By ANOZIE EGOLE
Maryam Elisha is a model and A-list fashion designer. In this interview, she talks about her reasons for not going into acting and what to expect from her this year.
My name is Maryam Elisha, I am a fashion designer. I was once an ex beauty queen. I have been an ex model for about two years and I am still into it. I modeled for about 8 years before I retired into fashion designing. I modeled for so many companies like, MTN. I did bill-board, and TV ads for MTN.
Presently, I am a full time fashion designer. I have not really acted, though I love acting. I do not think I am called to act. Acting takes a lot of time trying to be what you are not, and I do not really love that. You know every career has its challenges.
Way back when I started modeling , I had several challenges of casting.Most of the time, models are not well treated you have to wait in line, But, all those things are not really challenges because, I would tell you that, there was money in modelling then. I made more money and I had fun. They paid me really well then unlike now that models are giving peanuts.
I think then, they had few models and few people were willing to dabble into modelling business unlike today where everybody wants to be a model. All I can say is that I was well paid.
Talking about my growing up, I will tell you that it was fun. I am from Kebbi State, I speak Hausa fluently. I attended my primary and secondary schools in Kano State before I relocated to Lagos State where I studied English in the University of Lagos. After my graduation, I started doing fashion.
Well, I would say that fashion designing is not all about what the person did in school. It is all about style, glamour and creativity. My course in school, I would say, has something in common with my career as a fashion designer because it has to do with interpretation.
Fashion designing is all about interpreting what people want, you have plans and ideas while, English is all about interpretation of Language. So, both of them have interpretation in common. But, the funny part of the whole story is that, I never knew I was going to be a model.
All I know is that, I have always loved and admired models but I didn’t know I would become one someday. The whole story started when someone called me one day and told me that I could be a model. I was like, I do not have money to start looking for costumes.
The person said, “No you don’t have to spend, just indicate your interest. We will do all that for you”. So, I decided to give it a try and that was how I found myself in it. I think one of the first brands I modelled for, was V-mobile when they were new in Nigeria. I was the face of the brand then. I did recharge cards, billboard and Television series for them.
At the beginning it was not that easy, but when I got the first job and saw the money in it, my interest intensified. It was really fun. I did not only model for telecommunications companies alone. I have done for Diamond bank, Locozade Boost billboard and MTN. The secret of my good looks is, that I keep fit, I workout a lot, I am very conscious of what I eat.
I take more of fruits and water. Besides that, I do not really have anything special that I do to stay young. Anything goes for me. I can’t do without my nails looking neat. I don’t really know what attracts men to me, I think my looks and charisma.
I know that most people come to tell me that they love the fact that I am a young, pretty hard working girl. It is not only men who tell me that, my female friends also tell me that as well. People just look at me and tell me that they like me, I dont really know what my selling point is.
My ideal man is a very nice, calm and polite man. Just a normal gentleman. A man that is willing to accommodate other people besides me. A man that can help other people and is willing to be there when the need arises, not just financially, but otherwise.
Am not particular about being handsome, tall or whatever, you just have to be like a normal human being and be nice. You must have a good sense of humour and you must be God-fearing. Be nice to every other person and to me. As a model, I do not think I have been sexually harassed unlike what people say that models are usually sexually harassed.
As a beautiful girl, guys will sure ask you out but it all depends on what you want. It is not just in the industry, if you see what you like and you feel like having a dinner with the person, you are free to do that. It is not like, anyone is forcing you. I was invited recently to the Washington DC fashion week to showcase my collections.
It was really fun knowing that we can have African and Nigerian designers especially, being invited to such an event without paying a dime. We were treated well and everything was properly done. We were asked to showcase our products.
This year, I have been invited for, New York fashion week, Washington DC fashion week and Paris fashion week Mercedes Benz fashion week.