Name: Reece Daniels
Occupation: Model and dancer
A Kontroversial ambassador with a unique story is professional dancer and model Reece Daniels. Born and raised in Wythenshawe, Manchester, Reece spent most of his younger years hiding his homosexuality due to fear of attack and bullying.
Since coming out, Reece has travelled the world performing for stars such as Rita Ora. He was also the face of Gay Pride for fashion brand H&M and recently appeared in a national campaign for online cosmetics giant Beauty Bay, starring in a Valentine's themed makeup shoot.
Speaking exclusively to Kontroversial, Reece revealed he is about to star in an upcoming dance documentary for a hit subscription TV service. Although successful as a dancer for global brands such as Glitterbox, Reece tells how he is still regularly body-shamed online and predominantly by straight men.
Describe your Personality.
Individual, unique, hardworking.
Tell me about your style?
I challenge femininity and masculinity. I don't wear anything that anyone else wears. I'm individual and quirky but in a modern way.
For my first look, I picked the Black and Orange Acid Sprayed Crop and paired it with cargo pants. I added a diamond necklace and sunglasses.
For the second look, the Faith Denim Sweat hoodie stood out to me. I thought the brown and orange tones were very now and very me, just like the crop top. Both would be everyday wear.
How would you describe your gender?
I'd say I'm gender fluid. I don't appeal well to labels. When someone asks how I identify, I refer to my name and identify as 'Reece' because that's easier. People always ask whether I'm transgender, but I'm not. I've still got all of my parts!
It's not offensive, and accidents can happen, but that's why I prefer to identify as my name. I am my own person, not a label.
What would you say your sexuality is?
I'm definitely gay, although I've had female experiences when I was younger. I believe in love. I feel like you can build love through spending time with someone. It wasn't nothing with the girls I have been with in the past. We did build a connection. I don't think about loving a man or a woman; it's about loving a person and their qualities.
Has your gender or sexuality ever affected your profession?
Yes, it has, although it is getting better. I recently modelled in a national makeup campaign for beauty brand Beauty Bay, so things are starting to change, but I don't generally get booked in the commercial world as I'm a bit out there and quirky. As a dancer, it's very different. I'm constantly booked for brands such as Glitterbox and Firehouse, and I'm also just about to appear in a Netflix documentary all about dancers.
At the end of the day, you put in what you're going to get out. If you sit and do nothing, you're not going to get anything. You can be a pretty face, and that's it if there's nothing about you or if you're not willing to work hard.
Have you ever faced discrimination?
It's one of those things you always get. I go out to Canal Street, and because I'm part of the community, it feels relatively safe, but I've had incidents even there. You get people who don't understand the world; they've never seen anything like me before. They've never seen a man in a dress or heels. So, you get the comments and people saying, "What is that?" and you get your laughs and shouted at, but I have to remember how strong I am as a person. I might be going through this, but many other people will also be going through the same thing. So, you have to stay strong for them to show that it's okay for people to be different.
What's the worst thing you have experienced?
I get repeatedly trolled by a straight guy, but I have a joke with it. He will constantly send messages slating my body, questioning whether my pictures are real and whether my friends are actually my friends. He'll also send me pictures of his body, saying it's better than mine.
And how do you respond to this?
The last time, I just had a joke with it and responded with Lady Gaga's words, "Baby, I was born this way". I enjoy coming back with something that stops them in their tracks but may also educate them. If he has a better body than me, then great, I'm happy for him, but the fact he needs to do this shows that he is insecure in many ways, which is sad for him, not me.
How do you feel about the people who have been discriminatory towards you?
I don't hate them. I feel sorry for them. Their attitude is a result of how they have lived their lives. It's an expression of everything they've seen and done, and so, that's all they are used to, whereas I have challenged life.
I've achieved different things, and I'm pretty proud of it. I can get on stage and go out in a dress and feel confident.
Have you ever felt pressure to conform to stereotypes?
I've never felt the need to conform to stereotypes. My family has always been supportive of me and my lifestyle. My Grandma is lesbian. She's had two children, and so she has been in straight relationships but then decided later on in life it wasn't right for her.
Growing up in a female-oriented family, I don't think I've ever had pressure to conform. I think that's why I can talk to different types of people from everywhere, and I'm very comfortable speaking my own mind.
When I began dancing professionally, I felt really uncomfortable because no one around would talk to me as I was new and different. I feel like people should always be approached and always feel welcomed.
How is your confidence now?
Even now, I'm not the greatest at speaking to boys. As my mother broke up with my father, I didn't have that father role when I was young and so I've had to build upon that.
In high school, it wasn't easy. People used to tell me I was gay, but I didn't come out until I was 17 or 18. At first, I didn't accept it as I would not accept anyone else telling me what I was. I wasn't aware of any other gay boys, so I didn't feel I could come out.
Others were the same. I recently performed at Firehouse, and there was another performer I went to school with who was also gay, but because of the place we lived, we felt like we couldn't come out. We had no confidence. That's all certainly changed now!
When do you feel most confident?
When I'm performing, I hit the stage and feel like the star of the show.
Every time feels special, and getting paid to dance and truly be me is an absolute dream. It's taken a while to get here, but I'm very passionate about helping others truly find and embrace who they are, which is why I'm part of this campaign.
What advice would you give to people that have not found themselves yet?
Somebody might think that they know themselves, but they don't really when it comes down to it. You've got to educate yourself in so many different ways about different things, and you have to do trial and error with life. Otherwise, you could just be a carbon copy of someone else. But what makes you different from someone else? I think that's the question you have to ask yourself to find out. Get as many experiences as you can! Whatever you want to try, or you've never even thought of trying before, just get out there and do it.