For the last couple of years he has been living in our country. Originally, he came for vacations, but then he decided to stay. He ‘s working as a model for the “Ace & Team” company and you probably have seen his handsome face and slender body in advertisement campaigns for famous brands. We talked with him about his life story, his involvement in sports, acting and modelling, as well as americans’ perception of our country. We met on the occasion of the movie Fransesca being filmed in Athens, in which he holds the lead role. Directed by the acclaimed D. Channsin Berry, (known for his successful movies/documentaries Dark Girls aired on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network). Berry will be the director and act as well, while the female lead role is held by Dorothea Merkuri.
Talking exclusively to Cosmopoliti, he tells his amazing life story and reveals his plans for the future. Chistopher Wilson on his own words…
I am originally from Miami. I ‘ve spent most of my life there. And then, I went to college in Hawaii which was an awesome experience. Then, for the last, many years I ‘ve been travelling. My two dreams were to play basketball and to make films, since I was a little kid. Both the dreams have come true so far. I ‘ve been lucky. I ‘ve played basketball for the first time professionally when I was 30 which is usually when people are retiring.
The reason for that was that in my twenties when I was dreaming about it, I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease. The doctor said that by the time I was 30 I wouldn’t be able to walk. I would be on steroids and have no quality of life, that’s what they ‘d told me. I was 24 at the time. After that I found some spirituality in my life. I just didn’t listen to the doctor. I started exercising, living like everything is normal. A year and a half later I went for a check-up and had a perfectly clean slate. I never had anything since – it’s a gift! So, I believe in following your dreams and in the power of the mind.
I studied journalism, broadcast journalism actually. I was a really good and bad student! I would skip classes and attend my friends’ film classes and I would work on their film projects. I started working as a model when I was 18, in college. I did very little bit of work and I stopped because it wasn’t at a good time in my life. From that point on I got to work for my family’s business, so I wasn’t doing any film. Then I met an angel-investor who gave us launching funds to start making a documentary film about my life. I was adopted at 3 months old and we decided to go look for my biological parents.
My birth father ended up being Jamaica’s no. 1 runner in the 80’s. He ran the steeplechase and he set a record in Jamaica. Then he came to America for the Olympics. When he was training, he broke his ankle and didn’t get to run but during this time he met my mother. They had a summer romance, she got pregnant and her life was very difficult. She’s African-American and was very poor and had an extremely abusive father – very sad life. She was raped as a child and did not want me in that house. Gave me up when I was 3 months old and I was adopted into an all-white family; 3 sisters, a brother. I had a blessed and amazing childhood, unbelievably perfect. All these years later, at 23-24, we decided to make a documentary and find out by birth parents. My biological father has a mixed ancestry, Indian, French Canadian, African. Although Jamaican he’s white.
My life was never defined by color, I never had problems with racism. When filming my documentary, I found out that my mother was living 30 minutes away from where I grew up. After that, searching for my father, for two years every lead would tell me that he was dead. During this time, I spent every dollar to my name (130.000$) to find this man. After 2 years I found him – he was alive! Living for 20 years in Jamaica, out in the middle of nature, in this forest. He knew about me , he looked exactly like me, with rasta and a beard down to his ankles.
The name of the film is You Have His Eyes because everyone says that I do. This first film was a success, went to, like 30 festivals in America, won 10 major awards, it became “adoption film of the year”, actually it’s the most award-winning adoption film in the circuit – ever! During this time, we got in contact with Julius Tennon and Viola Davis. They kinda took me under their wing, brought me to LA and connected me to the director of the film we ‘re shooting now, Francesca. They helped me be put in acting roles. They asked to turn my documentary into a feature film and so I made a script, but it might take years for this to happen. So, they said that we’d keep in touch and in the meantime, I decided to play basketball because I thought that if I wanted to play, now was my time. I got an offer to play in Amsterdam where I lived for a year. While there I started a relationship and my girlfriend’s parents have a home in Greece…
We came to Greece for a 5-week vacation, to Lefkada, one of the most beautiful islands. During that time our relationship ended and I stayed in Greece. 2 and a half years later I ‘m still here! I rented an apartment , figured I ‘d stay for a few months and decide what I wanted to do next. Then there was a basketball tournament in Preveza and I got a chance to play. They gave me a really nice offer and I stayed, I thought it would be an adventure. They would declare that I was a fisherman, about to get married in Greece and that’s how I stayed. But the League found out and they cut me. Then I was sent to Thessalonike and got tried for Heracles and Ares but to no avail. I was just chilling and having coffee with a model girlfriend of mine before she would go to her agency to pick up a paycheck. I went with her and was just standing there and the head of the agency asked me if I wanted to model. I said “sure”! Ever since then it took off. I started being serious about modelling here in Greece. Every place is different, I ‘ve been in so many so far. In every place I just clear my slate and see what it is. But I ‘ve lived in Greece longer than any other place.
I had a Greek girlfriend, a very “Greek” girlfriend from Preveza, her father works with the central church there. It was a really traditional relationship. My own mother is like a traditional 50’s mom and so similar to a Greek mother! She hasn’t seen me for 4 and a half years and it’s killing her. If it wasn’t for her fear of flying, she would be here with me already. She would have moved next door! As for my birth father he’s off the grid, living in the middle of nowhere. We don’t have full communication but I know people who check on him to see how he’s doing. As for my birth mother, she had no more children. She ended up graduating at the top of her class. She became a military person and served for 12 years. Now she’s running the nursing department of a cardiac facility in Florida. She ended up having an amazing life.
During all this time of modelling I was in contact with Viola Davis and I decided to make a short film. I had 2 goals: I wanted to show off myself more and do more acting. I was craving for it. So, I sent them this short film and they told me that I ‘m at the top of their list for future roles. They already helped me with their contacts and the director of Francesca who is a friend of theirs. I had sent him my short film and he decided he wanted to make Francesca in Greece. Viola is amazing. She’s super cool and down-to-earth. Her husband is like a hero to me. She’s the face, she’s all over the place, but he’s the one behind the scene – and he was a good actor in his own right. He does all the “business” now for them. They have such a beautiful relationship – it’s inspiring. They also have an adopted daughter which makes me feel very “connected” to them, I respect them very much for this.
Working for 2 and a half years as a model, I wanted to make a short film about the industry. Its decadence, little bit “behind the scenes”. Ιt’s really about the image of a model who is out there. It opens with a trailer for a movie that the hero is playing in which is kinda cheesy, silly. Especially at the beginning he does things that he doesn’t like, things that create a certain image of him for the people out there. It’s really about how he retains a part of himself as an anchor while working in this industry. When he goes to work, he might be in a fancy hotel with other models, he might be in intimate situations. His job is like a dream for other people, so what does he do at home? Most people work and then they go celebrate… Ultimately for him the anchor is a relationship, someone to share all this crazy life with. There are the elements that I ‘ve centred my film to. It’s a silent film – there is no dialogue. The music provides the narrative flow, it tells the story. We ‘re going to festivals in Greece, Europe and America. I have an all-model cast, they work here in Greece and they’re all beautiful. We worked with a really good cinematographer here. He does a lot of music videos, commercials and he’s also gonna be shooting our next film. The director of Francesca is a friend of mine and has also helped me with my first documentary. He got inspired by my short film and wanted to come to Greece. He was adamant about how beautiful the country is, he started looking things up and wrote the script in a single day. The film is really about this director coming to Greece, who has a relationship with a famous actress played by Dorothea Merkouri. Their hidden romance has some dormant past which was very dramatic. I think it’s a great story, I ‘m excited about it. I am producing this film and acting in it too.
Thodoris Vournas has been like an angel – literally. The thing about this film is that everything comes together in a “divine” way. Thodoris found us Dorotea… the director wanted a woman who can embody the symbol of a Greek superstar. The Mediterranean culture and be powerful in her presence. He director had his eye on her from his personal research for the role. And then Thodoris made the contact and she have the audition with several other actressses and she won the part. She’s lovely. Open and willing to commit. Full of ambition and it’s motivating to be around her. She has the personal history to play a strong female role like this. And she’s easy to talk to.
The Self of Me – An American models silent journey through the ancient city. A story about a fashion model, on the cusp of international film stardom, finds himself living his best life; as he awaits anxiously for the premiere of his first marquee starring feature film “The Chocolate Malakas”. Which is perfectly timed in the midst of a global pandemic, and social unrest. All the while, as he inwardly struggles not to lose himself, in the image and trappings his lavish, and highly publicized career has created.
as much an intimate love story paying homage to the mercurial fashion, and film industry; romanticizing a nostalgia longed for etched in time.
Growing up, Greece was my no. 1 destination to go to. But I knew nothing, most Americans don’t. We know Santorini and Mykonos and that’s it. It’s funny because I ‘ve been in many places in Greece but not yet in Santorini or Mykonos…Since I ‘ve been here, 4 of my friends got married in Greece. It’s a dream for any wife to have a wedding in Santorini – the ultimate destination. That was my vision of Greece, this dreamy Mediterranean paradise – and it’s true – but it’s also much more, so much more. I love the sea, the small villages by the sea, the islands, the mountains. The city life too, I ‘ve been in many big cities, Thessalonike is the perfect size city. But if my work was not in Athens I would choose to be in a small town by the sea, that’s what makes Greece special to me. I am not used to that. I come from America where everything is brand new, we don’t have the kind of history that you do. As for modelling I do commercial as well as runway, but there is not much runway in Greece. I ‘ve done campaigns, shoots, commercials and I work for the biggest agency in the country. I hate to plan – that’s when God laughs – but for the future I would say that I want to do more films. I got a bunch of ideas and I would love to bring here more American film makers. And I would like to act more, that would be my ultimate dream.