By Tammy Reese
Welcome to NYWIFT, LaKisa Renee! LaKisa is a multitalented media/film industry professional, journalist, host, actress, videographer, voice artist, and award-winning makeup artist. She is the owner and Founder of LaKisa Renee Entertainment, a media, fashion and events company. As a media professional, she is a contributing journalist for Cultured Focus Magazine, In Black Magazine, and Steller Magazine.
She’s covered prestigious events such as the Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, Emmy Awards, The Soul Train Awards, The BET Awards Weekend, New York Fashion Week: The Shows, The Culture Creators Innovators & Leaders Brunch, Miami Swim Week: The Shows, Hamptons Fashion Week, Black Fashion Week MN at Paisley Park, Met Gala Events, Dave Chappelle & Friends/Untitled Documentary Screening, Triller Verzuz Battles, The Harriet Tubman Freedom Music Festival, New York City Horror Festival, New Jersey Horror Con & Film Festival. She has hosted many events for New York Fashion Week and major fashion and entertainment companies as well as events of her own through her entertainment company.
She’s interviewed and covered notable celebrities including: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Ryan Coogler, Jennifer Connelly, Vivica A. Fox, Bethann Hardison, Hill Harper, Lisa Cortes, Sonia Curry Erica Nicole Malone, Gayle King, Tyler Perry, Levar Burton, Laurence Fishburne, Lynn Whitfield, Antonio Banderas, Penelope Cruz, Simon Baker, Dave Chappelle, Swizz Beats, D-Nice, Jimmy Jam, H.E.R., Sean Patrick Flannery, Matthew Knowles, Attorney Ben Crump, Pharrell, Spike Lee, Al Sharpton, Pam Grier, Neyo, Fetty Wap, Naturi Naughton, CEO of Ruff Ryders Waah Dean, G Herbo, Celebrity Stylist Zerina Akers, Mya, Ryan Destiny, Jay Reeves, Baby Tate, Sevyn Streeter, Marion Ramsey, Michael Winslow, Fiona Dourif, Bia Ling, The D.O.C., Kurupt, Xzibit, Caldecot “Chubby” Chubbs, Kasi Lemmons, Kristy Swanson, Alex Vincent, and many more.
She has over 20 years in the entertainment industry and has been featured in publications such as The Los Angeles Tribune, New York Today, Sheen Magazine, Essence Magazine, Wendy Williams Magazine, Swag Her Magazine, Hustle & Soul, BIZBoost, Urban Signature Magazine, and Red Ink Magazine.
As an actress, LaKisa has appeared in numerous commercials & Independent films featuring celebrities such as Clifton Powell, Robin Givens, Jamal Woolard, Mika Abdalla, Margaret Cho, Paris Jackson & Jake Short. Her award wins include the 2019 National Women of Strength Award. Upper State Independent Award Best Entertainment Promoter, 2018 Best Makeup Artist, and the Y.A.R.D. Kids Asset Award.
LaKisa spoke to us about her wide range of roles in media, fashion, and entertainment.
Please tell us about your proudest moments to date in the film, television, and media spaces.
I have so many proud moments, the first ones that come to mind are covering the Sundance Film Festival, the Tribeca Film Festival, and Culture Creators Innovators & Leaders Awards. I had the chance to meet so many people who inspired me and interview so many legends in the industry.
Attending the Emmy Awards and going viral in a GIF with the cast of Pose will always be memorable for me. Also going toe to toe with Actress Robin Givens in a movie scene will always be one of my proudest moments.
We are excited to learn about your journey and accolades in the fashion industry. What can you share with us?
I’ve been in the fashion industry for over 20 years. I started out modeling first then I started doing makeup professionally. I then created my own fashion/entertainment company and progressed into managing models, casting for major brands, being a creative director, and coordinating fashion shows.
I’ve had the honor of coordinating and walking in multiple shows for NYFW, Couture Fashion Week, Syracuse Fashion Week, the Faces of Beauty Modeling Team, and more. I’ve also covered and attended Miami Swim Week, Hamptons Fashion Week, Black Fashion Week MN at Paisley Park, the Met Gala Afterparty and more as a journalist. Some of the celebrity designers I’ve covered include Tom Ford, Laquan Smith, Dior, Sergio Hudson, Dennis Basso, Batsheva, Jason Wu, Coach, Romeo Hunte, Tory Burch, Negris Le Brum, Michael Kors, and Thom Browne.
Among your many talents, you’re a trained martial arts professional. How did you get into this field? What have been some of those achievements?
Growing up I was super athletic and my dad was a trained boxer. I was obsessed with martial arts films and I would always say that I was going to be the female Bruce Lee or Billy Blanks. I first started training as a boxer and then got my certification to become a cardio kickboxing instructor. That led me into meeting my Sifu Sharif Bey who noticed my talent, drive, strength, ability to learn techniques, and pick up fight choreography easily. From there he set out to make me the next female action star. I joined Syracuse Kung Fu where I began to study martial arts, stunt, and weapons training.
I made my first action short with my Sifu titled Enuf based on the movie Enough starring Jennifer Lopez. It was written/directed by Sharif Bey and filmed/edited by Finally Focused Films. Our short film received great reviews from our Urban Action Showcase which is held in NYC by founder Demetrius Angelo and sponsored by HBO, Cinemax, and WB.
Makeup artistry is something else you’re extremely passionate about. What are the origins of this and what makeup artist projects have you worked on?
As an art student I loved to paint, draw and sculpt. When I started modeling I would encounter makeup artists that were not good at doing makeup for my particular skin tone. So I figured since I was an artist I would try to do my own makeup at these shoots. I practiced a lot and noticed that makeup artistry came naturally to me. I ended up attending Continental Beauty School to get my professional license as an esthetician and makeup artist so that I could do makeup for others.
I’ve done makeup for NYFW fashion shows, modeling shoots, and magazine covers including one for writer/producer Robin Hertz-Hempel, music artists, commercials, and films. I’ve also done Halloween face painting events, and theatrical/special effects makeup, and competed in the ACR Health Hair Blowout Competition which I won 1st place for Best Makeup.
My most recent makeup work was as the head/lead makeup artist for the short film Dread Count which was filmed late last year.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently writing for Cultured Focus Magazine, In Black Magazine, and Steller Magazine as well as working on publications, marketing, and promotion for industry and business clients. I’m preparing to travel for upcoming festivals and event coverage. I’m also working on launching a new media podcast and getting prepared to start training again for some upcoming martial arts movie roles.
Why did you join NYWIFT and what do you love about the organization?
I joined NYWIFT because I’ve always wanted to be a part of the prestigious organization for women since I first heard about it. I love the diversity, inclusivity, and support that NYWIFT offers. They truly pour into women in the film and TV industries in front of and behind the camera. I think it’s amazing how the organization offers training programs, awards, grants and scholarships to women creatives, and highlights members’ achievements. I’m honored to be a part of this wonderful sisterhood.
What else would you like our readers to know about you and what can we be on the lookout for?
I would also like readers to know that I’m a licensed esthetician and I own a beauty & wellness business called Le Du Jour. I’m currently developing a product line that will feature skincare, makeup, and fitness items for the brand.
Welcome to NYWIFT, Candece Tarpley! Candece Tarpley, of Sissipahaw/Tuscarora/Tsalagi descent, is a World Champion Powwow dancer, an actress and a poet-storyteller-playwright who has been writing since childhood. Holding her heritage close, she's been a featured performer nationwide, weaving her crafts with the patrons of the Public Library of Boulder Colorado; Middlebury College in Vermont; Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts; the Pequot Museum in Connecticut; the Brooklyn Museum and the Museum of Natural History in New York City, as well as other creative venues. Candece spoke to us about how her Indigenous heritage influences her work, the response to her television series, and her next major projects.READ MORE
Welcome to NYWIFT, new member Chloë Levine! Chloë is an award-winning filmmaker who has worked as an actress, director, screenwriter, and producer. Learn more about Chloë as we discuss her 2014 debut short that earned praise at a well-known film festival, some of the screen goddesses that served as her muses during her earlier years, and the wide range of projects she has contributed to artistically, in addition to other fun topics!READ MORE
Let’s welcome new member Arielle Duran to NYWIFT! Having been raised in Ridgewood, Queens, Arielle Duran is a proud New Yorker and versatile storyteller of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent. Since graduating from the University of South Florida's Zimmerman School, where she studied broadcasting and production, Arielle’s theatrical talents have been showcased in notable television shows such as The Calling and American Rust, among other projects. In addition to acting, Arielle is currently pursuing screenwriting as a graduate student at the Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema. Arielle spoke to us about her New York roots, storytelling, and honing her craft.READ MORE
We are thrilled to welcome new NYWIFT member Isi Laborde! Isi is a Brooklyn-based actor (AEA, SAG/AFTRA). Her film roles include Return to Montauk, directed by Academy Award-winner Volker Schlöndorff, and Jay-Z’s music video “Smile,” directed by Grammy-winner Miles Jay. She has had TV appearances in Facebook TV's Strangers and Paramount's Younger. Theater credits include The Bacchae at La Mama Experimental Theatre Club and Skip to My Lou at Theater for the New City. Isi spoke to us about her craft, how she kept up her creativity during COVID, and her dream role!READ MORE