Cover Story – PAUSE Meets: Rickey Thompson & Denzel Dion


Rickey & Denzel

Talks social media, friendship, and sexuality

Photographer: Ollie Ali // @MrOllieAli 
Creative Direction & Interviewer: Johnson Gold // @Johnson_Gold
Stylists: Rhys Marcus Jay & Taija-leorelle Weekes // @RhysMarcusJay  & @Taija_Leorelle
Assistant: Thavy Yin // @ModernGypsy
MUA: Katherine Chandler // @KT_Chandler
Videographer: Arie Stewart // @ShotByPurpose
Talents: Rickey Thompson & Denzel Dion // @RickeyThompson & @DenzelDion

[P]owerful friendship

The birth of Rickey Thompson and Denzel Dion’s friendship all started through the immense rise of social media, 8 years ago they finally met in person at an event and have been inseparable since.

Gaining millions of followers each; both have built their careers being unapologetically their most authentic selves, maintained a loyal friendship and have now launched a joint podcast called ‘We Said What We Said’. The pandemic played a huge growth in their careers allowing them to be seen and heard and the future has big opportunities in store for them both.

From New York to Paris Fashion Week, both Rickey and Denzel have worked with some of the worlds most luxury brands such as Balmain, Coach, Balenciaga and more.

Being some of social media’s most recognised personalities to date, we at PAUSE took a moment to discuss their success journey. Rickey & Denzel gives us an insight into how they came up with their podcast show We Said What We Said, social media, sexuality and their future.

Coat – Gucci , Top – Samuel Slattery, Trousers – Ruben Selby, Boots – Rick Owens
Denzel: Coat- Gucci, Top – Samuel Slattery, Trousers – Noid, Boots- Rick Owens

Would you guys say, in terms of your careers beginning, with the ranting and life preaching were your breakthroughs on social media?

(Denzel): Yeah! The way we met, Rickey was doing his thing, but we were both doing social media. We were both doing different things and then we just met each other. So yeah, I guess that was it… and then we made our business when we did our Snapchat show.
(Rickey): Yeah, it’s true!

Did you guys meet from social media or did you meet in real life?

(Rickey): No, social media! We both got invited to a social media event.
(Denzel): And I DM’d [Direct Messaged] him and was like “Oh my god, are you going to this?”, and he said “Yes!”. And then when we got in there, I was like “Oh my god! This is my best friend”. I just knew it b*tch! I just knew it! I was like “Yeah… this is my best friend. Period.”

What year was this?

(Both): 2014.
(Rickey): I graduated from high school a day before, I flew into New York after my graduation. Yeah, it was a moment.
(Denzel): 7 years ago, now! [2021]
(Rickey): 7 years ago! We’re coming up on a decade… 3 more years and it’ll be a decade of being best friends. We’re life partners.

What holds the friendship together?

(Denzel): Me! (laughs)
(Rickey): Girl, bye! It’s not you… I think it’s how different we are because me and Denzel are very night and day.
(Denzel): Opposites attract.
(Rickey): Yeah, period. And that’s what I feel like really holds it together, because we’re not the same but it’s a perfect match. It works out perfectly.

I always feel like those kinds of friendships work.

(Rickey): Literally! Ying and yang.

Describe your friendship in 1 word each.

(Rickey): Powerful.
(Denzel): Yeah, I’ll say powerful.

And what advice would you guys give for keeping true friendship together?

(Rickey): It’s all about being real.
(Denzel): Word! You know Rickey’s lied to me a lot of times (laughs)
(Rickey): Not lie lie! There’s some stuff, like I’ll tell Denzel a little white lie because I know for a fact that if I tell him he’ll judge the f*ck out of me. I know you would, and I’m like ooh. But other than that, I feel like me and Denzel have been real with each other for our whole friendship.

How has your life changed from before social media to after?

(Denzel): A lot! I mean, I guess we make a living off of it.
(Rickey): Yeah! I would also say like, back in the day, I would always tell Denzel that I really wanted us to get into business together.
(Denzel): Rickey really wanted us to, but it was when we weren’t really best friends, girl!
(Rickey): We were best friends!
(Denzel): We were! But we didn’t really have enough years under our belt yet, we had like two years. I feel like we both had to grow individually instead of coming up together, I don’t like coming up together. When you come up together you can never do separate things, he’d be doing his covers and stuff, I’d be doing my clothing line… I feel like it was the perfect time (in quarantine) to do our business. When we did our show.
(Rickey): Is that when we did our business?
(Denzel): Yes! When we did our Snapchat show, and then we did our podcast in 2020.
(Rickey): We didn’t do anything before that?
(Denzel): Not really.
(Rickey): Damn, you’re right.
(Rickey): It was just the perfect time.

When people make friends on social media now, that might feel as though they have to do something together.

(Denzel): Yeah! Our friendship was real before we did anything. You know how people become friends just to sell a friendship to social media… and then like two years later they break up. Ours wasn’t for business optics.
(Rickey): Our friendship is so real, like I always say this to Denzel, he is always the first person I call… Before I call my mum, I call Denzel. We’ll be on the phone for hours together… when I’m about to go to the gym, I’ll say “I’ll talk to you later.” If he’s going to the gym, he’ll call me right after and we’ll talk for more hours. Literally, it’s every day! It’s like a routine.

What do you love and hate about social media?

(Denzel): I just hate how sensitive it is, that’s the only thing.
(Rickey): I do hate how sensitive it is, but I do love the opportunities that come from social media. Without social media we wouldn’t be able to do the things that we’ve been doing.
(Rickey): (Without social media) I would’ve been OBGYN, delivering babies.
(Rickey): I’d be a lawyer. Well, I actually wanted to be an actor.

Did the pandemic do anything to your social career? And if so, what did it do?

(Denzel): I think if anything it amplified it. Being in quarantine, our show came out in July even though we filmed it in January… our podcast came out from that. We were filming during quarantine for our podcast. We did magazine covers… the cheques went up! I don’t know what was in the air, but the money doubled!
(Rickey): It was actually so crazy because me and Denzel have been talking about trying to create a podcast for the longest time, but when the pandemic came, these brands were like “Oh my god, actually… we want to work with y’all”. We were like “OH, now you see”. And yeah, the rest is history.

How did you guys come up with the idea for your podcast ‘We Said What We Said’? And how did the opportunity to have your podcast on Spotify come about?

(Denzel): I just remember talking about how podcasts were becoming a big thing, and then it was supposed to happen but we wanted it to be on a good platform. And then I was like, “We should just call it We Said What We Said”. Me and Rickey always joke and stuff like that, so we chose ‘We’ instead of ‘I’… I feel like it was just such an easy name. It wasn’t like ‘Denzel and Rickey’s Podcast’. It just needs to be about ‘We Said What We Said’ because we just say sh*t that’s on our minds. How it came about with Spotify…
(Rickey): We were in lots of different meetings. The thing is a podcast wasn’t our first move. We were going to meetings for making our own show.
(Denzel): ABC, Netflix…
(Rickey): We were going for meetings for that, but then we were like “Okay, the whole podcast brand has blown up” … I guess we should try and do this. “Let’s record the conversations we do have each and every day” … so yeah, we did what we did.
(Denzel): And then obviously when we went to Spotify, It was exclusively on Spotify and it was like “OH, okay” …We listen to stuff on there, and I feel like it’s one of the biggest platforms that have podcasts as like a hub, so people actually go to listen to it (podcasts). It just worked out perfectly.
(Rickey): The rest is history, girl.

And then with your podcast, do you plan it? Or do you just go with the flow?

(Rickey): We sometimes plan things the day of! We’ll be sitting in the chair like “Oh my god that’s a good idea. Let’s talk about it.”
(Denzel): I mean sometimes we have our outlines already to say what we have to say. Since we travel so much, we want to talk about hot topics and story times within our podcast.
(Rickey): We’ve literally put ourselves in situations so we can tell a story.
(Denzel): It just happens!
(Rickey): Look at God, girl! AMEN!
(Denzel): We always have good content wherever we go. Especially for our next season, we have so many stories.
(Rickey): We just had one more in Paris, BLOOP! One more in Miami, BLOOP!

Speaking of Paris, you guys ate it up!

(Both): Thank you!
(Rickey): People we starstruck over us! It was so crazy! And Paris! International.

How do you feel about attending Paris Fashion Week and people being starstruck by you?

(Rickey): It really made me feel good, like I told Denzel after Paris Fashion Week I knew where we stood. I was like “It’s time to change the game” because I’m sorry, y’all are not doing it like us…
(Denzel): Paris was an eye-opener for sure.
(Rickey): It was like yo, y’all are really those b*itches in foreign places like this?! Like we’ve never been to Paris before… we’ve been to London, but like actually going to Paris and having actual people fangirling over us like that? Wow.
(Denzel): It was a movie.

What was your favourite show during Paris Fashion Week?

(Rickey): Balenciaga.
(Denzel): Balmain.
(Rickey): Oh, wow yeah… that was a good one. With Balenciaga, it was the red carpet that was everything for me. The red carpet and how everyone had their own individual look from the look book.
(Denzel): Yeah, Balenciaga was cute! With Balmain, it was just the production. Naomi walked, we had friends walk. It was good to see them. It was cute.

Talking about looks, you guys gave looks yourselves. What was your own favourite look? All the way from NYFW to PFW.

(Rickey): I think Balenciaga was my favourite look.
(Denzel): Oh, I loved my Balmain look. It was Balmain, Balmain, Balmain.
(Rickey): Oh wait! Oh my god! Our Balmain look was everything. I forgot about that. I live for that look, with the shoulder pads… it was cute. My little heel girl, that was everything. That was cute.

Jacket – Catherine Hudson, Top – Ruben Selby, Jeans – Givenchy, Boots – Maison Martin Margiela, Bag – Coperni (HEAT)
Denzel: Earring – Aporro, Necklaces – Aporro, Shirt – Ruben Selby, Jacket – Catherine Hudson, Boots – Maison Martin Margiela , Bag – Coperni (HEAT)

What was your favourite moment, each? Like from parties, to events, or if there was a moment from somebody you bumped into? What was it?

(Rickey): There’s so many! I feel like the Balenciaga afterparty was cute. That was a moment. Every night at L’Arc, that was my everything. That was fun too.
(Denzel): There were so many things that happened in Paris. There were a lot of good nights.
(Rickey): I had the time of my life at a club that Sean invited me to.
(Denzel): Oh, BBC?
(Rickey): Oh my god… I had the time of my life at BBC. I really did! It was the owner of BBC; he was trying to get everybody to get out but we were all having a good time. So, I don’t know if he set it off not but somebody maced the club. We all had to run out, but when I was running out, I remember laughing so hard because I couldn’t believe it actually happened. That was crazy. That was funny. We had so many amazing moments in Paris… the Lacoste party was fun too because everybody was there, it was cute.

What’s your favourite brand? If there was one brand you had to wear for the rest of your life, what would it be?


I love how you both said that so quickly!

(Rickey): I love Balenciaga.


(Rickey): For me personally, I used to be the type of person that loved to wear neon colours and everything like that. Now, I’m really into the whole black clothing or whatever, and I’m not into tight clothes; I’m all baggy stuff! So, Balenciaga gives that to me and I just love how it looks. It’s so sleek and sexy but also very baggy, that’s what I like about it so much.
(Denzel): I love Balenciaga, but I’ve actually got to say Rick Owens; that’s my whole wardrobe right now. The pants, the tops… it’s just good basics. From the heels and everything. I chose Balenciaga because, when I was bigger, with their oversized stuff they would make a size large fit me and damn well b*tch I’m a 4XL. But the large would fit! I could just wear it all the time and I’m a big fan of wearing the same thing multiple times, girl.
(Rickey): I think our closets are very the same now. I feel like the same brands you wear, I f*ck with the same brands. Like, I literally only wear Rick and Balenciaga. I also wear a lot of MISBHV too, and Y/Project. But most of my closet is definitely Balenciaga and Rick Owens, for sure. Wait a minute! I forgot, Ludovic (De Saint Sernin). That’s my favourite brand to this day. So, I would say Ludovic, Balenciaga, and Rick.
(Denzel): Mine is Balenciaga, Rick, and my brand. I wear my brand all the time. My cargo pants, the hoodies, to the pants…

Top – Christian Dior, Earrings – Aporro
Tell us more about your brand. How did you start it?

(Denzel): I started it years ago, but I just changed the vibe and the name. I just wanted to make clothes that we’re cute but we’re also for bigger people, not like a whole plus size, but we’re just going to be more inclusive. Also, just making good clothes for an affordable price and just making genderless clothes… I like boys wearing girls’ clothes and girls wearing boys’ clothes. I like that. I wanted to start my own brand and make what I wanted to make, because sometimes I would wear something I was like “Okay, this would be cute if it had this.”

I love how you are both comfortable individually with your own sexuality, and just being yourselves. There are a lot of young people struggling to be themselves and find their own identity. What advice would you guys give individually?

(Rickey): I would say keep your head up and really don’t listen to what people say. That was really my biggest problem going into this whole entire world, I used to always care about what someone else I didn’t even know would say about me. But then by me finding a best friend like Denzel, he would always teach me “What are they doing for you?”, “Do you actually care for somebody you don’t even know?” …and I was like, ‘You’re actually right.” So, that’s how I live my life; freely. I don’t care who has anything to say about me at this point in my life.
(Denzel): I feel like, at the end of the day, be who you are and do whatever the f*ck you want to do. You know us, we’re Ghanaian, you know the aunties and the uncles… they’re always calling my parents to talk about me. B*tch I don’t care! I’m going to do what I have to do! I make my own money! Nobody puts food in my mouth, nobody puts clothes on my back, nobody puts a roof over my head. So why should you have an opinion, People always have their opinion- which is fine- so no matter what you do, someone is going to say something about it, so you might as well do what you want to do.
(Rickey): I just wish more people would do what we do, like, me and Denzel will have an opinion about somebody but we’ll never publicly talk about it, it’ll be behind closed doors. I’m like “Oh Denzel, did you see what’s going on?” … People actually want to put it on you, like, someone will actually tell you “I don’t like what you’re doing” … I’m not you. It’s not giving that.
(Denzel): I feel like just go for it, do what you have to do.
(Rickey): Yeah! If you have an opinion, keep it to yourself and talk about it privately. You can talk about it at home, to anybody you want to talk to. But don’t make it public, that’s so annoying… shut up! I hate that.

How do you guys not care about what people think on social media?

(Rickey): It took a long time to get here I will say that.
(Denzel): You know I’m from New York, I just never cared.
(Rickey): I feel like if you’re from New York, people are so opinionated down there.
(Denzel): I’m very opinionated, so I get it. What I dish out, I can definitely take back. But yeah, just really not caring. With social media, I was getting comments and I never cared but I would just get mad because it was always people that would say stuff to you online but would never say it to you in person. That’s what gets me angry. I want to see what you look like! That is more frustrating for me than what they say in the comments. Because, you know, it’s all the fat jokes. It’s just like, who are you to say that to me? I want to see you more so in person.
(Rickey): And if somehow you end up on their page there’s zero posts… I’m like “I can’t see you at all! Are you serious?”. Because if it is someone with posts, I will have a good time. Mmm hmm.

So, what’s next for you guys? I heard you guys talking about a TV show… after your podcast, what is next for you guys?

(Rickey): Well, me and Denzel are on season 3 of our podcast. I can’t believe that… season 3! Isn’t that crazy? We’re so happy because people are actually tuning in and listening, like it’s actually insane. I was like “What?!” … we get stopped every single day like “Oh my god, your podcast, your podcast, your podcast…” We have people DM’ing us like ‘Oh my god, when’s it coming out? We want it, we want it, we want it”. That makes us feel so good because literally, like we said before, these are like our phone conversations.
(Denzel): And you know if our show comes it comes. Every year we sit here and try and secure a show, the right show. But I’m just more so excited about the podcast and bringing new guests on… there’s so much to talk about. I feel like we want to just incorporate more guests into our podcast.
(Rickey): Our guests are everything! All of our guests are like, “So, are we going to be on the podcast?”, and we’re like “Oh my god, you listen? Okay!” … yeah, it’s everything. Our podcast can just grow and grow and grow, and it makes us feel really good that people are actually taking our podcast, listening to it, and walking away feeling really good about themselves. Because, with my and Denzel, we just want to make people happy.
(Denzel): That’s it!

How many people are listening right now?

(Rickey): Say it, girl!
(Denzel): I need to look! It’s in the millions though I’m not even going to lie, because we had got our reports back and I saw the numbers and I was like “Oh…”.
(Rickey): It’s in the millions! That’s a good feeling, I was like “Oh my god, what?!” … Our podcast came out in 2020 and we were like “Okay, cute”. And then it grew tremendously. Season 2 definitely helped our show.

Top – Samuel Slattery, Trousers – Ruben Selby

Can you give us any sneak peaks on any of the guests that you have coming up?

(Denzel): You’ll see some of your favourite artists.
(Rickey): Some of your favourite artists, some of your favourite personalities or whatever. It’s actually very cute, I’m not going to hold you.
(Denzel): Heavy on the artist!
(Rickey): Heavy on the artists though, like heavy.
(Denzel): Stars!
(Rickey): It’s actually insane, like I didn’t believe in a million years that me and Denzel would be here working with people that we’ve looked up to and they look at us and say “Wow. I want to be where y’all are at”.

How does that feel?

(Rickey): I feel so shook! It’s like yesterday I was hanging out with somebody and I was just talking about all the celebrities and people me and Denzel have actually hung out with and we’re actually on good terms with them… they were like “Wait, what?” … I’m like, it’s normal. They’re just normal people. It’s insane.

So, with you Denzel being from New York, and you Rickey being from North Carolina, would you say you moved here for your career?

(Both): Yep!


(Rickey): Well, I knew for me, in North Carolina I tried. I went to acting schools out there, I’ve gone to casting directors. It does not give LA. I knew for a fact that if I was going to be a star, I had to leave North Carolina.
(Denzel): Same with New York too. If you go to New York and say you want to act, you have to go LA… it’s more of the actor place. New York is more so fashion and modelling, Broadway acting. I feel like it’s just a place to move. Once you know New York, you have to grind, you have to hustle. You can come here, and your life can change the next day.
(Rickey): It did, honestly!

So, in terms of your career, those next steps, do you guys want to go into acting, TV, your own show…? Is that something that you guys want to dip into?

(Denzel): Yeah, that’s the plan. That’s been the plan since day one!
(Rickey): That’s the reason we came here, to be actors.
(Denzel): To be on TV.
(Rickey): Yep! Being on TV, being in a hit show, you know, going on press tours. That’s what we want to do, it’s coming! (laughs) That’s what I want I’m sorry, I need to be able to get up for a call time, do hair and make-up, and trailer… I need all of it!

Emmy Awards!

(Rickey): Ugh, YES! We need an Emmy, an Oscar, a Tony… I’ll take anything. I just need to act. I’ve been acting since I was three years old, I need to be on the stage.
(Denzel): Since three?! Wow.
(Rickey): Yes, girl! What are you trying to say Denzel? (laughing)
(Denzel): That’s a long time!
(Rickey): You are so annoying!
(Denzel): You’re experienced!
(Rickey): I am experienced, I’m an actor. I’ve been working, so yeah. Hope and pray, girl.

You guys will get that, for sure. What’s the plan for 2022?

(Denzel): Every goal for me is to just be better than last year
(Rickey): I think me and Denzel really want to expand our brand too, I think that we want to start doing other things. We’ve been talking about this; I feel like people love us because we’re always two friends that are having the best time. It’s giving… social life.
(Denzel): Book us for your party! If you’re not giving us 6 figures, don’t book us at all!
(Rickey): Yeah, we need to start doing that to be honest, we need bookings!
(Denzel): When we threw our Halloween party, it was insane because it was like 24 hours before we had it and the RSVP list… it was like, this person from this show, players from the Raiders and the Chargers… there were a lot of people. There were agents reaching out to come to our party. I’m like “Rickey, this could be a lucrative business!”.
(Rickey): It could be! People just want to party with us. It’s actually so insane when people see our two names together, they’re like “Oh my god we’ve got to hang with them”. So you know what, we’ve got to start doing that in 2022. We are, I’m so sorry, Club appearances, yeah, we’re there… what’s up!

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