Reem Kanj

posted October 16, 2008 12:00:00 AM CDT | 60 comments

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As our world is made smaller and unified in a very unique way, HipHopDX and Beauty & Brains have prided itself on establishing its own diversity with your favorite weekly column. We proudly present this University of the Arts Ė London student who is working for her degree in Surface Textiles for Fashion and also has the looks to stop traffic. The 21-year-old Taurus with the beautiful green eyes illuminates from sea to shining sea as she sits down with Beauty & Brains to discuss U.S./U.K. relations, explains whatís she looking for in an American boy and reasons why sheís not down with ďO.P.P.Ē

Beauty & Brains: How come a pretty woman like yourself hasn't made her way to the States, yet? It's not because of our economy, is it?
Reem Kanj:
[Laughs] NoÖ Itís not because of your economy. I have been meaning to make my way over there for awhile, itís just that Iíve never been to the States before and Iím really excited to make my first trip, soon. I just have so much going on here in London and I feel that itís best to crossover once Iíve established my business here first. However, Iím meaning to make a temporary trip over there for a few months to see how the U.S. lifestyle is. I have heard that itís very different from London and the work prospects may also be different.

B&B: You have a very exotic look to yourself. Whatís your background?
I am a woman of color and the culture Iím coming from is that of a very large Mediterranean family. I have yet to see a woman in the business representing for where Iím from. Itís quite rare to see a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern woman making a name for themselves in fashion and modeling. I appreciate the response that Iíve been getting from my fans here in London and thankfully Ė with Beauty & Brains Ė my fan base is growing everyday. In the end, it only pushes me to do more and prove that what I want to achieve can be done.

B&B: How would coming to the States help your career?
Coming to the States would really show me how prepared people are to see a woman like myself make it in the business and I would absolutely love to set the tone for more girls like me to break into the industry. The U.S. presents something new and exciting with the opportunities that I could be blessed with. I am looking very forward to coming over and checking out what could end up working out very well for me. Itís just difficult to decide where to go firstÖ Iím having a tough time deciding between New York, Los Angeles and Miami. They all seem to be great places and from what Iíve heard theyíre all great for what I want to doÖ But watch out Ė your girl Reem will be strutting in the States very soon!

B&B: The other side of the pond has given us some great musical talent - The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Estelle - just to name a few. What type of music gets you going to start your day?
I am absolutely loving Jennifer Hudson at the moment. I listen to ďSpotlightĒ every time Iím walking down Oxford Street and it gets me in the mood for a runway show! I love the tone in her voice and I think she is such a beautiful woman. Her music is easy to relate to and I can appreciate the lyrics. Itís only too true what sheís singing about! Amy Winehouse is good for getting me in the mood to just chill out. Sheís from Camden Town and if youíve ever visited London and go to Camden, you can really feel Amyís whole vibe and get a feel for the music she creates by just walking through there and going down there by the river. I also got Lil Wayne [click to read] fever at the moment! I love his unique sound and flow. Itís refreshing to hear something new like that. A lot of the beats that he works on but with him, itís not just the music, I love the way that he performs. I saw him perform with Leonna Lewis at the MTV VMAís and she blew the roof off with her vocals.

I do work within the music industry out here in London. Most recently, I went to Sony BMG to interview T-Pain. I got to listen to Thr33 Rings exclusively and he was telling me about the album that him and Wayne are doing called T-Wayne. I canít wait for that! I think theyíre both musical geniuses and what they produce together will no doubt be off the hook.

B&B: The world is becoming an even more scarier place with all these changes going on in the environment and politics.. Can you explain what the UK is doing to prevent a financial crisis like what's going on in the U.S.?
To be honest, I donít pay attention to too much political propaganda. Iím not a huge fan of the choices that our governments make. Therefore, I simply continue to control my own finances carefully and try my hardest to not let the credit crunch affect me. Itís getting bad, thoughÖ A bottle of Evian water cost me £1.89 (Öover $3 USDÖ) and thatís just for the small size bottle of water! But to be honest, itís not the economy I worry about here in London, itís the rise of the gun and knife crimes amongst young boys. This year alone weíve seen over 30 murders where those under 21 have been killed on the streets by a knife or a gun. Statistically, London is over five times more dangerous than New York at this present time and it kills me to hear that young boys feel there is no other path in life than to involve themselves in ďgangĒ affiliations.

B&B: What do you think the cause stems from?
I think the government caused the credit crisis and we now have to pay for it. But I believe their priorities arenít in the right place anyways. There have been a lot of propaganda about this issue in the papers and itís causes which lead me to personally believe that the situation, right now, is just a small reality of things to come. A much bigger picture involving greed, money and how most people in the world that are controlling the wealth have no sense of humanity and definitely donít realize that Ė instead of being able to say to their Wall Street pals, ďIíve tripled my wealth and am buying three new yachts,Ē now have to spread their wealth around. A lot more people would respect them for doing something like wiping out poverty in a Third World country or increasing financial responsibility or something.

B&B: What are a few differences between modeling where you're at and the type of stories - if any - that you've heard about urban modeling?
Well, I heard a lot of stories about the industry, but I donít pay too much attention to all the he say/she say stuff. I never think about it that much. All I know is that I take what Iím doing very seriously Ė I have no time for giving anyone an opportunity to say anything about me and I donít have the time to say anything about anyone else. Itís really unfortunate to know that because of certain people the reputation of being an ďurban modelĒ has turned into somewhat of a joke. In London, itís hard to not be an urban model if youíre a certain height, skin color or take on a certain job. I have to be very careful with what jobs I take Ė as one bad choice could ruin your career or end it even before itís begun. Thatís really the problem you have with the girls now trying to make it as a model Ė doing too many videos at the same time, plastering their face on anyone or anything. Iíd like to think that I have a certain exclusivity when it comes to the work that I take on.

B&B: Differences aside - are you looking for an American boy?
[Laughs] Well, I wouldnít say that I was looking Ė per se Ė but you guys definitely have hot accents!

B&B: Would you say that you're looking for a Tupac, a David Beckham or an Obama?
Thatís a really good question! HmmÖ maybe a little bit of all three. A Tupac would definitely be someone I could get inspired by and learn from everyday. A David Beckham would keep me looking fit and healthy. An Obama man would keep my mind on business Ė which is something good to have in your corner. But if I had to chooseÖ it would be Tupac! I am a huge fan of his life and heís just a legend. His music speaks to me on a level that no other artist has been able to reach and Iím sure Iím not the only one whoís a fan. To this day there is not another rapper that I feel has more of a purpose rapping than Tupac didÖ but thatís just my opinion!

B&B: We just recently had the VH1 Hip-Hop Honors where Naughty By Nature had a tribute to their career. Are you down with "O.P.P."?
[Laughs] Even though I was only four-years-old when that song was out, I am familiar with Naughty By Nature [click to read] and ďO.P.P.Ē But to say that Iím down with ďother peopleís propertyĒ ainít really the truth. [Laughs]

B&B: Men in the States seem to have issues with American women and relationships tend to be more arguing than love. Being in a country known for so much culture and romance - what makes you a catch?
I think that romance and culture died before I was born because I have yet to be in a relationship where the arguments are replaced with flattery or romance! I believe that thatís just the way it goes. The minds of men and women are different and arguments are just the part that we each have to get through to know that you can tolerate each other. If a woman who is independent, business-minded and morally strong is a catch, then yeahÖ I guess you could call me a catch.

B&B: Are there any true differences between U.K. women and American ones?
Apart from our accentsÖ I canít really say as I have never been to the States. But it is good to see women from both sides do their thing and go for what they want! It will be very interesting to see for myself when I actually get there.

B&B: How has this new climate of American politics affected the practices in your country?
Well, they havenít really affected it, but I have noticed a lot of people are getting into the political subject a lot more than beforeÖ especially with Obama running for president. It has got everyone interested to see if he can make it and whether or not it will spark the change in our dry political practices.

B&B: Are there any moves being made by the U.K. to support the 2008 elections?
I was at an event the other night and an artist from the U.K. actually went over to the States to contribute towards the campaign by making a track with a producer from Miami. I know itís had an affect over there, as well as here, but I donít think it has gone to the level to affect the political practices in this country.

B&B: With all the things that you're trying to accomplish with your life and career - what is one thing that you're eager to do and why?
I would really like to be fulfilled with myself. I am such a free spirit and with everything I am trying to accomplish I want to make sure I end up happy and my family end up living a really good life. Iím working towards the goal and the route Iím choosing to go down involves a lot of difficult choices to make. With the way I approach each of my obstacles or decisions influence the way I am and the way I come across publicly. I always keep that in mind Ė in regards and respect towards my family, especially.

B&B: Most ladies here now are caught up in a glitz and glamour that comes with ďcelebrity.Ē Is that similar to life over there as a young lady growing up?
I am doing something which not too many girls reach for in the culture I grew up in and I want to make sure that the way I do it allows me to keep my dignity and integrity. I am very down-to-Earth person and I would never want to be perceived as anything other than that. Modeling is not the only aspect of my ambitions. My passion for designing has been with me from a very young age. It is a huge part of my ďbigger pictureĒ and I love the fact that I have not restricted myself to just one of my goals. I am thankful to God for allowing me to have this motivation and will to go for what I want. The only person that can stop anyone is themselves and I wonít do that for nothingÖ that wonít change.

With all the financial bullish going onÖ doesnít the U.K. look that more nice? Be sure to see if Reem Kanj can bring our nations together at her blog [click here].

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