Sunday, December 4, 2011


                                          BEAUTY & BRAINS BY MII

LCN: Welcome to Le Crème Nation. You’re definitely in the hot seat. Are you ready?
KIYA: (Laughs) I hope so.

LCN: Tell us about your background

KIYA: I was born and raised in Cincinnati, OH but I currently commute between here and Atlanta, GA.  However,  my family is actually from Alabama. I am African American, but people always think I’m mixed or think I’m an Islander although my great grandparents are actually Irish and Indian.  Other than that, I am just me!

LCN: That's what's up! Where have we seen you featured? KIYA: I was featured in Issue eighteen of DJ KaySlay’s ‘Straight Stuntin’ with a six page layout and full interview. You can also look for me in Issue 20.  I am on model sites such as, (Wife em up Wednesdays).  As far as videos, I played the lead role with Gucci in the Gucci and Waka Flocka joint ‘She Be Puttin On’ and had a quick cameo in their song ‘Ferrari Boyz’.  You can also look for me in Yo Gotti’s video for his new joint ‘Single’ which will be out soon; I also had a lead in that.

LCN: How was life growing up?
KIYA: Life for me was fine and still is. I have a very close knit family so while growing up I was somewhat sheltered. I wasn’t allowed to watch BET and I didn’t hang out much. It was all about school, education, and doing what was necessary so I could secure my future. But my family was always very supportive and never shot down an aspiration nor venture.

LCN: Did you receive a formal education or attend college?

KIYA: Yes, I did. I graduated from high school when I was sixteen, and I had actually began taking college courses while still in high school.  Following high school, I went straight to college, where I graduated in 2010 with a BA in Psychology and Criminal Justice.  I took a year off and I am currently in school for my MA in Industrial Organizational Psychology.

LCN: Is modeling your full-time gig, or do you have another job?

KIYA: No modeling is part-time.  My main focus is Grad school.

LCN: What would you have been if you had never modeled?

KIYA: Honestly, at this point in my life I thought I would be working a 9 to 5 in my field, but the opportunity currently isn’t there.

LCN: Before you were a model what did you do?
KIYA: I was just a student, and basically just available to my family.

LCN: What was your first modeling assignment?
KIYA: My first notable modeling assignment was a promotional event for Bobby Valentino.  I was to just stand with him during his appearance.

LCN: How did you become to be so comfortable in front of the camera?
KIYA: It took me awhile to become comfortable in front of the camera, but after you do so many photoshoots and videos, it becomes second nature.  Being a model, you have no choice but to become comfortable in front of the camera, otherwise, being in the entertainment business is pointless.

LCN: How did you feel taking off your clothes for the first time?
KIYA: Honestly, I was extremely nervous.  I wasn’t always comfortable with my body.  I use to get teased about how thick I was in school, I was considered “fat” because I was thicker than the rest of the girls.  But I’ve grown to love my curves, I am 5’3” and my measurements are 34B-28-42.

LCN: Who introduced you to the urban modeling industry?
KIYA: I kind of introduced myself to it.  I kept going to castings and showing my face, even after repeated turn downs and disappointments, I didn’t stop.

LCN: What has this year been like for you in terms of modeling work?

KIYA: It’s been crazy!  I’ve really just been taking in these moments as they come.  I’ve done a lot of traveling for shoots and I’ve worked with a lot of amazing photographers such as Derrick S. Clegg (@DerrickSClegg) , Anthony with Eye Candy Modeling (@Eyecandyanthony), Lloyd Parks (@LloydParks) and Courage (@2020Photography).  I’ve also worked with amazing Directors such as Mr. Boomtown (@MrBoomtown).

LCN: How is it working with so many major artists and photographers in the industry?
KIYA: It’s been an experience; honestly I’ve been doing things in modeling that I never thought I would do and like I said, the people I’ve worked with have been amazing and I have had fun and learned a lot working with them.

LCN: What’s your opinion on independent urban magazines?
KIYA: I of course respect anybody trying to make their mark in the industry, however, I do feel that only a certain caliber of work deserves praise.

LCN: Do you think independent magazines could create equal or more exposure for you as a model now or in the near future?
KIYA: Yes, I do think it can equal or more exposure because every magazine has its own audience that is attracted to it and just as people network about the major magazines, they also network about the independent magazines.

LCN: What has been your most memorable modeling experience?

 KIYA: My most memorable modeling experience is probably my first major music video with Gucci Mane and Waka Flocka; I had no clue of what to expect; no clue that models work twelve hour days.  But even at the end, I was both blessed and appreciative of the experience.

LCN: As an urban model, you likely deal with stereotypes. Which would you say is the worst?

KIYA: The worst stereotype nowadays in the urban modeling industry is that everybody’s assumption is that I am a stripper.  I AM NOT A STRIPPER!  I do not have anything against strippers, but their flood into the industry has presented some difficulties for genuine and aspiring models.                 

LCN: How would you describe the image that comes across when people look at your photos? KIYA: It depends on what kind of image I decide to post.  It can be anything from an extremely sexy photo, to an extremely classy photo, to an extremely innocent photo.

LCN: What type of rituals do you follow before shooting?

KIYA: Typically I won’t eat any solid/heavy foods starting at least 24 hours before shooting; just liquids and fruits.

LCN: What keeps you motivated?

KIYA: Time. I don’t want to be like a lot of adults in previous generations, who chose not to do things because their parents were against it, or missed opportunities because they were scared of what the spectators/critics might say.  I want to continue to prove to myself that my possibilities are endless.

LCN: What do you do to relax or to have fun?
KIYA: Most of my free time I spend with my family. Time is irreplaceable and they are always very supportive of what I do.  Other than that, I workout just about every morning, I love shopping, trying new restaurants, cooking, cleaning, and watching movies.

LCN: What do you enjoy the most, modeling or hosting?
KIYA: Definitely modeling.

LCN: What was your favorite modeling assignment?
KIYA: I wouldn’t necessarily consider any one modeling assignment a “favorite”. I have a great relationship with most of the photographers, agents, casting directors and directors I’ve worked with so I just like working with them all.

LCN: What’s one thing about yourself that everyone should know?

KIYA: I am extremely direct.  If I have an opinion, I voice it in the most appropriate way possible.

LCN: What wouldn't you mind doing for the rest of your life?

KIYA: I actually want to work in my field and eventually be the Director of an institution.  I am also working on publishing a book so I have a few things I am working on. 

LCN: What would the average person say about you? KIYA: Honestly Im not sure, but I'm curious to find out.

LCN: What advice would you give young models looking to step into this industry?
KIYA: While I am currently enjoying what I am doing, I will say be careful.  If you aren’t prepared for the industry, it can break you and your spirit.  Modeling should be your backup plan, and education should be your primary plan.

LCN: What future projects do you have lined up?

KIYA: You’ll just have to wait and see!!!!

LCN: Any shout outs?
KIYA: As always I’d like to shout out my family, friends, and all my fans for their ongoing support!  Of course all my lovely photographers for their great work and dedication!  Thank you to the directors who have given me the opportunities to exhibit my individuality and what I can bring to the industry.  Special thanks to DJ KaySlay for letting me grace his magazine, not once but twice!  Hopefully you’ll continue to see me, so be on the lookout.  You can keep up with me and my work by following me on Twitter at @KiyaRenae .

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