Hello all! My name is Kenzie Kersen. I was born in Arkansas, reared in Alabama, Mississippi, and currently live in Nashville, TN. So yes, you guessed it, I love grits, collard greens, and barbeque. No, I do not always wear overalls (just occasionally) and yes I do own shoes (too many actually)! I graduated from Clinton High School in 2014 and then went to Holmes Community College and earned an associate’s degree in Business Administration. Life hack: it is perfectly okay to take time off from school, or change your major a thousand times until you find the perfect fit. I didn’t know what I wanted to major in; I started out taking EMT courses and ended up in Business somehow and then regretted every second of trying to get a practical degree instead of something I was actually passionate about. I was going into my senior year of high school when I was scouted on Instagram by JEA. Now I’ve been modeling for about three and half years. However, modeling was never something I thought twice about as a kid. A lot of people tell me they are so glad I’m pursuing my dreams and aspirations of becoming a model, which isn’t true in the slightest. It wasn’t until after I got my associates degree and realized I had just wasted two years of my life getting a degree I will never use, that I really started to take modeling seriously. There is nothing wrong with people who do grow up dreaming to be a model. However, this industry can sometimes be dark and tough and you need to have a sense of self and purpose outside of just being a model. Being in this industry, you’ll be faced with lots of rejection, which is where being confident in yourself and your capabilities come into play. I love what I do, and I love all the people I’ve met and opportunities I’ve had, but I’m not being realistic if I don’t talk about the bad and the good parts of my line of work. Just like any other job, there are ups and downs, triumphs and fails.
Now that I’ve brought everyone down to earth about my industry, I’d like to talk about all the amazing, life-changing experiences that I’ve been so lucky to call my job. I am currently signed in Mississippi, Nashville, Atlanta, New York, and LA. Being a nomadic person, I’d go insane if I was stuck in one place for too long so the traveling is my absolute favorite aspect of my job. This past summer, I went to NYC for a week to try and sign with an agency. This was my first time going to NYC and I went all by myself. Yes I was terrified and got lost a lot (and called my agent almost in tears multiple times) and I also got stuck on the subway by myself once with no cell phone service, which was a blast. But I put myself out there and it paid off. By fall of 2016, I found myself headed to live in NYC for two months. I don’t really know how to sum up my experience in NYC. Many people have asked about living in such a big, unique city and I’m usually at a loss to describe such an eye opening experience but I can say that I made friendships that will last my lifetime. I grew up more than I ever thought I could. And lastly, I became more confident in who I am and what I want to contribute to society. This didn’t come without setbacks though, New York is tough and being from the south, I was used to southern hospitality, but you quickly learn that everyone fends for themselves in the city. I also was not used to rejection. I had only ever modeled in the south and quickly realized that I was competing against stiff competition. When my two months were over, I was tougher, more experienced, more world-wise and had found strengths and insights to myself that I hadn’t known were in me.
As you can imagine, coming back to Nashville after having been in NYC was humbling to say the least. “Wait you mean to tell me I have to pay for this drink?” In all seriousness, that was the hardest time of my life. Going from being overstimulated in NYC to being under stimulated in Nashville was a bigger change than I was ready for. Once you’ve had a taste of the New York lifestyle, you’ll never want to leave. Enough about New York, I’m getting too nostalgic! I wasn’t in Nashville for too long before it was time for me to go to Los Angeles to try and get an agency there. My mother agency had the opportunity to go to LA for The Industry Network, which is basically a competition where models, actors, dancers, etc. can have a chance to show their skills in front of most of the agencies in LA and even some overseas agencies. I ended up signing with Vision and soon I’ll be heading to LA for three months to test out the West Coast and soak up some sun and sea air.
I really am lucky to have a job that allows me to travel and expand my horizons. My favorite thing about this industry is how open-minded and free spirited all the people I meet are. It was hard being raised in the South, where my perspective was in the minority. I have found that modeling is my safe place where creative minds can get together and express themselves. I think my main career goal is to use modeling as a platform to travel as much as I can and immerse myself in as many different cultures as I can. Another thing I love about the industry is that many top models are using their fame as a way to promote a variety of social issues such as sustainable living, women’s rights, and animal rights. Modeling is an industry oriented around self and beauty, so I think it’s important to use your platform to counteract the self-centered aspect with selfless acts and giving back. It is not just about having a pretty face or a rocking body, it’s about being a positive and inspiring role model to those who look up to you. I think what I’m most inspired by is my parents. They’ve been so supportive throughout this whole modeling endeavor with not only financial support but also moral support. Also, I want to show people that a small town girl from Mississippi is capable of making something of herself. In high school people made fun of me for being too skinny. It’s nice to finally have a place where I am accepted for who I am. You should never change who you are to fit in with societal expectations of who they think you should be. There will always be people who love you for who you are. If you believe in yourself, no one can stop you from chasing your dreams. Stay groovy guys!
Lots of love, Kenzie
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