“Don’t be afraid to question ideas and concepts and make an effort to find truth on your own.” – Ebony McKinney
We all lead hectic lives, but some among us could teach a multi-tasking master class. Welcome to Face Time. DFW Style Daily’s exclusive series goes beyond the runways to get to know top Dallas models on a personal level. Today, we’ll meet one very busy lady who boasts both brains and beauty.
After setting a solid foundation in software engineering, Ebony McKinney pursued her lifelong dream of modeling. She now toggles between two thriving careers, while maintaining motherhood as the most important job of all. We had to ask: How does she do it?
Read on for Ebony’s words of wisdom, multi-tasking tips, and the high-powered hobby that helps her keep her cool.
Name: Ebony McKinney
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
Agency: The Clutts Agency
Notable Clients: Nordstrom, RSC Show Productions, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Good Morning Texas, JCPenney, American Airlines, Kaufman Franco, KMS California, Wella Hair Color, Six Flags, Domino’s Pizza, Esé Azenabor, Nerium Skin Care
DFW Style Daily: At what age did you begin modeling? Were you scouted or did you pursue modeling as a career?
Ebony McKinney: “I didn’t begin modeling until about three years ago. I was approached by scouts often while I was growing up, but my mother would not allow me to entertain any of them. Because of this, I had buried the possibility of modeling in the back of my mind, deciding instead to focus on my studies. Years later, after establishing my tech career, I decided to stop putting limits on myself and pursue modeling, as well.”
Tell us about a lesson you have learned from your work in the fashion industry.
“One of my mentors in the industry here in Dallas, Willie Johnson, III, taught me that, aside from outer appearance, work ethic and personality has much of an influence on how frequently you are booked.”
What is the craziest, silliest, or most unusual thing you have ever done on assignment?
“The craziest assignment I’ve had so far was working as a body paint model at a makeup convention. I was hired to walk around in nothing but abstract body paint. There were probably over 100 people who stopped me and asked for a photo. Even my hair was painted!”
Changing gears, you mentioned earlier that you have a career focus outside the field of modeling. Tell us about your work as a software engineer.
“I have a degree in Computer Science from the University of Oklahoma. I am currently a software test engineer for an awesome marketing and tech company in Highland Park. I’ve worked for IBM, Ebay, PayPal, Gamestop Corporation, and Intuit in the past. I enjoy the tech industry because it gives me the opportunity to exercise the analytical part of my brain. I get a lot of satisfaction from it, and it allows me to provide a good living for my children.”
What, if anything, do your two jobs have in common?
“They are actually pretty similar, with regards to networking and how you handle job assignments. Visibility and preparation can take you a long way in both fields.”
In addition to juggling dual careers, you are a working mom. Tell us about your little ones.
“My most important job is being a mom. I am mother to a 12-year-old boy and a 7-year-old girl. My son is very bright. He loves to read, and is following in mommy’s footsteps by attending a science and engineering academy. My daughter loves art. She paints and designs clothes for her Barbie dolls. It seems they each took one side of my brain.”
Do you have any tips or tricks for other moms who might be juggling very busy schedules?
“Being a successful working mom calls for a good support system. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from loved ones and friends when things start to become a bit hectic. I make strategic decisions when it comes to child care, schools, and extra-curricular activities, in order to help facilitate our busy lifestyle, and make our routine more efficient.”
What lessons do you hope to pass on to your children?
“I hope my children can look at me and see that they can do and be whatever it is they desire, even if people tell you it’s hard, or that it doesn’t make sense. Many people told me I was too old to be a runway model; they told me it was too late to try to become a model. I ignored those people, and made it my mission to prove them wrong.
“I also teach my children to march to the beat of their own drum. Don’t believe it, just because someone told you to. Don’t be afraid to question ideas and concepts and make an effort to find truth on your own.”
Do you have any special talents or interests? Surprise us!
“I received the highest SAT score in my high school, and I went to college on a full academic scholarship. I am also a sci-fi geek, and I’m obsessed with zombie books, movies, and TV shows.”
Finally, describe your perfect ‘go anywhere, do anything’ day in Dallas:
“On rare days that I have free time, I like to go to Top Golf with my family. Or, if my kids are with their dad, I will drive all over Dallas, shopping at various thrift stores. I also frequent the DFW Gun Range with my 9mm and 12-gauge shot gun, for some safe target practice and a little stress relief.”
All images courtesy of Ebony McKinney and The Clutts Agency.