We had the good fortune of connecting with Kia Billinger and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kia, any advice for those thinking about whether to keep going or to give up?
This question comes up quite often, and at times can be difficult to answer. I’ve gone back and forth and have asked this question of myself about my modeling career and my nursing career. Becoming a model and a Registered Nurse (RN), were both dreams of mine that became a reality; had I given up on either dream, I wouldn’t be where I am today. On the pursuit to becoming both a model and RN, I had challenges like most people would. My family and close friends had a front row seat in seeing the hurt, disappointment, frustration, sleepless nights during nursing school, the financial burdens of trying to become a successful model, and the sacrifices I made. They felt every emotion, were tired of seeing me try my best to not see any progress, and would bring up the ever so dreadful idea of quitting. I know at some point family and friends stopped believing in the fact that my dreams would become a reality, because I too, although briefly, believed they were right. My parents raised me to push through the difficult times, to rise above any situation, and to never give up no matter how hard things get. I kicked things into high gear when it came to my dreams and the things I pursued. I constantly fought the idea to give up because I know of so many successful people in this world, and had they given up, they wouldn’t be the success stories we all know and love. I am not exactly where I want to be as a model and RN, but I know that giving up is not an option, and I have to keep going no matter what. I will leave you with this… KEEP GOING, AND NEVER GIVE UP, YOU GOT THIS!!!!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
This may sound conceited, but I mean this in the most innocent and humble way, I myself am art. The main thing that sets me apart from others is being myself; no one will ever have that power but me and I have learned to find beauty in that over the years. I am most proud of my ability to keep going day in and day out, while being in constant, excruciating pain every day with no relief. I don’t think most people understand how it feels to be in constant, debilitating pain for a long period of time, and still push through life. Depression knocks on the door of chronic pain sufferers making everything more challenging, but we do our best and still show up, and for that I am proud of myself. Professionally, I am in a good place, I’m definitely not where I want to be, but I’m much further than I was a year ago. I am a Target Certified Plus Size Fit Model, which means I am a live mannequin and offer my technical expertise on how a garment feels on my body. I am also a fit model for many other well known brands, and none of this would have been possible without God, my friend Jennifer P., who encouraged me many times to submit myself to my current Fit Modeling Agency, and the hard work of my agents, who constantly submit me to various clients for potential regular work. Prior to signing to a fit agency, I was submitting myself to tons of other agencies for print and commercial work, which I have yet to be successful, as far as obtaining a contract with an agent who wants to see me succeed and who submits me regularly, for potential work. I have landed contracts for print work before, but did not have an agent who believed in me, so I quickly became what we call a “Wall Girl” or someone who is signed but does not work. This is still a struggle for me but I won’t give up, because being a working model (not only a Fit Model) has been a dream of mine for some time, so I have to keep going until it happens. Some lessons I have learned along the way are you have to believe in yourself, even when others don’t, including your family and close friends. I learned that you have to do the work, things will not be handed to you because you have a pretty face and beautiful body. You have to invest a lot of money into your dreams, and may need to get a part-time job to help fund your dreams and that is okay. I learned that you have to eat well and workout, to keep your body functioning in an optimal state, no matter what size you are. I want the world to know that I believe in God, and that I am nothing without Him. I want the world to know I love creating content for others to enjoy, I don’t take myself too seriously, I love to sing and dance, I love making people laugh, I’m an empath, I’m an introvert but also enjoy spending time with friends and family, I smile A LOT, I love seeing others happy and doing well, and I love using my gift of encouraging others.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
If one of my best friends were visiting the area for a week, I would take them to places that would spark joy and happiness. Going to various beaches in SoCal, various museums like, California African American Museum, The Getty Museum, and The Museum of Tolerance. I would take my best friend to a few delicious vegan eateries like, Stuff I Eat, Monty’s Good Burger, Seabirds in Long Beach, Sage Bistro, Real Food Daily, and the vegan food truck festival that happens every Sunday in NoHo, just to name a few. We would go to this amazing brunch called Brunch 2 Bomb, that happens once a month, and plays 90’s R&B music that makes you feel good. We would also attend this day party event called Everyday People, for good music and a vibe. Hit up a few concerts, and attend some live music events. I would take my best friend to the city of Pasadena for great food, bars, and beautiful scenery. We would definitely hang out with my other friends and have a girls night at my house, so we can let our hair down, dance, sing, and just have a good time. If there are good movies out, we will catch a movie.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to give a HUGE shoutout to God, my mom Nikita, my Dad Herbert, my Sister Porshia, my Nephew Franco, my best friends Britany C., Dominique L., and Rashaud J., and my good friend Jennifer P. All of these people played a part in my journey and without their encouragement, shoulders to cry on, resources, and just that extra push I needed to keep going, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I am forever thankful for my tribe. God opened doors I would have never been able to open, He loved me past my pain, protected me from certain people and situations, and allowed for certain things to happen to me to strengthen me and my faith. I am nothing without God and I truly believe that all things are possible with God.
Other: TikTok: https://vm.tiktok.com/ojvV93/
Photographers: UndergroundNYC, Eyeattraction, ShotbySean, Gary Winfield, Kenisha Gill, Lesley Pedraza. Makeup Artist: Claudia Rivas