New York, NY 4/4-12/2009 (tentative)
We should never forget where we came from. The picture above is of me at six years old. I just had to show it to all of you because most people donât believe me when I tell them I have come a long way. So hereâs proofâ¦ I was a little funny looking. lol I was even picked on and called names just because of it. It took a while, but eventually, I grew into those ears and got my teeth back. lol
Towards the end of high school and especially once I started college was when I started getting compliments. My friends started telling me to get into modeling, but at that time I was still unaware of my own looks. It wasnât until Spring Break my sophomore year in college when some friends and I went to San Francisco to visit a former classmate of ours. This guy Caesar was addicted to Craigâs List lol, and being one of my friends who pushed me towards modeling, he found a photographer for me. James (41221) offered to do a shoot with me. I warned him that I had no nice clothes to shoot in because I was on break and not prepared to shoot. He told me it was fine because he mainly does nudes, and asked me if I was cool with that. As you can tell from the nude pictures in my portfolio, I was. lol
James is the one that told me about Model Mayhem and told me what I needed to do to set it up. Once I did I got a lot of attention from photographers who wanted to shoot nudes with me. I considered canceling my Mayhem account because I didnât want to be a nude model, but fortunately photographers like Bruce (400627), Ivan (219958), and Gregory (18728) noticed something else in me. They all said something similar to, âNot that there is anything wrong with nudes, I just want to help you build your portfolioâ¦â My second photo shoot was with Bruce. It has been kind of a ripple effect after that. I got a chance to work with each of those photographers, and you can see our work if visit my Myspace page.
While getting acquainted with the site, I met very positive and encouraging photographers, designers, and other models. Ray Brown (132203), who has been my biggest inspiration from the start, always gave me step by step instructions on how to become a model. It just so happened that Ray Brown traveled to California to work with Bruce to do a fashion shoot promoting Rayâs Menswear. Bruce and Ray invited me to come to the set along with other models Norman (264472) and Andre (451242). One thing led to another and the next thing I knew, Ray was showcasing his line in the Black Business Expo in Los Angeles. Ray referred me to the producer of the show, Davide (278431). Davide, also a very positive influence of mine, coached me on the runway and gave me the name Kema. The K and the E are from my first name, Keenan, and the M and the A are from my middle name, Martel. Davide said I was too timid and almost too nice to get anywhere in the industry. He made sure to explain the difference between arrogance and confidence. He told me I needed to turn up the confidence whenever I went to a casting, interview, or an audition. So, Kema became my alter ego and by September I was walking on the catwalk in my first fashion show wearing Ray Brown's collection.
The time from my first photo shoot to my first fashion show was just five months. Iâve done so much in between those few months and even more since thenâ¦ from promotion gigs, fashion shows, convention work, stock photography and numerous photo shoots to teaching other aspiring models how to become better at what they do. Too bad we are only limited to just 20 photos. lol Hopefully, you can see that I have really come a long way. Iâm not a professional model or anything, but Iâm way farther from where I thought Iâd be when I was that little boy in the picture above. Remembering where I came from is what keeps me humble, and looking back to see where I started is what keeps me eager. Iâm not going to stop here because I know I can keep going. When I think about my bullies from back in the dayâ¦ I just smile and thinkâ¦ Look at me now!