Morayma Makay – Interview With A Fashion Model

I have known Morayma for close to 5 years, but I’ve only gotten to know her well over the past 2 because of Facebook. Not everyone knows fashion models in person, so I’m honored.


She’s not one of the big names that most of us know but she’s the real deal. You know all those magazine ads with models whose names you never know? Morayma has been modeling for a couple of decades now and still does modeling part time. She’s traveled the world and knows many other models and can talk about the industry from the inside. There are thousands of pictures of her on and off the internet, and she’s been on the cover of many magazines as well.

I think this is a fascinating interview and I’m glad she answered the questions as thoughtfully as she did. She dispels that false belief that models are vapid; this is one small and engaged lady.

1. What was your life like growing up?

I grew up in Santa Monica, California…even though I am a Los Angeles native I didn’t grow up exposed to the Industry. I had a very normal, quiet, and actually strict upbringing so school was what I was expected to focus on and that’s what I did. I did have a love for theater and dreamt of someday becoming a stage actress….so I performed in the school plays, etc. Modeling was not something I ever really thought about, to be honest.

2. Did you always want to be a model?

–Nope. I wanted to be a theater actor or an interior decorator! LOL

3. How were you discovered?

–While I was in college in Portland, Oregon I walked into a talent agency to see if I could get sent out for local work to make a little extra money and they decided I had a look that would work well for modeling. Within 2 months they had sent me abroad to work.

4. What is it like to travel around the world as a model? I know it can’t all be glamorous, based on a few videos I’ve seen of Sports Illustrated models on photo shoots, but I’m assuming lots of it is pretty fun.

— It was amazing. I am not going to lie. I am something of a gypsy at heart, so being on the road and traveling to different places all the time was a dream come true for me. Yes, it was tiring to work long days in either freezing cold weather or sweltering heat (keep in mind you always shoot the clothing collections during the opposite season…so you freeze in swimwear and summery dresses, and roast wearing coats during midsummer).

You are constantly being poked, prodded, pinned, hair messed with, etc. so you have to lose your sense of personal space very quickly. When you are on a job you are a mannequin and that’s that.

Some clients are kinder than others. I’ve mostly worked with wonderful people, but I do remember one time on a booking I had the stylist pull a sweater over my head so forcefully (they were in a tremendous hurry to get done) that I ended up with a pulled neck muscle and that hurt for days!! Rejection is also never a nice thing, but for every job I didn’t book, there would be one that I did book so that wasn’t enough of a reason not to love my work.

We got a lot of privileges and perks….VIP treatment at clubs, restaurants, etc. I made a lot of wonderful friends from around the globe. Ahh….just writing this is making me miss it so much! =)

5. So many people talk about models and how they eat? What’s your opinion on models considered too thin, bad or good eating habits, and the positives and negatives of trying to keep your body looking a certain way? Is the pressure high?

–That has always been a pet peeve of mine…that people assume models don’t eat. I have to be honest, while there are certainly girls that do starve themselves to look as skinny as they think they need to look, the majority of the models I met, lived with, worked with and became friends with had very hearty appetites and rarely worked out.

Honestly, the majority of models are genetically built the way they are. I knew more girls in college with eating disorders than models. Generally, if a model is not naturally thin, she will start to gain weight or reach a plateau in her weight and will eventually either quit or go into Plus/full figure modeling.

I never felt the pressure because I am naturally thin, although one year in Tokyo I was sent home because my agency there told me my hips (34 inches) were too large and wanted me to have 32 inch hips. That was mortifying but I got over it….the ridiculousness of that was laughable.


I think the models that do feel pressured to lose weight or be really thin are not naturally thin so they are trying to fit a mold that they are not genetically predisposed to fit….but like I said, I knew very few girls in the industry that had an eating disorder….truthfully only two (one of which was a roommate of mine in Milan).

My belief is that eating healthy and having an active lifestyle is the only way to go. Should models be thin? It may not be popular to say so, but yes…I think so. Not skeletal, but healthy and thin….models are paid to showcase clothing and a thin, taller model will be able to showcase a garment better than a shorter curvier girl. The curvier girls have their own markets for clothing too…I am talking about couture….Really there are many types of modeling (sportswear, lingerie/swimwear, etc.) that prefer a healthier, curvy body-type….but for straight up fashion, thin is always going to be in. 😉

6. We were talking recently about a guy who dated a model saying she didn’t know how to handle her money. Would you say that most models are good with their money or do many suffer like athletes in that they spend it as fast as it comes in?

–I think it really depends on the girl and how she was raised and how old she is too! I cannot imagine how the baby models who are 14 and 15 years old could possibly know what to do when handed checks for thousands of dollars!!

My parents brought me up to be very responsible and frugal and that is how I’ve always handled my finances. I had college loans to pay while on the road too so I knew that I had to keep good track of my finances since you really do not know when your next check will come or how much it will be for! I actually found it easy to save money and take care of my bills at home while traveling because we were always being offered free dinners via the agencies, eating on-set, free lunches at some restaurants (in Milan). All of my expenses were fronted to me (the agencies then take money from our earnings to pay off what they have fronted us) really all I needed to pay for was my airline tickets!

7. I’ve seen a lot of your pictures and you don’t always look like the same person. But some models we see always look the same. Do you feel your versatility is better or do you think it matters in the end?

–I think my versatility comes from my original passion for the theater. As a theater actor you have to be able to convey emotion…not all models can do that. I do see many models that ALWAYS have the same expression. That annoys me…haha! My agencies have always called me a “chameleon”.

I think versatility is a great thing and it helped me work a lot….but I don’t think it matters all that much in the end because a lot of the monotone-faces (lol) still end up working a lot too and I do think that “who you know” is a powerful tool in this biz…as in many others.

8. What’s the best thing about modeling and what’s the worst thing?

–Best thing? Traveling. Good pay (when you get it!). Meeting interesting people. Wearing clothes I could never afford on my own….aka playing dress-up and getting paid for it. 😉

–Worst thing? How fickle the industry can be…and not knowing when your next paycheck will come….

9. How has your husband and kids handled your modeling? Do your kids even really understand what you do or did, since they’re very young?

–I stopped traveling when I became pregnant with my son….I know other models that do travel for lengthy amounts of time and have kids, but I can’t justify doing that. I will travel to a location for a specific shoot, but anything longer than that is not going to happen. I don’t want to miss these moments with the kids because they are so fleeting…..even though sometimes I fantasize about taking off for a while, for some peace and quiet! LOL!

My husband doesn’t think much about my work one way or the other. He knows I enjoy what I do so he’s happy and supportive when I work, and luckily he’s not a jealous type. My kids like when they see me in an ad or a TV commercial…they think it’s funny, actually!

10. Time to shine; what are you doing now and are you enjoying your life?

–I am still modeling and working on commercials part-time. I like that I can do a job here and there and still be afforded the time to be here for my kids whenever they need me. I am enjoying life here in Los Angeles again…..the sunshine and proximity to my family is wonderful! I like that I can work as little or as much as I want because I don’t have to use this as my way to make a living anymore…..it’s nice not to stress about when the next job will come….my husband is the main breadwinner, so that takes the pressure off.

I am also in the process of seeing what else is out there for me career-wise. I don’t want the ol’ brain to rust! LOL! Toying with the idea of going back into the medical interpreting field as I am fluent in Spanish as well. I did that for a while before modeling took me on the road and I remember really enjoying it.

I also need to get back to my own blog one of these days, now that both kids are in school…I have no excuse to not write again! 😉
 

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Being A Model

A few days ago I got called to do a modeling shoot. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking because I thought the same thing; model… me?!?!? Well yes! It seems that most of us don’t think of ourselves as model material, but not everyone is looking for only the beautiful people, if you will. There are often calls for regular folks like us to fill a role, and this time I got the call, my first ever.

I was asked to show up at a location around 9AM that was about 30 minutes from where I live. I hadn’t been to this community in more than 30 years, which tells me I really do need to learn more about my surrounding area. The studio was located in a beautiful area that I can’t necessarily say was out in the country, although, since the photographer owned 37 acres, it almost has to be called that I guess. I was also asked to bring 2 suits, 2 shirts, and some colorful ties. Since I only have 3 suits I took them all, took 3 shirts, and took 10 ties, just to make sure I’d covered it all. By the way, have you ever had to carry 3 full suits at one time? Sucker’s heavy! lol

The studio was very large. It was a converted truck garage that the guy had totally painted white, with only one of those large heaters in the top back corner of the room; no, it couldn’t totally overcome the cold, as it was around 20° outside. And I wasn’t the only model for this shoot, as there was this lady who I thought was around my age but turned out to be 74 years old who I was going to be shooting with. Sorry, no details on what we were shooting, as that’s part of the agreement. But I can still talk about the process.

If anyone thinks modeling is easy, they’re wrong. It might seem glamorous when you see those model images and you’re saying “man, based on what I do that’s some easy work.” Nope, sorry kids. Sure, it’s not like shoveling holes, but it has its own bit of work and effort. For instance, the poor lady I was shooting with had to keep walking and “almost” sitting at one point for about 10 minutes as the photographer kept trying to capture just the right image. Imagine what “almost” sitting is like; that’s tough on both the back and the knees.

And you have to keep that smile up; at least she did. Sometimes I didn’t have to smile, other times I had to smile on demand, and even though there were a lot of shots of me from behind, I had to keep my eyes on her eyes to help guide her through her shots. We had a good working relationship, which is always nice no matter what you’re doing.

There were also some strange contortions both of us had to go through. What some big time photographers do is work from a storyboard and someone else has drawn up of what they want. Well, turns out some of those poses aren’t, well, realistic, but it’s what they want. At one point he needed me to twist my arm into a strange position acting like I was receiving something, but he needed to see my open hand in the picture. For another series of shots I had to lean way over onto this desk because that’s what was in the storyboard, but it meant I had to lean over about a foot and kick one of my legs out in order to get into the pose. I didn’t even know they made short desks except for little kids; ugh!

Of course there’s the obligatory standing around time as well. I got lucky in that my standing around time was early, when they were taking prep shots. My partner, whose name was Juanita, had to sit around waiting later on when it was time for just me alone in a picture.

Finally, it was time for my main shot, and I got to sit for this one. I was holding papers and a pen in one hand, and I had to alternate between looking serious, looking stern, looking content and smiling, both with and without teeth. They had to change the set because his assistant realized that they had the same pictures in the new shots that they had in the original shots when we were turned the other direction; that wouldn’t do. And I couldn’t look at the papers; I had to remember to look straight at the camera, and that’s another lesson. After all, you know how you always feel like you want to blink when you see a camera flash? Can’t do that with a photo shoot.

I was there just under 3 hours, and it’s a good thing photographers don’t use real film anymore. What a process; digital camera, computer hooked up so they can immediately see what’s going on and what they might have to photoshop out later on. The guy said I was perfect; I didn’t comment because what could one possibly say to that? It was fun I must admit, but I’m glad it was relatively short also because it turns out that Juanita will be modeling for up to a week; she has a really prominent role in the story, though it also seems they didn’t tell her just how prominent.

My takeaway? I get paid and I got the above picture of his puppy Lucy, who was just the cutest thing, and when I got to play with her she kept going for my tie, actually getting it once. What an interesting day, and an interesting lesson to learn. Tyra girl, you do some work! 🙂
 

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