Global Village

FLY LIKE EAGLE: A Thinkers Cap chat with creative assistant Leroy Pope

FLY LIKE EAGLE: We sat down with creative assistant Leroy Pope who embarked on a recent project that took him back to his High School Eagle Academy an all boys public school network that stands as a national model of academic excellence and social-emotional development for urban young men.

As a graduate of Eagle-Brooklyn, how did the school shape your perspective of the world?

Attending an all boys school has definitely built my level of awareness and competitiveness. As I’ve gotten older I’ve had to channel and redirect my focus on things outside of pop culture and become competitive with myself.

How important has it been for you to stay connected to the Eagle legacy and is that why you tend to go back and include it in your current work?

Leroy: Extremely important, being the second graduating class I didn’t have someone closer in age that’s been through eagle’s program to help guide or provide mentorship. My mentors were pivotal in my growth but there was a big age gap. It’s my responsibility to stay connected to fill that gap.

What does Thinkers Cap Thursdays mean to you and why did you want to feature your alma Mater in this series?

Leroy: Thinkers cap to me is exactly that. A cap rooted in research and a level of understanding of the past and bringing it to the future. Unlike the popular fitted cap that’s trend based. Being in the industry I’ve realized that I prefer to work with day to day folks as opposed to models. There’s a story there, depth and a level of truth and vulnerability that you can capture and freeze.

When you are back on the grounds how do you reflect on your experience as a young man and your responsibility to the young men at Eagle now?

Leroy: Honestly being back at eagle at times feels euphoric. The foundation built within the establishment and constant support has gotten me this far. My ability to see beyond what’s in front of me is because my school believed in me before I was fully aware of even myself. I’ve always been a confident person but didn’t know that my dreams and goals were truly attainable and possible.

What’s the background work and logistics in working on a project like that? Would you approach it differently next time, if so how?

Leroy: A lot of preparation, communication and research. The images were in my head for quite some time. Heavily inspired by Gordon parks, military discipline and uniformity. Ouigi is a firm advocate of discipline and uniformity. We wanted to do something that was organized but not staged. Which is tough, getting young men to sit during their free period isn’t the easiest. They could’ve been spending that time to decompress but, decided to help me get this done. I commend them for it. We had a lot of fun on this project.

most importantly I know what impact it’ll have for these guys to see themselves featured in this project. And to witness a brand owned and operated by people who look like them. It was also shot, directed and produced by us. Their reaction and involvement has been my biggest motivation. It’ll spark something if not in all, for sure a few of them. This is documented as another page of the 100year Plan.

How were you introduced to The Brooklyn Circus?

Leroy: I remember it like it was yesterday. Barry Cooper, my dean at the time, walked up to me and asked me what other classes I had for the day. He, had 3 other guys with him so I knew we were either in trouble or in for an adventure.

I walked into Liberty Fairs, at 15-16 years old, it was my first time at a trade show and I was immediately in awe. Instantly, a few striking characters caught my attention. One in particular walked in with a familiar stance but his clothes were not your typical everyday gear— yet he looked so comfortable & welcoming. As I navigated the space, I saw another guy who had a similar aura and a big B on his chest. The more I explored, the more the men with the ‘B’s’ on their chest multiplied.

I was greeted by this super charismatic guy with a big beard. I introduced myself, he introduced himself as Ouigi Theodore. He pointed at me and told me “I want to use you as a model one day”. Later, me and the guys from my school then had our picture taken by John Midgliey. I’ve never seen anything like it before, men that look like me but in another element.

From then on, I couldn’t stay away from the trade shows. I learned that Ouigi owned The Brooklyn Circus and I made it my mission to one day work with him. After 5 years of random store pop-ups, shows, and advocating for myself- The bearded man finally gave me a shot. Thanks to Nicole and Sharifa.

Creative concept: @leroytyrelll
Photography: @hartbreak
Design: @ouigitheodore for BKc
Location: Eagle Academy Brooklyn
Illustration: @luis_ornelas_