Children of celebrities are usually held to unfair double standards; expected to match or exceed their parents’ success and maligned if they don’t, which makes it hard for them to chart their own paths. In the case of brothers 18-year-old Kailand and 14-year-old Mandla Morris, sons of music legend Stevie Wonder and fashion designer Kai Millard Morris, they found ways to both follow in their parents’ footsteps and carve out their own identities at the same time.
Although Kailand Morris has experience playing the drums with his famous father, he takes more after his mother, seeking to make his mark as a designer in the fashion world. “I’ve been around fashion my whole life, since I was a little baby,” Kailand says. “I was always attending shows, and going backstage.” Not only does Kailand just attend shows, he has participated in them, walking runways for brands such as Dolce & Gabbana, Pyer Moss and Comme des Garçons. In the summer of 2019, Kailand interned in Paris under Kim Jones, the creative director of Dior Homme. Kailand called it a “surreal experience” saying: “I’m surrounded by a lot of the creatives on the Dior team. And Kim pushes me to do my best.” Now Kailand is utilizing his knowledge and experiences to create his own upcoming fashion line.
Mandla Morris is essentially his brother’s opposite; as Mandla enjoys fashion and designs his own streetwear, but his gift is the art of performing, taking after his father more than his mother. Mandla competed in the popular dance show, Dancing with the Stars: Juniors in 2018, where he finished in fifth place and he even made a cameo appearance as a pastor’s son in the 2018 Oscar award-winning film A Star Is Born. Despite that, Mandla is truly fixated on music. “Music has always been there for me,” says Mandla. “Watching my dad play the piano at home, or seeing him on tour or in the studio. I’ve always had a love for it.” Mandla spends much of his time in the studio crafting his music, which is a mix of R&B and soul influenced by artists like singer Frank Ocean, rapper Lauryn Hill, singer Nina Simone and of course, his father. Mandla is currently hard at work on eventually releasing his first solo album.
While their path the Morris brothers take to make names for themselves is not always easy, Kailand and Mandla are doing quite well for themselves so far and their futures look very promising.