Just a few hours before the highly anticipated AFRIFF closing ceremony, I had the remarkable opportunity to sit down with the ever-charming and effortlessly stylish Jimmy Jean-Louis. Dressed in a relaxed t-shirt, shorts, and slippers ensemble, he exuded a natural elegance that hinted at his impeccable personal style.
Jimmy’s journey to stardom is a testament to his steadfast determination and innate talent. After relocating to Paris from Haiti with his family, he embarked on a trajectory that led him from dancing to modelling and then to the silver screen. Today, he is recognised for his performances in both Hollywood and international productions.
During our conversation, we briefly touched on the Nigerian movie industry, his self-care routine and how he maintains a youthful appearance, even at the age of 55.
So, how has your stay in Lagos been so far?
It’s been hot, oh my goodness… but so far so good. I initially came here for three days for the Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA), and I ended up staying for over two weeks. After the AMAA, I shot a movie with Kunle Afolayan, and now I’m wrapping things up with AFRIFF, so it’s been three things packed in one.
Were there any standout films for you from the AFRIFF screenings?
I saw a few films, and you know what? It’s great to see the transformation in the quality of the movies. Last night, I had the opportunity to see the closing film, Breath of Life, and it was impeccable. It’s a question of whether it is your style of movie or not, but as far as execution, storyline, and every aspect, including wardrobe, make-up, acting, and lighting, are all up to standard. It’s at the point where you can take the movies and show them to anyone, anywhere in the world, and I think that that’s new for Nigerian movies. I’m not implying that this movie is the only one, but what I’m saying is that now Nigeria has films they can proudly share without any reservations… you know [laughs]. So yes, it’s good to see the evolution and the progress that some of the artists have achieved in the movie industry. Although there is still room for improvement in terms of structure, things are gradually falling into place. Based on the recent films I’ve seen, I can confidently say that there will undoubtedly be more advancements in the coming months or years.
You always look so well put together. How would you describe your grooming routine on a typical day?
I must say that I’m not very fancy. This would be me every day. I’ll dress up only if I need to. If I don’t need to, I’m just gonna be as chilled as possible, but if the occasion calls for it, I’ll dress up to the max.
I look forward to wearing my Ugo Monye outfit to the closing event.
I must say that we had an amazing photoshoot with Ugo a few days ago, shot by Kelechi Amadi-Obi. The pictures are just amazing. I must say that tonight, I’m going to try to look as good as I can. I will try to be king-like because that’s what Ugo’s creations require. The posture will have to be there, and I’m looking forward to that.
Are there any specific grooming products you use regularly, and why do you like them?
Not really, you know. I have a fondness for shea butter when it comes to skincare. I appreciate anything that can contribute to improving the skin. I like to do things that are necessary and not go over the top.
Would you say that your experiences and upbringing played a role in shaping your grooming habits and your personal style?
My upbringing is really rich in many ways, and the quick answer is yes. I can effortlessly transition from being dressed completely down to being dressed completely up. Growing up in Haiti, there was no electricity or running water at home, and we often ran around barefoot. That forces you to stay in touch with nature, with something that’s solid. In terms of my personal style, I try to stay as natural and in harmony with the environment as possible. I think it’s important because we reside in nature, so how do we establish communication and maintain that connection?
On the other hand, because I spent some years in fashion, I also understand the other side of the spectrum. When it’s time to dress up, I can easily do it and pull off anything from a modern look, like a tuxedo or bowtie, to a traditional look, such as Ugo Monye’s designs.
Are there any specific grooming practices or traditions from Haiti that you still incorporate into your routine?
When we talk about Haiti, we have to understand that the culture there is very similar to the Nigerian culture as they share a common ancestry of displaced individuals from many years ago. Part of my lineage can be traced back to Nigeria. There are a lot of similarities in traditions, beliefs, names and some of the practices. For instance, we have our Sango and deities that definitely originated from here, but we find them in Haiti as well. But as far as grooming is concerned, I don’t believe so. As I say, I’m very simple.
You’re simple, but have you got any tips or rituals that you swear by for maintaining your signature look?
First and foremost, in terms of my physical well-being, I take care of myself. There’s no doubt. I work out regularly and eat well, which is a great combination. Cardio is a part of my routine. For me, my body is my number one tool for navigating through life. My physique will stay with me for life, so I have to take care of it.
It’s important, as it allows you to regain a few years. Establishing a routine and adopting a lifestyle that prioritises balance is key. Work hard play hard but take care of your body and engage in sports and hobbies. Achieving this balance is necessary to live the best possible lifestyle. It is reflected not only in how you dress and present yourself but also in the energy you radiate to others.
How important is grooming to you, and what does it mean to you in terms of self-expression and confidence?
I don’t question it at all because I feel good in my skin. Even if I were dressed in rags, I would still go anywhere. I could go to a palace dressed like this and feel completely comfy. I don’t need to appear a certain way to feel confident. I think it’s important to have this mindset because some people believe they need to be a certain way to have confidence or to gain approval from others. I’m not necessarily looking to please anyone because if I’m comfy in my skin, nothing anyone thinks matters.
Location: The Art Hotel
Outfit: Ejiro Amos Tafiri
Styling/Grooming/Production: Latasha Ngwube