The triple-threat singer/dancer/actor developed an affinity for the bright lights of the stage at age 3 after her mother enrolled her in 1998 at Fancy Dancer, a dance studio in her hometown of Dublin, Ga., and she began learning to master ballet, tap and jazz “before I even realized what I was doing.”
Ki’loni spent her spare time as a child watching Dakota Fanning and other young starlets dancing, singing and acting on television and knew she wanted to be just like them.
“I kind of just knew I wanted to entertain,” she said.
Throughout the years, Ki’loni expanded her dance repertoire to include hip-hop and pointe.
In 2006, she won the West Coast Dance Explosion scholarship in Atlanta, brought home the 2007 High Gold Award for Duo Dance at the Access Broadway Competition, and snagged the first-place dance trophy at the Platinum Awards.
On March 23, Ki’loni will be onstage at 4 p.m. at the CrossRoadsNews 2013 Summer Camp Expo at the Mall at Stonecrest.
She will bring the keen ear for music she developed from listening to the vocal stylings of Lauryn Hill, Michael Jackson and Christina Aguilera.
The multitalented Ki’loni learned to play the drums and the flute in middle school and is currently learning the guitar. She also has tried a hand at acting. When she was 16, she got her start as a backup dancer for R&B artist Jacob Latimore.
After ending a 32-city stint in 2011 on the SCREAM Tour with Latimore and other headliners like Diggy Simmons and the OMG Girlz, she began exploring her own music.
“After seeing other artists my own age, it kind of gave me that boost of encouragement to actually go forth with it,” she said this week.
Last spring, she released her first single, “I’m That Girl,” which she will perform from the Summer Camp Main Stage in front of Sears on the mall’s lower level.
Ki’loni says she strives to set an example for her peers.
“When I entertain, I want to make sure that I inspire people and I want to make sure that I get a positive message across because nowadays for girls and women, we’re exposed to unladylike things,” she said. “As an artist, I want to make sure that I maintain a sense of classiness but still trendy and stylish.”
Ki’loni, who was a three-year victim of continuous verbal bullying in elementary school, also wants to discourage bullying. She says she knows the toll bullying can take on a person’s self-esteem.
“[It was] telling me I’m not pretty or telling people not to play with me or taking my stuff,” she said.
A female classmate also threatened to take her back to her hometown and shoot her in the head.
“That was very scary because I was the new kid and in a new environment, and that can be intimidating,” Ki’loni said.
On Feb. 22, she launched Bully Yourself, an anti-bullying campaign to raise awareness and reduce the number of bullying incidents among teens. She visits local schools to tell her story and uses her music and dance to motivate students to take a stand against violence.
“I just want them to know that it’s OK to tell,” she said. “Because as a teenager, we have this image or reputation to where we don’t want to seem like a snitch. Or we want to fit in and be cool. But being cool is not bullying somebody and making them feel less than their actual value.”
Ki’loni’s love of performing has taken her throughout the country. She has performed to audiences in sold-out venues like the Philips Arena during halftime shows for the Atlanta Hawks. Last year, she opened for R&B boy band Mindless Behavior’s 25-city #1 Girl Tour.
Before being home schooled in 2011, she was a straight-A student on the principal’s list at Chapel Hill High in Douglasville.
For more information, visit kilonilee.com.