Stacey McKenzie is a Jamaican-born fashion model, runway coach and motivational speaker. She has channeled her love for fashion and her passion to help others into a successful career as a motivational speaker and coach to create “Walk This Way Workshops”, a program devoted to teaching young people to have confidence and self-love. In addition to being a TV personality, McKenzie is an internationally known model. She has worked with many of the most famous designers in the business including Jean Paul Gaultier who was the only one who took the time to mentor her.
“Walk This Way Workshops” is a two-day intensive program that caters to young people ages 14 and over including aspiring models and actors. The program costs $250 and is intended to empower and educate participants through a series of confidence-building exercises designed to provide the necessary knowledge to pursue one’s dreams, as well as develop self-esteem.
McKenzie is a self-taught model who had to learn these lessons on her own. “I had to learn everything myself,” McKenzie says about her past experiences. She soon realized that she didn’t need to conform and that she needed to own and accept herself in order to fit. From her small studio apartment in Paris, she began teaching other up and coming models like herself how to walk and show confidence because no one was around to help them.
As a model with a unique and sultry look, she had to overcome numerous obstacles and barriers. She knows firsthand how cut-throat the modeling industry can be. McKenzie was often reminded of her flaws not just by strangers, but also by her own family members who believed that her dream of becoming a model was impossible. But she persevered. Karen Lee, an Elite Model Management scout and coach, gave her a chance and she was able to access doors that seemed impossible during her five-year modeling pursuit.
McKenzie refused to give up. “I just had that gut feeling that I belonged in this industry. No matter the negative energy and attention that I was getting, it was still attention. So I figured I needed to run with it,” McKenzie recalled.
“The one thing that a lot of these young people have to understand is that even though one or five million people say no, there’s going to be that one person that says yes. That’s all you need,” she says.
This was one of the reasons McKenzie wanted to create “Walk This Way Workshops”, and in 2005, she did just that. She created a program that teaches young people to be confident and to be comfortable in their skin. “The most important thing is that they walk away feeling empowered and go out into the world knowing what they want to do,” McKenzie says.
In 2013, McKenzie launched her first free annual Walk This Way Workshop camp for 25 inner city girls who learned new skills by working with a diverse group of mentors within the fashion and entertainment industry that included TV host Tracy Moore, Dina Puguliese, photographer Andrea Rees, actors Gabrielle Miller and Alex Cendese and fashion designer and Project Runway Canada winner Sunny Fong.