Liris Crosse was feeling a tad bit under the weather when she did her phone interview with the Baltimore Times. “It’s like a slight cough and sore throat,” she said.
She is doing all she can to combat it in order to be ready for an on camera interview the following day. “I am drinking tea and am gonna run out and get some cough syrup. You know, like Chris Rock said “Gotta put some ‘Tussin on it!” she laughs. This is a woman who doesn’t allow anything to keep her down!
Baltimore born and raised Liris Crosse made history in the sixteenth season of Project Runway when she became the first black plus sized model to win the competition. Fans may recall her unforgettable victory night as she unabashedly shed tears of joy upon realizing she had won. “I was so overcome by emotion,” she recalls. “Imagine, I was the first black plus sized model to walk in a designer finale on Project Runway during season 14!”
It was a scenario that she had envisioned a few years before, so to see it actually happen was extraordinary. “To imagine a thing, speak a thing, do the thing, then to win the thing? What? It is an amazing feeling!”
It would be enough of an achievement if strutting her stuff and bringing her own relatable style of glamour to Project Runway was all Liris Crosse did, but she stays busy! Crosse is also a spokesmodel for designer Maggie Sottero’s bridal fashions and runs her own “Life of a Working Model” bootcamp business where she teaches aspiring models the A to Zs of the the modeling industry.
Now, Crosse adds author to her long list of accomplishments. Her book, “Make The World Your Runway: Top Model Secrets For Everyday Confidence and Success” is a rallying cry for the woman who wants more out of life and more confidence as she goes about attaining it. Covering topics such as “Finding Your Voice” and “Living Your Purpose,” the book’s overarching message is finding the courage and humility to live an authentic life.
If not for Mama Crosse, the book may not have gotten written. Crosse explains that she became so busy and in demand after Project Runway, she had decided to put off writing it indefinitely. “Project Runway happened and your girl was just booked here and there! I was just going to refund anyone who had prepaid,” she says. At one point her mother inquired about how it was going and she told her of her decision. “You know when you think you’re grown, grown and Mama looks at you?” She laughs. “I’m thankful because she really did get me together.”
The Randallstown High School graduate whose father, St. George Crosse, is a well-known religious and political figure in the Baltimore area says she believes her parents, “Probably knew from the womb I was gonna be special. Who comes up with a name like Liris?” she asks incredulously. When she stops laughing she shares that there is actually a special history to the name. “It is a combination of the names of my two grandmothers, Lila and Iris,” she said.
When she first set out on her journey to become a model, it was not easy for her. Though a number of agencies wanted to work with her, she explains, “They all wanted me to lose weight.”
She kept looking until she found Wilhelmina. Long known as an agency that was open to different body types and one of the first to sign black models, Wilhelmina was happy to have Crosse work with them and she was pleased they appreciated her.
She cautions those who want to go into modeling, to do so from a love for the profession and not as a means to an end.
“I talk about this in the book as well. People want to go into modeling to raise their confidence. If anything, modeling will tear you down if you have a weak outlook. It can really mess with your head so your mindset has to be strong.” Her advice is to continue to put good work out there. “Keep putting good work out there and whoever needs to find you, will find you.”