How She Got There: Nadja Giramata, International Model

Name: Nadja Giramata
Job Title and Description: International Model
College Name/Major: University of Strasbourg and Manchester University
Twitter Handle: @giramatanadja
Instagram Handle: @nadjagiramata

What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?

My current job consists of posing in front of a camera to sell products that are mostly clothing, but also cosmetics. I sell dreams and an idea of beauty. Ironically, modeling is seen as a very glamorous job, whereas a model is looking for a job every day of her career. So, imagine going for an interview about every day of the week...

Where a lot of confidence is expected, a lot of rejection is feared. A casting means that you're competing against other people who have as many qualities and flaws as you do, but you have to make that one difference and be the chosen one.

What is the best part of your job?

The best part is definitely the travel, meeting new people, and discovering new cultures. As a model, in every situation, you learn. You have to quickly understand how to work in a team. Plus, every job is with a different team and may have different requirements, so you need to know how to quickly adjust, behave, speak, express yourself, and understand what's needed from you. All of that makes it thrilling! Hence, as much as being glamorous, you also must be intelligent.

What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?

My first entry-level job was my worldwide Topshop campaign shot by Alasdair McLellan. It was all very new for me. Coming from France I barely knew Topshop and its popularity, but I remember my sister bringing me there to shop and telling me, “One day you will be on these walls, you will be one of these girls”. And about two weeks later I was shooting it in the English countryside... And her words became reality: my pictures were pinned in every bus stop on every bus and in stores. It was unbelievable.

What words of wisdom do you find most valuable?

This always resonates with me when I feel anxiety trying to settle in: “Worrying won’t add a day to your life”. Then I calm down, because how true...

What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?

The very first mistake I made would be to think that I had to be or look a certain way to succeed. But along the way, I noticed that just being myself with my beliefs, my values, my style, wouldn’t please everyone but would be more rewarding in many ways for my own self and even for my career.

What has been the most surreal moment of your career thus far?

The moment I certainly cherish the most from my years working as an international model was when I got that one opportunity that I had always promised myself I would grab: talking about being black in a very color-minded society through my story as a child orphaned by the war. Being an orphan, and having the path I had in life, did not disable me, but made me very aware of my luck, and even being incredibly thankful for all of it. I know that the ones who see themselves as lucky as I do are very few. Therefore, we must speak up, because unfortunately we don’t all have the same chances in life. In the end, children – the first victims – won’t remember the noise of guns and screams, the hatred, the insults, but they will remember the public’s silence.

And I was even more thankful that I got to fulfill this dream with people that would understand me and wouldn’t try to pity me, but would just give me a loving ear. David Lipman, who directed and shot my story for The Impression, was so caring and easy to work with. He gave my friend Kenza Fourati and me a complete freedom on how to conduct the interview, and we were all on the same page: we wanted to share a real message of hope and love despite the reality we live in, because there's still hope no matter what.

Everyone was so easy and kind that I might not have realized the importance of it straight away, nor even who I was working with. I couldn't believe that Kenneth Richard, through The Impression magazine, would give us such a grand space to address such a critical issue that is racism and still showing the beauty and platform that fashion can give. All these people are all part of my story in a way or another, and for me, that is another present from life.

What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?

If anyone wants to be a model, I think that I would tell him or her to make sure that they understand what it's all about. I think that most of them (and even more with the use of social media now) think that it's a very easy job—not even a job for some, but “a very glamorous lifestyle.” Yes, but that’s not enough...

Be ready to work hard and go through more rejection and moments of failure than we actually see in the pictures. And I truly believe that hard work always pays off! The question is, are you physically and emotionally willing and able to take it?

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