Originally from Philadelphia, Keith C is not your average Musician. In fact, he is also a Model and an Actor. With music playing a major part in his life, along with his love for travelling, he sat down with us to discuss success, the highs and lows and the truth about the modelling industry.
Osaghae: Hi Keith! Thank you for joining me today. Talk me through your background.
Keith C: Hi Osazeme! Thank you for having me! Firstly, I’m a singer-songwriter. So, singing and writing music is my first passion. I love entertainment as a whole, and then as my love grew more and more I was like ‘I’m a do fashion’!
Osaghae: Having a passion for music, how and why did you get into modelling?
Keith C: I was presented with an opportunity as an actor to do a commercial, so that really opened my eyes up to modelling at that point. I was only 10 or 11. Initially, I thought modelling was only a traditional runway. However, I was being opened up to commercial modelling and print modelling, where I discovered there are various types. As a young kid, the whole idea of being on stage was electrifying for me, so now to manifest and do it physically is phenomenal.
Osaghae: How did you land your first modelling gig?
Keith C: My first modelling gig was in Washington DC. I went into it thinking it was a joke because I didn’t know much about modelling. I thought all you had to do was walk, so I was clouded. I went to the audition and they told me I was too stiff. I always like a challenge and to learn something new. I said I’m too stiff, what can I do to be better? I would ask people; I would watch videos and I would go to audition after audition. Then, I finally got a show in Washington DC in the same area and it was phenomenal. I appreciated learning about posing, posture, walk and facial expression. These are all the things we have to do to get ready to see the final product. It was phenomenal. It definitely was a learning lesson and I still carry that to this day.
Osaghae: How do you balance your career in modelling and music?
Keith C: They kind of merge together but it goes through seasons. Right now, I’m quite busy with modelling doing quite a lot of projects, however, there will be a time when I won’t. Then, I’ll find the time to write some music, which I use to express myself and detox.
As I’m doing one, I’m still working the other as well. When modelling slows down, I pick up the music and vice versa.
"Everyday practice, if that’s in a grocery store,
walking down the street. In the library, at school, at work,
wherever you are. By any means to get that spot, where you want to be,
you have to practice."
Osaghae: What is your single most favourite project that you have worked on both as a musician and as a model?
Keith C: As a musician, I wrote a rock song, I composed the instrumentals as well and got to record it and sing it live. It was phenomenal! So, that was my single most favourite project I’ve worked on as a musician. I couldn't believe I did that. The crowd was reciprocating the energy that I put out. I love it when that happens! It’s almost as if the universe is repaying you for all the work you’ve put out there. It’s a blissful experience.
As a model, I did stock photography for a comic book. This was something different cause I’ve never done that before. To get that opportunity presented to me, now I’m immortalised and I’m on tarot cards too. I’m very blessed. Being in a comic book was like ‘Wow’! I get to be a whole character, I get to act, I get the movement, it’s pretty cool.
Osaghae: Whilst starting out as a model, did you face any challenges?
Keith C: Well, sort of. Whether it was to do with my height or my hair, after a while, certain doors will open for you and certain doors won’t. You’ve just got to take what you can and move forward. They say, ‘you’re too short’. Ok, no problem but don’t give up. I may be smaller than the other 6ft plus models however I have a strong walk. There are certain pros and cons, you can’t win them all. But the ones you can, you take them.
"Use your strengths and learn your weaknesses
so you don’t feel broken when you get a ‘No’.
But try, always try."
Osaghae: Who are some of your style icons?
Keith C: When I was growing up, my fashion icon was my older brother. From the oversized clothes to the jerseys and the basketball tops. I always wanted to dress like him. And then as we got into the 2000s and everything progressed more and more, I watched how my father dressed. He was always very classy (when he wanted to be). From Italian boots, blazers to his shirts, he would really dress up to the nines and it would look awesome. I looked at those things, and as I got older, I implemented my own style into it. I really loved watching Missy Elliott, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson and Prince growing up. Their music videos really inspired me. I was like if they can dress how they like and they’re comfortable and doing their thing, then why can’t I?
I also loved wearing Adidas and Enyce, which was a popular brand back in Philadelphia.
Osaghae: How would you best describe your style?
Keith C: My style is unorthodox, unisex, eclectic. To me it’s all fabric. If I like it, I’m wearing it, period. Sometimes I would go for the statement piece, sometimes I would just be chill. My favourite outfit is a t-shirt, cowboy boots and jeans. I like to look different. I wake up, look through my closet, and say ‘Who do you want to be today?’ It’s all about your character and your persona.
Osazeme Osaghae: Who do you get your inspiration from?
Keith C: I used to watch a lot of Tyson Beckford and Grace Jones because that was Avant-Garde. I would say that those are the two celebrities that have influenced and inspired me the most. Nowadays, I would see a style and be like ‘I can pull it off’ or I would look at an item and think about the vibe it’s giving me. Whether that is renaissance or futuristic, things like that I really think about. Whenever you wear the brand of any designers, you become another character, and whoever I need to become for that role, I’m on it. If I need to be confident, have swagger, I would embed in my own self that I need to become a character to pull this look off because ultimately I want this designer’s garment bought by someone and I also want it to be a good experience for myself on the runway.
Osaghae: What can we usually find Keith C doing when he is not working?
Keith C: Every day is a working day. If I’m not writing a song, singing in the studio then I’m finding different work with my modelling career. If I’m not doing that, then I’ll be mentoring different models in my area with casting calls and other things. So, I’m still working even when I’m not working. If I’m not doing a show on stage, then I’m always looking for the next opportunity.
Osaghae: Where do you envision the fashion industry within the next 3-5 years?
Keith C: It has already grown for me to be able to do the things that I’m able to do with the different diversity, ethnicity and some things are not as strict as they were. Here I am doing London Fashion Week, where there would normally cast models 6ft tall and I stand 5 ft 10 and I’m still modelling amongst my peers, which is remarkable.
"I’d never thought I would be here,
however being humble and sticking to my guns,
I got here."
Some shows may not have a barber for the male models. In the next few years, things may change, and we may see male models besides doing just Men’s Fashion Week, that when they do regular Fashion Week, they can cater towards the men as well. The women have make-up artists and stylists. However, some things fall through the crack for us but hopefully, this will change. We might need more influencers or coordinators who can think of these visionary things.
In terms of what people will be wearing, I think it will be more futuristic. We will see more see-through frames, see-through clothes, more electronic type stuff. Not sure about holograms, but it’ll definitely be more high-tech.
Osaghae: And, where do you see yourself in the next 3-5 years?
Keith C: I’ll be on a grand stage, not so sure which stage but I’ll be on a stage doing my thing. I would love to be with an agency that really supports my career goals and has a great vision for me. So, within 5 years, I see myself with an agency, taking care of business and being where I really want to be in my career as a model.
Osaghae: What are your plans for the rest of 2019, going into 2020?
Keith C: Towards the end of this year, it’s all about building on my portfolio, focusing on the things that I don’t have, create more avant-garde. To look more into agencies and representation for both my music and modelling. I’ve got to invest my time in someone who is going to invest their time into me and reciprocate the energy that I put out.
And going into 2020, I would like to visit three new countries. I want to set the goal to work in three new countries every year. Being in London has been great – it’s now my second time outside of the States and I’m here for a purpose. If I can come here, I can go anywhere. I welcome anything the universe has in store for me.
Osazeme Osaghae: What key piece of advice would you give to people who are indecisive on whether to take the plunge into the fashion industry to become a model?
Keith C: I would say that it is a lot of work. A lot of dedication. But, if it is something that you truly believe that you would like to be a part of, then do it. What’s the worst that could happen?
Find someone to help you along the way. If you can’t find a good mentor, watch videos, go to casting calls, go and find a way to make it work. You learn as you go on,
"The expert was once a beginner.
You just have to take the first step."
Osaghae: At the Davi Magazine, we love to ask our guests, if you had an opportunity to speak with your younger self to save yourself from experiencing heartache and pain later on in life, what would you tell yourself?
Keith C: I would tell the old Keith to believe and trust in yourself, because the doubts, the naysayers, the haters are always going to be around. If you take it in your own mind and act on your own thoughts, then you will succeed. I succeeded at the right time. So, I would tell old Keith ‘just believe’. Humble yourself, and always help those who are currently where you’ve been before.
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