Featured Model: Shirley Ephraim



"Never give up on your dream no matter your size or height."

Model Citizen App is the platform where we recognise fashion models, photographers, designers, makeup artists, hair stylists, creative directors, bloggers, stylists, and labels around the world. Every day, we feature an individual on Model Citizen Interviews. People get to know each of them - their hopes, challenges, aspirations and inspirations in life.

Tell us about yourself: Why do you want to work as a model? Why are you interested in modelling as a career?

I studied classical ballet and I've been a ballerina since I was five. The discipline of using your body as an art form and as inspiration has always felt natural and I enjoy this similar feeling from modeling.

How important is modelling education: Have you attended modelling courses? What related courses or studies have you taken?

Classical Ballet and experience from walking in New York Fashion Week. When a designer casts you for his/her show, it means he/she seen something in your natural runway walk. It's the communication you are making with your body and how it supports the idea behind a piece and behind the collection. I think your walk always has to be about being natural and exuding a natural confidence.

What do you think makes someone “fit” to be a model?

Determination, hard work, and of course good genes. Never give up on your dream no matter your size or height. These days there are so many avenues for models of all proportions to represent the real world. But the hard work and perseverance is still required to make it happen.

What are your goals as a model? How do you see yourself progressing in this field?

Of course, I'd love to have all the opportunities to travel and work all over the world. As a ballerina before modeling, I'd hope I set an example for all women that being healthy is a choice. It's about honoring your body. If you treat it well, it will give you it's best effort and help you to look your best. I hope I could you my modeling as a platform for spreading this positive message.

What do you know about advertising psychology and photography?

Everything is changing in a good way. Models are representing more fit and healthy images. A strong body and a fit mind is part of being a successful model. I love seeing more ethnic models and healthy models on the runways in print campaigns than several years ago. Gigi Hadid really helped moved things along. She is an inspiration because she was formally an athlete and is not the typical runway proportion we have seen in the past.

How do you communicate with people? Are you patient? Are you friendly? How open are you to clients’ requirements?

This is really where the fun is. Clients always have an idea that could be totally different from how I imagined the shoot to go. I always try to listen out for what I think the photographer or client is looking for and interpret it through my poses. Having good chemistry and being attentive is important. At the same time clients are looking for you to bring your own creativity to the shoot. It reminds me of ballet class where the teacher keeps saying "more, more" and you know you have to be more open and more vulnerable so they can get the best shot or performance.

Do you eat nutritiously? How often do you exercise or go to the gym?

Eating healthy is so important. I love to do ballet and yoga and both require fuel, energy, strong bones, and nutrition. A lot of people often joke that models do not eat but in reality most of us do. I exercise about 1 hour a day and always try to make the best healthiest choice with what I eat. There are now so many delicious healthy foods out there to choose from. You can still enjoy healthy vegan/non-vegan options and low-calorie, nutritious dense foods and still look amazing. I think the key is really dedicating yourself to loving your own unique body and caring about what you put or don't put into it. I sort of made a pact with my body that everything I put anything into it it will 1. be delicious 2. be healthy and amazingly nutritious. My favs are vegan frozen yogurt, this coconut curry hummus on rice chips or anything, toasted avocado rice cakes, and hatch chili potato salad.It's a work in progress everyday, but you have to put in the effort. For meals, I'll do a cup of brown rice, some roasted veggies, and protein from tofu or lean meat/salmon if you're not vegan. If I am crazing pizza, I opt for a healthy local gourmet option like Pieology or a slice of Ny style pizza from D'amores in West Hollywood. You are ultimately what you eat and as a model it goes with you to every casting. So why not eat healthy? You will have more energy, glowing skin, and the energy required to give your best effort in your shoots.

What is your dream role as a model?

After successfully walking in New York Fashion Week, walking the runways in Europe, South America, and Africa would be a dream. One of my role models is Naomi Campbell, she has advanced fashion so many times, and made such a great impact on the industry. I also just love working with photographers who are passionate about their work. That energy is contagious and some of the best photos happen when there is an element of trust and respect on the set of a shoot.

Do you have any limitations? How do you define your boundaries when choosing to accept a modelling request?

I'm pretty much open to anything. But when you are not yet known around the world it's important to send a clear and consistent message about what you are bringing to the table. For example, I'm not entirely against nudes, I've seen some really beautiful shoots with the most inspiring images. Those sort of opportunities have just not come to me at this time. I am fan of Peter Beard's work with Pirelli. Some of those photos are so wild and unexpected.

State your availability: Would you travel? Work full-time, part time? Any hours?

I grew up in Nigeria although my mother is Costa-Rican. I feel like I represent a very worldly look. Yes I'm most definitely open to travel, it's in my genes. The experience behind each project is important to me, whether it lasts a few hours or for several weeks.

Booking Information:

Instagram: @shirleylize

Email: ephraim.shirley@gmail.com

Photo Credits:

Copyright © RoyNelsonPhotos Make Up @amyfeuer Designers: @furla @guess @official_minkpink

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