Watches? Check. Sunglasses? Check. Ipad fully charged? Check. Flight booked? Check. Fabulousness? Always.”
The rehearsal of packing mayhem occurs every week for Michael Cole Smith and Jamil Smith Cole, who live two very distinctly different lives as residents of both Minneapolis, MN and Atlanta, GA.
If you’re a friend or a client of the famed hairstylists/power couple, then every week, you mentally go on a journey with them, from one region of the United States to the other; a dual life that came unexpected in their master plan, but one that offers adventure and limitless promise, like only these two famed celebrities could handle.
Smith and Cole, harnessed the world’s attention last year, when their celebration of love and independence blossomed into what could be considered one of the greatest weddings of the century- an elaborate engagement with all the trimmings of a heterosexual ceremony, yet instead of a man and woman at the alter, two grooms adjoined their hearts in front of a hall full of friends and family.
Insight News paid homage to the event by showcasing their story on the front page of the paper, yielding to its magic, meaning, and the promise it has given to a world of GLBT members who have found strength and inspiration in Smith and Cole’s journey, and hope to one day have the chance to freely express their hearts and desires without fear, limits and borders.
Yet like defacing an artistic masterpiece, what should have been a sacred day wrapped in joy and commitment, was a moment that was quickly thrown to the wolves when their wedding photos become fodder for the negativity of the web community.
One single email containing wedding pictures of Michael Cole Smith- “the one with the hair,” as he has been referred to, and his equally handsome groom, Jamil Smith Cole, went viral in a matter of seconds, receiving both harsh criticism, and applause. Making its way from here in the United States, to all over Europe, Africa and Asia, the email took to the same weathered and prolonged journey of a $20 bill, except unlike currency, their union never lost its value.
“I knew we weren’t the first ones to get married like this, but I knew we made an impact when the emails started pouring in. There were people on the verge of suicide who saw hope who wrote to us,” Michael Cole Smith said. “There were people who felt that [a union like ours] was unattainable, but through Jamil and me, they now see that it is possible, and they have a renewed hope of one day finding their soul mate and being able to have an actual ceremony.”
Sure, there were “haters,” but Smith and Cole knew to draw strength from their enemies. What the backlash didn’t do to their union, is create turbulence in their sturdy and infrangible relationship. They didn’t even bat an eyelash, rather they saw it as an opportunity to become leaders in their strife, challenging the world to stop spreading hate, and allow love to be an unbridled adventure, just like theirs.
“We were recognized everywhere we went. Everyone had gotten that email with the stolen photos,” Smith remembers. “To this day, the email is still circling the globe and I think it will forever.”
Seeing their celebrity rise, Smith and Cole packed up their lives here in Minnesota, closing down their famed Talk of the Town hair salon, and went south to Atlanta, GA -where they met and began their journey.
In Atlanta, their names were already hotter than candle wax, yet their fame and demand was known world round which garnered them an opportunity to tour the country sharing their story and encouraging others, with the aid of their power publicist, the incomparable Bianca Holmes of MaXXposure Marketing Group, LLC.
“Bianca spearheaded this whole campaign,” Smith recalled. “It hit the ground running at full speed, and before we knew it, we were a household name. That woman is incredible.”
For them, Atlanta was not only a new beginning, but it was also an opportunity to make something daring and exciting happen for themselves that isn’t as easily attainable here in Minnesota: a career in entertainment. Hoping to become TV’s next reality stars with a show unofficially titled, “The Smitty Boyz,” Smith and Cole submerged themselves in the Hollywood lifestyle. The two set up shop at The J Spot Salon and quickly began growing their clientele.
They found themselves basking in fabulosity; schmoozing with such celebrities as the ladies of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” Keyshia Cole, Lisa Raye, and Bobby Brown, whilst also lucking upon roles in music videos and feature films, one of which was “For Colored Girls,” by their Atlanta neighbor Tyler Perry.
Unfortunately, the struggles of the Hollywood lifestyle didn’t miss their doorstep. Apart from the flashing lights and wide-angled lenses, Smith and Cole found themselves being victimized by a vulture-esque community of longwinded producers whose interest in them was more about money, than celebrating the story of two African American men, who are in healthy, loving relationship, are raising their daughter and who are entrepreneurs.
“We kept hitting road blocks because although people believed in our story, they kept seeing dollars signs,” Smith said. “How I present myself –the clothes, the jewelry, the car– has nothing to do with my bank account. It became less about the story, and more about how much money I could line in someone’s pockets. That’s not what Jamil and I are in this for. We’re trying to do our part to change the marriage reform bill, and change lives. The cause is too important.”
Although their reality series is currently in a holding stage, they don’t consider this a setback, rather an opportunity to repave their road, and make the second journey through Hollywood even better and brighter and with a heavier impact.
Smith and Cole are back in Minnesota part-time and back in business, reopening the Talk of the Town Salon, and rebuilding their client list while connecting once again with their many amazing friendships.
TOTT is now located in the middle of the bustling city, taking up residence on Lake Street and Grand Avenue in South Minneapolis inside of Agatha’s Hair Salon, where they are finding comfort re-imagining their next venture.
One thing that Michael Cole Smith, and Jamil Smith Cole have that many can only wish to garner, is their fearless hearts, and the ability to go after life with no apology for wanting more.
Be on the lookout for their story to keep growing by the stroke of each season, and by the admission of every storm.