Liris Crosse: “Make The World Your Runway is a book to help you be your best YOU!”

Make The World Your Runway is a book to help you be your best YOU! I believe we color the world with how we show up, so when we step out confidently in our purpose we paint it so beautifully. Imagine how much more powerful the world could be if we operated in our highest […]

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Make The World Your Runway is a book to help you be your best YOU! I believe we color the world with how we show up, so when we step out confidently in our purpose we paint it so beautifully. Imagine how much more powerful the world could be if we operated in our highest selves for our purpose, careers and personal relationships. The world is our canvas and we can color it with love, kindness, compassion, purpose and so much more. I take tips and stories from my successful modeling career and expound upon them in the vein of a life coach to give everyone how they can utilize it in their everyday lives. Whether you’re a model, accountant, cashier, professor, lawyer or doctor, you can make the world your runway! Own the runway of your life! I’m all about that model mindset because it’s gotten me so far! Our minds are so powerful in our elevation.


As part of my series about “authors who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Liris Crosse.

Liris Crosse, dubbed “The “Body” and “The Naomi Campbell of Plus” is a model/actress and pioneer in the fashion industry for full-figured and African American women pushing curvy women into mainstream fashion! She has graced magazines from American Vogue, Essence, British Cosmopolitan to Vibe as well as been featured in-store campaigns for Lane Bryant and Ashley Stewart. Liris was named one of the “Top Ten Plus Models” in the industry by Vibe Vixen Magazine, the Huffington Post’s “Top Ten Most Popular Plus Models” and Dose.com named her one of the “Top 20 Models Destroying Traditional Beauty Standards”! Liris also made her mark in the video vixen market hailed one of the Eye Candy Models of the decade by XXL Magazine.

In 2013 in her home state of Maryland, Liris was presented with the Plus Print Model of the Year Award at the Fashion Awards MD as well as the Fashion 500 Award from The Block Association. The following year, she graced the first Black issue of Plus Model Magazine (February). Liris sashayed the runway for New York’s Full Figured Fashion Week and took her runway reign to British Plus Size Fashion Weekend in the UK and Plus Size Fashion Days in Germany. Her popularity there led to being selected as the cover model for Daily Venus Diva, Plus Model and Volup2 magazines. It was that same year Liris launched her Life of a Working Model Boot Camp which offers numerous classes to provide new generation of models with tips and strategies on how to break into the fashion industry and maintain and improve their craft. It has been successful series that has assisted women in signing with major agencies, modeling in high-level runway shows and gaining self-confidence and direction.

In addition to modeling, Liris has added several acting credits to her long resume. She appeared in the films “The Best Man”, “Baby Boy” and on television series “The Wire” and Law & Order SVU.

In 2015, Liris became the first Black model to race the Goddess Lingerie campaign. That same year, she was one of a few models selected to walk the runway for reality TV competition, Project Runway’s, first-ever plus-size collection at New York Fashion Week. That honor was followed by being chosen as one of the models for the show’s first season to include plus-size models for the weekly competition premiering in August 2017. In November 2017, Liris was named one of the two model winners of Project Runway to be featured in Marie Claire magazine, a first for plus models.

In 2016, Liris discovered a new gift in motivational speaking. She served as the featured speaker at the Flawless Conference in Washington, DC and the Softer Side Seminars in Pittsburgh. She keynoted at Harvard University for AOCC & Princeton University for At The Well Conference. In 2017 she added new cities to her Life of a Working Model Boot Camp tour(Huntsville, Alabama-Baltimore, MD- St Louis, Missouri), was named Full-Figured Fashion Week’s Model of the Year and was a featured guest on the Steve Harvey talk show discussing curvy confidence and spreading it to 15 women who she helped inspire to love themselves.

Liris is the very embodiment of her motto, “If you can think it, you can do it”. She has proven that anyone can make their dreams come true and is passionate about encouraging and motivating others to do the same. As her career continues to move forward whether through modeling, acting or mentoring, Liris Crosse is definitely one to watch!

Liris is currently signed to Dorothy Combs Models in the USA & Hughes Models in the UK.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I grew up in Baltimore Maryland. The child of two pastors with my older sister (we’re 11 years apart). I’ve always been a dreamer, creative and a leader even on the playground. My parents both had government jobs outside of the church with my mom at social services and my dad working at H.U.D. My father was an entrepreneur before this was ever a buzzword. He tried all types of businesses and was involved with politics. When he decided to run for Congress, he had a photographer come to the house to shoot his campaign brochure. He took pictures of my dad, pictures of us as a family and then asked if could he take solo shots of me. He came back weeks later and gave me a print of myself sitting in my dad‘s big chair and said “She’s really photogenic, you should get her into modeling.” That’s when the seed was planted for me to become a supermodel.

When you were younger, was there a book that you read that inspired you to take action or changed your life? Can you share a story about that?

Iyanla Vanzant’s In The Meantime was that book for me. It helped me to start to be introspective and be the catalyst for my own healing. I had some disappointing romantic relationships, some fractured friendships and family issues. That book helped me to step my self-love up, forgive others as well as myself and DO THE WORK! I still have my copy in my personal library so I can reflect back to it if needed.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

I remember showing up to the set of an Essence magazine shoot and I was so unprepared. I used to bite my nails and I didn’t know what it meant to show up with my nails properly prepped so I had packed some Lee Press-On nails in my bag. I remember I was in the corner trying to glue my little fake nails on over my chewed-up nails. The iconic beauty editor, Mikki Taylor, who was so refined, came over to see what I was doing and she looked at me like a concerned mother. She pulled me aside and asked what I was doing. I said “Gluing my nails on so they could have the clean nails as requested.” She sincerely laughed and said, “Liris, when you show up you should already have your clean hair and nails neatly done. This isn’t something you do on set.” She then proceeded to send me to a nail salon in the city to get me some acrylic nails done while they were starting to shoot the other models. I was so thankful in the end. That taught me to be prepared, not to take the cheap way out and also the model basics for shoot prep. I was so glad she saw my young innocence and that I just didn’t know any better. It taught me that I could make a mistake sometimes but learn the lesson and do better going forward. She went on to book me on various other shoots over the years and I was always properly prepped. I’m laughing now at how I really thought that was okay!

Can you describe how you aim to make a significant social impact with your book?

Make The World Your Runway is a book to help you be your best YOU! I believe we color the world with how we show up, so when we step out confidently in our purpose we paint it so beautifully. Imagine how much more powerful the world could be if we operated in our highest selves for our purpose, careers and personal relationships. The world is our canvas and we can color it with love, kindness, compassion, purpose and so much more. I take tips and stories from my successful modeling career and expound upon them in the vein of a life coach to give everyone how they can utilize it in their everyday lives. Whether you’re a model, accountant, cashier, professor, lawyer or doctor, you can make the world your runway! Own the runway of your life! I’m all about that model mindset because it’s gotten me so far! Our minds are so powerful in our elevation.

Can you share with us the most interesting story that you shared in your book?

Truthfully my book, Make The World Your Runway, is packed with stories that will keep your head spinning while also inspiring you to dream big for yourself. But one of the coolest stories is actually from Tim Gunn (formerly of Project Runway) in the foreword he penned! It’s the story of how I changed his mind about how he saw models as more than interchangeable mannequins after my appearance on season 16 of Project Runway! You have to get the book to find out — available on Amazon worldwide!

What was the “aha moment” or series of events that made you decide to bring your message to the greater world? Can you share a story about that?

Well, coming off of the success of being on the Steve Harvey Show with my confidence boot camp and then after winning on Project Runway, I had loads of fans who loved my runway confidence and personality. I got letters, emails and tweets asking how people could attend my confidence boot camp, model classes or how I had so much confidence appearing as one of the few plus models on Project Runway. Some people can’t afford to travel to NYC and there was no way for me to reach everyone all over the world but I knew what could do, write a BOOK! So I had to decide how to frame it. I went through my notes from my model boot camps and my confidence class, thought about some of my model life moments but on a deeper psychological level. The idea for the book hit me because it was marrying my model moments with life coaching moments mixed with my world perspective. People love me for my modeling work but also my wisdom from my #LirisMotivates series I have on social media. I’ve been through a lot but have also been successful for more than a decade now. So why not share some of my keys to success so I can help others.

Without sharing specific names, can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

In the modeling world, I am very vocal about creating diversity and inclusion for race as well as size. I am proud to be the spokesmodel for Maggie Sottero Designs, a bridal retailer in more than 60 countries. The bridal market is one of the last areas of the fashion world to really take on diversity. So it’s a big deal for me to be a Black plus-size woman representing a brand like this. I remember I was in Barcelona and had just made history becoming the first Black plus model to walk the prestigious Barcelona Bridal Fashion week! I was talking to the sales rep who handles the continent of Africa for the Maggie brand. She’s a white South African woman and she said, “Liris, you don’t realize how much you’re impacting Africa with your work for Maggie Sottero.” I said, “Oh really?” and she said, “Yes, they are loving you.! When I sent your campaign pictures to one of my best stores, Sidai Brides in Kenya, she said ‘oh my God, my prayers have been answered!” Unbeknownst to me since most bridal companies use only white models for their look books and advertisements, she orders her gowns and then uses her own money to reshoot them because she sells to mainly Black African brides and she wants them to be able to see themselves represented in the dresses. She finally didn’t have to do that with our line because I am the model. When I tell you, the tears just fell from my eyes. This is why representation matters and this is the fuel that keeps me going. This clearly shows you how a picture is worth a thousand words! It speaks volumes.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

Hire Black people in front of the camera and behind it. Pay us on the same level of our counterparts and don’t let it be a one-time thing. Amplify our voices and representation in the boardrooms and in media. I feel these are a great start.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Leadership is organizing and/or directing others for a goal, motive or path. For example, because I am adamant about diversity and inclusion, I use my voice behind the scenes to help create lasting change for models of color and size by helping to implement different procedures and institutions. To whom much is given, much is required so I do my part!

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

Modeling is a constant investment, from hair to make up to fitness to pictures to marketing, so be prepared to spend. For example, models usually need to update their photos via a test shoot every quarter because it gives your agent another opportunity to market you to clients. 
When a model signs to an agency, most don’t realize you are in partnership, not a dictatorship, with your agency. You work together and take their advice because, of course, they have a proven track record. But that doesn’t mean you have to be demeaned or bullied into doing anything you don’t want to do, like shooting lingerie or cutting your hair. Remember, you have a say in things too. 
It’s good to sign with multiple agencies in different cities if you can. It increases your chance for work, travel and maximizing the growth of your brand. My first agent never pushed me to do it but I’m glad I did later in my career. That’s how I was able to become the first Black model to shoot the Goddess Lingerie campaign in London for Eveden brands.
Save money every month and put it away so you don’t touch it. As creatives, a lot of times we think we’ll save when we get the big check but no, we should be saving from every check. 2020 showed us that we need to be prepared for anything to happen. Put $5 away a week if that’s all you can do but just start! Look into resources for you to invest and make multiple streams of income.
Pay better attention to the photo releases for your pictures. Most models end up signing them on set and don’t really look them over. You need to be knowledgeable about what the use of your image can be used for as photographers own the rights to most pictures.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My sister, Karin Haysbert, is an author and marriage coach who stays dropping gems. One of my favorite things she says are “standards are what you allow” and it’s so true, from business relationships to romantic relationships. I took inventory of some of my business practices and realized I was letting things slide in certain areas out of comfortability, fear and another was boundaries. When I realized I had a choice in this and created a new standard of how I wanted to be handled, everything changed. The respect from my agents, the better communication, the increase in my bank account, all are a payoff from me creating new standards with them. You get what you allow! Take ownership and make a change for the better!

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Naomi Campbell, since she’s my all-time favorite model and she inspires me to keep modeling still! She looks amazing, is multifaceted with her influence in front of the camera and behind. I’d want to hear more on her thoughts of where the modeling world is going (off the record,) racism in the fashion industry, her thoughts on romantic love and her goals for the future, to name a few.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Please follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Clubhouse at @LirisC , and friend me on Facebook under Liris Crosse. My YouTube is YouTube.com/loawmodel

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

Thanks so much for having me! Get my book, Make The World Your Runway, now on Amazon! I promise it will renew your confidence and deepen your purpose to help you be your best YOU! https://amzn.to/2JYUWvi


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