Young Evanston model Kaylyn Pryor remembered for energy, ambition after Chicago shooting


Source: Mario Tricoci

Kaylyn Pryor, a 20-year-old Evanston woman, poses for the Mario Tricoci “Make Me a Model” competition this year. Pryor was shot and killed Monday evening on Chicago’s South Side.

Julia Jacobs, City Editor

Kaylyn Pryor was shopping at a mall on Michigan Avenue with her high school friend this past summer when the two stepped into an upscale salon. The young women were offered the chance to enter into a modeling competition and, on a whim, both put down their names.

Months later, Pryor, a 20-year-old Evanston woman, had garnered enough votes to win the Mario Tricoci “Make Me a Model” contest. Against all expectations, the “tomboy” who always refused to strap on high heels had become a model.

On Monday evening, Pryor left her grandmother’s house on Chicago’s South Side with plans to return home to send in her first signed modeling contract, when she was shot and killed.

Pryor was standing with a teenage boy at about 6:20 p.m. in the 7300 block of South May in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood when someone drove by and shot them, Chicago police said. Pryor, a 2013 graduate of Evanston Township High School, was shot and later pronounced dead at the hospital. The 15-year-old boy, who was shot in the groin, was taken to the hospital in critical condition, police said.

“This stuff happens all the time — and I understand — but I can’t put into words how special she was,” said Alan Nick Scott, Pryor’s father. “She could do anything she wanted.”

Despite her recent success in modeling, Pryor’s older sister Chantal Pryor said becoming a professional model was not her sister’s ultimate ambition. Kaylyn Pryor wanted to practice law and had previously been enrolled at Chicago’s Robert Morris University taking classes to become a paralegal, her sister said. The day she was shot, she posted on Facebook saying she planned to return to school in January.

Pryor’s father said he moved the family from Englewood to Evanston about 20 years ago to protect his children from violence on the South Side. Although the house in Evanston was much smaller than in Chicago, the peace of mind was worth it, he said.

Growing up in Evanston, Chantal Pryor said Kaylyn was “all over”— not just a track star and cheerleader but an artist who wrote poetry about issues of violence and self-esteem. Chantal said Kaylyn urged her out of her comfort zone, getting the 28 year-old to make silly videos and dance around the house with her.

“If she walked into the room you knew you would laugh,” she said. “She was just this innocent, good person that spread it everywhere.”

Raymond Goodall, who danced with Kaylyn Pryor in school performances in middle school, said Pryor led the choreography process with an eye for perfection. Despite her commanding energy, Goodall said friends called Pryor by the nickname “squeaks” for her high-pitched voice that made everyone notice the moment she entered a room.

“She was small, but she made it known that she could stand up for herself,” Goodall said.

Elizabeth Jean Pierre, a friend of Pryor’s since elementary school, said Pryor’s popularity in the Evanston community exploded when she began progressing in the “Make Me a Model” competition. Soon, people began to recognize Pryor on the street, Pierre said.

“She didn’t let any of that go to her head at all,” she said. “She was the same person… the same goofy, silly person.”

Pryor garnered support from people in the community who would text and call to keep Pryor in the competition, eventually singling her out among nearly 500 applicants. Now, members of the community are supporting Pryor in her death: A Chicago clergy group called the Leaders Network is offering a $5,000 reward for information on the shooting, the Chicago Tribune reported Thursday.

“We’re getting an outpouring of condolences and prayer from people she maybe even met only one time, but they said she had a strong impact on their lives,” Chantal Pryor said. “Anyone that she came in contact with basically thought she was family.”

There will be a candlelight vigil for Kaylyn Pryor on Saturday at 7 p.m. in Evanston’s Elks Park at the corner of Mulford Street and Callan Avenue.

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