Springfield High School student juggles academic, modeling assignments


Eighteen-year-old Justus “J.” McCray was at a book signing when he was asked whether he had any interest in modeling.

The answer was easy.

“Ever since I was little, I wanted to be like the guy on TV and the runway,” said the Springfield High School senior. “I wanted to be on Disney or Nickolodeon. I like being in front of the camera. You know, the glam of the whole thing.”

“Glam” is what the Holland resident got when he participated in the 2013 Cynthia Bailey Model Search contest in Atlanta recently. Though he didn’t win the top spot, he was one of 10 finalists out of 130 contestants from all over the country.

He did so well that one might think he had taken stage classes in school, but he didn’t. Instead, he took modeling and acting classes at a modeling and talent agency.

Winning a top 10 spot couldn’t be more perfect at this time for the young man. J. and his mother, Danielle McCray, two sisters, and three brothers are grieving the loss his father, Robert McCray, Jr. In July, Mr. McCray succumbed to scleroderma, a disease for which there is no known cure.

On his Web site, jmccray.com, J. describes his father as his “lifelong hero and best friend.” With a sense of philanthropy, the teenager has earmarked a portion of the proceeds from the sales of his products — that include T-shirts — for the Scleroderma Foundation.

As a model, he is versatile. J. can offer the corporate or urban look. He can appear as someone who hangs out at the beach, as a casually dressed professional, or as a young man on his way to class. His hair can be styled to give a disheveled, modern look, or it can be neatly combed and brushed to fit executive and school settings.

After high school, J.’s future in front of the camera might skyrocket. The author who took note of his good looks, Philana Boles, is a native Toledoan who continues as his manager. Also, the Atlanta contest was no lightweight operation. With years in the business, Cynthia Bailey is a professional model who is widely known as a reality TV star on Real Housewives of Atlanta.

“My experience in Atlanta was exciting,” J. said. “It was my first model search, so I was glad I got to be in the top 10 out of 130.”

J. has already appeared in commercials for the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library and he has upcoming photo shoots. Meanwhile, he must concentrate on school. He took an interest in extra-curricular activities such as wrestling and cross-country track, but none of that was for him.

“I tried it all, but modeling was my call,” J. said.

Contact Rose Russell at: rrussell@theblade.com or 419-724-6178.