Cars get you places. Speeding through highways or cruising down streets, they drive you to your destination. But when Ke’Andrea “Kiki” Ayers was 16, her car only drove her to dream about a better life. At the time, she was making stellar grades, helping take care of her younger brother, and living out of the back of a white Ford Taurus.
Now 23, Kiki recalls when her family was evicted from their Seattle apartment and forced into homelessness after her mother fell sick, unable to work.“I watched my brother cry because we had to get rid of all his stuff; you can only fit so much in a car.”
For months, Kiki slept with her mother, sister, and brother in the Taurus, did her makeup there, and got to school early to use the showers. She always covered up her situation with a smile on her face, proving her shining resilience that would motivate the successes she enjoys today. That, and the reminder to herself: “You deserve more.”
Education was key. Kiki enrolled in Running Start to attend college courses at the local community college, obtaining her Associate’s degree at the same time as her high school diploma. She convinced her elder sister to apply to colleges with her, making them the first generation of their family to attend.
Kiki took Howard University by storm, getting into high gear and literally chasing down executives to land internships with comp 95.5 WPGC, Atlantic Records, BET, and MTV, just to name a few. After earning her degree in Broadcast Journalism, she moved to New York City to work full-time for MTV, where she still is today.
Kiki encourages girls in situations like hers seven years ago to “keep going,” and advises them, “Don’t use it as an excuse…the only thing that can limit you is yourself.”
To keep track of this unstoppable Industry Chick, catch her on Twitter @KikiAyers