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Gary Archibald – Model, Media Personality, Meteorologist and More

Gary Archibald sits in his backyard watching his beloved dog Dino, a one-year-old chocolate Labrador retriever named after the dinosaur from The Flintstones cartoon series (a childhood favourite), as we learn of his influential fashion career. 

A pioneer for Black male models from 1990 to 2010, Archibald’s success opened doors into the Canadian and American fashion market. Described by close friends as professional, inspirational, loyal and kind, Archibald built a distinguished career in modelling, acting and broadcasting, making him a true trailblazer.

Gary Archibald for Harry Rosen Magazine - walking by fountain (Photo courtesy of Gary Archibald)
Gary Archibald for Holt Renfrew (Photo courtesy of Gary Archibald)

Early Life and Career

Archibald, the youngest of two sons, was born in Scarborough, Ontario and raised by his mother, a production librarian at CFTO-TV / CTV News Toronto for 27 years  and  his father, a chemical operator at an industrial chemical plant.

From kindergarten to grade one, he attended Danforth Gardens Public School, in a predominantly white, southeastern Toronto neighbourhood. From second grade, when his parents moved to Agincourt in north Scarborough, he attended Alexmuir Junior Public School, experiencing true cultural diversity.

“In my grade one photo, I’m the only Black kid in the entire class,” says Archibald, adding, “by grade two, the diversity changed considerably. My best friends were white, Asian, southeast Asian and Black West Indian.”  And, if you look at his photos from second grade through grade eight, it’s incredibly diverse. Those years provided the foundation for life-long friendships.

Looking at framed photographs of the three influential women in his life, he says, “I see these women in me, three generations with my features. My great-grandmother, my grandmother and my mother,” says Archibald. In addition to inheriting their good looks, Archibald feels connected to their spiritual legacies. “These women possessed intelligence and class. Love of family and friends was an essential part of their lives,” he states. Similarly, they’ve been pivotal in his.

Archibald’s ultimate passion was revealed when, at 11, his mother gifted him a Pentax 35mm, single-lens, reflex camera for Christmas. “From then I was passionate about photography,” says Archibald. He’s been a photographer ever since, with published images in books, calendars, corporate reports, brochures and other printed media across Canada and the USA.

Gary Archibald for Eaton's (Photo courtesy of Gary Archibald
Gary Archibald Fitness (Photo courtesy of Gary Archibald)

 

 

This special section creates a spread of 2 photos that will jut out into the side margin.

 

 

I see these women in me, three generations with my features. My great- grandmother, my grandmother and my mother,” says Archibald. In addition to inheriting their good looks, Archibald feels connected to their spiritual legacies.

Thanks to the support of his parents, extended family and godparents, who he says, supported a dynamic, hard-working and ambitious approach to education, Archibald was an honour student throughout school. After high school (Albert Campbell Collegiate Institute) and graduating from Sir Winston Churchill Collegiate Institute, University of Toronto was next, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology (Honours) in 1994

In 1996 a friend who was a model asked Archibald if he’d considered professional modelling as a career, saying “with your light Black skin and green eyes, there aren’t a lot of people who look like you in the industry,“ his friend commented. Intrigued, Archibald attended Toronto’s Elite Model Management’s open call. Signed that day, he enjoyed a ground-breaking career in-front and behind-the-camera for two decades.

Archibald fondly describes the day, in 1996, when Elite signed him and his first Booker, Paulette Ellison, welcomed him to the agency. She changed his life. “You’re going to do well,” she told me. “We’ll market you and I think you’re going to be really successful.” Her prediction materialized and Archibald stayed with Elite until 2003.

Breaking Barriers

In Toronto during the ’90s, where multiculturalism and diversity flourished, Archibald stood out, leaving his mark on an industry with very few Black male models, far from the true reflection of Toronto.

Makeup artist Ted Aman, a long-time friend and mentor, remembers meeting Archibald quite early in his career at a menswear fashion show in Yorkville. “He had a good versatile look, but looks only take you so far in this industry,” comments Aman. “Personality and professionalism are must-haves, and he was on-time, well-dressed, articulate and professional,” Aman adds.

From modelling for editorial and commercial clients, to merchandising catalogues and big corporate advertisements, Archibald could do it all. From Eatons, to JC Penny, CIBC, Sony, Roots, Harry Rosen and Holt Renfrew, the client doors were opening for him, and soon for other models of colour. Even though Canadian and American campaigns hadn’t yet featured young Black male models, Archibald created those opportunities for himself.

“It could be a three-piece suit or something sporty, he puts everything he has into it,” says Aman. ” When you see the image, it’s much more than just an image because It’s so important for Black people to see people who look like them,” he states.

Like his friendships, loyalty has always followed him every step of his modelling career. The owner of the emblematic tuxedo company, SYD Silver Formal Inc., held dear affection and loyalty towards Archibald and the feeling was mutual. “He used me in his ads for six, seven years straight and it was phenomenal, but I was the only Black guy in that catalogue for years,” he adds.

Influence and Legacy

His work had an impact. “People would come up to me and say, ‘We see you’re modelling. It’s so good to see a Black man doing all these suit ads for a major menswear line,” remembers Archibald.

Archibald left Elite in 2003 to work for Ford Models, another renown international modelling agency, until retiring as a model in 2010. His work as a model opened  doors to acting in numerous commercials and the movie Harold and Kumar go to White Castle (2004).

While his modeling and acting careers were flourishing, Archibald wanted to turn his experience in-front of the camera into a career with a longer potential shelf life. In 1997, he went back to school full-time, enrolling in Toronto’s Centennial College’s Radio, Television and Film co-operative program, which provided him with a solid foundation for becoming a television journalist.

In 1999, as part of his co-op placement, Archibald became an editorial assistant for The Sports Network (TSN) in Toronto, writing and editing nightly sports highlight packages from NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB. After graduating with Honours in 2000, he began working as a sideline and pre-game reporter for Toronto’s Rogers Television, covering the OHL (Ontario Hockey League).

Archibald, who enjoyed a successful television career, worked in Toronto, the Number One media market in Canada, on Global Television’s Toronto’s Morning Show and Canada’s national television weather source, The Weather Network, in Oakville, Ontario (Mississippi State University broadcast meteorology program graduate).

Scouted by NBC in 2005, Archibald moved to the Big Apple, the top media market in the US and globally; and was, for three years, a weather forecaster for NBC News, Nightly News, Early Today, The Today Show, MSNBC and CNBC.

Photo courtesy of Gary Archibald

His work had an impact. “People would come up to me and say, ‘We see you’re modelling. It’s so good to see a Black man doing all these suit ads for a major menswear line,” remembers Archibald.

Today Archibald lives in Windsor, Ontario. He’s a meteorologist and reporter for CTV News Windsor and continues to pursue his creative passion projects. In 2021, partnering with Kiki Symoné, the award-winning Canadian artist and illustrator, he wrote and published a children’s book, The Skin You’re In, which focuses on positive self-imaging and affirmations for children of colour, an under-represented topic in book stores.

While he does not miss the modelling industry, Archibald is grateful for catapulting him into a long and rewarding media career in front of and behind the camera.  “It’s not where I thought my childhood aspirations would lead, but I’m satisfied and thankful,” he says.

One thing’s for certain. Between 1996-2010, Archibald’s modelling work changed the fashion scene in terms of diversity in Toronto, and to a great extent, the Canadian fashion industry. As a Black male fashion model in Canada and the US, he represents diversity. “Back then there were maybe six to eight Black guys consistently getting modelling work,” reflects Archibald. “That’s not a lot and we still have a way to go.”

Despite his success, one of his oldest university friends and fellow TV anchor and journalist, Jon Hendricks, says, “Archibald managed to remain grounded and down-to-earth.” Hendricks and Archibald have shared a love of music for years, and when Hendricks had a campus radio show, Archibald popped his head in a couple of times to request music. “Today,” Hendricks says, “Archibald is the same person he was then, in the most important ways. He’s still kind and he’s generous.”

About the authors:

Over the years Prof. Gooden has built a multi-media career as an editor, writer, presenter, public relations consultant and special event manager, spokesperson, host, and educator. She...

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Over the years Prof. Gooden has built a multi-media career as an editor, writer, presenter, public relations consultant and special event manager, spokesperson, host, and educator. She...

Read More

About the author:

Over the years Prof. Gooden has built a multi-media career as an editor, writer, presenter, public relations consultant and special event manager, spokesperson, host, and educator. She...

Read More

Archive of images at BFC:

Delving into his diverse talents and lasting influence on multiple industries.

Delving into his diverse talents and lasting influence on multiple industries

NameGary Anthony ArchibaldBirthDecember 18BirthplaceScarborough, TorontoEthnic OriginAfrican-West Indian (St. Kitts & Nevis, Antigua), Dutch, Scottish, and English.OccupationsModel and Actor, Author, Photographer, Journalist, Television Meteorologist & ReporterShare

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