When Emote Met
Photographer/Retoucher: Wanda Martin @wanda_martin; MUA: Ramona Kaur @makeupbyramona_k; Hair: Naomi Regan Instagram @naomitregan;
Hi Yara !
Welcome to Emote Mag
Gems: Where are you from ?
Yara: My parents are Lebanese, I was born in London and raised in Hertfordshire.
Currently, I am based in Canterbury for my university studies.
Gems: Tell us about yourself: Why did you want to work as a model?
Yara: There are a variety of reasons that encouraged me to want start a career in modelling.
When I started modelling I was living in a hostel,
I was incredibly lonely and didn’t want to feel trapped in my small room, so I was searching for ways to get out
and be with people and do something that felt fun and fulfilling.
I wanted the opportunity to meet like minded people and get creative; modelling has really allowed me to
network with people from diverse backgrounds and participate in really fascinating
and fun artistic projects. Since I started modelling a year ago,
I have built a strong and loving support network with the people I’ve worked with.
Furthermore, I wanted to build my confidence through modelling.
There is a level of performance that comes with modelling, and often you have to be composed
and put forward your best work for the brands, teams and designers you work with.
Before I started my career in modelling, I had extremely bad anxiety.
Modelling allows me to let go and be myself which has definitely eased me and let me live in the moment.
In addition to this, as I am of Arabian descent,
I definitely do not feel entirely represented in the fashion industry and other forms of media.
This has sorely impacted my confidence growing up, so I wanted to tackle how Middle Eastern people were seen by the public,
consequently hoping to help change the ‘terrorist’ narrative and show that Arabs are just normal people.
By participating and being featured in big widespread projects
I feel included in a community and excited to share things I’ve worked really hard on.
Gems: When did you decide to choose to be a model/influencer ?
Yara: I’ve wanted to pursue a career in modelling since I was sixteen years old.
I went back and forth on this aspiration because I felt that the shape of my body,
my height and my ethnic background would limit me from being successful.
I felt my body was too ‘curvy’, convincing myself that models should be flat chested. At 5 feet 7 inches,
I believed I was too short to book any jobs and that clothes wouldn’t hang and frame me elegantly
like the other girls in magazines.
Also I thought my curly hair and big nose, common Arabian traits, would turn agencies off from signing me.
I barely saw any people of colour in the fashion world, I thought I had too many things going against me.
Just after I turned nineteen, I decided to work towards my ambition, knowing that if
I didn’t even try the answer to whether I would succeed as a model would be an automatic “no”.
I wasn’t doing anything else with myself and decided to take a leap of faith, and I am really glad I did.
During one of my first modelling jobs, Marta Segnana (Instagram: @marta.segna_mua), a makeup artist I had worked with,
said to me that coming into modelling now is perhaps the best time, as we are entering an era where brands, agencies,
designers and people in general are demanding for more diversity and inclusiveness.
Photographer/Retoucher/Stylist: photographer and stylist Julia Galgano @julia.galgano.photography
MUA: Marta Segna @martasegna_mua; styled wearing Monki @monki;
Assistant: Paige Wiltshire @pwiltshirephotography
Gems: What age did you have your first shoot?
Can you tell us a little about how that came about?
Yara: My first test shoot was when I was nineteen. I received advice that a good approach to immersing
myself into the modelling community would be to set up an Instagram profile and network
through people on this social media platform.
I researched through different posts that I was interested in and that were popular and clicked on to
photographers and models that were tagged into these photos and followed individuals who inspired me.
I then drafted a cover letter to directly message the photographers, explaining why I wanted to work with them and to
see who would be willing to collaborate for a test shoot to start my portfolio.
I also sent this cover letter to photographers who specified to be emailed when discussing working together.
One photographer, Nigel Charles (Instagram: @n.c.ports), responded quite quickly to my message.
He commended me for my professional approach and suggested for me to come to a meet up that some photographers
and models were having in London. This meant I got to meet many different photographers and
models during my first shoot, where I was able to network, learn how to use Instagram to build my modelling portfolio
and received several tips such as: how to pose, styling and makeup, facial expressions, my catwalk, and applying to agencies.
Nigel helped me review my photos from this first shoot and we discussed where I
needed to improve in terms of my angles and poses, which I am now very comfortable with. I am very grateful for Nigel!
Gems: How would you describe your personality ?
Yara: I would consider myself to be quite goofy and silly, especially when I’m in a good and relaxed mood.
This usually means I can behave quite confidently and my carefree attitude won’t allow anyone’s negative energy to bring me down.
I’ve been told by friends that this often radiates into a room and helps make others feel comfortable and safe
to behave as themselves freely without judgement. I would like to think I am a supportive friend and that I hold myself
accountable and that I always aim to be kind and loving towards others. It is important to me to maintain healthy
relationships with my wonderful friends and always take responsibility for my actions.
I am dedicated and passionate to any work I commit myself to. I am driven to succeed well,
and also to support others. I take pride in my ability to be patient and to listen and learn.
Modelling has helped me become more adventurous and embrace my carefree nature, but I can be quite serious.
I have strong integrity and have been praised for my intelligence.
I would hope that people found my company fun and also comforting.
Gems: What about your education ?
What if any, related courses or studies have you taken?
Yara: I am currently at university, taking a degree in Liberal Arts (BA).
The course title is quite misleading, as many assume my course is to do with actual art.
However, my course falls under the “Politics” school, but is a truly interdisciplinary degree where you have the opportunity
to shape your course for what you would like to learn and you get to explore and develop your understanding for humanities
subjects such as culture, history and politics,
and also have the opportunity to discuss key scientific controversies.
Therefore, in my degree, I have shaped it to study topics and languages such as Arabic,
Social Anthropology and Philosophy amongst my political and core liberal arts modules.
It is important to me to keep up to date and informed on political, social, economic and cultural issues.
I thoroughly enjoy getting to learn many different things, I feel challenged and stimulated by such a well rounded course. I
believe that by the end of my degree I will have a well developed grasp of social and physical sciences, arts and humanities.
Photographer/Retoucher: Julie Adamson-Fargues @julie_fargues
Gems: Can you describe a stand out moment/s in your model journey which you are really proud of ?
Yara: There have been many stand out moments I have experienced during my modelling career, and I am
so grateful to have been involved in so many amazing things.
My first ever catwalk was held by Natalie-Amber (Instagram: @selfloveebynatalieamber @natalie_amber1),
in aid for Crohn’s and Colitis UK. This is really a wonderful memory for me because when I started modelling I
immediately ruled out catwalk for myself due to my height, so to have booked the show which celebrated models of all heights, ethnic backgrounds and body sizes and walk on a runway was so thrilling.
All proceedings made from the catwalk were sent to the charity Crohn’s and Colitis UK,
which felt incredibly rewarding, and I learnt a lot about the illness. It was just such an empowering day.
My first publication in an online magazine: Creators Magazine (Instagram: @creators_mag) with
Julie Adamson-Fargues (Instagram: @julie_fargues) was also an especially incredible moment for me
during my modelling journey. I felt validated for my hard work.
I had just come out of a five year relationship which affected me terribly, and not long after I had been raped at my hostel.
I turned to modelling as an outlet to feel safe with a friend and be creative, a way to cope with the trauma through making art.
I confided in Julie and she offered me a tremendous amount of support. After the shoot she told me that she
aimed to get the images published to help boost my mood and confidence and give me a win; and we did get published together.
This publication definitely brought some light for me during a dark period in my life.
My second publication in a print and online magazine: GMARO (Instagram: @gmaromagazine) with photographer
Ramona Kerekes (Instagram @ramonakerekes_photography; website https://ramonakerekes.com/) is also a notable
moment for me in my career. It was really uplifting to be able to hold a magazine and flip through the pages and see myself.
Being published and doing runway quite early in my career meant that I booked more runways and editorials
to be published in print and digital magazines, such as London College of Fashion,
London Fashion Week and Emote Magazine etc. I
t has also paved the way for me to get to work with extraordinarily talented designers and refreshing brands,
such as Kang An Offical, Nurdan Sinal, Lourmarin London and Tomia Swim
(Instagrams: @kang_an_official; @nurdansinal; @lourmarinlondon; @tomiaswim) etc.
The biggest highlight in my career was modelling designs by first year students at Central Saint Martins studying
Fashion BAs for the traditional White Show (Instagram: @opus.19). The show was at the Royal Albert Hall,
and the entire venue was filled with celebrities such as Rihanna and Tyler,
The Creator, designers such as Armani and Gucci, models such as Naomi Campbell and Adut Bior (who won
Model of The Year 2019 that night), and singers such as Little Simz performed while I was on the runway.
All the pieces were entirely extravagant and intricate, it was a challenge to walk and pose in these beautiful
pieces but also a blessing. To have walked and been praised by a room filled with experts in the fashion world was surreal and
I am still overwhelmed with the fact that I was fortunate enough to be at a red carpet, high end event.
The British Fashion Awards 2019 was documented everywhere, notably Vogue and
The Love Magazine, two fashion magazines I adore and am incredibly grateful to have been mentioned in.
The biggest highlight of my career related to a modelling shoot rather than a catwalk was a shoot
I did with published photographer Katy Smith (Instagram: @katysmithphotos). We had already prepared for t
he concept of our shoot when we got together, but we took 15 minutes out of our day to work on an idea that Katy had.
She noted that when we see period pad adverts, we never see the girls wearing them, so she suggested that
I put on see through underwear, apply a pad, and she would take a close up picture.
This small idea that we worked on ended up gaining a huge amount of media attention. GirlGaze (Instagram: @girlgaze),
a huge platform for ‘all women and non-binary creatives’ saw the photo on Katy’s
Instagram and reposted the image on their page,
and it suddenly garnered a lot of praise and raised discussions regarding the awareness and support for
individuals who menstruate. The photo was shared and posted again and again, with many big platforms such as Freeda
(Instagram: @freeda) and Gurls Talk (Instagram: @gurlstalk) highlighting it.
It sparked a lot of debate and controversy in the comments section, but I am so proud to have been a part of something
that pushed boundaries, challenged people’s perceptions and helped people who menstruate feel seen and unashamed.
Gems: Are there any models you look up to, who have had an influence on you & whom you take inspiration from?
Yara: The people I work with everyday I find incredibly inspiring.
One to note is Natalie-Amber for consistently pushing for an inclusive narrative of body positivity, highlighting
that scars shouldn’t be photoshopped out and promoting self love. Also there’s Laura Harwood
(Instagram @lauraxharwood @m.h.events), another friend and model, who also put together a catwalk for
Mind Charity that I participated in, promoting good mental health and body positivity.
Katy Smith is a big inspiration for me artistically, as her work is different from the usual “popular” things
I see on my social media feed and just in my every day life. Her work find divinity through weirdness.
it is thought provoking, it is colourful, and it is refreshing to see her passion leak out through her work.
Ilayda Mcintosh (Instagram: @iilaydamac @rootsjournal_) is also someone I find very inspiring,
especially because she is currently working on her own journalism that focuses on identity and ethnic minorities
and where we fit in western societies. I appreciate her thoughtfulness to the sensitivity of issues such as race and r
eligion and her focus on exploring heritage, identity, and culture through sharing people’s stories. Her interview
approach is intimate and I am happy to see someone dedicated to highlighting this issue that many people face.
Other individuals who influence me are designers such as Alessandro Michele (Instagram @alessandro_michele).
He celebrates the “weird” and I also think his Gucci Beauty campaign was executed impeccably.
The models and muses he used for his lipsticks in his 80s Gucci Beauty Campaign included
Dani Miller (Instagram @alienzarereal),
the frontwoman of punk band Surfbort, who has gaps in her teeth (she is missing her lateral incisors).
I think that was super cool. Dani flashes a big grin wearing the bloody red lipstick, with her gaps in her crooked teeth she
exudes sexiness, playfulness and radiates a cool confidence that makes me smile each time I see it.
I definitely dig it over the overused Hollywood million dollar, blinding white smile.
Photographer/Retoucher/Stylist: Katy Smith @katysmithphotos
Gems: What skills do you feel are necessary to be a successful model in
today’s society ?
You must be professional.
Yara: While modelling is fun, it doesn’t mean you can mess around on the set of a shoot, it’s not good to waste people’s time.
You should be grateful towards the people who provide you opportunities and support you in your career.
If you act as if you are superior and have an entitled nature about yourself this will make you
unlikable and people will be less willing to work with you.
It is important to be open minded and willing to try different things,
as I’ve said it’s not good to work with a model who’s not prepared to get her hands a little dirty.
Practise your walk, poses and facial expressions in the mirror and record yourself on your phone to
see how you look more objectively.
Research the brands, designers, products, and photographers etc. that you will be working with!
This helps prepare you before a shoot, which will contribute to your confidence, and taking a keen
interest in the people you work with usually means they will think of you again when looking for models in future projects.
The ability to use social media to your advantage is another skill I would like to place emphasis
on as it can help you be scouted for jobs by brands, photographers, designers and agencies a
and really help you grow if you are able to find people who enjoy seeing
what you do and consequently support you.
Gems: What do you like to do in your spare time?
Yara: I really love to sketch, and I also love using oil pastels as an art medium. I find creating art to be incredibly therapeutic.
I used to sketch a lot of nude art, the bigger the shape of the woman symbolised the heavier I felt.
The slimmer her shape could be attributed to how hollow I felt at the time. In the last few years,
the nude women metamorphosed
into therianthropic bunnies with anthropomorphic human bodies, still nude. The bunny head on a naked woman’s body
is something that I can consider a self portrait. My art has continued to transform, now I have introduced colour into my work and
have switched from pencil sketches to oil pastels and coloured pens. I am at a more cheerful place in my life, my
art is more fantastical and surreal, inspired by conversations with my boyfriend, Cory, and the stories he writes,
which are grotesquely bizzare and fascinatingly dreamy. My Instagram art account is @pearsnthongs, if anyone
is interested in seeing some of the art I occasionally post there. I had a brighter self portrait displayed at an art exhibition last year, a real achievement for me.
I enjoy films, albums and books and discussing them with the people who recommended them to me.
My partner Cory and I spend a lot of time on Netflix Party, picking films to watch together and giving our interpretations afterwards.
We also often go through discographies of musicians we adore and share it with each other and see what the other person thinks.
I find it incredibly intimate and personal, it’s exhilarating to explore the layers of someone you truly love.
Gems: Looking after yourself is extremely important in anyone’s life....
How do you look after your health ?
Yara: I look after myself physically through my diet, hygiene, skin and hair care.
I ensure I have at least one thick green smoothie a day, packed with as many nutrients and vitamins as I can get.
I am so strict about ensuring I have my five-a-day when it comes to my diet, I find that smoothies help me get a lot
of fruit and vegetables into my system. I drink around two to three litres of water everyday if I can also, and always
try to have a cooked meal with a salad (I love Lebanese Tabouleh) rather than eating out often.
I also make bone broth, as it is good for your skin and immune system, and take a shot of Apple Cider Vinegar each day,
to promote healthy hair, skin, nails, and to properly absorb all the nutrients in my meal.
I opt for dark chocolate when going for treats and I love fruit also. Some favourites include: pineapple, mango and raspberries.
I constantly keep my living space clean, which also helps my mind feel less cluttered.
I change my pillow cases quite often to protect the skin on my face.
I like to use turmeric, honey and greek yoghurt face masks, and I also like to put a little bit of honey,
shea butter and sudocrem on any breakouts on my face. It helps heal the skin and prevent scarring.
I also am very careful about how I look after my curly hair.
I try not to wash my hair too many times in one week, so as to not dry it out.
I rinse my hair with cold water to close my hair cuticles and pores which retains shine and moisture.
I dry my hair with a micro fibre towel or cotton t-shirt to properly absorb the water in my hair and avoid breakage and frizz.
I sometimes also rinse my hair out with apple cider vinegar for a clean scalp and to strengthen
my hair which promotes hair growth. Sleeping with a silk pillow cover also helps to avoid breakage and frizz in your hair.
The shampoos and conditioners I use are usually free from damaging ingredients, such as sulphates and silicones.
These can be incredibly drying and damaging and leave product build up in your hair. Without these damaging ingredients,
my hair dries into its natural curls. Products and brands I like to use include:
Maui Moisture, Natural World, Shea Moisture and Palmers.
When I go for haircuts I ask for ‘point cutting’ to create better shape and structure.
I look after myself emotionally through spending time with people who bring out the best in me,
challenge me and support me. I also make sure to exercise regularly and allow time to be creative.
I also have weekly counselling to help me deal with trauma and to have a safe space to speak freely.
I have found peace and happiness with my Islamic community at my university.
Other friends I’ve made at university are also a great source of fun and comfort.
It helps me to feel less alone and find family in my friends.
Photographer/Retoucher: Lyndon Fountain @lyndon_pix
Gems: What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
Yara: My greatest strength is my resilience and always aiming to treat people with kindness.
I find my ability to persevere in times of adversity has helped me overcome trauma and continue to succeed in my
life and look after myself. My aim to always be kind means I hold my morals close to my heart and try to
maintain empathy for others to stop myself behaving recklessly or selfishly.
My greatest weakness would be that I overthink and sometimes let these negative thoughts consume me.
However, I’m working on my mental health and am sure that I will be able to move forward with a more positive and healthy outlook.
Gems: Where do you see yourself in 10 years time ?
Yara: In some sort of advocacy or legal work. It has always been my desire to support those in dire
need and to help fight for people who have no one standing in their corner.
That is why I involve myself with political and humanitarian groups in my spare time,
to constantly learn valuable skills for this future career.
I am also optimistic that the brand I am working on will have launched successfully and that we will
be selling garments to happy customers. If enough people like my art, it would also be fun to be able to sell prints of my work.
An ideal future would be to be so successful in modelling that I am always getting paid work,
and featured in magazines and commercials.
In terms of my personal life, I would ideally be married with children and settled into a comfortable home.
Stability is currently my biggest aim.
Gems: What advice would you give to those wanting to break into modelling today ?
Yara: Figure out how you want to brand yourself and work hard towards building your career around this image.
There are so many different avenues in modelling. Just because you might not fit into catwalk doesn’t mean
you can’t make a success in commercial for example.
Therefore it is important you research different types of modelling and apply for what you like.
Listen to the advice that you receive from both jobs you do and do not get. Don’t be disheartened and keep applying.
Just because your look wasn’t right for one brand doesn’t mean it isn’t exactly what another brand is looking for.
Be open to changing your look to have a refreshing image and become more employable. T
his doesn’t mean suddenly losing a lot of weight or chopping off your nose for a smaller size, but finding a style that suits you,
experimenting with your looks, and highlighting any distinctive features you have.
Be professional and ensure you are easy to work with. If you are modelling to validate an insecure ego, modelling isn’t for you.
While modelling can boost your confidence it won’t do you any good if you are judging your beauty on statistics and popularity.
You are selling an image, brand, product, idea etc.,
and it is important that you are dedicated to that rather than the constant fear of whether the outfit you are wearing makes
you look pudgy or if your last Instagram post got 100 likes but your current post only got 50.
Remember to validate and acknowledge your own achievements too.
I don’t get an abundance of likes on my Instagram posts and I don’t have an overwhelming number of followers,
but Naomi Campbell still saw me strut on a catwalk!
Be careful when signing yourself into an agency.
Read the contract, make sure you understand it and are happy with the terms and conditions and have someone
else check over it if you’re unsure. Agencies that approach and scout you never ask for nude/lingerie images and
don’t charge you for a test shoot, so be careful about people trying to scam you.
Look for reputable agencies that fit your brand and that are dedicated to helping you get jobs.
If you work freelance, don’t be afraid to ask for payment. You work just as hard and shouldn’t have your service and
talents used in a way that makes you struggle financially.
You will make friends in the community.
If you know someone who has worked with a photographer or designer that you would like to work with,
there is no harm in asking what their experience was like, which is also why you should work on having a reputable
and professional reputation yourself.
When you start, it’s likely that it will be a while until you get paid for the jobs you do, but be patient.
When you have built enough experience, talent and success in your career don’t be shy to ask for payment and for bigger roles.
Don’t let anyone in the industry take advantage of you, and don’t be afraid to speak out if someone does.
One final thing, while you will want to get as much experience, exposure, connections and opportunities as
possible, that doesn’t mean you have to say yes to every job.
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