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Andre J. by Rana Toofanian

A New York icon, Andre J. leads a mission to spread happiness and love by example. Everything he does – and wears – is directed towards radiating positive energy and inspiring others to do the same: to smile more, love more, be nicer to other people, and to live in harmony with the planet and all that grace it.

I Feel LoveI See The Divinity In You

A French Vogue cover star, party promoter and ‘It person’, Andre J. bends not just his gender but all the rules of fashion too. A handsome black man who sometimes looks like a beautiful black woman (with the legs to match), Andre J. is absolutely not a cross-dresser, but, as described by the New York Times, ‘a performance artist who rolls out his own stage every day’. Raised by a single mother on a housing project in Newark, Andre J. seeks to inspire others to believe in themselves.

What do you see when you look in the mirror?
I see love. I see positive energy.

All the time?
All the time. Every day is a different day, but at my core is love.

What daily act could you do to make the world a better place?
Smile at someone. An authentic act of kindness, as simple as a smile, a hello or just giv-ing up your seat to an elderly person or a pregnant woman, can surprise us — but it’s really just natural. Little gestures are really big gestures. People are so focused on what’s going on in their phones that they forget the little things, like holding the elevator. It’s a no-brainer.

My message is love and positive energy but it’s also that beauty comes from within – because if you can love yourself, then it’s just innate and natural to be polite to others.

What’s worth fighting for?
Life. Love. Individuality. Peace. Respect. Integrity. Seeing the God in you is actually seeing the God in me - teaching that quality. There are certain places, like India, where they don’t say hi to each other but rather say, ‘I salute the divinity in you.’ That’s how I conduct myself on a daily basis, even if I don’t actually say it. That’s why I’m usually so happy.

You are the change that you want to see in the world.

Would you like to become more politically engaged?
If politics were really as influential and important for the world or for humanity, then why are there so many homeless people on the street?

So you’re thinking about local change.
That’s a part of the world. If you’re not saving the people that are on the street, then who are you saving? Are you saving the people who have a roof over their head?

The Four Agreements

In his interview with Ever Manifesto, Andre J. told us that The Four Agreements by the Mexican author Don Miguel Ruiz changed his life when he discovered it in 2003. A bestseller since it was first published in 1997; The Four Agreements draws on the wis-dom of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican Toltec culture in order for individuals to find free-dom, happiness, love and peace through accepting the limitations of others. Don Miguel Ruiz’s four agreements are:

  1. Be Impeccable With Your Word
  2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
  3. Don’t Make Assumptions
  4. Always Do Your Best

Are you feeling guilty about something right now?
No.

How do you prefer to travel?
Light.

Can I ask how you got here today?
The train.

Is that the form of transport you use the most often?
Public.

What’s the meaning of your life?
To spread love. To do good. I’ve been saying for a long time that I’m a bodhisattva. My calling is to enlighten in my own way. My message is love and positive energy but it’s also that beauty comes from within – because if you can love yourself, then it’s just innate and natural to be polite to others.

How do you change the world?
You lead by example. You can be that change of whatever it is you want to see. I want to see people who are much more polite and who smile more. So I smile a lot. It’s about being an individual but also being a part of a collective consciousness. If you look at your questions, your questions are not one syllable: They are multiples of vowels and consonants that have come together collectively to make one word. Each word is its own word and when you put them together it’s a sentence. It’s the same thing with hu-mans and humanity – which is how social media has become to be so influential. You are the change that you want to see in the world.

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