Times Square, Son! How I Achieved My Lifelong Dream of Getting My Face on a Billboard

Maybe I’ve never had a future in modeling but that hasn’t stopped me from wishing my face would be on a billboard one day. Then it actually happened.
Publish date:
May 15, 2012
dove ads, times square

I could have totally been a model except I need to grow 6 inches and stop insisting that people take pictures only from my good side (the left).

OK, maybe I’ve never had a future in modeling but that hasn’t stopped me from wishing my face would be on a billboard one day. I’ve always thought it would be cool to see myself in a huge ad, mostly for vanity’s sake and partly so I could tell my future kids that their mom’s face was 15 feet tall once.

I did sort of get my chance last August. The AIDS Foundation of Chicago tapped my organization The Red Pump Project to be in their citywide “Change Your Story” campaign. Our picture was used in eight bus shelters around Chicago for a couple of months.

When I went to see one of the ads, I acted a fool, especially when a lady sitting at the bus stop went “Hey, that’s you!” I smiled like it was payday and I had worked overtime.

Then a couple of weeks later, the website kicked off a contest to find the new face of their site, and the winner’s picture would be used for their billboard ad in Times Square. Whoever could get the most votes in a month would see their face in the lights, so I campaigned my little heart out.

I’m sure folks got sick of my daily posts on Facebook and Twitter asking for votes, but they responded, and I was never below the top 5 percent.

I thought I had a good chance of winning. Then they announced the winners and I wasn’t even in the top 10 finalists. So much for that acceptance speech I had written ready for my Facebook status. I was planning on thanking my mom, God and the camera that captured my good side. I was even gonna post a picture of me doing my best impression of the Taylor Swift “WHO ME?” surprise face.

You know the one she does EVERY SINGLE TIME she wins an award?

Yes, that one.

But alas, it wasn’t meant to be. My dream of my face on a billboard in Times Square was deferred like a student loan.

That was way back in September and I hadn’t thought about it since. Until a month ago when my friend Patrice Yursik, also known as Afrobella, forwarded me an email from Dove, and her only addendum was “Times Square, son.”

The email read, “Be among the first to appear in our largest living ad campaign.” -- Don’t mind if I do!

The universe was throwing me another chance, and it’s for a brand whose products I love. YES MA’AMS!

I stopped everything I was doing and went to Dove’s website to upload my favorite picture of myself. So what if it’s two years old. I look cute. Don't judge me.

Anyway, I got the cool confirmation email -- "you are now part of the Dove online campaign"-- and then proceeded to totally forget about the whole thing.

I went on vacation to Nigeria for almost two weeks and didn’t check email much. So of course when I got back, my inbox looked like despair and chaos. After shuffling through messages from people I know, then checking on news from potential clients, and then opening a few new ones whenever I was bored, I still had a few hundred unread messages.

Earlier this week, I decided to really clear my inbox out. That's when I finally noticed one from Dove with the subject, “Your photo appeared in Times Square!”

I hit my dougie so hard that it grew up to be a man named Douglass.

YESSS!!! I ended up in Times Square! I’m not sure for how long but I don’t even care.

My mom offered me a congrats and then, “So do you get Dove stuff for free, now?” No, I don’t, ma. I’m one of probably thousands who ended up there. But it doesn’t make me any less excited.

Now I can tell my Future Mini Luvv Doves (HA!) that my face was once 20 feet tall and I was anonymously famous (let me have my moment) for three seconds.