This means she will be a prominent feature in all the shows during this year’s African Fashion Week Toronto showcase August 30th – Sept 2nd, 2018. We interviewed Kimberlee to learn about her rising modeling career and her journey to Face of AFWT 2018.
Why did you enter Face of African Fashion Week Toronto?
I entered the Face of African Fashion Week Toronto because I wanted to be the girl that my younger self needed. Growing up as a Black female, I’ve faced a lot of adversities that sometimes took a toll on my perception of self and overall mental health. The media that young Black children are exposed to today, pushes an agenda that lifts and praises everything other than being strong, royal, and unapologetically black. I want to be a beacon of light in every situation, and I feel that winning the competition for the Face of African Fashion Week Toronto has been a great step in enabling me to do just that.
Did you have any prior modeling experience? How did that inform your approach to the competition?
I’ve been freelance modeling since 2014, my first year in university. Each shoot I have been a part of has definitely played a huge role in helping me develop my style and explore the many characters within myself. Having to be a muse and the subject of one’s art in some of the most public places has really helped me feel less anxious about “performing” in front of an audience. Thanks to my experience walking in various fashion shows for many talented designers, I was able to confidently strap on some heels and strut myself to victory.
You mentioned you have a blog. Tell us about it.
I have a blog named LAWKIT which is an acronym for Life. As. We. Know. IT. I run it with one of my best friends, Racquel, and we started it because we wanted to have a space where we could freely express our thoughts on just about anything, from food, to shows, to politics, to beauty and health. You name it! We post our honest opinions on these topics to generate conversations and show you life from a different perspective. One of our main goals is to bring back the love of reading which we feel has been lost in this fast-paced circus we call life.
What did it feel like competing with your friend at Face of AFWT?
The crazy thing is, although I knew that it was a competition and my girl would have an equal chance of “beating me out”, it did not feel like I was competing. I’ve been doing this modeling thing for some time now and although my best friend is gorgeous beyond words, she never really took modeling seriously to the point that she would sign up for a modeling competition. I definitely pushed her to just give it a go because what did she have to lose? I thought it would be a great experience for both of us to add to our endless list of memories and just get her face and name out there. In all honesty, I just purchased us that new Fenty Beauty Body Lava and took this competition as the perfect opportunity to showcase that glow! On a more serious note though, her message and what she represents is what really made her a worthy competitor. She is a biracial black woman and within our community there are a lot of stigmas, stereotypes, and prejudices that we all face. Having her in the competition, living her truth, slaying the heck out of her outfits, and strutting her stuff, really empowered me as a Black woman and solidified why having a platform like this is extremely important for little girls just like us.
How do you feel about your win?
I’m honestly still processing it all. For starters, the fact that I was competing with ten other gorgeous ladies from all different journeys, each with such empowering and beautiful souls was out of this world in itself. I am completely humbled and honoured that the judges saw something in me to represent such a royal brand. I feel that it is my duty to continue to be myself in all that I do and hopefully inspire my fellow women of colour to live life unapologetic and like the true queens that we are supposed to be.
You’ll now be the lead model at African Fashion Week Toronto, what excites you most about that opportunity?
I would say I’m most excited for all the gorgeous designs I get to rock on and off the runway! I’ve already worked with some of the featured designers and I am thrilled to collaborate with them once again. I’m also looking forward to meeting new designers and hopefully bringing their creations and visions to life.
Are there any other new opportunities lined up? What’s next for you?
I just wrapped up my post grad in Infant and Early Child Mental Health to accompany my degree in Psychology, which I am very proud of. Mental health, especially within the Black community, has always been a passion of mine. I’m looking forward to using my expertise and experience to give back to the community and create initiatives that will aid in the betterment of our people. When it comes to the art and fashion industry, I’m open to whatever the Most High has in store for me. Right now, I’m enjoying my time and all the cool visions I get to bring to life through the lens of another or my own. I’m really just having fun with it right now and I wouldn’t mind doing this for a long time.
What would you say to anyone who is interested in competing next year?
I was about to start by saying, “To any young woman interested” but then I stopped myself, because 1. Who said the Face of African Fashion Week has to be a woman? and 2. Who said they have to be “young.”
To both male or female, young and mature, who is interested in competing next year, I say just go for it. What do you have to lose? Your biggest competitor is yourself, and you should aim to beat yourself in greatness every time! Plus you have got to do it for the culture…always.
This article originally appeared in Ayiba Magazine.