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Fifty Shades of... Boris?

With Fifty Shades of Grey prepping to hit theaters, should former model Boris Kodjoe play the sexy lead?
First, let me say that while this column might seem a bit all over the place, it comes together in the end. Really, it does. And I’ll get to Boris shortly, I promise.
Okay, here we go.
Once upon a time, before actors, musicians and reality “stars” completely ambushed our collective consciousness, models ruled the world. Having come of age during the dawn of the supermodel era, I’m here to tell you that it was quite a fabulous time. I used to wait by the mailbox for my magazines to arrive and spend hours flipping through page after page of my favorite models serving all kinds of face and fashion. And I was happy.

Last weekend, I made my way to the Getty Museum for the Herb Ritts photo exhibit and immediately felt as though I’d been transported back to that time. Along with revisiting iconic images of Naomi, Alek, Cindy, Linda and Christy, the show included a 12-minute presentation featuring some of the late photographer’s most mesmerizing music videos and commercial spots. Oh, and for the record, Janet Jackson’s video for “Love Will Never Do (Without You),” featuring a young, pearly-white-toothed, pre-Amistad Djimon, was the only clip that played out in all its fierce entirety. It was pure magic.
Needless to say, I was still on a bit of a fashion “high” when I tuned in for HBO’s About Face on Monday night. Watching Pat, Beverly and Isabella share their behind-the-camera tales sent me spiraling into a full-on supermodels-of-yesteryear moment, so much so that I spun myself into a multi-decade, vintage-photo-montage Facebook tizzy for the next two days. I was on a roll, posting photos of Iman and Louise and Kersti and Veronica and Maria and Sheila and everybody in-between, including some of my favorite male models like Renauld, Rashid and Tyson. I even tossed RuPaul up in the mix because he represented, too! The comments from my fashion and beauty cohorts started pouring in, but when I posted a picture of my beloved Boris from his print and runway days, a fellow journalist posted a few words that stopped me in my tracks:

“OMG! This is the guy who should play Christian Grey!”
As usual, my summer reading list is overflowing, but clearly I’ve been sleeping on Fifty Shades of Grey and its ever-mysterious leading man. Yes, I’ve heard about the book and have seen other people reading the book, but I’d simply not gotten caught up in all of the hype. So, I e-mailed one of my editors (who shall remain nameless) and asked if she’d read the book and what she thought about the idea of Boris-as-Christian. I wondered if “colorblind” casting might be a possibility. She replied, “Yes, I read it, and although Christian is described as having curly, unruly copper-colored hair, the writer also describes him as super-attractive with a beautifully sculpted body; Boris is HOT and yes, we’d all love to see more of him.”  


So, I did some digging around on British author E.L. James’ website and discovered that Christian is a 27-year-old billionaire/entrepreneur who is equal parts “beautiful, brilliant and intimidating.” Mmmm-hmmmm. He’s also got a penchant for erotica, which is steeped in his desire to have ultimate control over everything and everybody. Um, okay. He has a steamy affair with a young literature student by the name of Anastasia, who’s seemingly, cautiously, down for whatever, including whips and chains and blindfolds and handcuffs. Really? Well, if that’s how the story plays out, then yes, the actor chosen to portray Christian had better be drop-dead gorgeous, like Adonis gorgeous… like Boris gorgeous!
“At its core, Fifty Shades of Grey is a complex love story,” Universal Pictures Co-Chairman Donna Langley noted of the in-the-works, yet-to-be-cast film version, which will most certainly garner an R rating. Based on what I’ve uncovered, her description sounds rather tame, but hey, I’m game. I think I need to pick up a copy of the book so I can see for myself and get better acquainted with Mr. Grey, much sooner than later. Then, of course, I might have to pick up the sequels, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed. Sounds kind of delicious… and a little scary, too.

All that said, I’ll always love seeing my favorite supermodels in print, and of course watching them on the big screen is a joy, too. So if Boris is, in fact, pre-destined to breathe life into Christian Grey, I say bring it on. I, for one, would be the first in line at my local Cineplex.  I mean, wouldn’t you?  

Regina R. Robertson is West Coast Editor of ESSSENCE.  Follow her on Twitter @reginarobertson.