Kylan MacKenzie is humble. He’s so humble that he told his friends he was playing hockey when he was actually going to a modelling competition in Vancouver.
He was 15, new to modelling and was turning heads. With agents from far and wide at full gaze, he excelled in the various components of the event, but was too young to sign a contract.
Last November, he proved his first visit was no fluke and was offered a contract by an agency named Major Models. That’s two of the words in the name — the other is Milan. As in Milan, Italy.
A 16-year-old Grade 11 student at Holy Cross is about to become an international model.
A scout named Cristiano Cerasola told MacKenzie he was the “sure big winner “of the weekend in Vancouver. That was saying a lot given the number of fresh faces at the competition. The models came from across Canada and some from the United States.
MacKenzie didn’t try modelling to become a model.
“It was more to get confidence at the time. I wasn’t really shy, but I definitely opened up a lot more than I knew that I could have after getting exposed to all this,” he said. “It was a great opportunity and now it has progressed and worked out.”
His first stop on the way to Milan was at SHE Modelling in Saskatoon, where Mary Obrodovich guided him.
“Back then, I didn’t think it was going to go anywhere; I will do these classes and learn some things but as I did it I realized how much I liked fashion and different types of clothes. My main passion is to act, but you get more attention with the modelling.
“I figure now that all these opportunities with modelling can get me exposure and get experience and make connections with those who are in the acting industry.”
On his first trip to Vancouver, he didn’t understand how the industry worked.
“I went there for experience and our expectations were sort of low, but when we got a lot of feedback and a lot of attention I guess we knew this is it and we have to follow through with it.”
He won awards on both the acting and modelling side. On his second trip, he got the same good feedback, won more awards and got callbacks.
“It was encouraging to see on the second trip back it wasn’t a fluke kind of thing — that I was actually a talent, I guess.”
He explained the process.
“When you go there, you have a portfolio with all your pictures and everything; they are different styles of shots and you go around this little loop and you show the scouts two of your pictures. They judge it on
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uniqueness, how you look and your outfit — we were the winner of that one.”
He was first runner-up in monologue and first runner-up in the formal runway competition. He was the winner of the sports runway competition.
“There is a lot of talent down there for sure. It’s most of Canada and even places in the States sometimes. And international models show up to look for more work.”
MacKenzie credits Obrodovich for his success.
“She has showed me so much and I have learned so much from her; she’s wonderful.”
Corridawne MacKenzie, Kylan’s mother, was also quick to praise Obrodovich.
“She has been a blessing and an amazing encouragement and supporter for Kylan. Kylan wouldn’t be where he is today without her help.”
Obrodovich said she knew MacKenzie was special from the first time she first saw him on a runway.
“The first walk down the runway, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh,’” she said.
The fact he is six feet tall hit the mark dead on for male models.
“You pretty much can’t be too much less or too much more,” she said. “They would probably do 5-11 or 6-1, but they like a certain height.”
More than anything, Obrodovich likes MacKenzie as a person.
“He is the nicest kid. Other than my own kids, he is the best kid I have ever met. He is very kind, very polite, very responsible. When I put him at a job, I know he is going to be there and he is going to do a fantastic job because everybody just loves him to pieces.”
SHE Modelling now acts as MacKenzie’s mother agency and will be compensated for discovering him.
MacKenzie has signed a three-year contract and will fly to Italy in August to begin work.
“I was pretty surprised actually. Looking back it seemed like something I was doing for fun and now I can travel to Europe for this and meet a lot of new people.”
MacKenzie is a pretty typical teenager. He performed in the Christmas drama production at Holy Cross, he plays hockey and golf. He has been working at a golf course as a summer job and has played hockey his whole life.
In addition, he has attended mission trips to Belize on Project Serve Team through Youth For Christ.
“They have been amazing opportunities for Kylan to learn and give back,” Corridawne said.
She credited Corwin Thiessen for those opportunities.
“He’s Kylan’s mentor and good friend who has been there for advice, support, help with photos, and encouragement.”
Corridawne is proud of her son.
“As a parent, it is wonderful that he is humble about it. I have parents of his friends asking me ‘What is this about Milan.’ My one friend asked the boys and they didn’t have a clue what Kylan is doing. These are friends of his and they really don’t have a clue. He is very humble about it, which, as parents, we are hoping to maintain.
“He seems very grateful for the experiences, so we are happy about that. He’s really personable and he’s a really good kid, and he has a look that everybody seems to like.
“We went to Vancouver and he won these awards. We were very blown away by the talent that he had. We didn’t know he was that passionate about it or had put so much heart into it. On top of the modelling agencies, there was lots of interest in him from talent agencies. It has totally blown into something we didn’t expect.”
Corridawne isn’t sure what the immediate future holds.
MacKenzie will be in Milan for part of the summer, will be taking Grade 12 online and will be in Milan again starting in January.
“We have told him — and I think he knows it — it is a pretty difficult industry and he has to have thick skin. You can have a dozen people say, yes this is the look we want and one person who says no and then he doesn’t get the job.
“I think what is good with Kylan is his heart is with acting, so I don’t think it will be devastating. He will be getting experience, hopefully meeting some people and getting an idea of what that world looks like.”
MacKenzie is also getting support from his father, Kevin MacKenzie, and siblings Kelsea and Kelden. He is anxious to get his career started.
“It is an honour to be doing this. Being from Saskatchewan, it is great to represent this province.”