The original Stacey McKenzie

The original Stacey McKenzie

Observer senior reporter

Sunday, May 19, 2019

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In 1997, Jamaican-born, Canadian model Stacey McKenzie landed her first cosmetics contract, the face of the Think Pink line of lipstick by make-up giant MAC Cosmetics. Fast-Forward 22 years and the tall, freckle-faced model has again landed a contract with MAC.

In an interview with the Jamaica Observer, McKenzie could hardly contain her joy at being chosen by MAC for a second time after all these years.

“When they reached out to me to be part of the 'My Canadian Original' campaign I was so excited. But I had to say to them...'You do know I'm Jamaican? My career as a model began out of Canada but I'm just letting you all know I am a yardie first.' They were aware of that and it didn't matter, as what they were looking for is someone who is doing a lot for Canadians while being original,” she explained.

McKenzie was chosen for the campaign based on her work as a model who has defied the odds, given her unconventional look. This, for the cosmetics brand, is what makes her an original, makes her stand out, influences others and has had an impact on the fashion industry. Her work with young people as a runway coach and mentor, as well as her other philanthropic efforts cemented the deal for McKenzie.

“For me to get this contract at this time just shows how much the industry has changed. When I started modelling there was nobody out there who looked anything like me... black woman with light skin, freckles and thick lips. Now there are so many young people who now have the confidence to step out there and put themselves in the spotlight as models. I see so many guys and girls who look like me now wanting to be models. So for this My Canadian Original campaign by MAC to come at this time is really a big deal. One of the big things I hope people looking on will take away is that you can be anything you want. A supermodel, a lawyer, a doctor — anything — once you are willing to put in the work required. I am happy that I was the first model with this look, but based on what I see now I'm even happier that I will not be the last,” she shared.

With decades under her belt as a print and runway model McKenzie also noted how blessed she felt for this major campaign to come at this period in her career, given the short-lived nature of the fashion industry. She advised young models to take advantage of the opportunities afforded them in those early days in order to ensure longevity.

“Because they say the life of a model is short, it doesn't mean it has to be short for you. Always evolve. Delve into other things that interest you and use your modelling experience as leverage. Use the opportunities from modelling as a blessing and a stepping stone to bigger and better things.”

Meanwhile, McKenzie is bringing her motivational day camp, for girls, called 'The Walk Camp', to Jamaica this summer.

“I am so happy to be able to bring this home. We have staged it in Canada before and always wanted to take it to Jamaica, and it is coming to life this July. It's all about empowering and inspiring girls from certain communities. just to show them that they can be whoever and whatever they want to be in life. For this year we are choosing about 30 girls from a number of schools including my old school, Central Branch All Age. We will be having a number of local and international mentors who will share their story with the campers. There are still some details to be finalised in the coming days, but I am so excited to finally be able to bring this home,” said McKenzie.

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