CHICAGO LAWN — A new after-school program at Maria Catalyst High School not only shows aspiring teen models how to strut down the catwalk with confidence, but it’s also boosting their self esteem.
Elizabeth Tawiah, 17, said she used to think that she was too curvy and could never be a model. "YK Management: The Workshop" program has helped with her self-confidence.
“I used to see myself as fat, and I always thought fat was unhealthy,” Elizabeth said. That changed after a nutritionist/personal trainer spoke to the teens.
“She explained that being bigger than the petite models doesn’t mean that you’re not healthy,” Tawaiah said.
Yoshimi Kiosha, 26, is on a mission to bring "YK Management: The Workshop," her four-week intense modeling educational program, into high schools across Chicago. Right now, besides Maria Catalyst, she’s in South Shore and Dunbar, and working on Morgan Park and Kenwood high schools.
In the program, Kiosha introduces the teens to the modeling industry, teaches them basic runway techniques, interviewing skills, health and wellness and how to be photogenic. She even brings in professionals to show them how to style their hair and do their makeup.
At a workshop last week, Sheena Marie Beauty Studio glam squad had the students break into two groups. A volunteer model from each group got her makeup done. They were able to ask questions as they watched.
When it came time to add false lashes, one girl asked if she should start at a certain part of the eye when applying them at home. The makeup artist told the group that she likes to first place the tip of the lash strip on the outer corner, but not too close to the eye. She stressed the importance of measuring the lashes first and not closing the eye completely, or the glue might hold the top and bottom lids together.
Giving the students these kinds of opportunities with professionals is what Kiosha strives to do because she recognizes they wouldn’t get them on their own as easily.
“I’m making it accessible to them,” she said. “Those students don’t really have those connections. Anyone that we bring here, I make sure that they leave their contact information so they can follow up with these professionals.”
Kiosha, who lives in the south suburbs, launched YK Management in 2009. Her nationwide company manages models and actors. Before that, she was actively pursuing her own career, but switched gears when she felt led by God to give back.
“I was going to move to L.A. and do my own thing, but I stayed here,” she said.
Kiosha said she was fed up with the violence and wanted to find her own way to help young people.
Student Elizabeth appreciates what she’s doing with the program because “other people might not have had the guts to do what she did,” she said.
Kiosha is “coming into a neighborhood where a lot of people don’t want to come into because they’re afraid of some of the violence that happens [here] ... but she came into this school.”
She’s making a difference too. That’s how 17-year-old Darryl Murphy feels.
The openly gay teen said that he’s more comfortable expressing himself.
“Sometimes I wear heels because I like to be myself, but a lot of people struggle with how they look and their body size,” he said.
Darryl has always had a love for art and said he’s enjoying learning more about fashion. The program is a self-esteem booster too for him, which Kiosha said is the goal.
“What I love most is seeing the change, just from the runway to the self confidence,” she said. “The change is the biggest thing that I admire the most. It’s very important to me just to know that I can make a difference.”
To contact Kiosha, call 312-721-3408 or email at YKmangementinc@gmail.com. Follow on Instagram at @Yoshimk.kiosha.
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