Name: Kiara Ailene Pace
Agency/Management: STATE MANAGEMENT
Claim to fame: Kiara went from having her dreamed of becoming America’s Next Top Model dashed to having her face in the forefront of major beauty campaigns for brands like Maybelline, Ulta, Tart Cosmetics, and Lipmatic thanks to her unwillingness to call it quits.
Growing up in Tampa, Florida, Kiara Pace didn’t know much about the business side of the modeling or entertainment industries. She did know one thing though…she wanted in.
“I did my first show at 16,” said Pace in an exclusive interview with Hello Beautiful. “I begged my mom and she was like ‘no you’re too young’ but I said ‘they all start at this age, I gotta start now.”
“They” were the supermodels she had grown up idolizing. She saw an opportunity to be in a local fashion show as the first step towards the greatness of Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks and she wasn’t going to let a little thing like being underage stop her from taking it. She signed up for the show with her mother’s reluctant support. Sadly, her turn on the catwalk became her first test in the school of life. “I did my show and it was great,” she said, “but it was a scam.”
Pace explained, “They made us pay a whole bunch of money. I think we paid like $1500 for this model search runway thing with agents that came from all over the world, quote-unquote, but where they were from? Who knows?” Even though the experience was a sham it was worth the fee because Pace got a chance to connect with the exhilaration that comes from being in front of the camera.
“I loved it! Even though it was a scam I loved it!,” she exclaimed. “I loved being on the stage. I loved taking the photos at the photoshoot. I was like I want to do this for the rest of my life!”
She chased that feeling by setting up her own photoshoots in an effort to stand out during open castings for America’s Next Top Model. She jokes that, “Even though I wasn’t signed at 16 my Facebook and Myspace selfies were lit!”
Her backdrop might have been a hallway in the middle of little Havana but she rocked it like she was on a Milanese runway.
“I applied thousands of times,” she recalled. “I sent them this one photo, I still laugh at. I had these long braids and this yellow sundress our house was being renovated so all the wallpaper was being ripped off. It looked really grungy in the hallway and I took a photo in this dress and these braids and I had my leg twisted in it like I was a broken doll. I thought I was the shit.”
Despite not making the cut she kept that confidence and eventually decided that the reason her dreams weren’t coming true could be chalked up to location.
“I was like I have to move I have to get out,” she told Hello Beautiful. Like many a model before her she turned to New York City. “That’s where the fashion capital is. I can’t say I’m a model if I’m not where the mecca of models are,” she declared.
She thought she had made some inroads in the industry during previous trips to the city but shortly after she arrived she learned all the networking she had done was for naught.
“Before I moved here I went to a ton of open calls. That’s why I thought I should move here,” she said. “They said ‘We’d love to sign you! Come back to us. Here’s our card keep us updated.’”
“I was excited. A little girl from Tampa? We have one agency in Tampa. I was like 5 agencies want me! I’ve watched America’s Next Top Model. I know how this goes. I’m in!” Not being from New York she didn’t recognize the industry style brushoffs until her bags were unpacked.
It wasn’t long until she was being hit with routine excuses. “They’ll tell you ‘oh we booked a model who likes like you already sorry’ and ‘oh you had long hair before your hair is shorter now sorry.”
A mass communications major in college at the time she tried to keep up with her studies after transferring to City College but after booking an in-store modeling gig with Gucci it wasn’t long before she realized she would rather be on go-sees than worrying about grades. “I was like what am I doing? I’m just wasting my money and my time. I was paying out of pocket at that time and I was like I could be putting my money into getting my book together and getting signed! I just put all of my efforts into my modeling career.”
Those efforts included a little bit of well-intended deception. She reached out to a modeling booker by pretending to have gotten her email through a friend they had in common, and it worked. “I stalked a girl on Instagram I emailed her and I was like ‘hey how are you? I have a mutual friend who gave me your email. Here are my photos, I would love to meet with you! And she was like ‘sure let’s meet up!’”
She doesn’t regret leaving school behind feels that education is a lifelong process. She’s an avid reader and still finds herself inspired by the kinds of powerful women who lead her to a career in the spotlight. She’s currently reading Gabrielle Union’s “We’re Going To Need More Wine” while and planning her first foray into hosting. She’s constantly learning and researching how to make the most out of her opportunities.
Stay on the lookout for her upcoming podcast, “Kickback Convos” where she and her co-host will lift the curtain on the 3am conversations creatives have when the wine reserves are low and the vibrations are high.
“There’s always been this fire inside to keep going keep going until I can’t anymore,” she said. She no longer has to fake it until she makes it now that she’s been apart of major campaigns but she’s adopted the attitude of “I’m unemployed until I’m booked.”