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Miles Tyler Roberts – A Singular Sensation

NameMiles Tyler RobertsBirthJune 22,1962BirthplaceToronto, CanadaEthnic OriginBarbadian, CanadianOccupationsModel, Dancer, Singer, ActorShare
Fact checked by Charmaine Gooden
Proofread and copy edited by Carol Martin
Social media comments
Oh. God. What a sweet beautiful man. Love miles. He most definitely was my muse … back in the day, when I was honing my craft. Still think of him with much love and Gratitude for his infectious spirit and for being able to look deeply into one’s soul ✨💝💫💋 —Francis Hathaway
I loved photographing Miles ❤️ one of the sweetest men I have ever met - we did so many shoots - my best memory of him is sitting on my floor knitting while I shot 🙌 —Rob Nelson
Looooove Miles ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ —Lily Kookla

Early Life and Career

For as long as he can remember, Miles Tyler Roberts has always been tied at the hip to fashion. He recalls that at the age of four, he received shoes from his mother’s cousin who lived in England at the time.

“Growing up, I loved clothes, period,” Roberts says, reminising about his his upbringing. In part, his love for clothes stemmed from his grandmother who was a seamstress. Roberts’s interest in pop culture and fashion originated around the time, when he went to see Diana Ross and the Supremes at the age of four.

From singing in front of 15,000  at the Festival of Canadian Fashion, to teaching modelling classes at Judy Welch, and instructing boys and girls how to work the runway, Roberts’s reach within the Canadian fashion industry is impressive. And no event was more important for him than the Vivienne Westwood show. After that show, he started gaining fame. “I was getting recognized more and more, I got into clubs for free, it was nice,” Roberts says.

 

 

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TO magazine, Oct 1988 pg6
Source: TO Magazine, October 1988, pg4 Photographer: Ellen Tofflemire (RIP) Produced by: Teresa Marie Webster Models: Gina Garenkooper(Bookings), Myles (Judy Welch Agency) Hair & Makeup: Jane McKay

 

 

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Selfie by Miles Tyler Roberts

There was never really a market for black models at the time. I was always skinny, a little androgenous, and a tad extra. But I put on a great show and always have had that performer sense.

Breaking Barriers

Roberts’s breakthrough into stardom didn’t come easy, and early on it had nothing to do with ability. “There was never really a market for Black models at the time. I was always skinny, a little androgynous, and a tad extra. But I put on a great show and always had that performer sense.”

The volatility of the fashion world at the time made it very difficult for a person of colour to get a chance. “People liked me, but it was never easy to book Black models. I lost out on multiple roles because they weren’t comfortable having someone of colour as their only model of the campaign, this being 30 years ago,” Roberts says about his early career.

Although there were some setbacks, Roberts pursued every avenue of the fashion and pop culture industries, letting his passions direct his career path. Over the span of his career, Roberts has modelled for many decades, acted, danced, sang at many public events, taught modelling including runway work, and done print and catalog work. He also coached gymnastics when he was in Yellowknife.

What set him apart from the rest is that he was never satisfied. “I didn’t want to have just one career,” Roberts says, regarding his extensive experience in the industry. “If I hadn’t done it, I would’ve been saying ‘oh I wish I’d done that’.”

Lost out on multiple roles because they weren’t comfortable having someone of colour as their only model of the campaign, this being 30 years ago.

Influence and Legacy

The idea of a career of missed opportunities is something Roberts isn’t familiar with at all. In fact, fashion, personal style and fulfillment are things that have been in his blood his whole life.

“In Black culture, clothes were a big deal.” Roberts recounts a time when he looked at his parents 50th wedding anniversary pictures, saying, “When my family was getting a picture taken, everyone knew how to stand. I saw all the women in that model pose, and none of them were even models.” His family’s innate fashion sense is something Roberts holds very close and is something money can’t buy.

Says Roberts “Maybe I wasn’t the most successful financially, but I really really had a great time, and I got to be creative, which was the most important thing for me. More than anything, it’s my pleasure. Its not for anyone else what I do, it’s for me.”

Roberts offers the following advice to aspiring models and creators at large. “Nowadays, you have to know who you are marketing to, whereas back then you could sort of just throw yourself into the stream and see where you end up.”

Roberts also shares this idea of how to pursue your passions within the fashion realm: “Everything that you wear has a backstory, and the way you dress evokes a feeling. Whenever something appeals to you or inspires you to wear it, it will give you a feeling or a story that you want to tell.”

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