America’s Next Top Model contestant visits Ripley Boys and Girls Club

RIPLEY— Keenyah Hill, who has appeared on the popular television show America’s Next Top Model, was at the Boys & Girls Club of Ripley Tuesday, June 16. Hill was third runner-up on Cycle Four of the series which aired on the cable station United Paramount Network (UPN) in 2005. The model/actress, who is related to the Hill family of Blue Mountain, was in the area for a family reunion and stopped by the Club to talk with female members as part of the club’s S.M.A.R.T. Girls program. S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym for Skills Mastery And Resistance Training. Hill came at the request of her cousin, staff member Tameka Luster. Luster coordinates the activities for the program. “With S.M.A.R.T. Girls, we try to teach our female members how to carry themselves as young ladies and have high self-esteem,” said Luster. “Keenyah talked to the girls about their dreams, hopes, and futures. She encouraged them to go to college and continue to pursue their dreams after college.” Luster added that the number of girls in the session started with 14 and quickly swelled to over 20 once word spread of who the guest speaker was. Said Club Director, Veronica Gibbs: “It was a wonderful experience having Keenyah visit our members to talk to them about their hopes and dreams. We do our best to encourage them to stay positive and always have goals. Having her here to talk to the kids reinforces what we’ve been saying all along.” After the session, Hill spent the rest of the day signing autographs, taking pictures with the members, and participating in club activities. “I came down to Mississippi for a reunion and I found out that Tameka works here at the Boys & Girls Club. We thought it would be great to come and take some pictures and talk to them about their dreams,” said Hill. “After we talked about the serious stuff, we just came to the gym and had a good time. It was pretty fun.” Hill said life has been good since appearing on the hit television show. Born in Los Angeles, she now resides in New York City, where she continues to model and recently finished work on an independent film. This is not Hill’s first trip to the state. She was in the area for another family reunion a few years ago. She said she always enjoys the change of pace from the hustle and bustle of the big city to the laid-back lifestyle Mississippi has to offer. “Small towns are nice. They have a slower pace and everything is not so fast,” added Hill. “I get to just hang out with my family and eat. I really got to go to the gym and work some of this off when I get home, but it’s great to be in a place where everything is green. That’s something I don’t see at all.” According to, America’s Next Top Model is a reality television show in which a number of women compete for the title of America’s Next Top Model and a chance to start their career in the modeling industry. The show was created and is hosted by former model and current talk-show host Tyra Banks, who also serves as the head judge and the show’s executive producer. The show first aired in 2003.

Kedrick Storey/Southern Sentinel