Lenny Kravitz has a new video, Ride; the woman by his side is Bermudian model Aliana King.
It started with a message she received a day into a vacation in Miami last year: the veteran singer-songwriter was considering her for his love interest in a shoot in Paris and wanted to FaceTime to see if she fit the bill.
By all accounts, the virtual meeting last spring went well. The next day, she got on a flight headed for the French capital.
Ride, the latest song off the Grammy Award winner’s 2018 album, Raise Vibration, came out at the end of last month.
“It was supposed to come out last year. I didn’t have much information and then all of a sudden, not too long ago, Lenny posted a teaser video and I was like, ‘Oh my God, it’s coming out!’ I had given up on it coming out at all for a while until he did that.
“So yeah, I found out when everybody else did really. Everyone’s been excited. Everyone’s been calling me: ‘What is Lenny like?’ It’s been pretty cool.”
New York Models is her agency in the Big Apple; seven others help find jobs around the world. She learnt through her Paris agents, Premium Models, that a music video was a possibility but had no idea who the artist was.
“I got a message from my agent saying that Lenny Kravitz wanted to FaceTime me. I’m at the pool, in my bathing suit ... what to do right now?
“I quickly went to the car and found good lighting and then had a FaceTime with him and basically he ran me through what they wanted to do for a music video and asked if I wanted to do it and I agreed. I think it was about 24 hours after that I was on a plane to Paris again to shoot the music video.”
Although she’d shot many commercials, King’s music video experience was limited to visuals promoting Childish Gambino’s world tour.
The 20-year-old knew that a shoot with Kravitz, whose debut album, Let Love Rule, came out in 1989, would help advance her career even if she wasn’t completely familiar with his music.
“He’s older. His music is a different generation. I knew of him and I knew, I guess, his more popular songs, but I wouldn’t listen to them like that.
“I knew it was a great opportunity for my career. I know that moving forward, this can help me get more music videos which can help me get more jobs.”
As such, she wasn’t star-struck on meeting Kravitz and didn’t have a problem adhering to requests that she treat him like “a normal person”.
King said: “Especially in the modelling industry I’ve come in contact with a lot of people that I admire or I look up to. You kind of have to put that aside completely.
“You have to be a professional. You’re getting paid, it’s a job. You can’t be star struck in that moment.”
She landed her “first big campaign”, with Garnier Fructis, only two years ago. At the time she was studying animation at Southern Adventist University in Tennessee, having received the Joseph C.H. Johnson Scholarship from the Bank of Bermuda Foundation.
“I hadn’t made the decision to do modelling full-time when I did that job. I was still kind of worried, I guess, about leaving school and not being able to make it in the industry. [Last year] was the first year that I was doing it completely, the whole entire year full time; having a home base in New York, having an apartment and being really successful in the industry.”
She was looking forward to visiting her parents, Eileen and David King, and other family and friends here, before Covid-19 became a pandemic.
“I was planning to go back to Bermuda and I’ve been wanting to go ever since, but the airport’s closed and the charter flights are quite expensive, so I’ve been waiting it out until the airport opens up again,” she said.
“That is definitely in my plans to go back. No matter where I go, no matter how much I travel — even though my apartment is in New York and New York is now home for me — my heart will always be there.”
With the modelling industry shuttered, she’s in Los Angeles waiting the pandemic out. A new puppy, Covi, is occupying her time along with Netflix, baking, puzzles and work.
“I left New York at the beginning of March just because I saw the numbers growing very rapidly there and I wanted to, hopefully, get out somewhere safer that I could also try to work, but there’s really no shoots going on at all right now, [except] some in Europe.
“It’s more about trying to get jobs in social media, and your collaborations with brands so you can get paid to post on Instagram, on Tik Tok, using the products and creating your own content at home.”
Models send test shoots to show advertisers what they can do to promote their products. Interior space, lighting and camera quality are all key, which gives King an advantage.
“The models have become the producer, the director, the model, the make-up artist, the hair stylist, the stylist ... everything. I love creating. I did animation in school and I did photography when I was growing up and I love the video-editing side as well.
“I’m in the middle of doing a shoot right now for Bare Minerals. It is quite interesting when you see what the other side of it is and how a production is put together and all the work that goes into it on the other side.”
Post-Covid, she’s not sure what life will bring, but is hoping to expand her skill set to acting.
“This music video kind of opens the door a little bit more for that. I had a conversation with my agent and [during] quarantine I’ve been doing self-tapes for acting jobs — so that is definitely the next step.”
• Follow Aliana King on Instagram: aliana.king