Toussaint Smith, Staff Reporter
The Gleaner has had its fingers on the pulse of the entertainment scene for decades. Naturally, our picture archives contain many a 1000-word story about those who have given us happy, memorable moments.
In our new series, `From the Archives`, we pluck a pic and take a peek into the past, speaking to the central figure about the moment and subsequent events.
The caption reads: Present student toasts: Head boy of Kingston College, Kingsley Cooper at mike is seen as he proposed the toast to the old boys at KC Old Boys Association Annual Re-union Dinner held at Courtleigh Manor Hotel on Friday evening last. Seated from left are Mr. Carlton Alexander, president, Jamaica Chamber of Commerce; Mr. D.W. E. Forrest, headmaster of K.C., Mr. Leacroft Robinson, president, Bar Association of Jamaica, Dr. John Hall, KC Old Boys President, Rt. Rev. Bishop J.C. Swaby, Mr. Harold Haughton, chairman at the function and Dr. Roy Augier, Dean of General Studies, U.W.I.
Sunday Gleaner: Tell us about the reunion.
Kingsley Cooper: Thank you for providing this pleasant memory. The annual Kingston College Old Boys reunion dinner was a very special occasion, indeed.
Of course, those were grander times and, as a 16-year-old, as
I was in late 1969, it left an
It was a most auspicious
occasion, one that embodied all the elements of the finest KC
traditions. Anyone who knows
KC and its old boys would
appreciate the fact that those
traditions are unmatched anywhere in the English speaking Caribbean.
It was my first time addressing such a gathering, so I was very nervous. The good thing was that no one had any particularly great expectations of this unheralded youngster so, in the end, it was pretty easy making an impression.
That magical evening remains one of my fondest memories to this day.
SG: Was there anyone on
that panel of distinguished
gentlemen who you wanted to emulate?
KC: All of them. That was a very distinguished panel. I was later invited to a family dinner by an old boy present. He had
studied medicine at Cornell University and strongly encouraged me to attend Cornell. For a brief period, I thought of a career in medicine and studying at Cornell.
SG: What do you think of the institution (Kingston College) today?
KC: Unfortunately, I am not as close to KC today as I should be.
However, the spirit of that institution runs so deep and has had such a positive influence on so many that it permeates the fabric of the school and continues to make it great.
I am sure that KC has more and deeper challenges today than it did then, but our boys, it seems to me, continue to perform, sometimes even beyond their natural ability.
The school motto and maxim says it all, 'Fortis cadere cedere non potest', which means (for those who need the English) 'the brave may fall but never yield'.
SG: At that time in your life, did you see yourself being the CEO of a major fashion agency?
KC: No. I figured I'd be the CEO (or equivalent) of something, but not that. No one who knew me at school would have seen me in the fashion and entertainment business.
I was very nerdish, bookish and proper. That came from having a school teacher mother and a church elder father.
Once I got out of high school, I gave my creative interests full rein (art, writing and acting
blossomed even at KC) and by the time I got to Barbados for my first degree in law, it was more entertainment and the arts than anything else. Deejay at all the
campus parties, head of the guild press, writing poetry and prose, graphic designing, drawing,
editing magazines and the law journal, drama, etc. Studying
came a poor third or fourth."
SG: What caused the transition from law to fashion?
KC: It flowed naturally. I have always believed that one should be true to one's self, no matter what. Never spend your life doing something that is really not you. Trust your instincts, persevere (no matter how difficult), take advice, but make your own decisions. Follow your heart, but be sensible just the same. If you are truly committed, sooner or later you will find the way and you will prevail.
SG: How have your life changed since then?
KC: I am now an entrepreneur with a strong commitment to major money-making, which is itself a change from my earlier days in the entertainment business.
Back then, I was more into the thrill of the business and in seeing local talent emerge, often from challenging situations, to stand proudly on the world stage.
Although I still enjoy that and will not discount its value in any way, I have a much greater appreciation for wealth creation today, both from the point of view of financial independence as well as in consideration of the ability to effect one's vision and objectives. These are things that wealth provides.
SG: What are you up to now?
KC: Pulse's re-listing on the Jamaica Stock Exchange, Caribbean Fashionweek, the Caribbean Model Search, developing more international stars as well as an increased Caribbean and global presence for Pulse.
Moving our region's fashion industry to yet another level of development. Villa Ronai in Stony Hill and the Caribbean Fashion Centre on Trafalgar Road. Also, health and fitness as well as a closer relationship with the Creator. It is clear to me that without God's guidance, nothing of true value can be created.