How Kaci the Model became Detroit’s biggest and brightest child star since Aaliyah

At only 11 years old, Kaci is a rapper, singer, actor, and yes, model

Mar 22, 2023 at 4:00 am
click to enlarge Kaci the Model. - Kahn Santori Davison
Kahn Santori Davison
Kaci the Model.

Kaci, her sister Kalyx, and dancers Omaria (aka Mushy) and Kassidy are in the lobby of the New Center's Fisher Building doing what energetic tween girls do best: make TikTok videos. Dressed in coordinating pink and white outfits, they pop, they lock, they spin, and they dip to Lil Boosie's "Watch My Shoes." A quick foray down Kaci the Model's Instagram page and you'll see that she does this a lot, a whole lot. At only 11 years old, Kaci is a rapper, singer, actor, and yes, model who has amassed more than 100,000 Instagram followers, 13,000 YouTube subscribers, and a fanbase that stretches across the country. She's cute, talented, charming, and recently toured with teenage phenom Lay Lay. In 2021, she landed a major part in her biggest role to date in BET's American Gangster Presents: Big 50 - The Delrhonda Hood Story.

"I just started taking pictures of her when she was a baby," her mother Corynn Smyth says. "She did her first audition at eight months [for a commercial]. From that point they started saying she looks just like a little Rihanna."

Kaci went on to win multiple Rihanna look-alike contests, has been a mainstay on the child modeling circuit, and has been featured guest on The Wendy Williams Show, Access Hollywood, and the Tamron Hall Show. She stepped into a recording studio for the first time at 3 years old and by 4 she was releasing music.

"It was fun, I was just playing around," Kaci says, reminiscing on her first time in the studio. "I liked hearing myself and I liked hearing the music."

Her first official single was "Bubble Gum," a fun and friendly bouncy song that sees Kaci rap,"I'm popping like bubblegum / My name is Kaci the model / You can catch me on the runway / I'm popping, popping, popping, popping / All the way from Monday to Sunday..."

"So I like to chew bubblegum, my favorite color is pink, and I'm always popping," Kaci says. "So I put that together and I'm 'popping like bubble gum.'"

"She's different, she's versatile, and it's all clean music... I call it pop hip-hop," says Corynn.

"We don't take shots at anybody, it's fun, happy dancing," adds father Keith Smyth. "She has one called, 'I Did That' [about] how she went from modeling to rapping. She tries to influence the other kids to be themselves."

This past summer Kaci was named "Best Rapper" at Big Sean's annual Don Weekend event.

"She went to the contest and auditioned for the rap category," says Keith. "The judges liked her, they invited her to perform with the Pistons' dancers."

"It felt good to have somebody who's actually from Detroit give me something and for them to also be from Detroit," says Kaci. "I was excited about it."

Along with all her entertainment ventures, Kaci also promotes her very own anti-bullying campaign.

"It's basically trying to stop bullying," Kaci says. "It's just hurtful so we try to stop it. We go to different schools and we perform and tell them to stop bullying."

Though Keith and Corynn have made humongous progress in advancing Kaci's career, they will be the first ones to tell you they aren't masterminds or the Joe Jackson type. There was never an actual plan for all of this.

They say there hasn't been one specific thing that has led to Kaci's accomplishments. It's the result of hard work, her going down so many avenues, and people with good intentions helping along the way.

"From the beginning she's always stood out," Keith says. "It's been all organic, a lot of stuff comes to us from pure hearts and good resources."

Labels and reality shows have reached out, but Keith admits they all want more control than he and Corynn are willing to give. He reminds us that she's still a minor and she's "our daughter." They do entertain all offers, but Kaci isn't needy. They've built a thriving business around her and they take a conservative approach when looking at opportunities and partnerships.

"She owns everything about her, she owns all her music, her publishing, she's her own brand," Keith says. "All her friends and peers are CEOs, each individual has their own brand. We actually work for her!"

Moving forward, Kaci plans to keep releasing singles, touring, making movies, and performing at schools. There's also a podcast in the works.

Detroit hasn't witnessed a young girl as talented as Kaci since the late great Aaliyah.

"They are like the future, they can change the world, a lot of attention is on the kids right now," Keith adds.

"I want to be one of the big wigs," Kaci says.

From the 2023 new Detroit music issue.

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