Kokie Childers (née Rae-Anne) is a study in contrasts. Her style is still constantly evolving, yet she’s firmly grounded in who she is. She’s a sought-after model, capturing the attention of highly visible brands, creative directors and magazine editors, and a brainy environmental sciences post-bacc pursuing a graduate degree and eventual career in the scientific field. She possesses both an otherworldly ethereal energy and an earthy old-soul wisdom that’s thoughtful, empathic and profound beyond her years. It’s in this tension, the space she occupies between two disparate worlds, where her intangible magic exists. She’s authentic without even trying. Original without a second thought. We recently caught up with the alluring Queens, New York native to discuss her scientific alter ego, how she got her start in modeling, why she loves the Levi’s® 501® and who currently inspires her.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE?
So, I’m still expanding and developing my style, but it’s currently a mix of pieces from artists that I support in my community, hand-me-downs that I’m attached to from friends and family and brands that I feel are creating unsuspecting, functional, sustainable and comfortable pieces.
YOU GOT TO WEAR THE NEW 501® ’90S FIT FOR YOUR SHOOT. IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT MAKES THE LEVI’S® 501® SO ICONIC?
The Levi’s® 501® Jeans are iconic because they can fit into anyone’s routine and they give just the right touch to my dream denim look. I love the way wearing my 501® on set affirmed my comfort and gave me the empowerment to move freely with graceful form. My first 501® memory was in an L Train Vintage store in Brooklyn, N.Y., where I was drawn to a pair that stood out because of the gracefully aged and edgy silhouette. It was an instant purchase and I knew from there my 501® would be my go-to when I want a reliable and harmonious denim fit.
HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INTO SCIENCE? WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO PURSUE THIS FIELD OF STUDY?
I initially wanted to become an eye surgeon because I developed a condition called strabismus in both of my eyes when I was younger and wanted to be able to give people the same empowerment and confidence that my eye surgeon gave me. So, my introduction to science stemmed from being enamored by the human eye and the technology behind treatments in optometry and ophthalmology. In high school I interned at an optometry clinic, and when I started college I was a biology major for the first two-and-a-half years with the plan to work towards medical school.
YOUR FOCUS IS ON ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES. CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR SPECIFIC AREA OF RESEARCH?
I am still actually working towards joining an academic lab to conduct research as a graduate student, once I decide on a program. I have a hobby of reading about how plants, fruits, fungi, algae and some bacteria benefit our bodies. If I’m able to conduct research where I am able to explore the bioactive compounds present in these things, I would focus on developing solutions for challenges in biochemistry, nutritional physiology and green chemistry.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO MODELING? WAS THIS BY PURE HAPPENSTANCE OR SOMETHING YOU ACTIVELY PURSUED?
I was only a sophomore in college when creatives here in New York took an interest in my look and collaborated with me on shoots. I actually used to have clear skin but developed ephelides on my face in my preteen years and over the years they have continued to develop in an unusual pattern. Because of my changing look, the first few years of doing work I was shy and not very ambitious about modeling. But once I really paid attention to the commitment and work that goes into productions, I realized the importance of the impression I was making with the brands and creatives I was connecting with. I have grown more comfortable with myself and realize that the changes my body has gone through have been significant to adapt to be the best vessel for my personal journey. Today, I am grateful for every casting director, photographer, agent, brand and creative that has opened doors to modeling opportunities.
HOW DO YOU BALANCE YOUR SCIENTIFIC ASPIRATIONS WITH YOUR BURGEONING MODELING CAREER?
I balance my scientific aspirations and modeling accomplishments by doing my best to honor the habit of waking up early and ready each day. I have to stay on top of communication, organized and consistent, so that if anything spontaneous like a casting or confirmed booking comes up, I am able to plan my schedule accordingly. I am grateful to be working remotely as a chemistry instructor, so I set my own schedule and work 30 hours every week right now. I feel like because my appearance is very specific, I don’t always have tons of bookings back-to-back (making my schedule less hectic), but the bookings I do get, I am always prepared and grateful for. I don’t always get to make it to every casting or fashion week season, but I know I do my best and I never look at anything with expectations, only with grace.
WHAT IS CURRENTLY INSPIRING YOU RIGHT NOW?
Honestly, right now Prince, Madonna and Janet Jackson have all been my major sources of inspiration and empowerment. I’ve been enjoying their accomplishments in their discography, interviews and taste. I appreciate how the messages they represent speak to not being afraid to have a different appeal that challenges the norm, as well as living to your fullest potential and staying dedicated to growth.
DO YOU HAVE A PERSONAL MANTRA OR AN AFFIRMATION THAT HELPS GUIDE YOU?
To stay guided, I have this quote by Imam Ali written in my journal: “Two things define you: Your patience when you have nothing and your attitude when you have everything.”