When you think of the fast-paced corporate career of a Bilingual Spokesperson and Media Relations Specialist at Ontario transit agency Metrolinx, the first thing that comes to mind is hardly the lights, camera and action of the Toronto runways. However, Nitish Bissonauth manages to do both, with enough confidence and style for this hectic double life to almost look effortless. At age 26, the seasoned media professional already has five years in front of the news cameras behind him, as a former television personality and reporter. Going back even further, Bissonauth can also call upon his younger years as an actor, which have made him no stranger to stardom.
In fact, it’s this natural ease in front of the spotlight which makes the former TV child star an emerging star on the local catwalks. Today, he splits his week between the cool daytime stability of a Metrolinx career and the glittering, hectic evenings of a menswear model creating a name for himself in Canadian fashion. As a model for FATMO Media Group’s Toronto Corporate Fashion Show (in partnership with creative agency Pearls & Sequence), this trendsetter also knows that corporate style can be adapted for a high-fashion setting. Eager to know more about his creative inspiration, favourite designers and more, inFATuated Blog has the latest scoop right here.
Tell us more about balancing your love of fashion and menswear with your daytime career in media! How do you make time for both careers?
I’ve been very lucky to find careers that allow me to balance both. When I was a reporter, I would dress nice[ly], because I always believe it’s important to be presentable when meeting people for the first time and delivering information. I believe the same applies now that I’m a spokesperson. Working in media relations means you have a responsibility to give out information to the media, and often times you do on-camera interviews which serve as a means to speak directly to people. First impressions are key and being presentable is important.
I also make time to model on the side. It’s about being organized and following a schedule. My life is pretty structured and I’ve always had stuff on my plate. I enjoy juggling a lot and I like being busy. I’m restless otherwise.
Do you have any favourite menswear designers?
I tend to gravitate towards Canadian brands. Growing up, I was a huge fan of Le Château and now I wear a lot of stuff from RW&CO, especially when it comes to suits—I like their fit and look. For streetwear or casual wear, I’m a fan of Zara and H&M. As for my summer style, I’m all about the polos from Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren.
Tell us about a memorable fashion runway or shoot that you were a part of. What made this a special experience for you?
I’d have to say Toronto’s Fashion, Art and Music (FAM) Festival. I got a chance to walk for Rhowan James, an industry leader and a pioneer in his own right. The collection in particular that night had a black and gold theme, colours and tones I’m a huge fan of. I got to walk with a Sheriff’s hat, something I’ve never worn or thought I could pull off. It was nice to get out of my comfort zone and it was around the same time Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” was blowing up on the radio, so it was fun to walk with that song stuck in my head.
What originally made you passionate about exploring the fashion industry?
I come from a television background. I was a commercial actor when I was younger and up until recently, I spent five years as TV reporter. I’m pretty comfortable in front of a camera so I figured I’d challenge myself with something different. I always enjoyed expressing myself through what I wear, so I thought it might be a good idea to take it to the next level and explore the fashion industry.
Do you have any words of wisdom for anyone who would like to pursue modelling and acting on the side?
Be as versatile as possible! Bring as many skills and talents to the table and make sure you have a few “x-factors”. You also need to have tough skin. Know that you will face rejection—lots and lots of rejection—but you need to, before you can find success. You won’t achieve your goal overnight, but if you work hard, persevere and believe in yourself, it will happen. Most importantly you have to keep in mind that you can follow the same formula of those who’ve made it, but it doesn’t mean you’ll have the same results. You need to set your sights on your own finish line, don’t worry about what others are doing or the success they’re achieving—compete with no one but yourself.
Who are your biggest creative inspirations, whether in the arts, music, entertainment or fashion and design industries?
Right now, I’d have to say Burna Boy. He’s a Nigerian artist who’s changing the game with his Afro-fusion sound. My parents are from an African island, so it’s nice to hear the sounds I grew up with get some recognition.
How do you keep yourself motivated and focused on success?
I remember my roots. My parents didn’t have a lot when they started to make a life here in Canada. I grew up with a simple childhood, we weren’t well off and I remember some of the struggles my parents had to go through to provide for me and my brother. We’re lucky that we were able to turn things around, but that didn’t come without a lot of sacrifices.
They struggled, learned, and managed to make things work. For me, I need to work even harder, so that my [future] kids can have an even better upbringing. If my parents placed a ladder for me to climb, I’m climbing it. My goal is to make sure I build an elevator for my kids to use so when it comes time for my grandchildren, they’ll already be on top.
What are your favourite ways to relax and unwind, when you are away from the spotlight?
I love going out, spending time with friends, and hiking. I also go to the gym to decompress. But ultimately, playing soccer on a field is my happy place.
Tell us about some exciting upcoming projects that you are looking forward to in the months ahead.
I’m not one to share a lot when it comes to future plans just because I don’t want to jinx it, but without giving too much detail, I am in talks with a designer to create a suit that will be sold and named after me. I also emcee on the side and I’ve just booked my next gig for a wedding in Mexico next year.
What are your menswear essentials for Fall 2019?
Blazers, blazers and oh, did I mention, blazers? Fall is probably the best time to rock them, since it’s not too cold or hot outside.
If you could tell your younger self anything at all, and go back in time to offer yourself advice, what would you say?
Don’t stress and don’t fixate on the destination, just enjoy the journey. I think growing up, I could have enjoyed moments better, whether good or bad. I feel like many of us are in a rush to reach our goals and accomplish certain things and we lose sight of what’s most important- the lessons learned on the way there.
Last but not least- Toronto might be home, but what are your favourite travel destinations around the globe?
London, England is one of them, I love the party scene there, it’s always a good time with my family and friends there. Plus, I’m a huge football fan so the UK suits me.
South Africa is another place I love. I had the privilege of emceeing my cousin’s wedding there two years ago and I left my heart in Cape Town. The food is amazing and the weather is great!
Last but not least, Mauritius. My parents are from there and it feels like home. The country has so much potential and has gone through incredible change over the years. It’s where you’ll find amazing people, the world’s finest beaches, and the best lifestyle. They don’t call it paradise island for nothing!