Models of Diversity Interviews with Shaholly Ayers Disabled Model with a Mission
A few Months ago I scouted Disabled Model on ModelMayem, Shaholly Ayers
She’s one of the best Models I’ve seen in a while and do hope we at Models of Diversity are able to find here a good high fashion agency soon..
Besides being a being beautiful girl she’s a very smart and an inspiring person, time for an interview!
Hi Shaholly, Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I was born in St. Peters burg Florida to parents Teresa and Michael Ayers. My birth “defect” was a surprise to both of my parents as the ultra sound never showed that I was a congenital amputee, missing my right arm after the elbow. My parents, although concerned about my difference, did an incredible job at raising me and providing for me. I was never given any special treatment or told i was handicap or different. I grew up with positive reinforcement about my uniqueness and learned to Cherish all the positives that went along with being me. I have 3 other siblings, all brothers. One brother 6 years older,Mica, one 1.5 years younger Lucas, and one 12 years younger, Jacob. When I was 3 my family and I moved to Central Oregon where I spent most of my life. The town I grew up in was very small, so small that it was not even located on the map until around the year 2006. Being brought up in such a rural area with three brothers gave me great respect for the outdoors and sports. You can say that I was somewhat of a tomboy, enjoying the competition with my siblings. I played all sorts of sports growing up. Basketball was my favorite but I played baseball, football and track as well. After high school I decided that the small town mentality was not right for me. I had been bullied and picked on all my adolescents and in high school dealt with bullying with a few teachers as well. I moved to Honolulu Hawaii a month after high school and never looked back. I received my Bachelor of Arts in humanities with an emphasis in philosophy and have gone on to pursue a Masters in Business Administration in Marketing. While pursuing education I had also dreamed of becoming a model as a young girl so as soon as I had moved away from home I started working on my portfolio. I went into my first agency on the island and was told that because of my arm, that I would never be a model and that no one would ever take a picture me… I was so upset that honestly considered not pursuing mt dreams. But then, something in my head changed and I decided to a t the very least, give it a try. I worked with any photographer i could and started building a portfolio. I also tried out for America’s Next Top Model and mad it into the final call back which was the top 20 girls out of about 5,000. After that experience I tried again with the same agency that had turned me down and this time they couldn’t refuse me. The same woman who had so easily dismissed me before, came back to me with my portfolio in her hand and said, Shaholly there is no way I can turn you away, your portfolio is too good to pass up. I can tell you, that sure felt like a victory to me, and some validation that my hard work and perseverance paid-off. My current aspirations involve getting into the prosthetics industry in someway because I feel that helping other people in my similar situation need more empathetic prosthetics and people to talk with. I also want to incorporate modeling and spokes modeling into my marketing endeavor.
When did you realize you wanted to become a model?
I was always a ham, I had to be the center off attention… My very first modeling contest i was 12 years old.
What was your most exciting shoot so far?
I have had a lot of fun photo shoots, my very favorite this far was shooting a video for Disfunkshion Magazine, it was the most real and heartwarming as it’s main focus was centered on the beauty of being different.
What do you think about the fashion world at the moment?
I think that there are a lot of people out there who are striving to make a difference. I am so happy to see that there are more full figured models out there and that there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the stick thin models. I believe it is very important to have a healthy beauty standard and a realistic one. Beauty is not something that can be stocked on a shelf, injected, or snipped and tucked. Beauty is being oneself and accepting all that that is, flaws and all. Also, we seem to have forgotten that Beauty is also not just an outward appearance but a brilliance that shines from within.
How do you think we can make a change and get more diversity in fashion?
In order to create change we first need someone to be willing to stand up and take chance at change. Change is frightening and many are reluctant to even step into the unknown. But if someone has the courage and motivation, I think a new path can be forged. You need a leader before others will follow.
What is your biggest dream when it comes to modeling?
Modeling for me has never been about fame or about money… it’s about proving that beauty is not confined to one mold or a specific look. My dream is to provide an honest and real depiction of what beauty is and what beauty can overcome.
We got a message for you from Christie Brinkley the Supermodel.
This is what she said about you:
” When I saw this photo I thought Wow thats a great shot of Jennifer Lopez!
Shaholly is gorgeous! In her eyes I see her looking at a very bright and exciting future!
Listen…, everyone has something they feel self conscience about, or limited by at some time or another …or maybe it’s something that makes them feel different, that makes them feel they don’t fit in ….
Its how you deal with that challenge that will ultimately set you a part!
Very OFTEN, its that very “weakness”, that hurdle, that forces one to dig deeper, to forge a new path, to discover inner strength drive, and focus needed to reach ones goal!
That “limit”” often becomes the very impetus, that fuels the desire and drives one to find the courage and the strength that INSPIRES OTHERS!!!
Shaholly is not JUST A MODEL….but a role model as she reaches past any “limits’ and right for the stars!!!!!!!! People, like Shaholly who rise to the challenge, are the stuff dreams are made of!!!!In MY EYES you are already a star Shaholly!
What does it mean to you reading that message?
It is hard for me to express the amount of gratitude I have for Debbie Van Der Putten and Angel Sinclaire, until I had corisponded with them, I had never had any help from agency’s. My being an amputee makes it challenging to sell a model like me and no one was willing to market me because of all the efforts it takes. However, these two gracious people have seen something in me and are spending their time and effort on helping ME succeed! There are doing what everyone else was afraid to do, they are going above and beyond for me, someone they have never met. I am so very very thankful that we are connected and that they are helping me with my dream/goal. Whatever comes of this venture I feel so very blessed to have had them in my life. I also am greatful to share a similar vision with these two wemon, one where disability no longer has a negative connoatation and that those who are different are valued in society.
Not to mention my elation with the letter from Christie Brinkley! Recieving this letter from a legendary supermodel gives me strength and encourages me to keep striving for my dream! Thank you Christie!
* I would have never in a million years have gotten this letter with out the help of my two new friends 🙂
What do you want to say to young girls that want to become a fashionmodel with a disability?
Go for it! Whatever your dream is, you have to at least try to attain it. It may not be easy, it may be so difficult that you want to give up, but if it makes YOU happy then you owe it to yourself to try for it.
I have been told “NO” many times, but that just makes me work harder for what I want 🙂 I have never let my “disability” get in the way of my abilities or my dreams and neither should you!
To keep updated on my life as a model, and work for Models of Diversity, Please check my blog on a regular base, visit the Models of Diversity website, check me on twitter @DebsMoD and visit my youtube channel for al the interviews, backstage fun, video’s pictures and blogs!