Many a time, succeeding as a model in the fashion industry means compromising your christian faith. While a lot of models have left the fashion industry in their bid to maintain their faith, Erika Marie has stayed in the fashion industry and let her faith influence her career, not the other way around. While Erika does not have a list of do’s and don’t in her career, she talks about how she deals with the temptations of wanting to choose career over faith. She also shares advice for fellow models who are faced with walking away to protect their faith or staying steadfast in their beliefs, while pursuing a lucrative modeling career in the fashion industry.
How long have you been modeling?
It’s such a funny feeling when getting asked this question because I never know if I should use the date of my first photoshoot or when I actually started to WANT to model. I first started taking pictures in 2016, nearly four years ago, with an up and coming photographer at my university. I didn’t actually start getting into modeling until 2017 when I finally realized my potential and it has now been 3 years on and off.
What Christian denomination are you a part of and how long have you been a Christian?
I would definitely recognize myself as a non-denominational Christian. I was saved late 2016 and baptized in March of 2017 so I still consider myself to be a 3-year-old baby Christian. My parents believe God is real but we never consistently went to church, read the Bible, or prayed so I was the first person in my family to pave the way for faith.
How has your faith influenced your career as a model?
Faith has been by far the biggest influence in my decision to pursue modeling. At some point, it was my motivation, the Holy Spirit was pushing me forward but it has also, at times, been the biggest roadblock. There have been times that my faith has kept me from moving forward because I was going too fast. Years ago, on my way to work at the hospital, I was screaming at God in my car, wondering where in the world He wanted me to go with this crazy dream of modeling and I felt His presence so strongly in my passenger seat that I almost believe I saw Him and I heard Him tell me to chase it. Ever since that morning, I know that God wants to take my places with this dream and my faith in that, in Him, is the one thing that keeps me going when everything and everyone is telling me to get a real job. That morning is not only a reminder but a testimony.
Do you face challenges with some of the jobs you come across because of it? What about prejudice?
I can say that I have never physically faced challenges with modeling because of my faith but it has caused me to question the photographer’s intentions and has caused me to be way more cautious of which other models I surround myself with. Faith to me is really a lens to look through, helping me to see who is good and who is just wasting time.
Have there been jobs you have had to forego to honor your faith?
Saying no to certain jobs was never due to my faith. However, I do feel as though jobs have looked over me BECAUSE of my faith. I can say that I did change my mindset as a model and started looking at more experienced photographers because my faith was strong and I knew again that God has something major planned for my life with modeling.
I know sometimes being a Christian in the fashion industry as a model isn’t easy, how do you deal with the temptations of wanting to choose career over faith?
What an amazing question! I can confirm that believing and trusting in God is not easy in this industry and there have been plenty of times where I have had to choose between my career and my faith. The times where I chose my career, God took everything away from me and brought me back to Him. There is a chapter in the Bible, Ecclesiastes 1-13, that reminds me each time that God is in control of every one of life’s seasons. So when I choose my faith over my career, God is faithful to provide.
How do you handle working with other models, brands, and photographers that do not necessarily share your beliefs?
I still consider myself to be a “Christian Under Construction” so I still haven’t fully grasped the concept of loving each and every one of God’s people. It was much more difficult in the past when other creatives didn’t share my belief but I have now learned to use it as an opportunity to explain that God is the only reason I am still here and to give Him that glory. I sometimes get upset when posting my testimony on social media because of the backlash but I have to remind myself that if they hated a perfect man, they are sure to hate one of His followers.
In this path you have chosen especially in an industry that glamorizes sexuality, do you consider yourself a role model for the younger generation?
As much as I want to be a role model for the younger generation, I can’t say that I have reached that point yet. There is so much more to me that even I haven’t discovered. Being a positive role model is really a goal when I put my image out there. Now, although the modeling industry does glamorize sexuality, it’s still up to the model to determine how far they will let the concept go. A lot of models will feel attacked at the mention of being half-naked in their pictures but I am okay with pictures where you can see skin because it’s proof to myself that I have grown in self-love.
They are a few outspoken models who believe that having faith in the fashion industry is everything, are you inspired by any of them? If so, who? and why?
I am inspired by anyone who reaches their goals in both fashion and faith. The fashion industry is ever-changing and makes you question yourself, constantly re-auditioning to fit the new trend so I applaud anyone who stood firm in their faith and reached their goals in this industry. It is far from easy
What advice would you give to other models who battle between choosing a career over faith?
Whew, if God has sent you on a path that you are CERTAIN involves your dream of modeling… KEEP.GOING. The battle between faith and career is ongoing throughout the entire journey. I would also say to seek God’s voice. Tune out every other opinion and just find God’s voice. Keep your eyes on God, not only for direction but also for empowerment. God will never lead you to do something without equipping you for that task. I am sure you have heard many times that we are made in God’s image and God is perfect which means that there is no one in the world who can say that we are not good enough for a job, or an agency or even a shoot. KEEP GOING. Lastly, when someone says no, remind yourself that they will be the one asking you to say yes in the future and forgive them while you work towards being such an amazing person, that no one will be able to say no.
Follow Erika Marie on Instagram @theyoungbadu
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Related articles: Can a Christian be a model: https://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-modeling.html
Five famous Christian models : https://www.godtube.com/news/5-famous-christian-models.html
Coco Rocha opens up about the challenges of modeling and a Jehovah’s witness: https://fashionista.com/2013/01/coco-rocha-opens-up-about-the-challenges-of-modeling-as-a-jehovahs-witness