It’s Raining Rickey

Jesper D. Lund
Lauren Bensky
India Hendrikse

An open blazer sans shirt is a hard look to pull off, but it’s one Rickey Thompson does with ease. In fact, Rickey is one of those rare gems that makes it all look effortless; he moves between goofy boy-next-door energy on Instagram – where he’s amassed nearly six million followers – to slick siren in the fashion industry. He’s grounded and earnest yet possesses a contagious self-confidence that he’s put his heart and soul into building. Rickey’s presence doesn’t go unnoticed; he was lauded by Rihanna when he walked in her Savage x Fenty show and is now picking up pace in the acting world, as he builds out his television portfolio alongside his successful podcasting career. We spoke to him about the journey to fame, reaching recognition, and finding peace in his identity.

India Hendrikse: Hi, Rickey. How are you?
Rickey Thompson: I’m doing great! How are you?
IH: I’m good, thank you. Are you getting excited for the week ahead? I hear you’re off to Paris Fashion Week.
RT: Oh, my goodness, I’m so excited. I love Paris so much and I love fashion week. I’m so happy that I’m able to go.
IH: What else has been going on for you lately? I know you’re really busy with your podcast We Said What We Said with Denzel Dion.
RT: Yes, yes, yes, I’ve been very busy with the podcast and everything. I love it so much. Honestly, I never knew working with your best friend would be so amazing. Our job is  so easy, I just get in there and we just talk like we’re on FaceTime, so that is doing really well right now.
IH: Is working with your best friend ever tricky, or is it just a really beautiful thing right now?
RT: It’s a very beautiful thing, honestly, it really is. I mean, usually when I work with people, you never know who they are or their vibe or whatever. But I’ve known my best friend for almost 10 years, so it’s so easy. The vibe is perfect and we’re always on the same page. It just works out so smoothly.
IH: You brought such a beautiful energy to the PUSS PUSS shoot. It sounds like that’s really your thing, bringing that energy to any set you’re on. How do you show up like that all the time? Does that ever feel like a lot of pressure to be that version of yourself?
RT: I love modelling and getting in front of the camera and making people feel comfortable. I will say, there have been some times where it has been hard. But I feel like I’ve been doing this for so long that now I know my boundaries. Now I know when to give just the right amount of energy to really make it an amazing project. And you know, it’s gotten easier. I’ve had days where I’m like “Ahhhh”, but I pull through and I always do my best.

Ferragamo top, Rickey’s own earrings worn throughout

Diesel top & trousers, Dion Lee shoes, Bernard James bracelets, Cartier bracelet

IH: Do you feel you’ve gotten better at showing up for yourself first as well?
RT: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. I’ve definitely started to really listen to myself.
IH: What is it that you need right now? Aside from all your professional pursuits, of course.
RT: Right now, I’m spending more time with myself. I mean, I’m definitely a social butterfly, but I love my ‘me time’. I love being able to sit at home all day and watch my favourite shows and movies. I’ll do the work I have to do, then put my phone on the charger and I don’t even look at it. I just love my personal time, it really, really makes me happy.
IH: Amazing. And how’s LA life going for you?
RT: Ah, LA, I love it here. When I moved here I thought I’d get tired of it, because the first place I was going to move to was New York. But I went to LA and I was like, ‘I love this place’. Now, I’ve been here for nine years and I just don’t see myself living anywhere else.
IH: What is it about LA that you love more than New York? What would you say are the big differences?
RT: Um, I would say the fast life. New York is so fast. I feel like, you know, everyone’s on the go, people are always out. But in LA, it’s just a more chill vibe; it’s like living night and day. I love it over here. I’m so down to earth, so I love the whole relaxed vibe. That’s just me.
IH: And obviously last year, you had a bit of an amazing moment with Rihanna… How did that come about?
RT: Oh, my goodness, yes! When I walked for the Savage x Fenty show! That was everything. Her choreographer Parris [Goebel] reached out and was like ‘oh my God, Rihanna and the team want you to be part of the show’. I was like ‘what!? huh? Rihanna? Crazy’. So I went there and did my part and it was perfect. I heard Rihanna liked it and that just made me so happy. And actually seeing it, I rewatched my part probably 20,000 times. I kept rewinding, rewinding, rewinding, and I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m so proud of myself’.

Marni jumper & trousers

Alexander Wang shirt, trousers & shoes

IH: That’s so awesome. And how did your friends and family react to it?
RT: Oh my gosh, they loved it. I actually didn’t even tell my family or my friends, because I just wanted them to see me pop up on the screen. I love surprising people. They’re very proud of me, they’re very happy. And they were just so excited.
IH: I’d love to know who you really look up to in the industry?
RT: Hmmm… oh my goodness… wow… ummm… well, can I honestly just say myself?
IH: Of course!
RT: I’m just so proud of myself and of where my career has taken me. I never thought in a million years I’d be able to do so many amazing things at such a very young age. But, you know, hey, that’s me. I worked hard. I didn’t give up. I kept going, I’m still going.
IH: I think that’s such a rare answer, but something we should probably all strive to say. And what would young Rickey think of you now?
RT: Oh, young Rickey would be so proud of me. I think about that a lot. I remember being younger, and I remember that I was going through hard times – I was getting bullied and I just didn’t feel like anyone respected me or cared for me. I was in a really dark place. And then I remember one day I was like, ‘Rickey, keep your head up, it’s going to be okay. You’re going to be a star. I know it’s going to happen’. And I literally think about that moment each and every day, I’m like, ‘Wow, I’m literally here’. My life did get more amazing. I didn’t give up. I worked hard. And now I’m here today, so young Rickey would be so proud of me.

Versace dress & shoes, stylist’s own sunglasses, L. Jardim earrings

Marni jumper & trousers

Alexander Wang shirt, trousers & shoes

Kenzo trousers & beret

IH: It sounds like your life now is worlds apart from your childhood in North Carolina. You’ve previously spoken about how you were raised in a religious household. And you also said that being openly gay at school was a real struggle. Can you tell me about your relationship with religion now, and how you found peace within your faith and sexuality?
RT: Well, I am Christian. My mum really raised me to be a God loving man. And that’s what I’ve been sticking with all this time. You know, if I get low or sad, my mama always tells me to look at the bible she left me. I feel like it really has helped me just stay peaceful, you know? I mean, I live in an industry that can get pretty dark sometimes, but, you know, my faith has helped me through it all, so thank God, and thank God to my mother. But when I found out who I was, being gay, I was very afraid. I was like, ‘Oh, my God, God’s not gonna love me’. I was like, ‘Everything in my life is going to fall to pieces!’ But no, I prayed that I would get through all those hard times and I’m just so happy where I am today.
IH: That’s so beautiful. And it’s so awesome that being true to yourself has just stayed alongside your faith as well. Is your family still quite a strong support in your life?
RT: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. You know, family is so important to literally everybody in my family. We’re always going to be there for each other. And that makes me so happy to have such a strong support system.
IH: You’ve recently branched out into acting. What is it like switching off from being yourself and playing different characters?
RT: I love it. I love being able to really embody somebody else. And, you know, I’m playing Rickey all the time. So being able to do something like that makes me so excited.
IH: Can you tell us a little about your recent work with acting?
RT: I’m actually in Donald Glover’s show, Swarm. I’m in there with a great cast, Chlöe Bailey, Paris Jackson… There are amazing people. I’m so excited; this is my first big thing. It’s going to be a really good show.
IH: Speaking to your other passion – being fashion – can you talk about how your personal style has evolved and what great style means to you now?
RT: Well, when I first got into fashion, it was so different. I love how it has become more diverse. I love how we’re seeing every single shade and colour and gender in the fashion world; it makes me so happy.
IH: Yeah, definitely. And I guess being in LA, people aren’t afraid to make daring choices there, whereas in North Carolina that probably would have been quite different, right?
RT: Oh my gosh, way different. You should see how people look at me when I go back home. But I don’t care, because I’m the best dressed there anyway. Mmmhmmm.
Order your copy of issue 17 here
Photographer: Erika Long
Stylist: Alison Marie Isbell
Makeup: Courtney Jones using Makeup Forever
Hair: Ben Jones using Davines
Set: Nat Hoffman
Production: Olivia Gouveia & Auriel Rickard at Family Projects
Lighting director: Christian Robinson
Photographer’s assistant: Tyler Roste
Stylist’s assistants: Caroline Anderson, Stella Evans & Héctor Suriel
Hair assistant: Davey Matthew
Production assistant: Peter Christensen