After binge watching all her IGTVs and gawking at her latest posts I knew it was about time to catch up with one of our favorite badass Gen-Z women – Laila Ezzat. We know Laila as the model that graced us in early 2017, modeling for Egyptian jewellery brand Cords. Three years onwards we watched her model for Dima Jewellery, Jude Ben Halim, and and most recently, the campaign promoting Adidas’ ultra-boost line; Laila shows no sign of stopping. With the world taking a long-awaited break right now, Laila has been filming, uploading, hustling 24/7 and pumping out mad content. Amidst her hectic schedule, we sat down for a lil chit chat and candidly talked about all things love, content creation, body confidence, and some of the harsh realities of being a young model in the industry.
Essentially, I asked Laila to be her most authentic self and she readily delivered. The conversation flowed with ease and without even prompting her, Laila let her guard down and openly discussed her career thus far.
How did your friends and family react to your decision to model at first? and how long did it take them before realising you were dead serious and completely dedicated?
Like most of us, trying to convince those around us that a career centered around social media is worth the sacrifice has proven to be a task – one that ultimately ends in us just burying the hatchet and moving on. Laila is no stranger to the apprehension and uncertainty brought on by unconventional career paths, “I had mentioned it a few times and they were kind of worried at first since they didn’t know much about the industry”. Fortunately for Laila, commitment was never an issue “my parents know that when I set my mind on something I do it!” and so, being the powerhouse she is, she continued pursuing the opportunities that came her way with enough conviction, that slowly but surely everyone around her was on board. Her parents are very supportive, “especially now that they understand how everything works and they trust me and know I can handle it.”
You’re an IGTV sensation at the moment, what inspired you to start creating content beyond modeling?
The answer to this question required no input on my part and I think I’ll let Laila speak for herself on this one: “I’ve actually always been into making videos/editing since I was literally 10! I had a youtube channel back then but all the videos are private now hahaha! I wanted to get back into it but I was always too shy and didn’t know which direction to go in exactly or how to start. Once I got my Instagram platform and gained traction there, I would always think about it, but again I was too nervous to start. Then around last January, I decided to just go for it and finally step out of my comfort zone and stop delaying it! The outcome was pretty positive and I realized how silly I was to wait all this time, I was holding back because of fear of failure. I was surprised people actually enjoyed seeing a different side of me. I believe in the right timing and I’m glad I started when I did, I don’t think it’s ever too late.”
That fear of failure is something we all can agree sets us back years sometimes. Was there any point in your career where you felt like “this is kind of a failure” and if so, how did you take it on? Was there a lot of reflecting and growing involved?
Laila’s take on “failure” is in no doubt what we all need to hear during these unprecedented and turbulent times. With the pressure to navigate uncertainty (and somehow still manage to be productive) Laila emphasizes the importance of keeping a positive mindset, “I try to stay optimistic and believe that with hard work, putting good things out in the universe and right timing, you can achieve what you set your mind to…” No one’s life is perfectly linear and Laila definitely admits to having “had little “failures” here and there,” yet she, “wouldn’t even call them that because everything [she’s] gone through has taught [her] something valuable.”
Many models struggle between keeping everything ‘picture perfect’ and ‘keeping it real’, what’s one thing you wish your followers understood about being a model/content creator?
Laila admits she doesn’t possess a glamorous lifestyle, “I think people are too harsh and judgmental towards people on social media! I obviously don’t look like my photoshoot pictures every waking moment, especially on a random day while I’m at the supermarket! It took a whole team of people to make me look like that. I guess some just expect perfection at all times but that can really negatively affect someone’s mental health so I just try not to care and go on with my life.”
There are many people out there who make unsubstantiated assumptions about models mainly to do with their intellect or simply the common ‘having an attitude’. Obviously these are generalised assumptions, do they ever bother you and what actions do you take in your day to day life to change those perceptions?
It is safe to say that Laila finds most of these presumptions…kinda humorous, “these assumptions are funny to me honestly, how stupid is it to assume that someone isn’t smart because they “look good” or because they took an opportunity they got?” She stresses the fact that there is nothing smarter than taking the opportunities you’ve been given and I couldn’t agree more; “I don’t try to prove these assumptions wrong because I know myself and I have nothing to prove. Assuming people’s personality traits based on job titles is idiotic and closed minded.”…preach!
Your following consists of mainly young girls, do you ever feel pressured to uphold a certain image?
“There’s definitely some pressure but I try to be as authentic and as true to myself as much as I can! I think I do lead a pretty private life as odd as it may sound. I’d say I only post about 10-15% of my life so there’s a lot of behind the scenes and a big part of my life people don’t get to see.”
And how does it make you feel when strangers online pry into your personal life, or think they know you just because ‘your insta is public’?
“The life I chose has consequences that I have to kinda be okay with. Therefore, I can’t really complain because there are always more perks! To every person who assumes terrible things about me, 10 others send me uplifting messages or tell me I made their day which makes it all worth it!”
You’re constantly surrounded by stylists, makeup artists, photographers and like-minded creators, what are some of the most valuable lessons these incredible creatives have taught you?
“I am definitely always picking up tips from everyone around me and I believe you can always learn something from everyone. I genuinely respect all these fields individually and the effort and hard work that goes on behind the scenes. I mostly just pick up new techniques from makeup artists that I hadn’t tried before and since stylists dress me in clothes that aren’t mine it expands my style and opens me up to dress outside my comfort zone. I learned a ton about lighting, exposure, my best angles and how to manipulate lighting from photographers on set. I love photography, It’s a field I find very interesting.”
And have you ever considered photography as something you would want to incorporate into your portfolio?
“When I was 10 I wanted to be a photographer and a model. I actually still have it written in my diary from back then! I don’t know if I’d ever become a professional photographer, but it’s definitely something I enjoy and would never stop doing for fun. I’m figuring things out as I go.”
Laila, you’re probably one of the most down to earth models in the industry, how have you managed to stay humble throughout your ever-growing success?
“I don’t wanna be all preachy and say that I’m so humble and down to earth because I feel like everyone says that. I guess you’d only know that about a person once you’ve met them. However, I don’t think I’ve changed since I started. The things I do are either work to me or hobbies. I don’t see why that would give me any sense of entitlement! I’m also always around my friends and family so nothing feels too strange, requiring me to change.”
What was one moment during your career that made you realise modelling is the only thing for you?
I feel like one thing we can collectively admire about Laila is her self-awareness…“I don’t think it is! I love it but I don’t think it’s the only thing for me. I don’t think doing modeling alone would satisfy me as a creative person.” The girl is also a gifted creator so it comes as no surprise that modeling is only a stepping stone, “I love creating content, always have, always will, it’s not a job to me I don’t get paid for doing it! It’s just my passion project.”
Your dedication to your career is unreal, between shoots and uni work, how do you manage your time? and how do you keep a healthy mindset?
“I prioritize my uni work and take care of my attendance in order to be able to miss uni when necessary. I usually schedule my shoots around my uni schedule and it works out most of the time! I do have to make sacrifices though but I usually just miss outings for work. It can definitely get overwhelming sometimes so I need a break whenever I need to.”
You’ve worked with many amazing brands, what are some brands that are on your radar, that you wish to model for?
“I never disclose the brands I wish to work with. I just kinda write them down on my list and manifest it. I feel like it’s important to keep things to myself especially when they haven’t happened yet to avoid disappointment from unmet expectations.”
Lastly, this comes as no surprise, we’ve heard you’re dating someone…do you see yourself ever sharing that part of your life with your audience?
“I learned that sharing these things usually backfires and has a negative effect, if I share something about my relationship and it ends, I don’t want to keep receiving messages about “did you break up?” and all that, so I keep it offline. I love sharing parts of myself and hobbies with my audience but I don’t think everything needs to be shared publicly.”
With Laila’s parting words, I have some of my own. Over the past few years, Laila has gone from influencer, to model, to content creator and throughout it all managed to fearlessly lead and control her life. Her story paved the way for so many other young women to do the same and with her continued success, she demonstrated that there is no room for reluctance in life…and that’s kinda badass if you ask me. So Laila, keep breaking barriers and being fearless.