Ashley Graham, the creator of Fearless with Ashley Graham recently, sat down with Isaiah Collins, a 24-year-old aspiring actor who developed vitiligo when he was 15. In a heart-wrenching conversation, Isaiah told the host how he struggles with self-confidence, which has affected his drive to pursue his dream of becoming an actor. Ashley surprised Isaiah by asking Winnie Harlow to visit him on the show. Winnie chatted with Isaiah and encouraged him to reach his goals. Here are some excerpts from the interview that aired recently on ellentube.
“The first time I discovered that I had a little white patch on my shoulder. When I went to the doctor, they said, you have vitiligo. She told my mom – You need to watch out for him because people with vitiligo have a high suicide rate. He’s probably going to fall into a deep depression, which happened for me. I wouldn’t go to the store. I wouldn’t step on the porch because I was so ashamed about how I looked,” Isaiah opened up about his early years with vitiligo.
“How did others treat you when you went to school?” asked Ashley. “They started mooing at me when I walked down the hallway, calling me a cow, zebra. And before that, I was teased because I was gay. So, it was rough. I felt alone.”
Isaiah’s dream is to become an actor, but he is concerned about making it: He thinks due to vitiligo, people are going to be focusing on his appearance rather than his performance. “A lot of people would tell me, well, you should probably go into, like, writing or something behind the scenes. And that made me more motivated to show you, like, I’m going to do this.”
The only person that Isaiah knows with vitiligo is Winnie Harlow. He never met another person face to face that has vitiligo. He shared why he calls Winnie his inspiration, “She was the first person that I have seen that made me feel like, maybe this is OK. She gave me the confidence to audition for my first musical theater show.”
Isaiah would soon meet Winnie on the show – a surprised Ashley planned for the aspiring actor. “You broke down so many doors for not just people with vitiligo but people you don’t feel like they can do something because of a disability or something that stops them from accomplishing their dreams,” Isaiah praised his idol.
“People always ask me, like, what would you say to people with vitiligo? But it’s bigger than that. We focus so much on what other people think of us. And what other people think of you is not going to help you reach your goals,” Winnie poured her heart out on the show.
“Is there any advice you can give me on not caring what people think?” Isaiah asked Winnie. She replied, “There’s no easy answer. It’s really just working every day on yourself and your confidence and knowing that within yourself that you are beautiful. And I remember being a little girl, looking at stars and wishing on them that one day, when I grow up, maybe I’ll be normal. But people are always going to say things. People still call me a cow or whatever the case is. There’s always going to be that negative. But you must focus on the positive.”
To help Isaiah archive his dream, Ashley told the aspiring actor that her team is going to set him up with a one-on-one meeting with a talent agent that works with some of the biggest movie stars. Knowing how expensive Isaiah’s dreams could be, he was given $5,000 on the show. That’s not it, Isaiah had his headshots done right after the interview.
For the uninitiated, Ashley Graham is a model, designer, entrepreneur, and a body-positive activist. She is helping people struggling with their confidence to become unapologetically fearless.