Top Canadian supermodel holds workshop at Kent

Alicia Crabtree

Stacey McKenzie was only six years old when she began modeling. She said she was told hundreds of times that she was too ugly and too


Despite the shut-downs and denials, McKenzie has gone on to become one of Canada’s top supermodels, appearing in numerous campaigns, runway shows and even “Canada’s Next Top Model.”

McKenzie began to train herself after seeing Madonna and Jean Paul Gautier in one of her sister’s magazines.

“At the time, I was being teased and taunted,” McKenzie said. “But forsome reason, even though it was negative attention, I was getting attention. I must have something.”

Tuesday night McKenzie described her life story at the Kent StudentCenter. The MODISTA Fashion Group was responsible for bringing McKenzie to Kent and getting students to participate in her “Walk This Way” workshop.

“I got the opportunity to move to Toronto, Canada, with my mom,” McKenzie, who is a Jamaican native, said. “Two months after arriving, we were homeless. We were living in a shelter, in a room with eight other mothers and their children. So during this time, I would practice my walks, I would have fashion shows for them and I would get dressed up in my mom’s clothing. That’s how I got comfortable being in front of people.”

McKenzie said her workshop’s mission is to give back.

“I feel that I was given this opportunity to be a part of such a fabulous industry for a reason,” McKenzie said. “My struggles, my perseverance, my determination helped me make a name for myself in this industry. I feel that it’s not for me to hold back for myself.”

McKenzie said she didn’t have anybody to guide or help her during her journey.

“I took my destiny into my hands and did [it myself],” McKenzie said. “But I want to give that information to others and hopefully reach out, even if it’s just to one person, and help them along in their journey. I want students to walk away feeling good about themselves.”

McKenzie attributes a lot of her success to never losing her sense of self.

“I’m happy that I did not fall into losing who I am. We have a lot of that in the fashion industry,” McKenzie said. “Being in this business has taught me that it’s OK to be me, to love and own and accept who I


Kasia Gibbs, sophomore fashion merchandising major, said the workshop will really help out aspiring models.

“She’s teaching us about the industry – how to walk down the runway, how to have fun in the industry and how to model,” Gibbs said.

Lexi Fairley, senior fashion merchandising major and marketing chair member for MODISTA, helped in bringing McKenzie to Kent.

“I learned of Stacey McKenzie after several MODISTA members … heard her speak,” Fairley said. “That’s what made them want her to come to


“She’s a supermodel,” Fairley said. “She’s been in Vogue, Essence and Harper’s Bazaar, and she has also walked the runways for Marc Jacobs,

Tommy Hilfiger and Alexander McQueen.”

Fairley said that this event lined up perfectly with MODISTA’s fall fashion show Nov. 10.

“This was a good event to have,” Fairley said. “With her ‘Walk This Way’ workshop, she teaches people, in general, about building confidence and helping them perfect their model walks. A lot of our models will be at this event trying to pick up tips and tricks from Stacey.”

The workshops have been one of the most fulfilling projects for McKenzie, she said, because she can relate to aspiring models.

“It’s just the best,” McKenzie said. “I know what it feels like. You get an opportunity — run with it.”

Contact Alicia Crabtree at [email protected].