Reggie Gaskins


 

 

 

From Philly to Atlanta, “The Walkin Mannequin” Wants You To Remember That Celebrities Are Human… Just Like Us 

by Candace Cordelia Smith


According to her biography, Philly native Lex Chappelle, Founder and Blogger behind the celebrity entertainment website, “The Walkin Mannequin”, “wants to live in a world filled with innovative businesses, short emails, and where Chipotle burritos replace salads.” It’s not only this candid humor that draws readers to her blog, which is certainly one to watch, but also the fact that she refuses to profit from the negative aspects of celebrity news culture. Her celebrity tea is much more humane than the ones found on a variety of other entertainment blogs. Urban/Suburban Magazine caught up with Chappelle to find out why.

Urban/Suburban: Thank you so much for doing this interview with Urban/Suburban Magazine! Could you please tell us a little bit more about yourself and your background in writing and blogging? 

Lex Chappelle, of “The Walkin Mannequin”: It sounds so cliché, but I grew up thinking that I was going to be a big star and that I was going to be somebody. I was a bubbly child. You know those parents that say, “Oh you’re too grown!” to a child? That was me!

I always enjoyed music. I used to write music and sing. Then I got into fashion- I thought I wanted to be a fashion stylist at one point. But, I always had a passion for writing. In the 8th grade I went to a university seminar for journalism, specifically fashion journalism during this camp. I soon found out that fashion journalism was not quite right for me, but I was lucky. There are some people in their 30s and 40s and begin to realize what they really want out of life. I figured this out at an earlier age, yet I always knew that writing would be the basis of my career.

I did the college thing [at Neumann University, then transferred to the Art Institute of Philadelphia] and didn’t finish. But I always wrote. So, with my passion for writing as well as fashion and music, I decided to jump into blogging. I also didn’t want to work for anyone, even though when you have your own business, you’re going to have to answer to someone.  But as far as someone watching me work over my back, I didn’t want to deal with that anymore. I left a job, [working at JC Penney as a manager], making the most money that I had ever made in my entire life, but I was so miserable. I felt like the job turned me into a horrible person; I wasn’t my normal self.

I gave my two weeks, but I didn’t have a plan, at all. I took a part-time job as a waitress and wrote during my free time. My lease for my apartment during this time was up and I moved into my cousin’s place for a year, but afterwards made the decision to move to Atlanta.  

That’s pretty much how “The Walkin Mannequin” got started!

Urban/Suburban: Ahhhh! So you live in Atlanta now! How long have you lived there for?

Chappelle: It’s OK! Being in Philly for 23 years, I came to know all of the hot spots and where to go. Here in Atlanta I’m still getting used to everything. It’s a different city, a different pace. I have to learn everything over again and sometimes that can be hard. But it’s a dope city. There’s always something going on.

Urban/Suburban: Do you find that Atlanta is the better city for you to further pursue your blogging career?

Chappelle:  I think that Atlanta is great and thriving for entertainment.  It just makes sense. Since I’ve been here I’ve made a lot of connections and have been to a lot of events. I’ve made a lot of business moves that would have been a lot harder for me to make in Philadelphia, unfortunately. I love Philadelphia as a city, but as far as entertainment…it has its own little cliques that I did not want to be a part of.

Urban/Suburban: “The Walkin Mannequin”….where did this name for your blog originate from? 

Chappelle: Besides the fact that I am into the fashion, the whole concept comes from knowing that people idolize celebrities like they’re not human. You go and shop, look at mannequins in a store and say to yourself, “I want everything they have.” But you don’t know what it took, from the visual merchandiser to the store manager to put that outfit on the mannequin together. I think that a lot of people look at celebrities in the same way- “I want their life”. But you don’t know the struggle or what goes on behind the scenes to get that finished product, the brand. That’s where “The Walkin Mannequin” came from- celebrities are like mannequins to me, in a sense. They’re so perfect to everyone’s eye, but there’s so much that goes into putting their whole image together to be displayed. 

I’m trying to tie in celebrities’ issues that tie into greater social issues we can relate to.

Urban/Suburban: Having said that, where do you see yourself and your blog fitting into the oversaturated entertainment blog landscape? What do you think about Perez Hilton’s “Kardashian Kleanse” and Necole Bitchie’s declaration to step away from her celebrity-focused blog to write more about issues affecting women and more inspiring, positive news?

Chappelle: What makes me stand out, as far as a blogger, is that I want to humanize celebrities; I want to show the stories that they and my readers have in common. It’s funny you mention Perez’s “Kardashian Kleanse” because the two questions that I’m always asked are, “Who is the person that you write about the most?” or “Who are you tired of writing about?”, and I always say “The Kardashians”. [laughter] They are always in the tabloids and it kind of does get tiring. I was just telling someone the other day that I’m not going to go on a Kardashian Kleanse, but I did say that I was going to slow down on [writing about] them. Sometimes, I’m reading over my blog or reviewing its Google Analytics and I think, “Okay, two weeks ago you wrote too many posts about the Kardashians”. So when Perez said that he would go on his “Kardashian Kleanse”, I thought, “Yes, good for you!” They are everywhere and sometimes it gets quite annoying! You don’t want to feel like you’re being negative all the time, in regards to Necole Bitchie’s case, either. 

Now it seems as though a lot of bloggers are coming out and thinking about how they can get quick fame. Some of these other bloggers might have a bigger following than me, but I did not want to get introduced to the world as not only a horrible blogger, but a horrible person. That’s hard to bounce back from. I even went on an audition for the “Bad Girls Club” [an Oxygen television show] and got to the next round and I thought to myself about that is not how I want to present myself to the world!

Urban/Suburban: Do you ever feel some sort of pressure to write certain stories to stay on the pulse of current trending topics?

Chappelle: I used to feel pressure to be the first one to report something or say something. Now it’s all about creating quality content. Even if I write a story about a popular topic, my readers are still going to come to my site to get my unique take on it. 

Urban/Suburban: Who are your favorite celebrities that you love to blog about? Current favorite TV shows? Movies? 

Chappelle: Hmmm…I’m not going to knock Kim Kardashian. I like the hustle of that whole family. They are marketing geniuses and I will always stand by that, point blank period. They all won. The celebrities that I like to follow are candid and down-to-earth. I’m really obsessed with Karrueche [Tran, Chris Brown’s famous ex-girlfriend]. She’s an awesome individual and her Snaps [Snapchat] are hilarious. Also, Nicole Richie. She doesn’t have a lot going on, as far as gossip, but I love her. I like to celebrities who are funny and relatable to me! I’m a goofball; I’m just extra and loud. I’d rather laugh all day then hate all day. That’s just me.

Urban/Suburban: Where do you hope to see The Walkin Mannequin and your career in five years? 

Chappelle: I would love to have an office here in Atlanta. I want to be tri-coastal, to have a presence in L.A., Philadelphia, and Atlanta. I would love to do TV. In my head I’m a serial entrepreneur. Eventually I would like to dive into the restaurant and makeup businesses as well. I love makeup! A dream of mine would be to do a campaign with MAC [Cosmetics]. 

Urban/Suburban: Have you ever received any backlash from information posted on your blog? If so, what were the steps you took to combat this?

Chappelle: All the time! There are the fans who think that because they follow celebrities from the start of their careers that they can just come at me sideways, especially when I post a picture on Instagram! I honestly don’t understand the hardcore fans, because I’ve never been someone that’s starstruck for another person who wouldn’t even give me a dollar or two. These celebrities are human like you and me.

Urban/Suburban: What are your thoughts on anyone who says that bloggers are not real journalists and should not be taken seriously?

Chappelle: I think people that say that are threatened. Some blogger don’t spellcheck, no shade, and just say what they want to say. But I feel that they should be left alone. You have television shows now that are based on bloggers. Bloggers have taken over. It’s like Uber within the taxicab industry. You can what you want to say, but at the end of the day you have to adjust to the advances of technology or you will get left behind. The numbers don’t lie. Blogs are getting more hits than websites created by major publications. Just follow suit- that’s all!

Urban/Suburban: Do you have any exciting events or news that you are covering for The Walkin Mannequin for the rest of 2015?

Chappelle: I basically want to hit the floor running with my blog for the rest of the year. Here in Atlanta I will be attending the BET Hip Hop Awards [in October] and I will be going to Miami for the Revolt Music Conference [in October] as well I’m just going to continue putting my face out there and making it happen!

 

To follow The Walkin Mannequin for celebrity and entertainment news and exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of events, interviews, and more, read www.thewalkinmannequin.com for more information! You can also find The Walkin Mannequin through the following social media links: 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/walkinmannequin 

Twitter: @Walknmannequin

Periscope: @Walkinmannequin 

Instagram: @Thewalkinmannequin

 


 

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