Grace Gealey is touching down in Cayman for a couple of days to co-host Cayman Islands Fashion Week’s event “Fashion Rocks” at the Lions Centre on Saturday. She is taking time out from her busy schedule in the U.S., where she stars in the TV series “Empire,” to show her support for Cayman’s fledgling fashion scene.
Gealey’s grandparents are Bodden Towners Harry and Theoline McCoy, and she is the daughter of their eldest child, Cheryl McCoy-Gealey. Her sister Faith Gealey-Brown is a speech language pathologist at Cayman Islands Health Services Authority and was a drama teaching assistant at John Gray High School. Her uncles are Edward Solomon, a local singer who owns Arabus Boutique in George Town; Harwell McCoy, a local actor in days gone by; Kerith McCoy, who has a history of music involvement; and Rupert McCoy.
Weekender caught up with Gealey to ask her about the Cayman Islands fashion industry, her favorite designers and icons, Spring Summer 2015 trends and her enviable wardrobe in “Empire.”
How do you think the Cayman Islands fashion industry has developed over the past few years, and how do you see it developing in the future?
It is remarkable to see how our society, people and the different events in the Cayman Islands have all contributed and influenced our fashion industry. At one stage, my Caymanian peers were all accountants, corporate workers or in government roles. Now careers have extended into fashion, film, entertainment and a wider array of careers that are certainly nontraditional by the standards of our older generations. Beyond inspirational, I know this will have an enormous effect on our youth and the next generation.
Who are your favorite Caymanian designers?
Luigi Moxam has been a longtime favorite of mine. His clothing is centered around the Cayman culture and our popular sayings. I also love Crown Atelier owned by Tamara Hill. Her line is fashion-forward, always relevant and never ceases to make a statement. This one is a locally owned boutique, not a designer, but my favorite place to shop when I am home is Arabus, owned by Edward Solomon. He hand-selects his pieces to ensure a specific, elegant, classic look. I also look forward to being introduced to more Caymanian designers during Fashion Week.
What do you think about the new show on Cayman 27 “Beyond the Red Carpet” hosted by Pearlina McGaw-Lumsden?
The idea of this show is admirable, and the efforts and motivation of our people cannot be denied.
Who are your favorite international designers and fashion icons?
I love Ted Baker, Givenchy, Gucci and Helmut Lang, to name a few. As far as fashion icons, there are many, but who can resist the elegant, thick-eyebrowed Audrey Hepburn, the classic, red-lipped Marilyn Monroe and the sultry, cat-eyed Elizabeth Taylor?
Can you let us know what you are planning to wear to co-host “Fashion Rocks?”
I’m still in the process of making final decisions on that!
What are your favorite Spring/Summer ‘15 fashion trends right now?
I’m loving the leather comeback (did that ever really go out of style?) and bright-colored accessories: shoes, belts, lips and nails. As long as it’s a pop of color and not overdone, I’m such a fan.
Who did you work with for your wardrobe on “Empire?” Was it exclusively designed, or did you wear any particular designers?
The costume designer, Rita McGhee, handled everyone’s wardrobe. It wasn’t exclusively designed; we were able to work with quite a few designers (Gucci, Tom Ford, Ted Baker, Givenchy and Pinto, to name a few) to find what we really needed.
Is there a second series of “Empire” planned?
There is. We were picked up for the second season after the second episode, which was a blessing.
How has your family supported you in your career? Were you inspired by any of them in particular?
My family has always supported and stood behind me, which has been absolutely indispensable. Other than God, my mother, Cheryl McCoy-Gealey, has been the lynchpin of my life. Without her and the many sacrifices she’s made throughout my childhood, the events of today would not be occurring. It’s on her shoulders which I proudly stand; she’s the real star of the show.
What do you miss most about Cayman?
The beaches, serenity and food.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve been caught up with a lot of auditions, publicity events and appearances. It’s been an amazing time.
Do you have any tips for Caymanians pursuing a career in the entertainment or fashion business?
There is no formula. Stay tenacious, trained and diligent. Be true to yourself and honor all aspects of your life. Ensure that you are a balanced, whole, spiritually grounded human being and your purpose will reveal its paths to you.