His online talk show has become a rallying space for his community
'The Keke Show is not just a show, it's not just a panel discussion, it's literally become a community'
CBC Quebec is highlighting people from the province's Black communities who are giving back, inspiring others and helping to shape our future. These are the Black Changemakers.
Working a 9-to-5 job never seemed to get the best out of Kevin Calixte, and he'd be the first to admit that.
"I often say, 'I'm a really good employer, but a really bad employee,'" Calixte said.
"I tried. I've had several jobs, and at one point, I had to make a choice, 'you know what? I have my camera. I could go try to make documentaries ... Or go try and start my own business.'"
He's used that camera in the past to shoot music videos for local artists as well as interviews.
In recent years, however, Calixte has established himself as a premier online personality within Montreal's Black community, by creating and hosting a weekly online program called The Keke Show.
The show is broadcast live on Facebook, and has gained enough of an audience to warrant a deal to also air it on Natyf TV, a community television station available on Bell and Videotron.
It features panel discussions on issues relevant to Black communities, features Black artists as musical guests, and is almost entirely sponsored by local Black businesses.
"I always wanted to use my platform to talk about things that I was experiencing with others [in the community], so that means profiling, racism, entrepreneurship," he said.
"The Keke Show is not just a show, it's not just a panel discussion, it's literally become a community... So we've sort of found some time for ourselves, to talk amongst ourselves, like the saying goes, 'For Us, By Us'."
The success didn't come instantly. He had already tried building a website in hopes of live streaming content, but it didn't go well, and he parked the idea. Once Facebook made live broadcasting on its platform possible, it didn't take long for Calixte to put things back in motion.
"I always had debates on my [Facebook] wall, people wanted to have discussions, so why wouldn't I bring a concept with people interacting, and I have a topic, I have a guest?" he said.
"One day, I asked people [on my social media account], 'tonight, if I go live to talk about this, are you guys down?' and I got about 200 likes, plenty of messages, and before I even started talking, there were 650 people connected. I was like, 'we've got something here.'"
Calixte says he prides himself on having raw, organic conversations during the show. For him, the most gratifying part of the show's four-year-run has been the trust he's been able to build with many people in the community.
Last fall, he produced one of the show's most notable episodes. It featured a discussion with relatives of Ariel Kouakou, a young Montreal boy who has yet to be found after disappearing nearly three years ago.
With Kouakou's case no longer garnering as much attention in media, Calixte felt it was time to check in with the family.
"People, when they have topics, they'll bring it to me as if I'm some journalist," Calixte said. "They don't necessarily wait for [mainstream] television, radio or newspapers."
The pandemic has slowed down production, but Calixte has kept busy by co-hosting a podcast called Rapolitik, which features interviews with local hip hop artists. The Keke Show will be back this spring, better than ever, he said, without straying from what's gotten it to this point.
"I often say The Keke Show is a mirror, it's not makeup," he said. "A lot of people want to look good when they go on shows, but on The Keke Show, you can look good, you can look bad, but at least we're having real moments."
The Black Changemakers is a special series recognizing individuals who, regardless of background or industry, are driven to create a positive impact in their community. From tackling problems to showing small gestures of kindness on a daily basis, these changemakers are making a difference and inspiring others. Meet all the changemakers here.