:22:18] And I was like, sure.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:22:21] So you just upped and left?
LAW ROACH [00:22:21] I went to Paris. Yeah, yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:22:25] Was this one of your first times going or had you been before with Fashion Week?
LAW ROACH [00:22:30] No, I had been to Paris before. Yeah, yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:22:33] It’s just your first time going with an icon, Celine Dion.
LAW ROACH [00:22:36] Yeah, and for a two month job, you know? And so when I got there, we did a couple of things and we start to make, you know, make some news. And then they say, oh, well, she wants you to do a couple of costumes for, for the tour. So I went in and designed a couple of costumes for the tour. And yeah, I was, and that two months turned to almost three years.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:22:59] Damn, it, can you tell me the exact moment that everyone became re-obsessed with Celine Dion? Because we’d kind of, she was still existing and continuing on to be everyone’s love in Vegas. But it had been fucking like 20 years since she was in mainstream headlines. Tell me about that T-shirt.
LAW ROACH [00:23:19] Yeah. Well, I think, I think what it was is that for me in my career, I’ve always been kind of known as a disruptor. Right? I’ve always done things against the grain. And so when I got to know Celine.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:23:32] She’s so funny.
LAW ROACH [00:23:33] She’s so funny. And she’s so, she’s batshit crazy in the best and most beautiful way possible.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:23:40] What do you mean?
LAW ROACH [00:23:41] Like, she is like every, it’s all joy. Like everything is joy. Everything is love. You know, and she loves clothes. She’s never. She doesn’t drink. She’s never done drugs. She doesn’t, you know, party like, she’s never done anything so her, so the clothes and the fashion is her only vice. And she loves it and she appreciates it and she studies it. And I don’t think that anybody who, who worked on her previously had ever just let her fully be herself. So, you know, one of the things that, like you mentioned, what I do is I try to really figure out who my client is and I try to style from the inside out. Right? I try to make you only the most elevated version of you. And so when I started to figure that out, I’m like, oh, OK. Celine Dion is jeans and a T-shirt one day, but the second, the next day she’s in a full couture Giambattista Valley and then the day after that she’s, you know, and so there was no limit with her and there was no fear. And so when I figured that out, I was like, OK, let’s do this. And, and I think the look that really captured the world’s attention is the Vetements’ sweatshirt, the “Titanic” sweatshirt. And I thought it was corny. I’m like, shit. Is she going to think this is corny? I think it’s so cool. And then I showed it to her, she’s like, no, it’s not corny. I love it. I want to wear it today. But it was kind of homage to, that was right around, it was almost the 20th anniversary of “Titanic”. And at that time, Vetements was also a new kind of streetwear brand and only like cool street kids were wearing. And to put this woman who is quintessentially the queen of sequins and sparkle and Vegas, to put her in this in this look from this brand that is so underground, it just didn’t make sense for people. And it was like people’s brains got scramble like, oh, shit, what’s happening, what’s going on? And I think that’s what, what created such a stir. And then after that, it was like paparazzi central.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:25:43] Yeah. You’re the master of a viral moment.
LAW ROACH [00:25:46] Oh, thank you.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:25:47] No. I really, honestly, that was one of the moments that I really, like, paid attention to you and I’ve wanted to work with you for years. It just took me so long to get up the courage just to ask you. And I was too afraid.
LAW ROACH [00:26:00] But you know, things happen when they’re supposed to. We were put in a life, each other’s lives, exactly when it was supposed to happen, I believe.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:26:05] I literally waited until I got a Vogue cover and then I was like, now maybe he’ll style me and I DMed you as soon as it came out so that you would see it on my Instagram. It felt like, I’ve never asked anyone out before, but that felt like the first time I’d ever asked someone to be with me.
LAW ROACH [00:26:23] She’s calculated. She’s calculated.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:26:25] That’s why we work so well together. It was the most recent post on my Instagram. ‘Cause I wanted you to look at it. So, yeah, I was very strategic with that. What is it that you love so much about styling? Why do you love it?
LAW ROACH [00:26:38] I don’t know. I. You know, I think, I don’t think I love this. I think I love women. You know?
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:26:42] Yeah.
LAW ROACH [00:26:42] I think I’m obsessed. I’m obsessed in women, not in a way where I want to be one and not in a way where I want to fuck one. But it’s still an obsession. And I think-.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:26:52] And what is it about women that you’re so obsessed with?
LAW ROACH [00:26:55] I just think it’s a movie. I think women are a fucking movie. Right? Every. The things that women do just-. First of all, the things that women have to go through and they survive. Right? And not only do they survive, but they thrive. And then the things that they do, just like the hair, the makeup, the nails, the lashes. You know that, the swivel in the walk. It’s just like, I don’t know, it’s just something about. I think, I don’t know. I just think women are the most beautiful creatures on the planet. And I feel like women are supposed to be cherished and protected and worshiped. And what I do is part of the worship from me to them.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:27:39] I love that. And also you’re, one of the reasons I love working with you so much is that, you know, I, I’ve never properly worked with a stylist before because I used to get fat shamed by stylists on photo shoots because I couldn’t fit into a size zero and I’m five foot 10 and I’m not naturally super skinny. And so that made me afraid of having to go through regular fittings with someone. And so for 10 years of my career, I didn’t work with anyone out of fear of that moment, instead I would just buy everything I would wear in any red carpet, I would go out and I would buy it by myself. And working with you was such a relief. I didn’t know what you’re going to be like because you worked with these two unbelievably thin women, Zendaya and Celine Dion. And I didn’t know how that was gonna go. And you were just like, there is, there is no such thing as sample size. You are sample size. We’re going to make the sample fit you. And that’s the first time since 2009 that anyone has ever said that to me, that I reserved the right for clothes to be made to fit me rather than me, change my entire life, risk my mental health and my physical health to fit the sample. And so thank you for that. Thank you for taking an unbelievably expensive sequined gown. I won’t name the designer and getting them to basically double it in order for me to be able to wear it on a red carpet. Thank you for celebrating my body and the curves that I’ve felt self-conscious about. You have taught me to embrace and love and celebrate and make the most of it. You’ve made me feel so lucky to be a woman and so lucky to look like a woman. And that is something that means a lot to me. And I don’t think many people in the world ever get to feel that way, but especially not people in my business and people in my position. We’re normally shamed, and thank you for celebrating us and for loving us so much.
LAW ROACH [00:29:27] Oh thank you for that.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:29:27] Even though sometimes, sometimes you are a very straight talker and you scare me. And I can’t always feel the love in the moment.
LAW ROACH [00:29:39] Tough love.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:29:39] Fucking toughest love.
LAW ROACH [00:29:39] But it’s love. It’s on you and I know how to love hard.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:29:45] I know.
LAW ROACH [00:29:46] But yeah. It’s like I didn’t grow up around, I didn’t grow up around size zeros. I didn’t grow up around size twos. My appreciation for women’s body wasn’t shaped and molded in a size zero. You know? Like you know where I grew up at, the woman, the girls in the neighborhood that all the boys wanted had big tits. And you know, hips and ass, you know what I mean? So it was like, that’s what, that’s what a woman looked like to me. You know what I mean? So. And those are the women that I saw dress themselves, you know? So it was like a body, you know, yeah. I mean, zero, two. Yeah. I mean, they slidin, it’s great, you know what I mean? But for me. And speaking of Celine Dion, they are just naturally that is just their natural bodies. They are just naturally thin that way. Which is great. And which is, that’s beautiful too. But I grew up around 6, 8, 10, 12. You know what I mean? Like I grew up around big hips, big butt, huge boobs. And that’s, that’s what I always thought was beautiful. And I thought, and that, that, dressin’ that body side was just natural for me. The other body types is what I had to learn.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:30:55] Yeah. Let’s talk about what it’s like to be one of the only black stylists at the top of your game.
LAW ROACH [00:31:09] Mhmm.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:31:10] Why are there so few when there are so many talented young black designers who, again, aren’t given the praise that their white counterparts are? What has your experience been like when it comes to being a black man in fashion?
LAW ROACH [00:31:26] Well, I’m going to give you. I’m going to answer that question in two folds, right? I’m a, I’m a answer the question directly based on my experience and then based on my experiences while, while I’m here. Right?
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:31:40] OK.
LAW ROACH [00:31:41] So. I can’t say that I had such a tough time getting to where I am because I didn’t follow the normal trajectory of how people get here. Right?
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:31:52] Assistant, and then, yeah.
LAW ROACH [00:31:53] So normally, right. Intern, assistant and then, you know, you as-, you intern for years, you assist for years, and then at some point you go out and get your own clients. I kind of bypassed all that. So I bypassed a lot of the no’s. I skipped the hurdles, you know? But that being said, a lot of people who look like me aren’t going to have that situation just kind of fall into their lap to let them be able to do that. You know? And the reason that there aren’t a lot of black people at the top of this industry is because the intern and the assistant, first of all, it’s hard to be an intern, meaning that you have to work for free. Right? It’s easy for you to be intern and work for free if you come from a family who can afford to send you to L.A. or New York to work with a Law Roach or work with whoever else. And you don’t have to worry about how you’re going to eat. How are you going to get there? Where are you going to sleep? So you get to focus all your energy into that internship. You get to maximize that experience as opposed to a black, someone who’s black, the same internship, and I’m saying this out of experience because I’ve had both worked for me and my company where the black girl, she comes from Georgia. She has to come, she has to get a, she has to intern for me at the day, a day, during the day. She has to work a night job at night and then she has to work on the weekends to be able to afford her car or her transportation, food, clothes and shelter.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:33:30] Rent. Yeah.
LAW ROACH [00:33:30] So she can’t get the same exact experience and benefits from an experience as her white counterparts because she simply can’t afford to. Right? And so that, that creates a discrepancy in the pool of, of, of the people that’s trying to become us. And I think the second part is that the the women that’s in, and the people that’s in the positions of power and privilege don’t give opportunities to people who don’t look like them. And I mean, that is just, it is simply that. A couple years ago, well, maybe not even a couple years ago, I started using the hashtag MoreThanOne. And so what that meant that I would use any power I had to make sure that I was not the only one in the room. It always has to be more than one. And, and not only-. It has to be more than one. I have to be, as a person, as a human. I have to be OK with not being the only one, because I think the generation before us, you know, if you were the, you were, you know, like, oh, I was the only black person there. Or I’m the only black, black person at this company or I’m the only black person in the decision making. I was like, and that shit is so old and so, like, played out to me and like so 90s, like, it’s, me helping someone who looks like me get to the same place, make as much money, have as much, as many successes that I’ve had, does not take anything from me. And it doesn’t cost me anything. So now that I have a position of power, like there’s certain things that I won’t do if, you know, if there’s not, if there’s not more than one in a room, I just won’t do it. I’m not OK with that.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:35:15] You’re not OK with working with anyone-, working anywhere where you are the sole minority in that space?
LAW ROACH [00:35:21] No. And I hate to saying this, but we just have to say it, because it’s true, if you think about stylists at a certain level, it’s always this-. If you use the Hollywood Reporter list as a, as a kind of gauge. Right? So it’s the 25 most powerful stylists every year. And you see that list, every single year, it’s always 21 to 23 white women and then it’s 3 people of color, and it has been year after year after year. And it’s, so what happens is, the, the new people that enter on the list, they have assisted one of the women that were already on a list. So it becomes this, this system, this systemic kind of cycle of people ushering in exactly the same people who look like them.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:36:09] Yeah, it’s nepotism.
LAW ROACH [00:36:09] Yeah, correct.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:36:13] And I also feel like you, and I don’t, I don’t, I can’t say if this is down to your race, but I feel like people don’t always give you the full credit that you deserve. I mean, anyone who’s watching the decisions that you make, watching the way that you style, the way you work with clients, understands how great you are. But I feel like sometimes when you are written about until really the last year or so, people have definitely undermined what makes you a powerful stylist. What was that? There was, there was some, there was some list where they had named all of the white women who were stylists who were successful. And they’d said that, oh, it’s because of this and this element of style and this, that and the other. And then they got to you and they were just like, what did they say? That he has the most Instagram followers.
LAW ROACH [00:36:57] Instagram followers. Yeah. Yeah. It. Yeah, they. That shit. That shit still bothers me to this day because it’s like-.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:37:05] I’m not surprised.
LAW ROACH [00:37:07] It’s, because I don’t feel like that’s an accident. I feel like that’s on purpose, that they would diminish me, all my accomplishments. They negated the fact that, you know, I played a hand in one of my clients becoming a face of Givenchy.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:37:20] Yeah.
LAW ROACH [00:37:21] So I had a Givenchy campaign. I had a Tommy Hilfiger campaign. I had a Lancon campaign. I’ve done campaigns that no other black stylists, and somebody correct me if I’m wrong, has ever done before. You know what I mean? Like all these things I had done and so when they said the reason why I matter is because I had the most Instagram followers.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:37:43] They didn’t think about how you got those Instagram followers, you got those Instagram followers because people became obsessed with your style. A lot of us didn’t know anything about your personality. I didn’t. I just knew you for the things, for the way that you would transform something. You are transformative. And I think that’s part of your challenge. Like you take a Disney style, like Zendaya who I mean, now we look around, she’s like “Euphoria”. She’s the coolest girl in the entire world. But I remember her. She was just a little Disney baby. She was so like polished and clean and girl next door. We would never have seen her in these, these looks that we, we now know her to own on the red carpet. Same thing with like, not at all washed up, but a no longer mainstream pop culture relevant pop star like Celine Dion, who was in her late 40s or early 50s. You reinvented her to the point where she now goes and she owns the Met Gala again.
LAW ROACH [00:38:34] Yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:38:34] And, you know, you’ve-.
LAW ROACH [00:38:35] She had never even been to the Met Gala. She-, I was responsible for getting her her first invite to the Met Gala. Like I literally called Versace and I said, this woman has spent millions and millions of dollars with you and if you don’t invite her to the Met, she will no longer, no longer buy anything from you. She didn’t tell me to do that. I did that because, because I felt like she was being disrespected. This woman keeps fashion, fashion business alive. The amount of money she spends on clothes. And I didn’t think she wasn’t being respected for that. And, you know, I think for me, a lot of times I’m overlooked because I don’t have any proximity to whiteness at all. You know? I don’t present in a way. I don’t speak in a certain type of way. I don’t code switch. Like, I’m not a white woman on a phone, you know, with certain people and then, you know, black woman on the phone with-, like I am authentically who I am and this is the way I talk, I’m from the fucking hood and I am still hood. You know what I mean? So I think that some people, although some people love that that authentic part of me, some people don’t, aren’t comfortable with that. So me not have a close proximity to whiteness is why I think that people always try to downplay my successes.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:39:49] I also love what a petty bitch you can be, which is I remember hearing, one of the things that I heard about you that made me love you so much before we’d met, is that someone said, and you can correct me if this is not true, but someone said that all the people who refuse to dress Zendaya like a young, unknown black Disney star, people who wouldn’t dress then, now, with the world clamoring to dress her, you’ve remembered, you took names down and you will not let those people dress her now because they didn’t back her from the beginning.
LAW ROACH [00:40:20] Mmhmm.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:40:20] I love that idea.
LAW ROACH [00:40:22] I did. I did. And, you know, and it wasn’t so much that they was, that they will say no, it would be the way that they would say no. You know, like, oh, she’s not on our radar. Or maybe next season. And it was this, it was this same thing. So what happened was I, when somebody would call, come and say, oh, we would love to dress her for this particular occasion. I would go back to the email that they said no and I would reply from that email, and say, no, not this season. Or we totally, you know, we, we already have the designers who we’re gonna work with this season, maybe next season. And you know, and the thing about that, I have to say this. The thing about that and me doing that is that Zendaya allows me to have that power. It is nothing I’m doing, I don’t do anything. I don’t make any decisions without her knowing it. You know, she is very well educated on who has always supported her and, and, and she lets me make decisions from that.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:41:24] Talk to me about this new moment that we are entering into post the murder of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, we have seen an uprising of black voices and, and the movement for Black Lives. And we are not just seeing that when it comes to police brutality. It feels as though over the last couple of months, while I’m not saying that anything has, is finished or has been achieved yet, it feels as though it’s become a more widespread conversation. And it feels like it has bled into different corporations, into different companies, different individuals have been called out for their racism or their lack of inclusion. And the fashion industry has been massively called out where we’re even seeing the handful of some black designers, even their employees are predominantly white, not because they’ve chosen that. But as you said, it’s easier for white people to get into an industry that doesn’t pay very well for a very long time because they have parental support.
LAW ROACH [00:42:22] Yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:42:22] So do you think that this is going to change? Because the fashion industry needs to change, as you said, by 2020, you can’t still be the only one in a room unless you yourself have hired someone. What do you think needs to change? How do we change the fashion industry?
LAW ROACH [00:42:38] Oof. Well, you know what? I try to be as optimistic as possible, but if you, if you pay attention just the way things that kind of trickle back. Basically, to the way they were before, like we heard, we saw the support, you know, everybody, every, every email I got at that the end of the email like we support Black Lives Matter. And I just think that it’s become a huge overgrown publicity stunt, in a word, in a way, right? It’s good PR to say that that you believe Black Lives Matter and they kind of, to me, I think people are just saying that to just keep, keep everybody off their backs.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:43:25] Super performative.
LAW ROACH [00:43:25] I think that, yeah, I definitely think that, that, that you have to remember at the In Style Awards in my speech when I just said, if you are a person of power or privilege, just give your opportunity to someone who does not look like you. And if you have the opportunity to give a person of color a position of power, what that would do is that will, first of all, have someone, someone close to you that can give you a different perspective and then that perspective and those needs and wants will trickle down all the way from boardroom to factory worker. In my opinion.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:44:10] Yeah. And it enriches and broadens the horizon of what that product or that company or that individual can be.
LAW ROACH [00:44:17] Yes. Yeah, it’s all different experiences because we, though, it’s just like, it’s so, it’s just, it’s just stupid to me for people to have companies that don’t look like what the world look like.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:44:26] Yeah.
LAW ROACH [00:44:26] You know what I mean? Like, how can you have a board that is all white men servicing a global economy, a global whatever, and nobody looks like the rest of the people on, on the globe. It just, some shit just doesn’t make sense anymore.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:44:43] Yeah. And it’s proving to not be successful. The people who are now going to thrive are the ones who are inclusive with the times, representative of the cosmopolitan world in which we live.
LAW ROACH [00:44:52] Yeah. Yeah. And people are hungry for that. I always tell a story is like for me as a stylist, like I want it, Rachel, when I saw Rachel Zoe’s project, right? She had the career I wanted. She was going to Paris Fashion Week. She was talking to Giorgio Armani, and she was doing all these fabulous things. And when I came to Hollywood like, I thought I had to be Rachel Zoe. I didn’t see any other. It was nobody else. So I thought that I had to speak like her. I thought I had to use her, her slang, like I thought it’s like, oh, my god, bananas, like I thought I had to present as this 40 year old, 125 pound white women. And I really try to do that for like a week. Like I was doing, I was like, I would be on a phone, like oh my God. Like, oh it’s so crazy. And. And I was like I just looked at myself. I’m like, that is not you. And that’s never gonna be you, you have to figure out how to do it yourself. But what if I wasn’t so, what if I didn’t have so much self-esteem, and what if I wasn’t so self-aware and I would have built my career on being and acting like something, I totally wasn’t. As opposed to if there was some, if there was really representation. What if I saw somebody who, who I can really relate to and feel comfortable with making me be who I am, it would have been different. And it’d be, and so now I get, now there’s people who look like me and talk like me and sound like me, that’s from where I’m from who see me now. I’m like, oh shit, I can really do that. Look see, he’s doing it, he’s done it. You know what I mean? So now I’ve become, I’ve become kind of like a bar for people to be authentically who they are. Like if you have a Southern accent speak in your Southern accent, if you have your, if you have a regional dialect like I do coming from Chicago, then be comfortable speaking to your regional dialect, you know? Or your native, or whatever it is, you know? And it’s just like representation really, really, really does matter.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:46:55] Yeah, I agree. And that’s why I’m so happy that you exist. It was so hard to find any stylist of color. And I’m thrilled to be with someone who takes being a role model not only to their own employees, but to all kids out there, so seriously. You told me that the last couple of months with all this conversation around race and racism and police brutality has changed you.
LAW ROACH [00:47:21] Mmhmm.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:47:21] Has permanently changed you and shifted something further in you. Can you tell me what that is?
LAW ROACH [00:47:29] Yeah, I just think that. That I am not. I’m just not the same person I was in February. You know? I’m not the same person I was when we were shooting “Legendary”. I am. I am like, I’m grossly affected by what’s happening in the culture, scarred and traumatized from watching George Floyd being murdered over and over and over and over and over and over again. It’s just like every time it came up on, on my Instagram feed, I watched it and I couldn’t, I couldn’t watch it. And it was almost like every time I watched as if there would be an alternate ending, as if I, as if the next time I watched it that he wouldn’t, he wouldn’t have died, you know? Then, and then if I watched it again, he, they wouldn’t put, you know, the officer wouldn’t put his knee on his neck. And if I watched it again, you know, he wouldn’t have got arrested. If I watched it again, he would have walked out of the store and went home to his family. So it’s just like these things that, that the anxiety of that and the trauma of watching that and then the trauma of and anxiety of knowing that that could be me. You know what I mean? Like, no matter what my accomplishments are, no matter who knows my name or no matter what, who were my clients or what awards show or what red carpet is like, every time I leave my house, that could be me. And that’s not, that’s not a fantasy. That’s not, you know, me being pessimistic about things. That is really my world.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:49:15] Yeah.
LAW ROACH [00:49:15] That is really my truth. Like, I can literally go for a run down, well I don’t run, but I can go for a brisk walk down the street.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:49:25] Another reason I love you.
LAW ROACH [00:49:26] And that could, and that could be me. I could be walking with my mask and take it off for a second just to catch my breath. And, and a police officer could say something about me not having a mask on, and then that could be me. And my whole life, I’ve known that could be me, you know? And it’s like you, you, you grow so much. You, you accomplish so many things so that you can kind of forget that part of your life or your upbringing.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:49:54] Yeah.
LAW ROACH [00:49:54] But it comes right back. And it’s just like I’m so, I’ve been struggling so much, which just hap-, being happy or feelin’ whole or complete. And like I told you, when we spoke in our pre interview, I said, you know, it’s just like, I have to be able to say that I’m not OK. And I think I’m a strong friend and, and this is sad because and because I’m the strong friend, so when I tell somebody I’m not OK, it’s like I don’t get the same, I don’t get the same treatment as if someone tells it to me, it’s kind of like people automatically assume that I’ll be OK because I’m the strong friend. You know what I mean? I’m the, I’m usually the emotional support for everybody else. And it’s like-.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:50:46] And also, there’s the further kind of trope of the black man and how we just consider the black man to not be able to feel any pain.
LAW ROACH [00:50:53] Yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:50:53] I mean, that resonates across the world.
LAW ROACH [00:50:55] Women as well.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:50:55] Yeah.
LAW ROACH [00:50:56] And black women. When black women are, you know, you the women, black women are giving birth and is like and they tell the doctors like this doesn’t feel, I’m, you know, and nobody believes them. And I feel like that’s what I’ve been suffering where it’s like I don’t know, I don’t know how to help myself. And I don’t know how, I don’t, I can’t seem to receive that same type of nurture that that I give out. So I’ve been struggling with that too.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:51:26] Well, I mean, let’s be real, Law. I’ve been, I’ve been fucking trying. I’ve been trying to nurture you.
LAW ROACH [00:51:30] You have. You have.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:51:33] I’ve sent you cakes. I’ve been calling. I’ve been texting. I, I’ve been fucking trying.
LAW ROACH [00:51:38] This is true. This is true. This is true.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:51:41] And you are so, you are so difficult. No innuendo, to penetrate.
LAW ROACH [00:51:47] No, but let me tell you where that comes from.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:51:48] Yeah.
LAW ROACH [00:51:48] Let me tell you where that comes from. Because I grew up on the streets, right?
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:51:51] Yeah.
LAW ROACH [00:51:51] I grew up on the streets so I grew up in, if you let somebody love you too much, then you become vulnerable. And then you become needing of that love, right? You just, you become, if somebody give you love then you like you need it and want it and it feels good.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:52:05] You have something to lose.
LAW ROACH [00:52:07] And, and you have something to lose. So if you don’t have that. You know, for me to pick up and leave and and move somewhere else and never see those people again, because a lot of my youth, I survived on the kindness of other people. So it’d be like, you know, you’ll be with this family for a minute and then this family for a minute. And if you never, if you never become attached to them, then the distance attachment, doesn’t hurt so bad.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:52:32] Mmhmm.
LAW ROACH [00:52:33] So, so love has not, like I’ve never been in a relationship. I’ve never truly dated anyone in my entire adult life.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:52:41] Which is crazy because you’re so funny and hot and cool and stylish.
LAW ROACH [00:52:45] Thank you. So, yeah, you know, I got a lot of problems.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:52:48] I, I totally get it. And I’m only fucking around like, I. I know what you’re like. Because I’m quite similar. And we both disappear into our shells and have learned how to self protect because we weren’t supported when we were young, young. Right?
LAW ROACH [00:53:02] Yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:53:02] We didn’t have that sense of support. We didn’t know that we could find outside of ourselves. And so because I recognize what it is in you that is so horrified by my love and so scared of it, I get it. And that’s why I just continued to pummel you with it.
LAW ROACH [00:53:16] And I also didn’t come from a family where I woke up every morning and saw my mom and dad, a mom and a dad and a house and a happy, you know, what I mean? Like the only black love that we ever saw back in the day was the Huxtables. You know, so it’s like. But that again, it was a fantasy. Like she was a lawyer. She, he was a doctor, you know what I mean? That wasn’t my thing. So I just didn’t grow up with that. So I didn’t, I never saw the importance of it. And, you know, you, it’s the old saying like, you don’t miss what you never had. So I never had it so I never miss it but I think I’ve grown during the pandemic to understand that everybody needs that.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:53:54] I agree. And I’m happy to hear that. Talk to me about “Legendary”. You and I are hosts on a show about Ballroom.
LAW ROACH [00:54:03] Yes.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:54:03] You are our resident, what does Deshaun call you? Our rich bitch. Law Roach. Talk to me about, first of all, the persona that you kind of lean into on the show, because those who’ve watched it. Some people, I mean most people just love you and they love how shady you can be, how blunt you are, you are by a mile, the bluntest and hardest judge on the panel. Some people are offended. Will you talk to me about your decision to lean into your authenticity the way that you do? Or even play up to a character?
LAW ROACH [00:54:41] Yeah, yeah, yeah. I love that you call it a persona because I think that’s exactly what it, what it is. The thing about it is very me, it’s just dialed up a little bit.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:54:50] Yeah.
LAW ROACH [00:54:51] You know, I am, I don’t hold, I don’t hold my words. I don’t bite my tongue.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:54:54] No.
LAW ROACH [00:54:55] My opinions are my opinion. And just like my work as a stylist, my opinions are polarizing, just like my choices as a stylist. I polarize it. It is, some people really love it. Some people really hate it. But what happens is they meet in the middle and they talk about it. And I think that’s what it is. Like it’s memorable. Let’s talk about it. And it’s like, you know, I’m going to say what I want to say, you know, because I am who I am, you know? And I said what I said. So. But people. But me also being adjacent, Ballroom adjacent for so many years.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:55:34] What does that mean?
LAW ROACH [00:55:36] That means I’m very close too, but not actually in the Ballroom scene.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:55:42] Yeah. I want to talk about that, because coming up, was it in Chicago? That you started going to Ballroom events? Or?
LAW ROACH [00:55:47] Yeah. Yeah. We started going to Ballroom very young and we used to actually travel. I have a friend named Ianna Balenciaga, who’s a Ballroom icon, has been walking Balls and throwing Balls for 25 years. And she was one, one of my best friends. And so she exposed me to that at a really young age. And we used to go to D.C. We used to go to Atlanta and New York and go to the Balls. And so I know, I know what the Ballroom, the Ballroom culture is cutthroat, it’s shady.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:56:23] Yeah. I was going to say that people who are watching the show maybe haven’t ever been to a Ball. They don’t realize that they are harsh as fuck.
LAW ROACH [00:56:30] Right.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:56:30] I’ve been to Balls where I’ve watched Leiomy, as a judge, where she will, she won’t even verbally shade someone. She will turn her chair around in the middle of their performance and just look the other way and start analyzing her nails. Like they are-.
LAW ROACH [00:56:45] Yes.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:56:45] They don’t give a fuck. You have to be the best. And it is the community that have come up through such relentless hardship. It is like if you want to survive, you have to prove why you’re the best. Like there’s no mollycoddling. And I feel like that’s also potentially impacted the way that you work, the way that you treat people. But also, I want to know, do you, do you feel as though you have been influence when it comes to style and your love of the femme form, etc., from Ballroom? Because I know so much of fashion has been, has been influenced and sometimes stolen from Ballroom.
LAW ROACH [00:57:19] Yeah-.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:57:19] Do you feel like your inspirations have come from there at all?
LAW ROACH [00:57:22] I think, I think that, I think what inspired me for, for Ballroom is that it was always something so fantastical about it. It was, it was always something, like Ballroom will borrow something from mainstream culture and just take it and, and create this whole fantasy around it. And I’ve always was really attracted to the labels category, which is, you know, they come in, designer labels head to toe. And that, and at that time, when I first started going-, and Ballroom is actually part of the reason why I started writing bad checks and shoplifting because, and that was part of the culture. You know, you did whatever you had to do to get these clothes to go to these Balls. And although I didn’t compete, I was still, wanted to be dressed, you know, and, and for a period, it was like it had to be Versace. It was all Versace. You know what I mean? And so we did whatever we had to do to get those clothes. But I was inspired by, it was a boy named Thadeus Alore, that was from Chicago. And I will never forget he was walking Labels category. And he was this tall, skinny, really beautiful boy. He came out in a Gucci thong and some Dolce Gabbana heels, I think it was, and he had a Gucci umbrella. And that is how he walked the category, and for me, I was just like blown away because one thing, it was celebrating two things that was really important to me, me being able and being comfortable enough to be feminine and also my love for designer clothes. So it was just like so many things that I love that you went to those Balls and it was magnified and it was glorified. And it was, you know, the more feminine you are, the more people loved you. So. So those things did play a huge part in me becoming a stylist and my development of my own personal style.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:59:22] Also I, you know, it’s a place where you find community, as you were saying, like you feel accepted for who you are and you find your chosen family. I think that’s one of my favorite things about the entire Ballroom community, is the fact that a lot of those people weren’t accepted because of their sexuality or because they grew up in a neighborhood that maybe wasn’t conducive to how they live their life or they’re trans or they’re just black or LatinX, etc. And Ballroom has created a safe space for those people, for radical self acceptance. So it’s, it’s amazing to see you kind of come full circle. Where from stealing to be at the Balls, now you are the Ball. You also take up all of the fun words on the show. So I think we’re only allowed to say “pussy” twice per episode and immediately Law will just take up all the “pussy” so that we can’t, we can’t say. He’ll take all of the C words up, all the F bombs, you take all the fun language.
LAW ROACH [01:00:14] Yes.
JAMEELA JAMIL [01:00:14] But I’ve loved watching the success of this show. I think it’s such an important show. It’s so important to put this community on the map. While you were talking, I was getting so angry, not with you, at the idea that you have these kids who are stealing or begging or borrowing for the fashion that they love so much. And then to take it from there to realizing that the, I mean, the way the Ballroom community celebrates the sartorial and the aesthetic and to know that that’s the exact industry that they are most shut out from, the fashion industry, the beauty industry, for them not to have seen themselves represented until now. And for them to not have a chance to work within the industry that they love and they bring so much vigor and inspiration to, is something that really needs to change.
LAW ROACH [01:01:00] I would love to see the houses, who, who that these kids have adopted the names, kind of reach back and, and nurture them and do something for them to support them and, you know, give them money, give them opportunities that put them in campaigns because the bathroom has kept some of those houses, you know, alive in a way and relevant. And, you know, and I think that it would be so great for them to give back and make them their children, make it feel like them children. You know what I mean? Make these kids your children.
JAMEELA JAMIL [01:01:33] Maybe that’s something that we can work on together.
LAW ROACH [01:01:36] Let’s do it. Let’s do it.
JAMEELA JAMIL [01:01:37] So what’s next for Law Roach? You’ve already, you’ve styled everyone from Zendaya to Celine to Kim Kardashian to Kim Kardashian’s best friend, me. You have, you have a judging slot on a huge show that has 90 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and is coming back for a second season. Congratulations, you are.-.
LAW ROACH [01:01:57] Congratulations to you.
JAMEELA JAMIL [01:01:58] You are doing what next? Are you going to become a designer yourself? Are you going to open stores? What is the plan for you?
LAW ROACH [01:02:05] Like to be honest with you. My career, like when I want-, when I came and I said I want to be a stylist. I want to do this. I’ve done everything that I ever wanted to do as a stylist. Last year I had to start dreaming new dreams because I had lived them all. So right now my career is, is mainly to show other people who look like me, that they can do it and be able to use my, my name as bargaining tools, like I want people to go into a brand with their clients and like, I want to style this campaign. And they’re like, oh, well, we don’t do that. We just use our in-house people. I want them to be able to say that’s not true because Law did it. You know what I mean? I want, I want my career to be kind of a benchmark, and a crowbar, if you will, to open doors that that people are trying to keep shut. Any, any accomplishment, if I’m the first to do anything. I am not trying to be the first so that I can be the last. I want to give my career and all my accomplishments from this day on to benefit and better my community.
JAMEELA JAMIL [01:03:10] That’s amazing. And also, thank you for exposing all of your clients to young, black and brown and people of color, all kinds of designers who are young and up and coming and who don’t normally get the breaks in the big magazines that have predominantly white editors.
LAW ROACH [01:03:28] Yeah, yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [01:03:28] Thank you for showing me so much art from around the world. I have never, ever worn anything like I’ve been able to with you, and I’ve been able to make friendships with some of these designers. And it feels like you are helping us really democratize and diversify the fashion industry. And I love how secretly, although not so secretly anymore, but how political your agenda is, how socially political your agenda is. And I really appreciate that it’s not just a surface level thing.
LAW ROACH [01:03:57] Thank you.
JAMEELA JAMIL [01:03:58] It isn’t about just the exterior. It’s, you are truly authentic to the bone. And I think that’s what you’re trying to encourage in the whole world. And so for that, I really, I really respect to you. And I’m still a little bit afraid of you. But generally, I love you.
LAW ROACH [01:04:14] I love you too. Thank you so much.
JAMEELA JAMIL [01:04:16] It’s-. Before you go, Law, will you tell me, what do you weigh?
LAW ROACH [01:04:22] I weigh that my whole is greater than the sum of my parts. Meaning that-.
JAMEELA JAMIL [01:04:30] Not your asshole.
LAW ROACH [01:04:33] My whole. My whole entire being.
JAMEELA JAMIL [01:04:36] OK. Sorry.
LAW ROACH [01:04:36] Is greater, is greater than every, every little piece of me. It’s like when I pull everything I am from every different place and put it all together. That is what I weigh.
JAMEELA JAMIL [01:04:49] I love that. I’m sorry I ruined it.
LAW ROACH [01:04:51] Thank you.
JAMEELA JAMIL [01:04:56] I can’t wait to see you. It’s been so many months.
LAW ROACH [01:05:00] I know.
JAMEELA JAMIL [01:05:00] But at least three of your style-ys are going to the Emmys because we all got nominations. Humble brags.
LAW ROACH [01:05:09] Yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [01:05:10] Kerry Washington, another person you style. One of the most beautiful women of all time.
LAW ROACH [01:05:14] Yes.
JAMEELA JAMIL [01:05:14] Zendaya is gonna be there. She got nominated for “Euphoria”. It’s so exciting.
LAW ROACH [01:05:19] Yes.
JAMEELA JAMIL [01:05:19] I get to go there from “The Good Place”, but we don’t need to talk about that. So, yeah, I will see you soon and we can get styled for Zoom or however the fuck they’re gonna do the Emmys this year. I love you lots.
LAW ROACH [01:05:31] All right. Love you too.
JAMEELA JAMIL [01:05:32] Thanks for coming. Bye.
LAW ROACH [01:05:36] Ciao.
JAMEELA JAMIL [01:05:36] Thank you so much for listening to this week’s “I Weigh”. I would also like to thank the team, which helps me make this podcast. My producer, Sophia Jennings and Kimmie Lucas. My editor, Andrew Carson. My boyfriend, James Blake, who made the beautiful music you are hearing now. And me, for my work. At “I Weigh”, we would love to hear from you and share what you weigh at the end of this podcast. You can leave us a voicemail at 1-818-660-5543. Or e-mail us what you weigh at IWeighPodcast@gmail.com. And remember, it’s not in pounds and kilos, it’s your social contributions to society, or just how you define yourself in life. Here’s a little message from one of our “I Weigh” listeners.
I WEIGH COMMUNITY MEMBER [01:06:15] I weigh getting out of a deep state depression and enjoying life and everyone in it. All right. Thank you.
September 21, 2023
Jameela is joined by campaigner and writer Gina Martin, and in this optimistic conversation about creating change for equal rights around the world, they discuss how anyone can show up and support activism (especially offline in real spaces) and what this activism work can look like.