By Dezimon Alicea, Gary Crusader
When you think about Gary, Indiana, a few ideas may run through your mind like crime, a neglected school system, and a struggling economy. One person is trying to change the negative connotations with the city. Kevin Cuttino is a Wirt graduate, and brings to ones attention all of the hidden talent that lies within Gary.
Kevin has a pretty lengthy resume as it relates to skills and interests. Modeling, dancing and some acting. Kevin says, “It’s all in the sauce” for him. He’s not trying to be someone grand, but he’s just a guy from Gary, Indiana that is attempting to live out his dreams. It can be easy for someone to fall into an easy safety net for employment ere in Northwest Indiana. Steel mills are popular jobs that many young Black men are attracted to because of the pay; but Kevin has stayed true to what he’s passionate about. His faith in himself and faith in his scope of work has already afforded him many great opportunities.
When I asked Kevin about some of these opportunities, he was very nonchalant in his response; that speaks to his meekness. “It’s a blessing,” he says. It’s good to understand that Kevin has graced the same sets as Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Howard, and Steve Harvey, just to name a few. His repertoire of television shows ranges from Fox’s hit show Empire, NBC breakouts Chicago P.D., Chicago Justice and the list goes on.
His growth and success in the creative arts is encouraging to many young Black males in this area who aspire to have the same type of career. In Gary and Northwest Indiana many programs for the arts have been cut due in part to budgeting and an overwhelming focus on STEM programming. During his time in school and in the early stages of his career, Kevin tried the traditional route of employment.
Kevin recalls going the college route, but it just wasn’t a good fit for him. He took a stab at the armed service, but because of a needed knee surgery he was not able to continue his time in the service and turn it into a career. So, Kevin fell back on what he was familiar with—the arts. However there was only one problem, at the age of twenty and a baby to care for, dancing was not bringing him income that he needed to support his new blessing. A baby brings responsibility, and Kevin knew that he was going to need a real source of stable income to support his child.
As you speak with creative people from the Gary area, you find one common thread, the West Side Theatre Guild. Mark Spencer has been the guiding light to many of the stars from the city; some who have remained local and others that have taken their talents to other parts of the country. This speaks to Spencer’s ability to recognize skills in people around him. Spencer did just that with Kevin. He recalls being a part of the play, “Lyrics” at West Side and how it was those times spent on the stage that gave him the spark he needed to not only pursue his dreams, but to think of creative ways to support his daughter.
With the recent reports about Steve Harvey, and his disdain for employees some can develop a negative perception in regards to Mr. Harvey. But Kevin speaks highly of “OG,” the affectionate name many people call him. Kevin speaks of Harvey’s motivation, encouragement and in many ways his involvement in Kevin producing his first fashion show. Mr. Harvey asked a group of ambitious young men one simple question, “What do you have going on?” Kevin thought about some of the things he wanted to do for his city in the arena of fashion, Mr. Harvey’s follow up statement was “Do it.” Feeling revived, and renewed Kevin began putting the pen to paper in writing out his dreams and an idea. Fast-forward, Kevin is proud to put on his first fashion show; The Revolution Fashion Experience. “We can invest in our own people, and grow within our own people,” this is what Kevin had to say in regards to focusing on Gary in his show. About 95 percent of the people involved in the show are Gary natives.
Kevin has been to New York Fashion week and other shows similar to that, and wanted to bring that same type of setting to Gary. He believes the talent is here; it’s just untapped. Putting together a show involving budgets, sponsorships, guests being flown in, 40 models and 23 designers has not been easy—a headache to say the least, “If it comes easy, I don’t want it!” Kevin willingly took on this task, because he feels something like this was necessary for the area and it’s his passion. When you’re passionate about something, the hard times are good times.
For those who are interested in attending this star-studded event, it may be a little too late to purchase tickets – they’ve sold out three times, which is a great accomplishment. For those that did already purchase tickets, they are looking forward to a great show on June 3, at the Centennial Building in Gary, from 6:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m. The runway portion begins at 7:30 p.m. Kevin wants everyone to know that he has more in store for the city of Gary, and Northwest Indiana. Kevin is someone that you should keep an eye on. To follow Kevin on Facebook, look under @kevincuttino. To follow him under other forms of social media he is under @modelguy84.
Dezimon Alicea is a contributor for the Gary Crusader, entrepreneur in Gary, IN and host of a weekly radio show on WGVE 88.7fm called “In The Studio.” To learn more about Dezimon and his involvement in the area, visit his website at dezimonalicea.com.