Riza Oliva: Sex And The City

Portrait of Riza Oliva for Homepage cover of Tony Ward Studio
Riza Oliva. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2021

Text by Riza Oliva, Copyright 2021

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Sex And The City

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Before Netflix, Hulu and HBO Max, I would turn on my T.V. and watch a group of bold and promiscuous women taking over the Big Apple doing things that men would have been praised for. Instead women in society receive negativity and backlash for the same actions like dating multiple people, let alone having sex with them. My take on the subject is that people should be able to explore their desires when they’re single until they find someone who fits their lifestyle.

Imagine Sex And The City happening in this current generation. The generation of technology with Facebook, Instagram, Tinder, Bumble, and all the other dating applications right at the tip of your fingers. Wouldn’t that be a wild new twist in the series? I feel like I have lived my own “Sex And The City”. Dating in my 20’s during this generation in a big city was an adventure. I didn’t do too much swiping but social media had played a big part of me meeting people. After I became a model, my confidence grew but my perspective on dating also changed. I used to be that girl who was always in long relationships. One advice I would give any individual in their 20’s is to not settle down so quickly. I think being able to live your life and finding your wants, needs and most importantly finding yourself is so critical in life. But back to my dating life, my DM’s were pretty interesting and comical. I still have no idea what the fascination is of some men wanting to send random women dick pictures without even saying hello. It must be the confidence people have behind the screens. I don’t think I have ever publicly spoken about my dating life but I definitely received messages from athletes, artists, exes, childhood friends, and even people’s fathers. I was not one to really entertain a lot of people but I got to meet some really interesting characters in my own show which my friends and I even had nicknames for. I won’t kiss and tell so I will not be naming anyone in this article, I’ll bring those secrets to my grave.

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About The Author: Riza Oliva is a professional photographer, actress, model, business owner and mom based in Philadelphia. To read contributing writer Katie Kerl’s interview with Riza Oliva, click here: https://tonyward.com/interview-riza-oliva/

Milan Burnett: I Am That I Am

portrait of beautiful black model
Milan Burnett. Photo: Tony Ward. Copyright 2021

Text by Milan Burnett, Copyright 2021

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I Am That I Am

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Looking back, outside of the mundane gossip and remedial conversation, there were two things that I hated to hear most while in school – “Milan, why are you so nice all the time?”, and the lackluster attempt of a so-called compliment, “You’re really pretty for a black girl!”. Being asked why am I so nice all the time always guaranteed for a quick, sarcastic remark such as, “So would you rather me be an asshole?!”. Simply because, well, who doesn’t like nice people? As for the latter, the best I could conjure up was an awkward, “Thanks, I guess?”. For any young girl growing into her teens, being called pretty by a cute boy in school was like an invisible badge of honor, one that could instantly put a pep in her step for the rest of the day. However, when being complimented gets limited to just “for a black girl”, unfortunately, that badge of honor does not wear the same.

I never labeled myself as the “pretty” or “popular” girl in school. I always wore glasses, and nothing special stood out about me. It wasn’t until I was in my late teens, early 20’s, that I realized the standard, regurgitated, concept of beauty, was just that – Standard. After tons of self reflection, and learning more about my indegineous background, I realized just how exclusive I truly was. Of course, eventually growing into my hips and womanly figure helped with that, as well. From the shape of my eyes, to the coils of my hair, to the complexion of my skin – I am exclusive – Regardless of who may feel otherwise.

Gaining knowledge of self has changed my thought process completely, making it easy for me to be comfortable in the skin I was blessed with. Once timid, shy and self conscious, I now wake up with an everlasting pep in my step, radiating an abundance of self-love and confidence. I am beautiful as I am. I am fierce. I am strong. I am a luminous etheric being, manifested in the physical form. I am Milan.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR : Milan is currently an administrative healthcare professional, originally from New York, now residing in Philadelphia. Aspiring model and real estate broker. Free thinker. Humanitarian by nature. Spiritual revolutionary in the making. This is Milan’s first contribution to Tony Ward Studio.

Picture of the Day: Ike’s Study

Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2020
 

Photography and Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2020

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Ike’s Study

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I visited Ike Hay at his home on many occasions.  He was a great teacher of art and design at Millersville University where we first met when I was an undergraduate student from 1974 to 1977. I took several classes with him as he was a great teacher of art and design.  Ike’s first love was sculpture, but he had other interests as well.  Ike was a collector of Empire furniture and a significant amount of his scholarship was defined by his love for French culture, especially French antiquities and an emphasis on the history of Napoleon Bonaparte, the great French military leader and emperor of France. Ike’s study was a place where we often chatted about art and also life. He became a lifelong friend and confidant until his untimely passing in 2014 at the age of 69.  When I began the project of a book of Tableaux Vivants,  I selected Ike’s study as one of the nostalgic places I wanted to photograph because of my longstanding friendship with Ike and his family. So one summer day in 1994, I packed up my gear with models in tow and traveled from Philadelphia to Lancaster, Pennsylvania where he lived with his wife Teri and his daughters Miraya and Mistral. On this particular occasion I decided to shoot in black and white and in color, an unusual departure for me at the time. 

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To see selected works from the book of Tableaux Vivants, click herehttps://tonyward.com/early-work/tableaux-vivants-1993-2000/