An absolute pleasure — there’s no other way to describe Marcellas Reynolds; he has an infectious smile, a dynamite sense of humor, a pop culture knowledge that would see him clean up on Jeopardy!, and a style sense that’s retro, refined, and refreshing. He’s also a hard worker — a skill he honed as his family’s breadwinner as a teenager growing up on Chicago’s South Side. Though many might recognize him as an entertainment reporter on TV, he’s turned his attention towards writing in recent years. In 2019, he released the book Supreme Models: Iconic Black Women Who Revolutionized Fashion, and followed that up two years later with Supreme Actresses: Iconic Black Women Who Revolutionized Hollywood. Last fall, a documentary based on Supreme Models debuted on YouTube, with Reynolds serving as executive producer. He is following up the success of those two books with a third focusing on Black musicians. So it was a pleasure to be able to chat with Reynolds about how he spends his one quasi-relaxing day, which starts early and includes an impressive amount of glycolic acid.
In our new series, “A Perfect Sunday,” we spotlight our favorite tastemakers and their ideal Sunday vibe, life advice, and beauty and style must-haves. Here, Marcellas Reynolds shares his weekend routine.
“Sunday morning starts very, very early, before sunrise, with me writing. Sunday morning is very zen and serene, and provides the perfect amount of calm and clarity and quiet that I need to write. But the first thing I do — that I’ve learned that I have to do immediately or it won’t get done — is take a shower. I have a whole ritual. I am beautiful and take good care of my skin. I don’t take good care of my body like going to the gym. But I do take good care of the skin on my face. I take a cool to medium-warm shower; never hot. I use all-natural products in the shower, but I don’t wash my face in the shower, I wash it at the sink with a glycolic cleanser. I’m one of those people, where if it doesn’t burn, it’s not working. I pour it in my hands and splash it on my face like Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest [where she portrays Joan Crawford splashing steaming hot water onto her face in the opening scene of the 1981 film]. Then after that, I use a glycolic toning solution, then a liquid exfoliant that also has glycolic acid.
“I put that on my forehead — every place on my face, with the exception of my shaving area. In my shaving area, I’ve been using this old-school product called Tend Skin. I use it on the back of my head, at the nape of my neck. Those are the areas that if I’m not careful, I get razor bumps. I’ve always been known for my good skin, from as far back as high school, and it’s because I work at it. Then I apply moisturizer where needed. I have a bleaching cream that I use on dark spots on my shaving areas and knees and elbows because of melanin; Black people sometimes have darker knees and elbows and joints than the rest of the skin. Melanin collects in the joints so I use a bleaching cream called Nadinola on my elbows, knees, in my shaving area if I need it. Or on my face if I get a bump. If you get a scratch or scar or pimple when you’re Black, they hyperpigment, they get darker. After that, I put on a clean white terrycloth bathrobe, full length that almost touches the floor, monogrammed “MR.” And I do my teeth — bleaching, flossing. So when I go back to bed [to work], I feel perfect. I’ve scrubbed, I’ve burned, I’ve moisturized, and I’m in my pristine white bathrobe. It’s now getting light out, like 5:00, 5:30 in the morning. So I go back in front of my computer. And I look at whatever project I’m working on at the time.”
“I might have a tea or a juice. I keep my refrigerator stocked with bottles of juice from Pressed or Erewhon — I’m that annoying person. I went on a date with a guy who introduced me to London fogs and now I’m obsessed with London fogs so I bought myself a steamer. A London fog is Earl Grey tea with steamed milk, like a cappuccino without coffee. I use oat milk in my Earl Grey tea. And the key is to pour honey into the milk, then steam it so it’s already sweetened when it goes into the cup.
“If I’m not writing, I’ll go for a very long walk in my neighborhood; I live on the border between Hancock Park and Miracle Mile. I love walking on the streets in Hancock Park; it’s one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in L.A. Sometimes I walk four miles and sometimes I walk eight miles and I love to do that as early as possible because the sun is not at its height yet and it’s still cool. After my walk, I do the whole ritual again for the shower, back to the bathing, back into my bathrobe. And then at some point I’ll leave and go do something for myself. I would either go to my favorite donut shop and buy myself a sweet or go have lunch with a friend.”
“I love Holloway House, which is the newest branch of Soho House. I’d get a piece of fish — bass or salmon — with a side of asparagus … I usually start with the fries, which I order when I sit at the table. With a side of mayo and a side of ketchup.”
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“I would go to a specialty store, not the mall. I’m obsessed with Acne Studios — that brand I wear a lot of. I like Jonathan Adler and Paul Smith on Melrose. There’s a store called Webster outside the Beverly Center, where I bought a Gucci shirt that was wildly expensive. I have book and documentary money so a boy can splurge. I would do things that are indulgent for myself, see a friend or two, go shopping, tool around the neighborhood, pick up dry cleaning, maybe go to Target if I needed something. Most of the time I’m alone. I spend a lot of time alone and I like that.”
“Generally I spend some time on the phone talking to people I haven’t talked to in a while. Then, Sunday around 6:00 p.m., I change out of my street clothes and I’m back in my bathrobe. I am in front of the computer making a list of things that need to be done and the priority of which they have to be completed.”
“Honey, Marcellas don’t cook! You know that clip of Whitney Houston on Oprah? ‘Whitney don’t cook!’ Marcellas don’t cook! I hate dirty dishes, I hate trash in my house. I spend a lot of money, unfortunately, on Uber Eats. And it’ll take me an hour to figure out exactly what it is I want to eat. That becomes part of my ritual. What do I want? Creole? Seafood? A pizza? Or I’ll walk around in my neighborhood and find something.”
“I’ve already done chemical warfare on my skin when I woke up in the morning, so my nighttime ritual is really simple. I try to shut everything down by 10:30 p.m., no later than 11:00 p.m. After I’ve eaten dinner, I immediately brush my teeth so I don’t fall asleep [with unbrushed teeth]. I’ve taken out my trash, I’ve washed the dishes, so I don’t have trash and dirty dishes in the house. I will wash my face at night with warm water, no soap, just scrubbing it with a white clean washcloth. I only use a washcloth one time and then it goes in the dirty clothes bin. Depending on what’s going on with my face, I definitely always add a little bleaching cream if there’s something going awry. The Nadinola jar comes back out. I put the Tend Skin on my shaving area and the back of my neck where my scalp meets my neck and that’s it.”
What valuable piece of advice did you learn while researching Supreme Models and Supreme Actresses?
“Never take no for an answer. If you have a dream and you really believe this is something you’re supposed to be doing, never give up. If one door closes, figure out how to open another. If that door closes, find a window and shimmy it open. In Supreme Models, that was an idea that was echoed by Veronica Webb, Jeneil Williams, and so many others. In Supreme Actresses, even more so than Supreme Models, that was an idea that was an overwhelming theme — Gabrielle Union, Viola Davis, Lupita Nyong’o, Lynn Whitfield all talked about it and our history and how our triumphs are the triumphs of our ancestors as well, which is an amazing way to think about it and the pursuit of success for a person of color.”
Can you name a career high?
“I don’t believe in a high. If you believe in a career high, then everything after that is a low. The things that I’ve found to be my career highs would not be the things other people would necessarily judge me by. A low point in my career was doing Big Brother and that was a mistake [he was a member of the season three cast]. Whereas, a high point in my career was when I was very young and modeling, and opening and closing the Ralph Lauren show, or closing the Tommy Hilfiger show, or opening the Nautica show. Because I really wanted to be a model and I was told I was too short or too dark or too gay or too this or too that — those were moments I really wanted and were important.
“Being able to take care of my family financially since I was a teenager has always been something that was important to me. When I look back on it, I shouldn’t have had to be working at 14 to help pay the rent. I shouldn’t have had to be the breadwinner for my entire family from the time I was 15 to 18, but it instilled in me a work ethic that I still have. And then of course, now, with my success as an author creating books that have never existed before — the first art book devoted to top Black models, to Black actresses, to top Black singers and musicians, and the success of the documentary, the first to document the success of Black models, which crossed 8 million views on Vogue’s YouTube channel — that’s a pretty good moment for a Black boy who grew up poor and gay on the South Side of Chicago.”
What are you reading, watching, listening to right now?
“I’m not reading a damn thing. [Laughs] I’m doing research on these incredible women whose stories I’m telling, so of course I’m reading that sort of thing. I am watching reruns of a British show called Midsommer Murders. It makes me so happy. It’s mindless and it’s funny and it’s quirky and it’s a complete distraction. I can’t get enough of it. I am team Tom Barnaby. I watch other crime shows. If it’s on Investigation Discovery or Oxygen, I’m watching it. If it’s great murder mayhem, I’m all about it. It makes my sister insane — she’s like, ‘How can you watch that all day long? What’s wrong with you?’ I am listening to the new Taylor Swift album and I can’t get enough of it. And I’m still listening to Beyonce’s Renaissance because I’m doing a book about Black singers and Beyonce is the one.”
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Do you go for any regular grooming treatments?
What are some of your fashion must-haves?
“I’m obsessed with this blue polyester leisure suit that’s in three pieces that’s by Acne Studios. I wear a variation of it every chance I get and my friends are so tired of seeing it. They’re like, ‘Dude you have to have more clothes than that, I’ve seen your closet.’ I can’t get enough of this leisure suit. It’s like 1977 Ralph Furley from Three’s Company. It is a jacket, a shirt and bell bottom pants in this odd blue that I can best describe as polyester-y navy and I am obsessed. I cannot stop wearing it. The other day my friend said, ‘If you take another picture or do another interview in that outfit…’ [Laughs] The other thing I’m obsessed with right now are bootcut trousers, so I wear a lot of wide-leg trousers from Acne Studios, who have been doing those the last three seasons, as has Dries van Noten. There’s a part of wool serge trousers that I can’t get enough of. And I just bought another double-breasted blazer.
“After years of double-breasted blazers being passé and something your dad would wear, I’ve aged into the double-breasted blazer and nothing makes me happier. I have full-on accepted the dad wear. I’m obsessed with Saint Laurent high-top gym shoes and my Saint Laurent military boots. I cannot get enough of them. I have three pairs of the Saint Lauren gym shoes and they’re in constant rotation.”
How would you describe your style?
“My style is Shaggy from Scooby-Doo meets Ralph Furley from Three’s Company with touches of the elegance of Cary Grant. Those are my style gurus. Every week, Shaggy looked so chic. It was flat-front bell bottoms, black boots, with a perfectly cut T-shirt. Ralph Furley was a master at mixing colors and would throw on a crazy accessory like a scarf, like no one else. And then of course Cary Grant was a master of tailoring. In fashion, the battle is won at the tailor’s shop.”
What’s exciting to you in fashion right now?
“The death of the skinny jean on men. Oh my God, it took so long for that trend to end. And now that the bootcut is back, I am so happy. The other thing I love more than anything in fashion that is saving me because I’m about 20 lbs. overweight from writing three books in five years and doing a documentary as well — thank God for the oversize blazer trend. And if said oversized blazer is double breasted because it covers your gut even better, then hallelujah.”
Do you have a most treasured possession?
“I have two. One is this Prada wallet that is green army print leather that’s connected to a chain. I have never worn this thing but I’m obsessed with it and one day I’m going to be giddy enough, I’m going to feel confident enough, I’m going to feel hot enough to wear that chain wallet thing and do it justice. And my most prized possession is an advanced copy of Supreme Models. Holding it in my hand — it took eight years to complete and 10 years to be published — felt like nothing else. And that particular copy has autographs and notes in it from at least 30 of the models that are in the book, so I will treasure it forever. I had to have it rebound. It’s been across the globe with me since it came out.”
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