Kandee Wallace 02

Kandee Wallace, from Castlewood, Virginia, brings her love of fitness, dance and cheerleading to her preschool students.

CASTLEWOOD, Va. — A native of Castlewood, Kandee Wallace is walking the runway to fame.

Wallace, 25, has always challenged herself to see what heights she can reach. A self-taught tumbler, she has been dancing since she was 4 and started cheerleading at the age of 10.

When she attended the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, she started coaching with Dynamic All-Stars.

“Once I got into college, I developed a whole new passion for coaching and especially getting to work with these kids and teach them the sport that I had poured my heart into,” Wallace said. “It was super awesome to get to see them take the floor and perform their hearts out.”

Wallace also competed in dance competitions and received the platinum award at Encore in Greeneville, South Carolina, and Showstoppers in Nashville, Tennessee. She also runs Wallace Tumbling Academy in Coeburn, Virginia.

But Wallace isn’t stopping with those accolades. She is also a competitive bodybuilder. After failing to place in her first competition in Knoxville in 2017, she returned last year to win second place in open and fourth place in novice and qualify for nationals.

“I really didn’t know what I was doing,” she admitted. “I just wanted to do it.”

In addition to increasing her fitness, bodybuilding served another purpose — to help with her other passion of modeling. Wallace has been modeling since she was 17 years old and has been modeling professionally since 2015. She says her goal is just to see how far she can go with it.

Her early gigs included plenty of commercial, promotional and editorial modeling. She has worked for Heinz, Little Debbie and Drakes Cakes, and with photographers from all over the country for magazines, publications and websites. She has also modeled for clothing company Forever 21 and has been a background character in a couple of movies.

More recently, Wallace walked the runway during New York Fashion Week 2020. She modeled fashions from designers Nitya Singh and Hemistry. Walking the runway at Fashion Week has been a childhood dream for Wallace — this was her first time and it was an exciting, exhilarating experience.

“It was definitely an incredible experience that I never thought I’d get the opportunity to be a part of,” Wallace said. “I met models, designers and photographers from around the world. It was all so much chaos that all just came together to make an awesome show.”

Although the experience was intimidating, Wallace says she was ready for it and the event was amazing.

“Kandee is truly made for the lights,” said her personal trainer, Patrick Looney. “No matter what type of event, she always shows up and shows out. Beautiful physical traits may be great, but what sets Kandee apart is, as beautiful as she is on the outside, she’s got even more going on in the inside. She’s got the type of personality that brightens a bad day.”

A bright spot on Wallace’s horizon is that she is currently a quarter-finalist for Miss Jetset, an annual competition to determine which model will be featured in Jetset magazine. The winner of the competition not only has their picture on the cover of the magazine, but also wins $50,000. The national competition is voted on by the public and each group of approximately 60 models was narrowed down to the quarter-final rank. From there, the models will be narrowed to semi-finalists and ultimately, the winner.

When she’s not in the spotlight, Wallace teaches pre-school at the YWCA in Bristol, Tennessee. This different aspect of her life fulfills another place in her heart — teaching is the thing she does that she feels makes a difference.

“Kandee’s work ethic is unmatched and she has the heart and passion of someone who was born to be a leader,” noted YWCA coworker Christina Osborne. “She takes pride in every task that she does and as a result, her end results are done correctly and without flaw. She has a personality that can lift any mood and she always lends a helping hand to those who ask.”

All the myriad aspects of Wallace’s personality combine to make a uniquely talented and special young woman who is breaking out of small-town Southwest Virginia and making a name for herself. Whether it’s walking the runway or teaching toddlers, Wallace gives her all to everything she does, and she hopes to keep pushing the bar to see how far she can go.

Looney concluded, “Kandee is the perfect storm and the world should stay ready because I feel she will keep growing and make it where she wants!”

Laura J. Mondul is a freelance writer. Email her with Hometown Stories ideas at citydesk@bristolnews.com.

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