A Texas teen who was recently denied a job at Six Flags over his locs is now turning heads at a local modeling agency, according to The Dallas Morning News.
Kerion Washington of Fort Worth went in for an interview at the popular amusement park in March but left disappointed after a hiring manager told him his shoulder-length locs were “too extreme” of a hairstyle and needed to be cut before they would consider him for a job.
“They told me I could cut my hair and come back, that it’s just hair and it would grow back,” Washington told the Dallas Morning News in a recent interview. “I didn’t want to cut it.”
The rejection left both Washington, 17, and his mother outraged, but little did they know that yet another, potentially lucrative, opportunity was just around the corner.
“One door closed and another one opened,” Washington said after catching the eye of international modeling agency IMG Models.
The agency, which represents big names like Gigi and Bella Hadid, Kate Moss and Ashley Graham, expressed interest in the teen after hearing his story. Corrie Caster, head of development at IMG Los Angeles, said she scouts the world for talent and was unaware of Washington’s experience until a friend sent her an article about it.
Caster told the Morning News that Washington has “a lot of the physical features we look for in our models,” which prompted her to refer him to a local agency that would teach him the basics, like how to walk a runway.
“I hope he’s successful and able to have a platform to use his voice to talk about things that mean something to him, because he will be put in those positions,” Caster said. “I truly believe this story has to be told, and has to be told over and over again.”
So far, Washington said his training is going well. In fact, he said directors called him a “natural ” at his first photo shoot with Jones Model Management last month.
“The shoot wasn’t exhausting at all,” the teen told the newspaper. “It was easy work, and it was really fun.”
Washington’s mother, Karis Washington, was initially furious at Six Flags for passing up her son for job and accused the theme park of discrimination. Now she said she’s thankful for the closed door.
“Thank you, Six Flags!” for not hiring Kerion, she said.
Since the incident, Six Flags has amended its grooming policy to allow the hairstyle Washington wore to his interview earlier this year.
“Male team members may now wear dreadlocks,” communications manager Sharon Parker confirmed to the paper. “Provided, per our standard guidelines — that they are well-groomed and do not extend past the bottom of the collar.”