Ksyn started modeling recently but is no stranger to a life of dancing; after her mother put her in ballet at the early age of 5 she found dancing has been a passion ever since.
Ksyn is a model, an actress, and a dancer but found the time to sit down with us and discuss exactly what it takes to be successful in an industry where many fall short.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Where you were born and raised?
Ksyn: Well, I was born and raised in the Bronx, New York and I’ve been living in Brooklyn now for two years. I’m a Bronx girl at heart though.
Very cool! I’m out in California, but I love New York! What was it like growing up out there?
Ksyn: It was interesting. You get a little bit of everything. I was in Catholic school from 1st to 8th grade, so I was in the private school system for a while. I went to public school for high school and then went away to New Hampshire for college.
I stayed in the Bronx the entire time though. For instance my elementary and junior high school was up the block and around the corner from my house, and my high school was about a 15-minute walk from my house.
So after that I was like, I got to get away for college, and that’s when I moved to New Hampshire.
So you know, I got a little but of everything. I basically lived on one side of the Bronx and grew up on the other side, with my Grandmother, which was a rougher area than where my Mom was, but basically all my friends would come by my Grandma’s house.
Oh ok, very interesting. So how did you get into dancing?
Ksyn: For some reason, all Moms feel like they want to put their daughter’s in ballet. So that’s how it started. She got me into ballet when I was five years old, however I was in and out. I’d take ballet, and then didn’t want to take it anymore, and so on.
However I started to get into other types of dancing such as African, to step dancing, and from there I went to hip-hop. So just sort of made that decision at a young age.
“I wanna perform, I wanna be on stage, I like the limelight, it’s fun! Lol!”
Well, not only are you beautiful and talented, but you’re also educated. Has that given you an advantage in your career as far as being in the industry and having an education, as well as being talented?
Ksyn: I’ll have to say yes to that, especially because of what I majored in. I studied Arts Management with a concentration in dance. So I got educated in non-profits, how to start a business, how to write a mission statement, and of course the core business classes such as marketing, accounting, as well as the law aspect. I also took classes such as contract law. Plus it’s information you need to know in this industry anyway, so with me getting a degree in it, it helped out a lot. I also took extra classes like public speaking, and dance of course, and acting and stuff like that. I went to a liberal arts school, so I kind of got to take a little piece of everything.
You were REALLY smart to make that your major!
Ksyn: Yeah it’s definitely helped. A lot of my friends didn’t concentrate in anything. I concentrated in dance and a few friends concentrated in art or theater. However, when I graduated I decided that I really wanted to get into the industry, and I felt I had an advantage because I knew how to go about it.
I knew the different marketing strategies, I knew how to read contracts, ya know? I already knew the information, so it’s not something I had to live and learn. I mean you still live and learn, but I had the advantage of knowing how to read a contract before just signing it. I know the terminology, and if I don’t, I can just go back to my textbooks and look it up. So that worked out pretty well.
That’s very smart! So how’d you get into modeling?
Ksyn: Whoo! Lol! Well I started modeling with a non-profit organization I was in called Teens In Motion when I was 13. It was just those little cute talent and fashion show type of things. It just so happened that I ended up meeting a couple different people from magazines, and when I first started I was just modeling for up and coming designers, and got sent to an Elle girl magazine casting, and it just took off from there.
Wow, that’s awesome! Can you give any advice to other young girls wanting to get into the industry?
Ksyn: It’s all about time, place, and whom you know. You don’t want to go out too much, but if there’s an industry event you know of, go to it! It’s all about meeting and networking. When people see a familiar face after a while, especially if they like your look, they’ll approach you on it.
If you’re getting test shots from a photographer, make sure to look up the photographer first. Don’t just take pictures with anybody. I’ve made that mistake before, and if you do that, use it as practice, but not something you’ll actually use for your book.
Do your research first. Figure out what type of modeling you want to go into. Glamour, Commercial, etc etc. Once you figure out what you want to do, look in magazines to get ideas.
I did that a lot, I’d look at different magazines with high fashion ads, and studied the posing, the angles, etc etc. So yeah, to up and coming models, I’d say just do your research.
Yes that’s great advice! As far as yourself, what type of modeling do you prefer to do?
Ksyn: I like the glamour side! The sex appeal is something that just comes naturally. I don’t have to force it. Plus it’s fun finding ways to make it work. You can be classy, sexy and sensual, without being raunchy. Sometimes that’s hard to find, but I feel it’s something that comes natural for me. So I have the most fun doing that type of modeling. I get into commercial stuff too, but it depends on my mode, I have to be in a happy go lucky cheerleading vibe.
Otherwise, if someone asked me to strike a pose, it’s automatically going to be sexy. So yeah I’d have to say the glamour side.
Exactly. So you have an extensive portfolio, very impressive. I’m loving it! How did you get into acting?
Ksyn: Thank you! Acting? Well I sort of stumbled upon it. I took theater in school. As a dance minor, you have to take acting 101 basically. I got called for a movie, well it was an audition, and I could relate to the cast, and kind of got thrown into it. I got a call three months later telling me I was booked. It’s always something I wanted to do, it’s just so hard when you love different things and you want to put your all into it. It’s like you don’t want to focus on just one.
I wasn’t expecting it, but it was sort of just like go with the flow. So I took advantage of it, and just let myself see what would happen from there. It was something I wanted to do, maybe not so early in my career, but the opportunity came so I went for it.
Do you ever hear people say you are doing to much?
Ksyn: Yeah, and it’s so funny, because everybody feels like you have to do ONE thing and you don’t. You can do MANY things, that’s what makes you versatile. For me, this is a full time job. That’s what makes me able to live comfortably, because when you’re good at more than one thing, you can put time and focus into all your talents. When you figure out time management, it’s a heck of a lot easier to take advantage of it than just focusing on one thing.
So can you give us an insight about working with Ciara, and other people in the industry, like Jeremiah? What’s it been like so far?
Ksyn: So far it’s been good, I’ve been blessed. Ciara was great, that was like an all time for me. I would watch her videos and learn the dances from them. So getting the opportunity to work with her was awesome, she was such a sweet and nice person. She’s also very business minded, for instance when we’re in rehearsal, it’s about rehearsal. It’s about making sure her performance is great. You know what I mean?
She’s a heck of a dancer and a heck of a performer. We did a few radio promo shows and we had a show where all we did was dance, no breaks! So dancing with no breaks is hard, but imaging singing on top of that, it’s hard work! So I definitely give her a bunch of kudos.
Jeremiah is cool too, he’s a new artist on the scene, it was his first tour, and it was my first on the road tour. So we literally drove everywhere.
Oh wow, how was that?
Ksyn: It was interesting; I got to see a lot of desert and a lot of mountains. The longest drive was from Atlanta to Phoenix, which was like 26 hours! Jeremiah is definitely a sweetheart and so talented. He’s also into writing, he plays instruments, and it’s great to be around people like that. It inspires you to keep doing what you do.
Yes I agree. So how did you go about getting these opportunities in working with such great talent?
Ksyn: Well I have a dance agent, and I have to say it’s not the easiest to get one. There’s different agencies, but I lucked up and got with one of the big ones called BLOCK. They send me out on stuff, they have my pictures and resume, and they market you. They do for you what you couldn’t do for yourself. I don’t know everybody to get every casting, so that’s where they come in. They connect you with the right people that will hire you.
You also should market yourself; networking on your own can bring in opportunities too.
So as far as dancing, it’s mostly from my agent. With the modeling, I lucked up by meeting the right people, and of course putting in 100% grind. Other people can only do so much for you.
When I first started, I was in the club all the time. Thursday to Sunday I’d go to industry events with comp cards, business cards, and just networking. I’d go to castings, and be online all night to find new ones. I’d always be looking for somewhere to go, where I could meet new people, it was just a 24-hour grind. You have people helping you, but you have to help yourself just as much.
So can you tell us about the best and worst aspects of your career?
Ksyn: Lol! Let me see, the best would have to be all the traveling and being able to do what I love, which is dancing. Modeling as well, but my passion is dance. I see it as I love to model, my passion is dance, and I’m aspiring to act.
You deal with the passion first, that’s what keeps me sane. Being on stage and performing is what keeps me saneJ
I’m more comfortable sometimes on stage, than I am walking down the street. It’s the truth, lol!
That would definitely be the best part of it, and traveling the world.
One great highlight for me, besides working with Ciara, was working with Eve. I got to do the MTV Australian Music Awards. That was my first trip abroad, and we were out there for a week. I just looked at it as something I definitely wanted to do.
The worst part about it is the small amount of chocolate sisters in the industry. It’s a downside as a brown skinned female walking into an audition, and the first thing you do is look at how many other brown skinned females there are. So they become your competition. You know? For instance in a music video, they’re not going to cast all of you. Especially if you have an international artist, they’re looking for different looks. So if you walk in and there’s three other females with the same complexion and all look similar, you’re all battling for the same spot. So that’s the downside.
If you’re pretty and have what they’re looking for, I don’t see what the problem is, in casting more than one of two brown skinned females.
Or being able to be a lead in a video, other than for just urban artist, you know what I mean? Not saying anything against other complexions, I just think all women are beautiful and that’s how it should be looked at.
I don’t feel that we should be casted on skin color, most exotic look, etc etc. Some auditions you feel that, and other you don’t. Sometimes they tell you right from the start what they’re looking for.
So you just go in, and I’m a fair believer in the type of energy you put out into the world coming back to you. You go in not knowing what’s going to come from it, but you put out the positive energy and hopefully that energy comes back to you. That’s the major downside in the industry though.
Yes that’s great information. I’m sure people may have wondered, or simply only see the glamour side of it, but of course you have to deal with the ups and the downs.
Ksyn: Yes, it’s tough though, nothing happens overnight. They could call you in five minutes saying you have an audition. Everything is just SO unpredictable and nothing is ever fully guaranteed. So you go in with a positive attitude, learn as much as you can from it, and know that you gave positive energy and did your best, and hopefully they’ll call you back, or offer another gig to you.
So can you give a little synopsis, as far as a day in the life of Ksyn?
Ksyn: Whooo…. Lol! Let me see, I wake up early, get on the computer and check my emails first of course. I check my Twitter, I’m on there all the time! Then I check my Facebook, then log onto the popular blogs to see what’s going on with the celebrities, lol! I’m not out the loop, lol! Then I usually try to take as many dance classes as I can. So depending on the day of the week will depend on the time and duration of the class.
Today’s has been crazy though, I just got back into New York, and have already had 3 auditions, all before 3:30pm. Then I have a couple more later today.
So that’s usually a day in the life. After class I may go out for a drink or two, and I’m usually home at around midnight, and it starts all over again the next day, but some days are slower than others.
So what is your dream job? You’ve already had some major accomplishments, but what’s your dream?
Ksyn: My dream is to tour with either Beyonce or Janet Jackson, mostly Janet though. I didn’t get a chance to audition for her because I was doing something else at the time, but I love performers. To me the Beyonce’s, the Janet’s, Madonna’s, Brittany Spears, are like the top entertainers to me. They give you a full on show, and that’s like every dancers dream. You always want to be with an artist like that, because when they go on tour, you know you’re gonna be gone for a year. So the top top would definitely be Janet, and then the Beyonce’s, Madonna’s’ and Brittany’s’ as well.
Very Cool, so your career is blowing up, which is amazing! Now that you’ve gotten a taste of acting, do you plan on eventually relocating to Los Angeles, or staying in New York?
Ksyn: I see the move happening sometime. Not a full move, but more like going out there for a few months and coming back. New York is my home, but I definitely see myself going to L.A. and giving it a shot out there as well.
Ok good to know! Well I know your website recently launched. Can you give our readers some insight on what they can expect to see on there?
Ksyn: Oh goodness, you can expect to see everything! Of course the usual like the bio, resume, portfolio, etc etc. I’ll also have a lot of behind the scene stuff like music videos, or projects I’m working on.
I also plan to put behind the scenes video up; for instance, I plan to post some footage from the trip in Australia with Eve. Other information such as working with Ciara and Jeremiah will also be on the site.
I’ll be posting a lot of blogs, for instance when I toured with Jeremiah, I posted like a day-to-day insight on what was going on. People think that going on tour is so easy, but no, it’s a lot of hard work. You have to realize that you can’t fall into the trap of partying every night and getting lazy or losing focus.
I also have something called Ksyn’s Corner, and for me that’s like my “rate them”. As a model and dancer, you dip and dab with a lot of different products, and sometimes when you go online to get more information about it, you don’t get a good read on what the person is using.
For example, I got into Iman’s makeup line from a friends recommendation. So I went online and found all the links to products that I use, and I would “rate” them. Ya know thumbs up, thumbs down, five stars, etc etc.
So really a lot of updates and behind the scene stuff will me on my website. Just letting everyone know what’s going on, and you can also contact me directly from the site as well.
I call it being in phase one, so that people can have access to me, but plan on expanding it over time. So expect a lotJ
Ooo, very cool! I’ll be looking forward to checking it out! Can you give the readers advice on marketing yourself in this industry? I know you have an agent, but you’ve also been able to network on your own. Can you give any advice on how others can do the same?
Ksyn: Well it’s just being yourself. Business cards are nice to have, actually they’re a very great thing to have, but sometimes you don’t need it. Sometimes you want to be more personable and able to strike a conversation with someone to the point where you’re exchanging numbers and working together. You’ll remember that connection more than the business card you get.
Also, update and blast away on social networks. Try to catch on to all the latest trends and stay on top of things. You want to be on Twitter and other social networking sites and update frequently. Even though people aren’t on myspace as much, there’s still a market there.
Work with different photographer’s and get your pictures out there. I know one thing I did after getting my comp cards is getting the mailing addresses myself, to different magazines I was interested in modeling for. Why not, ya know?
That’s a great idea. Did you get a good response from that?
Ksyn: Yes and no, I mean you get some that might be interested and others that aren’t looking for your look, but at least you know you’re doing everything you can. Especially out in the west coast. It’s like everybody can act or do something.
It’s also about putting yourself out there. Like I’m on model mayhem and from there I’ve been able to network with different photographers and other creative people in the industry.
I ended up working with Hype Hair from networking with makeup artists and hair stylists.
Just make sure you keep yourself out there and open to ideas.
Exactly, networking is so important. So how to deal with what a lot of women in the industry deal with, as far as men wanting to make things business AND personal? Or approach you on a business level, but may have other motives?
Ksyn: Keep it business. People only give you back what you put out. So if you put out the energy that there’s no games, you’re a professional, and you’re there to do business, then they’ll catch the hint. If they don’t then you just have to let them know, and be clear with what your intentions are. You just have to know when to keep it professional.
If it’s someone you want to work with and you’re attracted to them as well, then you use your own judgment, but other than that just keep it professional.
The XXL shoot for me entitled “It’s Your Birthday” was like an implied nude shoot. So we were basically naked, and whenever they needed me, I’d take the robe off, but I wasn’t walking around naked during downtime, lol!
I was very professional and nobody approached me on a level other than that. I would see other girls getting approached, but they could tell that I was about my business and just there to work. So when you put out that energy, that’s how people receive it.
Great advice Ksyn. You speak the truth So what can we expect in the future from you?
Ksyn: You can definitely expect a couple things in the works with artists, such as going on tour again. It’ll all be on my website. I definitely want to get more into acting, so I’ve been auditioning a lot more for television shows and small movie roles. You can see me on the big screen; “Fighting” is actually out on DVD now, so that’s a big thing for me. I’ve been getting a lot of response from the part I had in that film.
I played Shavon Dubai, it’s a small role, and she’s sort of like a gold digger. Not exactly that, but not far from it. Put it like this, my character has blonde hair and blue eyes, lol!! So that was pretty interesting, and it was also a great opportunity as well. It was my first time auditioning for a movie and actually landing a speaking role.
That’s great, congratulations!
Ksyn: Thank you! The cast was great too. So working with them was great because I got a chance to talk to them about the industry and get a little inside information from them, such as being yourself and taking the characters role and making it your own.
So you can definitely see me on the big screen, television and of course touring, and also in a couple magazines as well. Just trying to do everything as much as possible.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Ksyn: In 5 years, I see myself having my first lead role in a movie. If not in a movie, then a sitcom. For some reason I’m into those shows like One Tree Hill, so something like that, I would love to get on and be a reoccurring character in that. I’m not big on choreography, but I like the artistic side of it, and being able to put on a show. So I think I’ll start dibbling and dabbling into that in about 5 years.
The main goal is for me to start a program similar to what I was in. Nowadays kids and teens don’t have programs like that. Teens in Motion, which is what I was in, was like a performing arts program. We stepped, we danced, we modeled, we acted, I mean so much. Plus they were strict about school and grades; they made sure we had study time before being able to perform. So it kept me focused.
During rehearsals, I definitely forgot about trying to get into trouble. I didn’t have time to get in trouble. So I’ve already started the mission statement and have ideas on paper, but I’d love to have it become a full on program in major cities within 5 years.
A lot of people would be interested in something like that.
Ksyn: Yeah and I felt like it would be easier for me to do it, after getting the experience in the industry first. If I’m planning on passing my knowledge to a younger generation, I should know what I’m talking about. Making connections now with the choreographers of today, may be the teachers of tomorrow. So if I’ve worked with them and have a good rapport with them then that may be someone I can bring in on the staff, or come in to be a guest speaker.
So its’ all leading up to that one main goal.
So can you give us your information as far as people wanting to get in contact with you?
Ksyn: YES, of course! My website is (MissKsyn.com), My Twitter name is (MissKsyn), Myspace is (Miss_Ksyn_World), Lol, that’s the only complicated one.
So yeah, those are all the sites, and of course google, lol! Once you type in Ksyn, it’s only me and a radio station, so I WILL pop up, lol!