Zyrie: "I feel like I didn't know hustle until I moved to New York."

Zyrie: "I feel like I didn't know hustle until I moved to New York."
Zyrie is a New York-based model and creative (photography by MTHR TRSA)

At first glance, it seems like Zyrie has cracked the code of making your passions your job. The model, actress, and sometimes musician always had her sights set on being in front of the camera. Ever since seeing iconic doll Isis King on Top Model, it was game over. Or game start, rather. Zyrie eventually left Texas - like a few other girls in this issue - and came to New York to chase her dreams. Since then she's appeared on magazine covers, red carpets, and now in The Girls Book.

We talked to Zyrie about what motivates them to keep pursuing their art, what being on time really means, and how New York changed her mentality towards hustling.

What borough are you in, and what tethers you to your neighborhood?

I just moved to Brooklyn near Prospect Park a few months ago from Texas, so this is still new. It seems like there's a creative freedom that I really connect with here, including the general energy of the people, from the fashion statements to the party scenes. There's definitely different parts of Brooklyn where the energy will shift, but I feel like I've been able to find a lot of my tribe in Brooklyn. I just think Brooklyn is that girl. I feel like Brooklyn is her.

If you were one of the train lines, which one would you be and why?

She’s an L train. She mostly stays in Brooklyn, but she makes her way to Manhattan when she needs to, and she doesn't do more than what's needed. I feel like her line is pretty short as compared to some of the other ones. She does what needs to be done and she does it well. She's very popular. Also, the neutral color! I love a neutral color—a timeless color, a timeless moment.

What’s your bodega deli order?

I have a list of things I need to do since moving to New York, and I will prioritize this one because I feel like to be considered a true New Yorker, I need to have my Bodega order, right!? I'll definitely check chopped cheese out. So I was born in Jersey but raised in Texas, so I spent most of my time down there. But whenever we would come up, we would always do some type of hoagie. My dad has a couple of restaurants in Texas, and he actually makes Philly cheese steaks out there. So, a chopped cheese would definitely be my order because it’s akin to some version of a Philly; I love a good Philly.

How would you describe the artistic work that you do, and how did you get into it?

I've done mostly modeling, and I first started because in Texas, I didn't feel like I saw a lot of representation of myself for many different reasons. I was interested in allowing myself to explore being in front of the camera.

I got to have this really beautiful full-circle moment: I used to grow up on America's Next Top Model, and Isis King was just such an icon and such an inspiration. I was able to meet her in Los Angeles a couple of months ago. We had followed each other for some time and finally got to speak. She made me think of representation through beauty and being in front of the camera and being able to create these really beautiful stories and pictures. From there, it's just continued to expand; I'm getting into acting, and I'm exploring music. My purpose of living is to use art to connect with people, and it just fulfills me.

After booking that, I was just like, “Okay, there's an opportunity here.”

What is your cultural background, and how does it shape your art, if at all?

Texas being such a conservative state, generally, even though there's blue cities, there were certain hardships and things that I faced. And it wasn't like I was living in Houston or Dallas; I was raised in San Antonio, which I would say is more conservative. There was like a lot of conditioning and messaging that I had received growing up that I had internalized. Being able to express myself creatively has not only been a way for me to enjoy certain aspects of life, but it also has allowed for me to do this process of unlearning some of that conditioning that was pushed on to me. My creative endeavors on this journey have been this effort to completely liberate myself while also influencing other people to find that liberation for themselves and what that looks like through exploring their own identity and creativity.

Zyrie is a New York-based model and creative (photography by MTHR TRSA)

What’s your relationship to hustling? How do you not get lost?

I feel like I didn't know hustle until I moved to New York. 1,000% I will say that I have an appreciation for New York because of that, because it is something that's difficult. People who live in New York have this really beautiful opportunity to master the concept of finding that balance throughout time. One way that I try to ground myself so I can stay present is by meditating. I have some amazing friends here. Finding your people, finding your tribe, and being able to lean on them when you're in need, and letting them lean on you and being able to pour into each other is really important. Even though there are so many people here, I think it can feel really isolating if you don't have people that you find really understand what you're going through. It takes a village to do this.

New York City is such a transient transplant town where people come from all over the world, but what’s your relationship to America overall?

Being someone that's Black and someone that is trans and knowing the history of both here is something that's ever-present. I constantly have this thirst to not only continue to learn and connect with history to have an understanding of the present but also this appreciation for Black American culture and the resilience that has been here and in the trans community as well. So I would say it's complicated, but I feel truly inspired to see a lot of individuals who have been able to use their experiences to create something meaningful that truly connects with people.

✩ The city can be considered a “doll’s paradise,” where not only trans femmes can thrive in their personhood but also in terms of career, from fashion to modeling, nightlife, etc. How true has that notion been for you, in your experience of working in the City?

The reason I moved here was because of a job that was the biggest thing that I had booked at the time. After booking that, I was just like, “Okay, there's an opportunity here.” Then I started to look around, and I saw such a sense of freedom here through expression. Another part of my work here is that I work in helping girls get gender-affirming care, so to be able to help them navigate certain parts of their journey and have access to that—even when that's not even close to an option elsewhere—has been really beautiful.

What’s your ideal get-ready routine for a night out?

It involves boasting a confusingly diverse range of music that channels everything about femininity. It's very random; the genres are all over the place, but it involves some twerking in the kitchen and some crazy singing in the bathroom. I try on way too many outfits until I find the one that feels right, so I basically do like my own little fashion show. Then I usually leave when I'm supposed to be at the place, because I'm just gonna call myself out. It's a whole process. I do try, I'm trying to be better, but I run on CPT most of the time.

How do you go about finding community?

Social media has been really helpful with that. A lot of the girls I’ve found through social media. Also, New York has so many things that are going on. You can really find your tribe of people that share similar passions and interests as you. So it's really just about allowing yourself to explore those passions and go to different events, different places, and you'll find people that you can connect to and really build that tribe and build that community.

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