Q&A With Shaquille O’Neal About Finding the Next Big and Tall Model

He is big and tall!
He is big and tall! Eric Draper/Wikimedia Commons

Men of Dallas, have you ever looked at the cover of Glamour and thought your face should be the one smiling back? Have you fantasized about flipping your hair back on the beach as a photographer snaps away, but you’ve always been told you’re too big or tall? Well it’s time to realize those highly specific dreams, as NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal is hosting the first-ever “Shaquille O’Neal’s Big & Tall Model Search presented by JCPenney.”

The model search is the result of a partnership between JCPenney, O’Neal as the retail chain’s big and tall style ambassador, and model agency Wilhelmina Models. Since O’Neal released his clothing line, Shaquille O’Neal XLG, exclusively at JCPenney stores in 2018, Wilhelmina has been on the lookout for appropriate-sized models, but with mixed success.

Alongside being awarded contracts at Wilhelmina’s “Titan” division of big and tall male models, one of the winners of the model search will be featured with O’Neal for the JCPenney fall ad campaign.

For Dallas men who feel this is their moment to become the next Big and Tall Gisele Bundchen, show up at 5 p.m. Thursday, April 25, at JCPenney at Stonebriar Centre in Frisco to strut your stuff.

We had a chance to correspond with O’Neal by email, and he answered all our questions about what it takes to walk the runway in his line of clothes.

How hard was it for you to find clothes that fit you growing up? How did you get around those challenges?
We didn’t have a lot growing up, so whenever we found something that fit, we stocked up. If I found a pair of jeans that fit, I would buy three pairs. When you have three pairs of jeans, you can pair them with different shirt combinations and make nine or more outfits.

Why do you think it’s harder to find big and tall models?
My big and tall guys aren’t getting the recognition they deserve! You don’t see them in everyday campaigns, and it’s time to change that with help from my friends at JCPenney and Wilhelmina. This is going to be the biggest, tallest, sexiest model search of all time.

What’s the ideal type of person to represent Shaquille O’Neal XLG?
My Shaquille O’Neal XLG collection is for all big and tall guys. My whole life I’ve had trouble finding clothes that are long enough and fit just right ... and I know I’m not the only one. JCPenney and I are solving that problem with my tailored collection that offers pieces that are both wide enough and long enough.

Now I’m asking my big and tall guys who are confident and proud of who they are to come out for a chance to model alongside me in the upcoming JCPenney Big & Tall campaign featuring XLG.

What encouraging words would you have for a guy who maybe fits the size requirements, but is on the fence about coming to the model search?
My advice to all big and tall guys is to be proud and represent. Don’t be afraid to stand out from the crowd!
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