…An Inner beauty movement. Many models are not happy with themselves and try to fit into a mold: thin beautiful model with a ton of followers on Instagram. However, the reality is that external beauty doesn’t last forever and it’s the inner beauty that counts. Inner beauty should be embraced more in our society and that is what I consider true beauty.
As a part of my interview series with popular culture stars, I had the pleasure of interviewing Zara Zhao. Zara is a fresh-faced Canadian model and content creator. With 10+ years of experience in fine arts, she mixes digital art with photography created for her and her fans. Mixing fashion, glamour and art, she showcases her work mainly on Instagram and Facebook.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
When I was 17, I participated in Miss Chinese Montreal Pageant. It was a whole new experience for me as I did not know anything about fashion brands, makeup, and catwalk. I still remember that my ears weren’t pierced, and I had to wear clip-on earrings on stage. I really enjoyed the pageant experience and decided to try modelling. So I started out as a promotional model for nightclubs for a modelling agency in Montreal. From there, I slowly got into lifestyle, glamour, editorial and fashion modelling.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
People are just people! Since I uploaded some sexy but classy pictures on social media, I saw my friends’ numbers drastically decline! On the bright side, I also met some talented and smart people in the industry that I became friends with. Some people from high school that I haven’t spoken for years suddenly messaged me and wanted to hang out. Even my ex-boyfriends wanted to reconnect with me after I became a model. Super awkward situation!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Eat! Before photoshoot sessions, I would always skip breakfast in the morning so I can look flawless! The most embarrassing moment is when my stomach growls during photoshoots. One lesson that I learned is to eat light before a photoshoot so I can give my 200% and don’t have to worry about these embarrassing moments of silence. A light healthy breakfast won’t make you look pregnant!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Some of the most exciting projects that I’m working on now include body art such as tape, glitter and body painting. It involves expressing the beauty of a female body by emphasizing on curves and shapes. I’m also working on editorial projects inspired by fantasy or science-fiction movies.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
Some of the most interesting people that I have interacted with are artists from various backgrounds. Some are photographers, makeup artists, hair stylists and wardrobe stylists. They all have an unique way to express themselves through arts. As an artist myself who specialize in oil painting, I’m very lucky to meet and work with some of the most talented people in the industry.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Know your competitive advantage and what sets you apart from other models. A lot has to do with learning about yourself and see which specific area in modelling you want to focus on. But most importantly, make connections!!! It’s not about what you know but who you know!
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Inner beauty movement. Many models are not happy with themselves and try to fit into a mold: thin beautiful model with a ton of followers on Instagram. However, the reality is that external beauty doesn’t last forever and it’s the inner beauty that counts. Inner beauty should be embraced more in our society and that is what I consider true beauty.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Modelling is a vicious and competitive industry! Even if you’re the sweetest or kindest person in the world, you will meet some people with bad intentions or models who will try to bring you down. Be strong!
- Safety! Know your boundaries and if you feel that you’re in a situation where it becomes sketchy, walk away! You can even bring a chaperone! Better be safe than sorry.
- Know marketing and branding! This involves doing market research first before diving in and understanding the internal and external markets before focusing on a particular area of modelling. Then keep up with the news and know your competitors. Have a game plan on how to market yourself!
- Be ready to wear different hats! As a model, you will meet and work with a ton of people like photographers, hair stylists, makeup artists, editors, directors, etc. And not everybody knows how to bring out the best out of you! Learn a bit about everything and that includes photography, makeup, hair, fashion… Then know what looks good on you and what doesn’t and use this to your advantage.
- Think long-term goals! What’s your plan for the next 5 years and 10 years down the road? Modelling has an expiration date unlike other careers. While it’s glamorous at the moment, it won’t last forever. I recently got back to modelling after I graduated from business school and design school and I’m very grateful because I can have different choices later on.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Failure is good and you should not be afraid of it. Every failure can open doors to new opportunities. Whenever you lose something, you also gain something. Even though I didn’t win Miss Montreal Pageant and the Pageant photographer told me that I had no future in modelling, it gave me a reason to push harder to reach my goals. Now I’m the only pageant girl who is modelling full-time without having to work 2–3 jobs to support myself.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My friends who were being the most supportive when I went through the toughest times. I had so many people telling me that I don’t have a future in modelling. While it hurts my self-esteem, it just gives me a reason to work harder so I can prove them wrong. Whenever I feel depressed, I’d call my best friend and he would always give me hope by making me laugh! Life is a test and only the strongest and toughest people will succeed. Believe in yourself.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
Jennifer Lopez! I love all her songs and I absolutely love her personality! She’s stunning, talented, funny, confident, and fierce!
How can our readers follow you on social media?
They can connect with me through Instagram (@zestyzarazhao) or my Facebook page (@zestyzarazhao).