Hello world! I am a 24 year old creative, Chemical Engineer by training, a photographer, and up-and-coming model. I was born in Stockbridge, raised in Riverdale, and lived in College Park. I graduated from Tuskegee University with my Bachelors, and I walked in my first runway show this year during Los Angeles (LA) Fashion Week in an event.
How did you get started into modeling?
I was one of those super excited girls who waited at the TV each week to watch America’s Next Model. I was highly disappointed when I never heard back from any agencies I had applied to, but had hope that one day I would be able to follow my dream of being a high-fashion model.
I got into photography because I had eye for the beauty in the world. I got back into modeling by doing numerous self-portraits and creative photoshoots on my own. Now that I am in LA, I have been working a lot more with other photographers and designers as collaborations while I seek representation.
Which is a memorable photoshoot experience you have had so far?
One memorable photoshoot experience was when I entered the Miss Black & Gold Scholarship Pageant at Tuskegee University. I had never done a beauty or scholarship pageant. My neck and shoulders were covered in gold paint, there were several other gorgeous, bright contestants, and I knew my competition was fierce.
I ended up, however winning first runner up and my photos are still in my portfolio today because they came out great! It was different, it was fun, and it felt great to know that I challenged myself and the outcome was rewarding.
Does being a model make taking photos easier for you?
I would not say that modeling helps me take better photos. I would say the opposite. My training and experience in photography, learning other’s angles and learning “the ways of the sun” has made the most impact on how I model, the poses I strike and the way I tilt my head in the slightest angle to capture the light
What is a common misconception about photography you usually hear?
“Everyone can be/is a photographer.” I hear this all the time and I cannot help but be completely irritated by that statement. Everyone cannot strategically adjust the ISO and f-stop according to the lighting in the air. Not many people know when to adjust the temperature on a photo to emphasize the sunset in the background; and though, everyone could just buy an iPhone, you have to carefully use portrait mode to focus in on the subject and adjust the exposure so the photos aren’t just as dark as they are clear.
Is there something you’ve always wanted to do or learn but haven’t had the time?
I have always wanted to learn how to edit music and film. I had small class projects where I would dabble in iMovie, but I want to learn from the greats and see my ideas for movies and short films to fruition.
Do you have any advice for someone looking to get started into modeling?
I would say, “have somewhat tough skin.” You cannot be completely numb to rejection. You need to feel what they are saying, and feel rejection so it pushes you to work harder. As a beginner in the field, I would also suggest being multidisciplinary. Work hard on your craft, but do not be afraid to socialize with actors, directors, choreographers, etc. More people need models than you think!
What turns you off on a date?
On a date, anytime a guy prematurely brings up intimate conversations about my sex-life or his, I am instantly turned off.
Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions Kai. One question before we end, how do you define “sexy”?
I define SEXY as confident, composed, curious and captivating. I do not define such a sensual word as something as shallow as a “hot body.” I think of it more as “what are your assets?” “what makes you absolutely, unapologetically unique?”
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Images from Kai Littlejohn
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