A Kiki with Keenon
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Mr. Personality, Keenon Walker, a few weeks ago at one of his favorite haunts, SoPro Taproom. We talked photography, Berlin, and binge watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Referring to the latter, he confesses, “I know every line.”
A fixture of the Burg’s downtown scene, Mr. Walker is hard to miss. If you don’t hear his infectious laughter first, or see his winning smile, you certainly can’t ignore his prized Nikon d5100, an accessory he never leaves home without.
He is the definition of a multihyphenate: Owner of boutique public relations firm, KW PR & Consulting, Social Media Guru and Photographer for Hattiesburg’s Historic Downtown Association, Stage Manager to the Hattiesburlesque dance troupe, and a founding father of Southern Fried PRIDE, Hattiesburg’s LGBTQ+ pride celebration.
A self-described workaholic, Keenon, sets himself apart from other young professionals with a supreme work ethic. The 33-year-old defines success as “doing what you love and being able to work with creative, like-minded people.”
Whether chatting about his flourishing career or jaunts abroad to Amsterdam, Athens, and Paris while working with the University of Southern Mississippi, he is humble and genuinely appreciative of each opportunity. He graciously adds, “The downtown community has really allowed me to come into my own.”
Lens Lovin’ Globetrotter
Now back to that Nikon. Mr. Walker’s camera craze began as a child while taking pictures of his large extended family at reunions and social gatherings. Fast forward 22 years later, Keenon rediscovers his love of photography while working with USM’s study abroad program in Pontlevoy, France and London, England. The ancient architectural treasures of France’s Loire Valley and London’s curious city dwellers were ideal subjects for practicing and perfecting his eye.
Keenon prefers photographing people, specifically complete strangers, to landscapes. A member of the Burg’s burgeoning creative class, Keenon won 1st place in the people category and 1st and 2nd place prizes in the design elements category at the Hattiesburg Art Council’s 2014 Amateur Photography Show. He hopes to participate in future Art Walks and the Art Council’s open studio.
“Downtown Hattiesburg is a little slice of heaven. I want people to see my photos of the people and the buildings downtown and come and visit. ” I think a photography show of his historic downtown ‘Burg shots is in order!
He may be an anglophile at heart, but Berlin is his international locale of choice. “I didn’t expect to fall in love with Berlin, but it’s a magical place.” And even though his passport is nearly full, this Greek mythology nerd can’t wait to return to the birthplace of western civilization. “The last time I went, I didn’t have my Nikon. Cell phone pictures (of Greece) don’t quite cut it.” Along with keen photography skills, it seems Mr. Walker also picked up an insatiable ‘joie de vivre’ while living in France.
As Stage Manager for Hattiesburlesque, he is responsible for the placement of each show’s eye-catching sets and kitschy props reminiscent of burlesque’s glory days from the 1940’s and 1950’s. He admits to having spent his life around strong, confident, and empowered women. And the darlings of Hattiesburlesque are no exception.
“The group is so supportive. It’s about love and art and that’s why I wanted to do it. It’s a roller coaster of awesomeness!”
Keenon tells me that Southern Fried PRIDE, in partnership with the Spectrum Center, is his biggest accomplishment to date. Last October, for the first time in our city’s history, an enthusiastic crowd of 300 LGBTQ supporters showed up to participate in a flawless foot march, an authentic PRIDE parade! This year’s parade, slated for October 8 is already in the works.