Meet IKandy. When modeling seemed to be an accomplished dream for many girls all over the world, it didn’t suffice for Karen. She wanted to fight for Cambodian rights. Putting her notoriety to good use, Karen Co- Founded “The SCC project” where the organization helps to rebuild Cambodian communities one village at a time.
“I’m a very outgoing, empathetic and ambitious person. Driven and goal –oriented. I am independent, but very sociable. Originally I am artist, I’ve been drawing since the age of 5. I absolutely love music! My first real dream is to be a singer or dancer. I played in the orchestra since 5th grade. I dabbled in acting as a teen and also in College. So it looks like I’ve always been fascinated in the entertainment world. I am a business woman as well and hopefully run my own indie record label and modeling/talent agency in the near future. and lastly, I have a career in nursing for almost 7 years.” – IKandy
Are you a 100% Cambodian?
Karen: As far as I’m concerned I’m 100% Cambodian. My dad is 100% Cambodian, and I live, drink, eat, breathe Cambodian.
Where were you born and where do you reside?
Karen: I was born in the D.C area but currently reside in New Orleans, Louisiana.
When did you decide you wanted to become a model?
Karen: 3 and half years ago.
What was your first gig or big break?
Karen: My first magazine spread was in Cred Xtra Magazine and feature online as well, since then I have been featured in over 20 web sites, featured in over 2 movies, Ne-Yo’s music video and over 7 magazines. My most recent gig was a 2011 Seagram’s Gin Calendar shoot in Tampa, FL.
What famous entertainers or models do you admire?
Karen: I admire only Somaly Mam, and she’s neither model nor entertainer. She’s a huge Cambodian rights activist in Cambodia.
How do you feel about the scarcity of Southeast Asians in the media and TV?
Karen: I feel that not many Asians in the US pursue this career option as much as other races. Not that we aren’t needed, but just hard to find. This may be due to how Asians are raised and their culture.
I understand that you are involved in Cambodian rights; can you tell me more about your role in the organization?
Karen: Growing up with parents that were coping of loss of family, friends and homeland from a genocide, then relocated to a foreign country they know nothing about, was a huge responsibility for the new generation Khmer children. This is something I recognized amongst many Khmer families. My mom had developed a mental disease from her trauma and I was deeply affected by our culture, my mom’s behavior and upbringing, my childhood vs. American children. I realized that not many people knew of the history that occurred 30 years ago, and I decided that I wanted to do something about it, so no one would grow up the way I did, or go through what my parents went through. My first step; I co-founded a non-profit organization with my partner Tara Miller in Australia, called The SCC Project(Strengthening Cambodian Communities) where we focus highly on the importance of education and rebuilding Cambodian communities one village at a time. Currently we are helping the Aranh village, by also offering sponsorship opportunities for the families that can’t afford books, bikes, or school tuition. I am the Director of Volunteers, for those that want to do more than donating money. If you are interested, please visit our website TheSCCProject.org.
I also recently directed and coordinated a fashion show for another non-profit organization in New York, called Nomi Network, here in New Orleans, Louisiana. An organization dedicated to eradicate sex slavery and human trafficking in Cambodia, by rescuing, providing rehab and training to offer sex slave survivors or at risk women a better opportunity to provide for their family. We showcased their line of bags called “Buy Her Bag Not Her Body”, that are hand made by these wonderful women. The fashion show was a collaboration of enriching the audience with Cambodian history, performances by my personal friends and singer Bochan Huy from Oakland, California and dancer Ranna Khut from D.C. to fund raise, so they can continue their efforts. I use the entertainment industry as a vehicle to promote awareness about Cambodia and human trafficking that still plagues our country. Visit nominetwork.org to learn more or buy a bag at buyherbagnotherbody.com.
What is your favorite Khmer dish?
Karen: Salaw Machu Groueng and Khaw
What are your future goals in the modeling industry?
Karen: I want to work for and spokes model for one of the biggest make-up companies in the world, Cover Girl. I want to be one of the first Cambodian American model to be recognized internationally.
What advice would you give to others who are interested in getting into modeling?
Karen: Know your strengths and weaknesses, research the industry and remember not everyone can be a model.
For more about Karen:
1. Photo by CE Wiley
2. Photo by Damon Hall, Make-up by The Make Up Lab – Gambit Weekly’s CUE Magazine – Issue July 2010
3. Photo by Franky V
4. Photo by Michael Siu, Make-Up by Maria Broussard – “Wear a Krama Campaign” www.thearyseng.com
5. Photo by Michael Siu, Make -Up by The Make Up Lab
6. Photo by CE Wiley – Cred Xclusive Print Magazine Spring Issue
Originally Posted by Sophia S.
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