Given our ever-evolving nature, what most elevates creative people is perhaps the notion of complexity. Now more than ever, many young talents have chosen to express themselves through multiple areas, as opposed to honing a signature role. This is the least we can say for Mandla Morris. Nurtured within the creative influences of his own family (his father is the legendary Stevie Wonder), Morris demonstrates his own versatility as a songwriter, record producer, multi-instrumentalist and fashion enthusiast — not to mention his recent participation in Dancing with the Stars: Junior. We chat with the young talent to discuss fashion, music and his need for creative expression — as all such passions that remain extensions of himself.
You’ve mentioned that you have an avid interest in fashion, with aspirations of becoming a designer yourself. Do you have a selection of designers who have inspired you particularly?
Yes, I’ve always had an interest in fashion from the beginning and watching my mom with her fashion brand. A few of my favourite designers are Virgil Abloh, Kim Jones at Dior and Alessandro Michele. I’m also inspired by emerging designers like Kerby Jean-Raymond at Pyer Moss. My brother Kailand walked his NY runway shows. I [also] like Bode menswear.
What is it about the fashion industry that speaks to you the most?
Being able to express your emotions and individuality through your creation.
How would you describe your personal style?
I’m young so I am still defining my personal style, but I tend to lean toward high-end with a street edge. I love colours, texture and oversize layering… the unexpected pairing really works for my style.
Naturally, you have been nurtured in music and, like your father, also play the piano, among other instruments – do you have any intentions of pursuing a career in music yourself?
I definitely have intentions on pursuing music. It’s a part of my family and yes, I grew up in it. I’ve studied piano since I was nine years old. I’m now working on creating my own music.
What’s on your current playlist?
You’ve also had a cameo on one of the most talked about films of the year, A Star Is Born. Are you looking to get into acting professionally a bit more?
Yes, I am open to doing more acting in the future. I had an amazing time being on set with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, they are a really big inspiration for me.
Why do you feel it is important to have a creative means of expression? What’s your preferred medium at the moment?
It’s important to have a creative means of expression because if everyone is the same it will have no special meaning to it. It would all just be so basic. I like abstract and layering, so watercolour and charcoal together.
What have been some of your favourite Dancing with the Stars: Junior highlights so far?
One of the biggest highlights on DWTS: Juniors has to be my first performance because there were so many people there and I didn’t know what to expect and I just gave all my energy. Another highlight was when my dad was secretly in the studio and came out to perform live while my dance partner and I were dancing to one of his songs. My last memorable highlight was when I met Cheryl and my partner Brightyn…..they had a whole skit setup and it was so awkward!
What has this journey on DWTS: Junior taught you?
DWTS: Juniors has definitely taught me to trust the process and it will eventually work out.
That’s the way to go! You’ve also expressed an interest in travel. Which places are you drawn to the most?
I am drawn to a lot of very cool places like Milan, Paris, and Brazil. I like travelling because you get to meet new people and learn about different cultures and how other people live.
What advice would you give to young aspiring creatives?
My advice for all the young creatives is to stay determined and dedicated to something you really love.
Last but not least, what are you most excited about your future?
What I am most excited about in the future is to do a collaboration with some of my favourite designers and to hopefully be a part of another really big movie.
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