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 – 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 what’s she looking for in an American boy and reasons why she’s not down with “O.P.P.”

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] No… It’s not because of your economy. I have been meaning to make my way over there for awhile, it’s just that I’ve never been to the States before and I’m really excited to make my first trip, soon. I just have so much going on here in London and I feel that it’s best to crossover once I’ve established my business here first. However, I’m meaning to make a temporary trip over there for a few months to see how the U.S. lifestyle is. I have heard that it’s very different from London and the work prospects may also be different.

B&B: You have a very exotic look to yourself. What’s your background?
I am a woman of color and the culture I’m coming from is that of a very large Mediterranean family. I have yet to see a woman in the business representing for where I’m from. It’s quite rare to see a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern woman making a name for themselves in fashion and modeling. I appreciate the response that I’ve been getting from my fans here in London and thankfully – with Beauty & Brains – 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. It’s just difficult to decide where to go first… I’m having a tough time deciding between New York, Los Angeles and Miami. They all seem to be great places and from what I’ve heard they’re all great for what I want to do… But watch out – 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 “Spotlight” every time I’m 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. It’s only too true what she’s singing about! Amy Winehouse is good for getting me in the mood to just chill out. She’s from Camden Town and if you’ve ever visited London and go to Camden, you can really feel Amy’s 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. It’s refreshing to hear something new like that. A lot of the beats that he works on but with him, it’s not just the music, I love the way that he performs. I saw him perform with Leonna Lewis at the MTV VMA’s 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 can’t wait for that! I think they’re 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 don’t pay attention to too much political propaganda. I’m 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. It’s getting bad, though… A bottle of Evian water cost me £1.89 (…over $3 USD…) and that’s just for the small size bottle of water! But to be honest, it’s not the economy I worry about here in London, it’s the rise of the gun and knife crimes amongst young boys. This year alone we’ve 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 “gang” 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 aren’t in the right place anyways. There have been a lot of propaganda about this issue in the papers and it’s 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 don’t realize that – instead of being able to say to their Wall Street pals, “I’ve tripled my wealth and am buying three new yachts,” 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 don’t 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 I’m doing very seriously – I have no time for giving anyone an opportunity to say anything about me and I don’t have the time to say anything about anyone else. It’s really unfortunate to know that because of certain people the reputation of being an “urban model” has turned into somewhat of a joke. In London, it’s hard to not be an urban model if you’re a certain height, skin color or take on a certain job. I have to be very careful with what jobs I take – as one bad choice could ruin your career or end it even before it’s begun. That’s really the problem you have with the girls now trying to make it as a model – doing too many videos at the same time, plastering their face on anyone or anything. I’d 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 wouldn’t say that I was looking – per se – 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?
That’s a really good question! Hmm… 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 – which is something good to have in your corner. But if I had to choose… it would be Tupac! I am a huge fan of his life and he’s just a legend. His music speaks to me on a level that no other artist has been able to reach and I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s a fan. To this day there is not another rapper that I feel has more of a purpose rapping than Tupac did… but that’s 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 “O.P.P.” But to say that I’m down with “other people’s property” ain’t 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 that’s 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 yeah… 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 accents… I can’t 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 haven’t really affected it, but I have noticed a lot of people are getting into the political subject a lot more than before… 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 it’s had an affect over there, as well as here, but I don’t 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. I’m working towards the goal and the route I’m 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 – 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 “celebrity.” 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 “bigger picture” 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 won’t do that for nothing… that won’t change.

With all the financial bullish going on… doesn’t 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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