Prior to 1749 the area we now know as Rutherford County, North Carolina was a frontier and indefinable. But this was a time of exploration drift and colonization and it wasn’t for long that this area was claimed by the white man who had discovered the fertile soil of this wild country. This rich and fertile soil surrounded one particular crossroads, that at the juncture of the Shelby-Rutherfordton and Spartanburg-Lincolnton Roads. This is where James McArthur decided to settle and built his large farmhouse in 1830. 20 years later a big fire made an end to James’ dreams of being a landowner at this place but the location was not forgotten. In 1877 a small settlement rose around the remnants of the McArthur house, that would become known as Burnt Chimney.
Burnt Chimney and its small group of residents made history during the turbulent years of the Civil War but the town as it had grown to be was not destined to live forever. In 1877 the General Assembly incorporated Burnt Chimney and its 110 residents and on March 7, 1887, the town changed its name to Forest City, named after its prominent citizen Forest Davis. Forest City is now a beautiful green town with an active social life. Little reminds of its dynamic past except the burnt chimney from the McArthur house, of which a replica has been erected at the town square. Forest City now knows almost 8,000 residents, and until recently Tion Watkins used to be one of them.
Tion Watkins is a 2005 graduate of East Rutherford High School and grew up in Grahamtown in Forest City. After graduating Tion played basketball in Louisiana. At the age of 20 he went to visit a friend in New York while simultaneously participating in the street ball summer league. This is when he was spotted by a model scout, but his career as model wouldn’t seriously kick off until later. After some ups and downs and a brief relocation to Atlanta, Tion is now back in New York, working hard to make modelling a real career. "It's very competitive, you have to be very strong minded because things are not just going to happen," Tion said. "Some people feel like once you sign with an agency and once you really start modelling, jobs are just going to come. It takes time you have to know what you are doing and you have to most of all have personality."
Tion Watkins has that personality. He is laid back and a bit silly every now and then, but very serious and professional when it comes to his job. Tion is well-balanced. According to himself his strongest physical features are his cheekbones and his eyes and even though we agree to that, we also believe Tion has some other assets that are not to be overlooked. Thanks to photographer Seth London we can enjoy them all. Recently Tion travelled back to his hometown, where he was invited to speak to the local youth. “In our county, kids are limited,” Tion says. “They have seen so much great talent and so many people before their time not make it, so they feel like they won't make it if they didn't make it.” Tion Watkins is a lighting example of making a success of himself. Of achieving dreams and living a positive life. –BM-
SETH LONDON | BEAUTIFULMAG