Malik Keiser Duval
Smith was born on October 26, 1970 to director, Kris Keiser and actress
Beverly Todd. Malik would have been born in New York City where his
parents were residing, but they felt the air in Albuquerque, New Mexico
where Beverly's mother lived was healthier. So on that blessed day
in October this special child made his entrance into the world at
1:01 p.m. weighing 6lbs.10oz. and measuring 20 inches long.
Malik was six weeks old the family returned to New York along with
the family pet, Candy, a white haired Maltese. Malik was fascinated
by Candy and thought of her as his walking, running barking toy.
Their relationship was the beginning of Malik's love of animals.
As he grew older, he wanted to bring any stray dog or cat home.
He was precocious and showed signs of it when he began speaking
his first words. His parents were amazed when he spoke his first
sentence as an infant. He looked up at them, pointed to himself
and asked, "Is this me?"
When Malik was two years old his parents wanted him to have the
benefit of interacting with other children in a safe learning environment.
However, the pre schools that existed didn't offer what Malik's
parents felt was necessary for children of color - images of themselves.
To fill that void, Malik's mother and her good friend Karen Baxter*
founded "Sunshine Circle" a private pre school based on
the Montessori principles for children two through five years. It
offered a unique kind of learning experience and fostered a climate
in which the children were able to see and love themselves.
In 1976 Malik and family moved out west to Los Angeles, CA. His
parents separated shortly there after but both remained very involved
in Malik's life. They worked hard to overcome their differences
so Malik would continue to have their full support.
Malik attended both private and public lower schools. He graduated
from John Boroughs Jr. High School in 1985 and went on to Fairfax
Sr. High. The system failed to capture his attention and he became
one of those bright students who was slowly turning off and tuning
out of education. He was saved, however, when he was sent to Walt
Whitman Sr. High. The Principle, Mrs. Miller, recognized Malik's
potential and was so impressed she chose him to represent the school
in the Options Enrichment Program. He did so well, he was selected
as one of the students to participate in the Academic Decathlon,
a competition that takes place every year with high school students
throughout the Los Angeles area. Malik credited his coaches, William A. Cathers and Susan Allen with changing his attitude towards
He took an interest in learning and became a student who excelled.
Malik graduated from the program in January of 1989 with grades
any parent would be proud of. All A's and two B's. He received all
E's for excellent in his work habits. In 1988 he was the recipient
of two scholastic awards presented by then Assembly woman Maxine
Waters and Senator Diane Watson.
In February of 1989 he enrolled in Santa Monica Community College
with a Political Science and English major. He had decided on a
career in law.
Malik loved to dance and was singled out by his peers because he
danced so well. He had regard for people of all races. He deplored
acts of violence. Malik will live on in the memory of his family
and friends. He will never be forgotten.
He is survived by his parents, his maternal grandmother, Virena;
aunts Sonya and Johanne; cousins Jan, Jeff, Terry, Lisa and his
loving sister, Kamilah.
Baxter - Producer, managing director. Rites and Reason Theatre/Africana
Studies Dept. of Brown University. Providence, Rhode Island.