Videographer/Editor: David Condotta
Model Citizen: Kendrick Kemp
We first had the pleasure of meeting male model Kendrick Kemp while he was tending bar at the TOM* launch party, at the Audio Downtown Toronto Showroom. And one things for sure – this 6-foot tall Bahamas native knows how to make a strong drink. Before strutting down fashion runways and fuelling people’s nightlife energy, Kendrick grew up in a religious country, never thinking he would have the opportunity to venture into a career that went against the grain of his cultural upbringing.
Even still, Kendrick dared to dream big. He found out that his mom wanted to be a dancer and was on her way to America to do just that, soon after discovering she was pregnant with Kendrick’s older brother. It was because of his mother’s unfulfilled dream and relentless motivation that Kendrick believes he must focus, and make his dreams a reality for his mom.
Kendrick is more than just a pretty face. He started a foundation called Fashion for a Cause to help The Bahamas AIDS Foundation raise money and reach a 15-40 age demographic, educating them about the disease and tell them where they can get tested. The year 2015 will mark the 4th year of the cause, and will also be the last time it is held as a one night event. By 2016, the event will become part of a larger initiative – an entire week of fashion, known as the 2016 FFC-FW S/S Collections.
How did you get into modelling?
It’s funny how I started. I watched a lot of American television and that played a big influence on my decisions. I remember knowing I wanted to do something in entertainment, but I didn’t know what it would be. One day, I was watching a special show about Ashton Kutcher on the E! Network and learned how he got into the industry by just modelling in talent competitions. It was that very moment that I decided what I was going to do. I think Oprah refers to that moment as your “Aha!” moment. But that wasn’t enough – now I needed to find a way into the industry because I didn’t have access to talent exhibitions like Ashton did. I then turned to a friend named Cheetara Woodside. I knew she was trying the acting and filming world and thought perhaps she could help lead me in the right direction. She introduced me to her Brother Mario, who became my first photographer and consultant into the world of modelling. He helped me figure out how I should go about looking for agency. I felt like I was getting somewhere now. With his help and with television shows like “8th & Ocean”, I knew I was getting closer. When I saw 8th & Ocean on MTV, I knew right then and there that this was a sign for me – I should be in this agency (Irene Marie). It was then that I experienced my second “Aha!” moment.
To bring a long story to a short, I travelled to South Beach Miami, but was rejected by my dream agency Irene Marie and every other agency. However, MC2 (MC Squared) saw me and gave me an opportunity to work with one of their photographers by the name of Milan Josipovic, who turned my world around. He created a new Kendrick. I went back to the all the agencies (especially Irene Marie, where my heart was) and they offered me a contract. I signed with them, and the rest is history.
What was your experience like walking in the very first Toronto men’s fashion week?
Firstly, it was a well presented show and the calibre of models really contributed to this feeling. It was my first time opening a show and I am so happy that designer Noel Crisostomo allowed me to do just that. I also opened my first show which was for L’UOMO STRANO, and was so grateful for that opportunity. It’s been a great experience walking 10+ shows and doing my first interview with Christopher Bates as he spoke about his collection to GQ and Vogue Italia.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I feel like I am super lazy when it comes to my free time. I just lie around or head to the gym. If I get bored of that, I call up some friends and head out in the city somewhere. I am always planning or thinking about my future. It’s difficult not to. I am always in charge of my brand I am always thinking about how I can better myself, or get noticed in public with so many new and fresh faces emerging.
What are you currently listening to on your iPod?
I feel like everyone would laugh at me. I just listen to Kelly Clarkson (Greatest Hits: Chapter One), Jay Z (Magna Carta – Holy Grail), Frank Ocean (Nostalgia/Ultra) and Beyoncé (BEYONCE).
How would you describe your personal style?
I would say I have a very artistic Style. I love the idea of myself as a canvas – where I can actually paint myself in fashion. I love a simple, but classic approach to clothes. I often wear printed shirts and pants, but never together. I like my shoes to make a statement. I love luminous colours. I have to make a statement and I only allow one piece of clothing to do it. All the other pieces must just compliment it.
What’s the most surprising thing that you’ve learned about the fashion industry?
I could go on and on about the Fashion Industry! I thought everyone would be fake and pretentious, but I have really met some fantastic people in this industry; people who actually use the creative side of their brains. They really want to affect change, and these are people who actually want fashion to live on because it’s the way they breathe. I love knowing these people and I was surprised to find genuine people that I could call friends.
What’s the most memorable job you’ve done so far?
I’ve done tons of stuff, and the events at TOM* had its effect on me. But I must say to this day, my most memorable job was walking for Parke & Ronen at my first ever Mercedes Fashion Week in Miami, FL in 2008.
What’s the best piece of advice that you have ever been given?
Oh boy – I get advice almost every day. I’ve had great advice that I ignored but the best advice I have received is the advice that helped shape my life. It was – “THE ONLY PERSON THAT STANDS IN THE WAY OF YOUR SUCCESS IS YOU!” When I heard that, I knew that no one or anything was going to create an illusion that would stand in the way of my own success.