AM: How did you get started in modeling?
Meron: I have always loved and followed fashion. When I was about 16 years old my high school counselor thought I would make it as a model and she introduced me to the modeling world.
AM: Was this what you dreamt for when growing up?
Meron: Modeling was definitely something that I had so much loved for but I never thought I would become a model or be at the stage I am in right now. It’s kind of happened over night for me.
AM: So, where are you originally from?
Meron: I am originally from Ethiopia. My parents are still in Ethiopia.
AM: Tell us about your education?
Meron: I am a fourth year college student. I am currently attending Goucher, College, a private liberal art college in Baltimore, MD.
AM: What languages do you speak?
Meron: I speak two Ethiopian languages (Amharich and Tigrina) and English.
AM: Who are your role models in the fashion world?
Meron: One of my top role model in the fashion industry is Liya Kebede. Besides the fact that she is from my home country, she is everything I want to be one day. Her philanthropy amazes me: she is a Goodwill Ambassador for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, has her own foundation, her own design line and she’s an actress. She is a pretty amazing woman.
AM: What’s a typical day for you?
Meron: School is my priority at the moment but when I have time, I am always shooting. Most of my weekends are dedicated to doing different shows, shoots or working with other photographers by helping them direct models.
AM: How do you stay fit in this hectic lifestyle?
Meron: well, I try to workout at least five times a week. I try to watch what I eat (not always successful) but mainly exercising is what helps me stay fit.
AM: When you’re not working, what are your favorite things to do?
Meron: I love photography, when I have time, I try to do photo shoots with friends and spend my time editing, watching a movie, or grab a cup of coffee and catch up with friends.
AM: Tell us, how can someone get involved in the modeling career? How do you become a model?
Meron: To be quite honest, I don’t know how someone becomes a model. But I think the first place to start is to believe in yourself. If you feel like you have what it takes and modeling is something you are very passionate about, start working on your portfolio and send it to different modeling agencies. The modeling industry is a highly competitive industry. You might get rejected at times and you might not get a response, but don’t give up. Keep trying until you find an answer and have confidence in yourself.
AM: What are your goals as a model?
Meron: My goal as a model is to start landing jobs that I can earn money to start my own foundation. I have been involved with the Cunningham Foundation which is a non- profit organization that helps children who have lost their parents to AIDS and children who struggle with the same disease. Since 2005, I have been an active member of this foundation and have taken trips to Ethiopia as a spokeswoman for the foundation. My dream is to build a similar foundation in another part of Ethiopia, and with the help of God expand it all over Africa.
AM: How did you feel the first time you posed for a photo shoot?
Meron: The first time I posed for a photo shoot I was 15 and I didn’t know what I was doing. I remember being so excited and very nervous. But, the photographer I was working with made it really easy for me to relax and shoot.
AM: Can you tell us something about you that people would never guess?
Meron: I am super shy and very antisocial.
AM: What are some of the misconceptions American college students have about Africa?
Meron: One of the biggest misconceptions that most American College students have about Africa is that everyone there is hungry and poor. Majority of the students describe Africa how the media portrays it. When most students think about Africa, they think of disease, hunger, want, deprivation, child soldiers, flies feasting on the living, naked children running around, AIDS, and people sleeping with cows. The lack of knowledge of the world outside of the United States and the lack of Global education in the U.S. have created a narrow and uncultured vision of Africa. Students believe everything they see on the media. I feel like the Western media portrays Africa in a negative way, and the only way to avoid this negative connotation about Africa is global education and us (Africans) try to educate about our countries as much as possible.
AM: About Africa: what will you keep? What will you change?
Meron: Being from Africa is part of my identity and it is something I take pride in. I love my culture, tradition, and language. This is something I want to keep and hopefully pass it to my children and their children and for many generations to come. We, Africans, are known to be late to everything. Our events start 2 hours after the original time and most of us think it’s part of being “African.” But, that’s not true and that’s something I have been working on changing personally.
AM: What can Africans do in order to create a strong presence in the America media? What are we lacking?
Meron: The one thing we are lacking is unity. We all claim being “African” but most Africans are too busy dividing up where they are from, and identifying about what they don’t like about each other, that we forget to unite ourselves and do something for our motherland. Also, we are behind in technology. Africans can spend a little more time and effort on new technologies.
AM: What do you see in the future for Africa?
Meron: I see a huge future in Africa. Once countries get caught up with western technologies, Africa will be the fastest growing continent in the world. It already is one of the fastest booming continents alongside Asia right now.
AM: Tell us, what is the craziest thing you ever done?
Meron: The craziest thing I’ve ever done would have to be going to Norway for one day, spend the night at the Norwegian airport and then coming back to America.