One is black and has big brown eyes. The other is a blue-eyed blonde with the palest of skin. They might share the same cheeky smile, but side by side, they could hardly look less alike. Yet remarkably, Kian and Remee are twins, born a minute apart.
The pair owe their appearance to a one in a million combination of their parents’ genes. Mother Kylee Hodgson and father Remi Horder both have white mothers and black fathers. The startling result is a two-tone set of delightful little girls.
They first attracted international attention when they were featured in the Mail at less than a year old.
Now, approaching their seventh birthday, they have never asked why they don’t look the same, nor have they ever experienced any racial prejudice. ‘They are such a perfect example of how it should be,’ their mother told the Mail. ‘They are not bothered about their skin colour. It’s not the big issue everyone else seems to see it as. It isn’t important to them at all – it’s about what they’re like underneath.’
Kian and her 60-second older sister were delivered in April 2005 by caesarean section. Kylee, now 25, recalls the moment she saw them for the first time: ‘I noticed that both of them had beautiful blue eyes,’ she said. ‘But while Remee’s hair was blonde, Kian’s was black and she had darker skin. To me, they were my kids and they were just normal. I thought they would start to look the same as time went on.’
Time, however, only accentuated their differences. Kian’s eyes changed colour and her skin got darker. Remee’s complexion got lighter and her curly hair stayed blonde. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Kylee found herself fielding questions about whose children they were, or who Kian’s fair-haired friend was, when she pushed them in their side-by-side buggy. ‘People would ask me why I dressed the children the same,’ Kylee said. ‘I’d just say: “because they’re twins,” and leave people to work it out. It kind of irritated me at first, but everyone in my area got to know they were twins and accepted it. It was only strangers or outsiders who didn’t know.’
Their appearance may be ebony and ivory, but in character they are chalk and cheese. They learned to walk and talk at different times, even though their first word – ‘Juice!’ – was identical. Kian, according to her mother, ‘is a bit bossier, a bit louder’. She added: ‘Remee is a bit more laid back. She’ll think a bit longer before she does something.’
Today they are in different classes at school and have different sets of friends. They both love dancing and sing along to the same records – mostly New York rapper Nicki Minaj and pop star Rihanna. But their interests are different, Kian has a love of animals and her sister enjoys cookery.
Like many twins though, they have an unspoken, almost intuitive affinity. ‘They get on so well,’ said Kylee, now separated from Remi and living in Dudley, West Midlands. ‘They’re really close,’ she said. ‘They’re best friends – they absolutely love each other. They play together all the time, go swimming together, read their books together, help each other out. ‘If one can’t do their shoes, the other will help. 'Sometimes they do the same things at the same time. Once, they even sneezed together. That really made me laugh. As they’ve got older, they’ve taught each other everything. They’ve helped each other to grow.
‘And they don’t notice the colour thing, not at all. They’ve grown up with light-skinned people around them, and they’ve grown up with black people. But they’re just themselves. They don’t see what everyone else sees.’
MILLION TO ONE BABIES
The odds of a mixed race couple having twins of different colours are a million to one.
Skin colour is believed to be determined by up to seven different genes working together.
If a parent is of mixed race, their eggs or sperm will contain a mixture of genetic codes for both black and white skin.
However, if both the egg and sperm contain all white genes, the baby will be white.
And if both contain just the versions necessary for black skin, the baby will be black.