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Meet the Next Native Sons: Dustin Ross

Meet the Next Native Sons: Dustin Ross


"We will be seen, we will be heard, and we will contribute our gifts to the world. We’re needed."

As followers of the Native Son movement, Dustin Ross, co-host of the podcast "The Friend Zone," Charles Harbison, designer and founder of fashion label HARBISON and Memsor Kamarake, a fashion editor and stylist, have more than one thing in common. First, they're all trendsetters. But more importantly, they share a mentor in OUT and Cadillac's 2017 Master of Style Emil Wilbekin.

After hosting the 2017 Master of Style event with OUT and Cadillac in honor of Wilbekin, we sat down with each of these Next Native Sons to talk style, mentorship and the future of the LGBTQ community.

Here, read our interview with Dustin Ross.

OUT: Tell us about Emil & your experience working with him.

Ross: Working with Emil has been such an inspirational experience. He truly is the Master of Style, and each moment with him is an opportunity to learn from the absolute best.

How has Emil and Native Son influenced your life and your career?
Emil was the first person that I ever saw in a magazine and felt that he understood my life experiences and perspectives. His style, charm, and professionalism confirmed for me that it was possible to love pop culture, embody authentic Black American culture, and be the best example of refinement and class all at once.


What are your style mantras?
Classic looks that are timeless and relatable speak to me the most. I'm just as comfortable in a tuxedo as I am in a Yankees baseball hat and Timberland boots. I prefer to keep things simple, stylish, and authentically Dustin.

What does it mean to you to be honored as a Next Native Son?
Being honored as a Next Native Son makes my heart swell with pride. I'm so excited and lucky to carry the torch that the legendary Emil Wilbekin is passing me, and I'm even more excited to continue working diligently at representing Black, gay men in my own way. We will be seen, we will be heard, and we will contribute our gifts to the world. We're needed.

You have a popular podcast, "The Friend Zone," with two of your best friends. How did you get into podcasting and why?
I moved to New York City to pursue my passion for acting, and along the way I sprinkled as much of my personality as I could into every professional encounter I had. This led to hosting opportunities and speaking engagements, and eventually I created my own platform to truly allow my voice to be heard. My cohosts Francheska and Assante are two of my closest friends, and we are so grateful to connect with almost 100,000 listeners weekly who are interested in simply being better. I love hosting and public speaking, so it's literally been a dream to deliver this podcast every week.


What exciting projects do you have in the works?
My podcast is currently on tour, and in the live space we get to engage with our audience in person. We've sold out shows in London, NYC, and so many other cities, and meeting our listeners is the most gratifying experience in the world.

What inspires the way you dress and present yourself?
I think about how I'd like to be remembered, and I allow that to guide my style choices. I'm excited to share my perspective and art with the world, and the right presentation is key to that being accomplished.

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