Written By VoyageATL, ATL's Most Inspiring Stories
Today we’d like to introduce you to Teresa Morcho.
Hi Teresa, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory. I was born and spent most of my childhood in Cameroon. My father worked for the American Embassy and my mother worked for the Cameroonian airlines, so needless to say, I traveled a lot as a child. My father retired from the embassy and he immigrated his family of wife and five kids to the United States when I was 11 years old.
From a very young age, I always knew I was different. I didn’t have a word to describe my feelings but I know I didn’t see or feel towards the opposite sex the way my friends did. As a teenager, I was bullied a lot for being African, and I rebelled against everything and everyone in search of myself.
I came out to my friends in the 10th grade, I was only 14 years old. That bravery at such a young age was empowering, to be this young and live authentically was my activism. I decided to take my rebellious nature one step further by defying our school’s dress code by wearing a tuxedo to my senior prom.
When I look back now to realize that was the true beginning of Stud Model Project, I just didn’t know it.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road? Stud Model Project came about when I was hosting Lesbian events in Fayetteville, NC after my time in the Army, and I couldn’t find photos of Masculine lesbians of color to use on my flyers. Around that same time, I watched Tyra and her team on ANTM tell an androgynous model, Az Marie Livingston, to soften her look. My frustration got the best of me and I took matters into my own hands. I was never a trained photographer, I am still learning but I knew
I had an eye and I trusted my gut.
I had many challenges along the way, my family didn’t support my project at first, I lost a lot of money trying to figure out what direction to take the project. My community supported the movement but the rest of the outside world couldn’t see the bigger picture. I knew I had to move to a city like Atlanta if I wanted to take this project to the next level.
I moved to Atlanta in 2018 and quickly started filming a pilot season for our reality Tv series. Our volume 2 books were selling out, we were gaining support from the community in ATL, then just like that, the pandemic happened. I started doubting myself, I thought “if I close up shop, everyone will understand”, but I couldn’t put it down. I knew the importance of this project, I knew that if I didn’t tell this story, it may never be told. The voice that guides us just kept telling me to “keep pushing”, so I didn’t give up.
October of 2021, we relaunched the project as a creative agency, and today we have over 50 models signed up with over 1000 applications waiting to be approved.
As you know, we’re big fans of Stud Model Project. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand? We run a creative company specialized in stock photos of masculine lesbians of color (studs) and other queer cis-gender women on the masculine spectrum for business and commercial use, primarily to LGBTQ-friendly organizations.
At the Stud Model Project, our goal is to provide a standard of excellence for talented models who center their identity in masculinity. As a platform, we offer media exposure in a way that breaks the barriers and truly showcases the impeccable talents that deserve to be captured for a viewing audience.
While society has moved in a direction that embraces unique individuals rather than just those who meet the standard, the Stud Model Project aims higher to provide more for the LGBTQIA community. With an array of services that offer an experience for content creation and overall creative range, we strive to defy the beauty and gender standards with a positive narrative change in the industry and our models.
What does success mean to you? Success is making history! I want future generations to study this project to understand a particular group of people in the LGBTQ community that are often left out. I want to impact change through my work, activism, and authenticity. I hope to change the narrative about LGBTQ people in Cameroon and other African countries. Success for me is progress, and I’m willing to use every voice, heart, sweat, and tears in me to push that needle forward.
Photographer: Antoinne Duane Jones of ADJMEDIA.CO