Jeyza Gary has a rare, inherited condition that causes her skin to shed every two weeks. She was born with a rare skin condition called lamellar ichthyosis,
Two years ago, Jeyza Gary decided to pursue a modeling career while completing her bachelor’s degree in special education. Now, she’s signed to a modeling agency, and has been featured in Vogue Italia.
DESCRIBE JEYZA IN 3 WORDS?
Giving, observant and smiley!
HOW DID YOUR APPEARANCE INFLUENCE YOUR RELATIONSHIPS? FRIENDSHIP, LOVE, EVEN IN YOUR FAMILY?
My appearance has always been something that is seen. Consequently, in all of the relationships mentioned there is a form of dialogue that usually takes place. Nonetheless, once that conversation takes place my appearance is the last topic of conversation moving forward.
WHO WAS YOUR BIGGEST ADVOCATE BEFORE YOU KNEW HOW TO ADVOCATE FOR YOURSELF?
My mom was undeniably my biggest advocate.
GROWING UP WITH YOUR SKIN CONDITION, DID YOU FEEL THERE WAS PROPER REPRESENTATION IN FASHION/ BEAUTY MEDIA?
Growing up I didn’t see anyone in the media or fashion even with my condition.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO GO INTO MODELLING?
Taking pictures with my uncle and seeing how I can evolve into something totally different behind the camera really made me want to work until it became my reality.
WHAT WAS THE MOST EXCITING PROJECT YOU EVER WORKED ON?
The most exciting project I’ve ever worked on is an unreleased Editorial for a magazine in London. I got to wear vintage Chanel and other amazing designers. I met some of the most talented artists and models respectively.
HOW DO YOU DFEINE BEAUTY? WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL BEAUTIFUL?
I define beauty as carelessness. What do I mean by that? Well, True beauty in my opinion isn’t definied by societal standards, if anything it’s the complete opposite. I believe true beauty is when individuals challenge conventional standards and break molds. Beauty is courage, it’s boldness when everyone wants to silence you. Styling my hair, a casual outfit and lip gloss makes me feel the most beautiful. It doesn’t take much for me to like what I see.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN CHALLENGES YOU FACE IN THE MODELLING INDUSTRY?
Standards and precedents. Being someone that isn’t represented in the media and trying to break into the industry is undeniably challenging. It is already challenging To be a model in such a competitive industry let alone a model that does not fit conventional norms.
My name is Chebet Chikumbu, I am a Pan African woman of Kenyan origin and South African cultivation. I currently serve as the Regional Director of Southern and East Africa at Global Citizen.
What was the path that led you to this role at Global Citizen?
I was working under the extraordinary leadership of Mama Graça Machel in her capacity as Chairperson of Mandela Institute for Development Studies. During this stint, I was exposed to the power of information dissemination for social change and finding solutions for
development challenges on our continent. I was in awe of her humanitarian efforts
through various interventions and channelled her lessons into my own line of service. I
was responsible for shaping the nature of the development programmes in African
Heritage and Economic Development which planted seeds in the role that Africans can
play in actively seeking our own interventions through collaboration and coordination.
Prior to that, I served at Praekelt Foundation – an organisation dedicated to using mobile
technology to improve the lives of people living in poverty. This was my introduction to
advancing our development agenda using digital platforms to tackle social issues.
Can you tell us a little about your duties as the Africa Director at Global Citizen?
I am responsible for leading our Joburg-based team in the execution of our regional strategy.
I oversee the delivery of our key advocacy campaigns, communications, programmes
and strategic partnerships in the Southern and East Africa region.
Did you always know that working in the Humanitarian was what you wanted to do?
Yes, working in the humanitarian field was always what I wanted to do as a conscious
citizen fueled by serving others and using my inner agency to uplift vulnerable people.
As a first born child, I was taught to work hard and treat everyone with kindness while
remembering my roots. As a grown African woman, I am determined to lead with
compassion and live with purpose to tackle the systemic causes of extreme poverty.
What motivates you on a daily basis in the humanitarian field?
I am motivated by those who have gone before us and fought for our economic freedom such as Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Mama Wangari Maathai as well as living legends devoted to leaving a legacy for a better world for our next generation, driven by their individual stories for social justice and I emulate their ideologies through my own existence.
And what are the main challenges?
Given the nature of finite resources in our world, we will continue to experience inequalities and scarcity to some extent. Thus the opportunities for us remain to address shortages, to source supplies and mobilise those who are fortunate enough to meet the growing demand of basic needs in our communities.
What was it about your mentality that changed when you started working at Global Citizen?
I have gained a greater appreciation for diversity. Working for an advocacy
organisation that spans across five continents has affirmed that our thinking and actions
are truly shaped by our cultural awareness, lived experiences and varied background.
Our cultural differences should not separate us from each other, but rather cultural
diversity brings a collective strength that can benefit all of humanity. As a member of
the human race, our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can, improve the
socio-economic solutions we develop and pass them on to the next generation.
You’ve had so many career highs. What’s been your proudest moment?
Being part of a team that delivered the Mandela 100 campaign culminating in a festival which
galvanized 16 governments, eight international institutions and foundations, and 12
corporations to make financial and political commitments. This campaign saw engaged
citizens take over 5.65 million actions globally, which resulted in 60 commitments and
announcements worth USD $7.2 billion (ZAR 104 billion), set to affect the lives of 121
million people around the world.
How do we achieve having more women chairing government or business Affairs in
We need to lean into our own inherent capacities and capabilities to chair all
types of affairs on the continent. It starts with self belief to apply our innate strengths,
followed by making decisions using facts and figures with good sensibilities and
sensitivities when needed. Additionally, I am learning how to make a difference and
move the needle through teachings from some of our formidable African elders such as
Amina Mohammed, Maki Mandela, Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Winnie Byanyima.
Which topics or Areas are most interesting to you?
Early childhood development, gender equality, women’s empowerment and partnerships for development.
What’s your advice for women trying to discover or build upon their passion?
Go for it wholeheartedly, grind hard and have a willingness to try again if at first you do not
succeed. Life is a series of learnings and wins, there can be no failures if we build upon
each lesson. Condition your mind with positive success stories and fill up on courage to
step outside of your comfort zone. As the great late poet Maya Angelou said “you
develop courage by doing small things like just as if you wouldn’t want to pick up a
100-pound weight without preparing yourself.” The inches we need are everywhere.
What are the main characteristics you believe every successful leader should possess?
Empathy, humility and integrity.
What Woman inspires you and why?
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; for her outlook on identity, feminism and fashion as well as her excellent command for storytelling and positively shifting narratives through her craft.
Why is it important for people to care about the crisis and disasters that are happening
around the world?
We have a shared universal obligation as members of the human race to care for each other as well as our planet as our home. The negative externalities we face are often within our control to course correct as we have the agency and abilities to take action to make our world a better place. We need to generate more consciousness about the collective power of active citizenry that lifts societies for our greater good.
Stevee-Rayne Warren is Producer Manager, Community crew up program, NOVAC recruiter and Consultant. She pairs up capable PA’s with real Hollywood opportunities.
Tell us about you and your background.
– I was born and grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and attended Southern University and A&M College where I majored in English and Liberal Arts. My mom was a cosmetologist and I would spend afternoons and weekends in her salon watching tv and movies to occupy myself and to not be in grown folks business. I recall always waiting for the credits and watching behind the scenes. I also would tag along to hair shows in the southeast region and that in itself was an entire production. I knew I wanted to have something to do with film and television I just did not know what my options were or even what the first steps were. It wasn’t until high school and after taking a video production elective that I started to see working in film as a reality. Our teacher Mr.Kyle really pushed us and exposed us to various aspects of productions. We made two feature length films that premiered at one of the AMC’s and actually gained some local and youtube buzz. I loved the collaborative process and being apart of something that brought joy to so many people.
Tell us about your profession and how you got into your line of work.
– While in college I worked at a restaurant and for the Bureau of Community Preparedness part-time, which I genuinely enjoyed but did not feel completely fulfilled. So, I applied for a security position at the local film studio in Baton Rouge. I didn’t get the position but the receptionist told me to look into an organization called NOVAC if I wanted to get some production experience. I did some research and saw that NOVAC had a tone of resources for individuals interested in film and tv. I signed up for the free cinematography workshop. Shortly after the workshop I reached out to the NOVAC Baton Rouge program manager Jillian Godshall to inquire about internship opportunities and a week later I was interviewed and hired. The opportunity was paid so I left my state job and took a leave from my restaurant job and worked the organization’s membership system. I was later promoted to membership coordinator.
Following my roles with membership, I started to help out with workforce development every chance I got and in 2017 I was assigned to manage our partnership program with HBO and a month later we garnered an additional partnership (PA pipelining program) with Warner Bros. The thing I love the most about working for the state was the community outreach and connecting the right people with the right situation and with these programs I get to do that but in a field that I am passionate about.
What professional accomplishment has given you the most satisfaction ?
– This year has been a big one for alum of the various programs I manage. We advocate that these opportunities will lead to sustainable careers in the industry but I did not expect to see such tangible impact so soon. There are a number of people in the union or on the union track, working director’s assistants, location managers, costumers, script supervisors, associate producers, staff writers that all came from these programs in the last 3 years. I’m proud of that, I’m proud of them.
What does it mean for you to have a commitment to Equality/Diversity ? How have you demonstrated that commitment ?
– Having a true commitment to equality/diversity means actively recruiting storytellers and crew from different backgrounds through every stage. Not looking for black and brown faces at the very last minute for the bottom line. Another thing we tend to abandon is the environment that we place people in…Yes, it may be a chance of a lifetime to work on a big budget production but what does this “dream job” come at the expense of? Is it their comfort? Their peace of mind? If so, it’s not the right opportunity and it’s not worth it. When I started out I use to think the chance was enough. It is not. We also have to ensure that all involved are truly invested and supportive of facilitating more inclusive hiring processes.
Tell us how you work with brands to create or foster equity in the workplace ?
– Because I am a consultant through a non-profit and work under the social responsibility umbrella, I work with other non-profits and productions rather than brands. One thing I do love with working Warner Media (HBO, Warner. Bros, Turner) productions is the privilege to engage with a number of nonprofit groups and community based organizations around numerous social issues – many of which are addressed naturally in the content. For instance, the series BARRY is centered around a veteran, so I recruit exclusively from organizations that serve veterans for that show. That is one of my favorite things about this work, making authentic connections.
How would you advocate for equality and inclusion initiatives with individuals who don’t see its value ?
– I am really not in the business of changing people’s hearts. Because the people who are admitly against the type of pipelining programs I manage are usually those who have greatly benefited from the system that so often excludes the people that we serve. I am more focused on bridging the gap and setting the tone for the emerging creatives and industry leaders. One thing I do emphasize is that things are not the way they are by chance, it was intentionally set up to not be accessible to all, so our efforts for change have to be done with intention and care.
What experiences have you had with recruiting, hiring, training, and/or supervising a diverse workforce ?
Some of the recent productions I have recruited and placed PAs or interns for include; JOKER, QUEEN & SLIM, LUCIFER, DAVID MAKES MAN, JUST MERCY, YOU, QUEEN SUGAR, CHERISH THE DAY, IN THE HEIGHTS, CLAWS, ALL AMERICAN, LEGACIES, BLACK LIGHTNING, WATCHMEN, EUPHORIA, BALLERS, INSECURE, SILICON VALLEY, DEADWOOD, THE RIGHTEOUS GEMSTONES, DIVORCE, LOVECRAFT COUNTRY, WESTWORLD, THE LOVEBIRDS, PARADISE LOST, FILTHY RICH, and THE WALKING DEAD.
As more women of color enter and strive in the workplace, how will that affect the future of diversity and inclusion ?
Women hire more women, Black people, and people of color. Point, blank, period.
Any advice or tips for women trying to get into your line of work ?
– For women, specifically black women, a tip that I can offer about working in this industry, is that, it is possible to simultaneously be grateful and to stand up for yourself. I think a lot of us retract in these spaces because we are in fear of conforming to stereotypes or we are in fear of losing the opportunity. But it is so important to know who you are and advocate for yourself in this world because you better believe your counterparts are doing so.
Be sure that you are focused and attached to your personal purpose and walk and not a company, brand, or other individuals. I ask myself often, “what is the goal? why did I start this? Is what I am doing in fulfilment of my purpose?.” If so, I keep pushing. If not, I stop evaluate and readjust.
Whenever I am unsure or not feeling confident, I always think about a quote by Audre Lorde, “When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” I have this up in my house and office and these are truly words to live by.
What do you see as the greatest leadership strength ?
– I believe the greatest leadership strengths are empathy, emotional intelligence, and empowerment. The best leaders are those who are understanding and supportive.
#InspiredByHer is an interview series that focuses on black women, showcases their expériences across all socio-economic sectors, highlights their personal and Professional achievements and offers useful advice on how to make life more satisfying for women.
Do you know any black women doing phenomenal things ? Send an email to email@example.com and we just might feature her.