Our model Kyleigh is one of those people who make you wonder how they live with only 24 hours in a day – because somehow she manages to model and put forth a huge humanitarian effort all in a day’s work. Since starting her foundation, the Roots of Peace Penny Campaign
, she’s pledged to donate a portion of her earnings from modeling back to her foundation, which rebuilds schools and community facilities in war-torn countries. Past features in Vogue
, and tons of work with Bruce Weber have all been a part of keeping her effort growing. With a newly built high school for girls in Afghanistan and a new project linking the fashion industry with non-profits, there’s a lot to learn about our familiar face!
Read up on Kyleigh here!
Your neighborhood (in NY):
Founder of the Roots of Peace Penny Campaign
and Model with Next.
How did you first start modeling?:
I was shopping in Oakland, CA during my sophomore year at UC Berkeley when Mimi approached me and asked if I would want to model. I originally declined since I felt it would take time away from my studies & non-profit work. After a year of considering it, I signed to City Models, San Francisco on the premise that I would use modeling as a platform to promote my non-profit work. I decided to donate a percentage of my earnings from modeling back to Roots of Peace.
When I’m not modeling I’m ___:
Working on my non-profit, cooking with my boyfriend (Ryan Brown ;), getting lost on the Internet, decorating my apartment with random things I find, hanging with my pals, Skyping my brothers, reading and such.
How did you start working with your foundation?
My parents run a large agricultural development non-profit that operates in seven countries, called Roots of Peace. Ever since I can remember my mother would make every effort to include me. At 13, she brought me to the minefields in the Balkans to visit their projects. I met girls my own age that lost everything—their school, their families, their childhoods. When violence was brought to our own soils on September 11th, I was reminded of those girls, and I knew I had to do something to reach out to the students of Afghanistan who would be the undeserving victims of war. In an effort to restore their hope for the future, I decided to build schools and soccer fields. We have now built/rebuilt six schools, the most recent being a high school for 600 girls.
Tell us about visiting your own school and how you got started on this amazing project:
I guess you could say my high school senior trip was to Afghanistan! After graduation, I visited our projects with my mother and ABC News Anchor, Cheryl Jennings to report on our progress. When visiting one of Roots of Peace's agricultural production facilities, I took a small break with our driver and looked out to the rugged terrain from the 2nd story balcony. He pointed out in the distance and told me that his children went to school on the other side of the stream. I looked for a schoolhouse, or even a makeshift structure, but saw nothing. Eventually I realized that he was pointing to a sheet that was drawn between a wall and a grape vine. I couldn't believe it. I knew then that the next site for our school would be that very location. When we walked over to the school, children began coming out from the nearby fields by the dozens, eager to greet us. I was so inspired and reinvigorated by seeing the faces of those young kids with so much determination to be educated, even if it meant studying under the blazing sun. There now stands a large school at that very spot that the students decided to name after me—The Kyleigh Kuhn School. Last Summer I returned to Mir Bocha Kot to visit the 255 students of this school. I reunited with the sons of driver, who are now taller than me and can speak English!
What’s your next project?
I’m currently working on a new project called Twenty Four Suns
. It connects the fashion industry with the non-profit sector, establishing collaborations between sustainably-minded designers and skilled women’s groups in Afghanistan to create quality products. For every product purchased, DoT will provide a relative amount of chicks to Afghan women, providing a more sustainable livelihood for the producer and a meaningful purchase for the buyer.
What was the easiest or hardest thing about modeling for Opening Ceremony?
Easiest: The staff!
Hardest: Getting there on time from Greenpoint—I’m still mastering the G train…
If you could steal one thing from today’s shoot what would it be?
Oh my gosh! Everything. I really dug the blouses by A. Wang, but the wedges are what I’m still drooling over.
Essential photo shoot song?
Anything pop! I generally listen to classic rock, but photo shoots call for pop ;)
Most prized possession?
Great-grand mother’s wedding ring. I lost it once and put up hundreds of posters around Berkeley only to find it later that night literally under my nose—I took off my boots in dismay and out it rolled on to the floor in front of me. Just like Grandma Helen to pull a prank like that!
Best gift you've ever received?
A box sent by my friend back home, Laura, with the following contents:
a sphinx scarf, American flag socks, 2 thrift-store dresses, Here Is New York, by E.B. White, a super long gold chain, and potpourri.
Best past Halloween costume?
Dog the Bounty Hunter
What is something that everyone should try at least once?
Moving to a new city alone. It crystallizes who you are in a way nothing else can.
Visit Kyleigh's blog at www.twentyfoursuns.com
and the Roots of Peace website at www.rootsofpeace.org
for more info...