You wanna be on top? Just take note from Stacey McKenzie! This week’s runway coach on America’s Next Top Model gave the girls some serious inspo on the catwalk, but now fans are wondering more about her own backstory.
The Jamaica-native was just six-years-old when she came across a picture of Jean Paul Gaultier and instantly knew she wanted to make it in the fashion biz. Despite being bullied for her looks, she began training herself to become a model, and by the age of 13, she was cold-calling modeling agencies. For five years, she kept at it — and failed. “They said I was too different-looking, that I wasn’t going to be able to sell anything,” the 5′ 10″ model told Personal Health News. “There was nobody that looked like me, and they said I wouldn’t be able to make it.”
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I’m baaaack on America’s Next Top Model @antmvh1! Can’t wait to show these girls how to #strut! Don’t miss the new episode of America’s Next Top Model #ANTM @antmteam on @vh1 tonight at 8pm! Photo: @pictureb #staceymckenzie #supermodel #modelmentor #model #americasnexttopmodel #topmodel #ANTM #tyrabanks #vh1 #nlf #nextlevelfierce
These days, however, Stacey is changing the face of fashion — and was even named one of the five Jamaican models to do so by Vogue. With a rise in plus-size models — like the oh-so-fabulous ANTM judge, Ashley Graham — and the popularity of non-traditional beauty bloggers, the industry is seemingly heading in a more positive direction.
As a result of her struggles, Stacey often found herself nurturing other aspiring models. “I always wanted to open doors for others that looked different, I wanted designers and photographers to change their minds,” she told the publication. “I felt like I was on a mission — to make it myself — and to show others that it doesn’t matter how different you look, how unique you are, there’s still a place for you.”
Her mentoring eventually led to a business venture. In 2013, Stacey launched Walk This Way Workshops, a program “designed to empower and educate people who have a interest in the fashion industry by teaching valuable skills, inspiring them to value their uniqueness and find their individual voice,” their website states. In fact, her school is one of the reasons Vogue recently selected her for their honor.
“This world is not one-dimensional,” Stacey said. “There are so many different kinds of beauty out there and I think we should celebrate that.” We couldn’t agree more!