Model Grace Mahary, who has been featured in campaigns of Mac, Bergdorf Goodman, Carolina Herrera and Gap, and was a 2014 Victoria’s Secret Angel, said modeling is an industry that’s “hard to get out of, once you get started.” Right now, she’s finding that brands increasingly want to work with her.
Most recently, she was featured alongside four other women on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar Arabia’s diversity issue.
“It was an empowering shoot — women of color can work together to be successful, and it was a great example of a publication pushing diversity in a non-token way,” said Mahary. “We were dressed in Gucci, not tribal wear. Today, you see more women of color in print and in publications, but there’s a lot of room left to grow. The next step is to feature a woman of color by herself, as an individual, not one in a group.”
Recently, Mahary attended the Canadian Arts & Fashion Awards as a presenter for Stylist of the Year, Juliana Schiavinatto. Her diary, lightly edited for clarity, is below.
8:30 a.m.: My days vary, so the time I typically wake up changes, too. If I’m shooting on set, I might have to get up by 6:30 a.m. to squeeze in a workout before an early call time. Today, I’m taking a day off from photoshoots, so I can sleep in.
9:30 a.m.: I take a Moksha yoga class with my mom, who lives in Toronto. I always like to start my day with physical activity. Yoga is the best way for me to calm any nerves before the red carpet event later in the day.
11:30 a.m.: I have a weekly call with my board members for Project Tsehigh, a nonprofit I launched to support the development of renewable energy sources in countries in need. It began in 2012, after a trip to my parents’ home country, Eritrea. I had an overwhelming sense of determination to do something after realizing how many people live without electricity. The primary focus for this particular call is to prepare for our first fundraiser, #SaluteTheSun, with Russell Simmons on April 29 in Los Angeles.
1 p.m.: After a bite with my parents (I stay with them when I am in Toronto), I check into the Fairmont Royal York hotel and set up my room for upcoming interviews, hair and makeup. I hang up my gown, arrange my toiletries, plug in my laptop and phone next to my bed (even though I know that’s not that healthy), and immediately get into a robe. I love a robe.
1:30 p.m.: The team from The Cut calls for an interview about my latest cover for Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, Project Tsehigh, and my take on health and wellness. Before interviews, I take a few moments to get familiar with the material I’ll be discussing and the people asking me the questions. Once I get going, it’s easy to keep talking, but I need to clear my head and organize my thoughts first.
2 p.m.: Swarovski jewelry arrives at my hotel room, and I get to choose pieces to wear tonight. I’m obsessed with gold, but for my dress, which is a dark green, I go for something more silvery and sparkly. I choose a choker made of Swarovski crystals.
2:30 p.m.: Sephora Pro, the makeup sponsor for the CAFAs, sends its lead makeup artist for Canada, Lou Swinden Payne, to paint my face. We both agree the look should be about strong eyes, not lips, and we decide on a bold green eyeshadow. The whole process takes a little over 30 minutes — I enjoy the face massage and moisturizing part the most.
3 p.m.: My mom drops by the hotel to see me at work! She normally never gets to do this, as I am always away traveling.
3:30 p.m.: The Ouai hair team arrives to touch up my curls. I went into the fitting for my gown with my hair natural and liked the way it looked, so we’re sticking with it for the event. I’m trying to wear my hair naturally as much as possible, but traditionally, it’s straightened for work. However, more clients are starting to like it curly — a reflection, I think, of what’s happening in our culture. At these events, it’s important to mix it up and have that representation.
4 p.m.: The team from Coveteur arrives and starts shooting for its “Getting Ready with Grace” photo feature, which will run with an interview. They asked me about being Canadian and what the event meant to me. That was fun. Then we got to run around the hotel shooting for the spread.
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4:15 p.m.: My best friend and date to the CAFAs arrives to the hotel. She’s an incredible wingwoman for work events. She understands the business and how hard I work, and that it helps to hold my hand before the red carpet.
4:30 p.m.: Now that hair and makeup is finished, I slip into my Jason Wu gown. For this event, I wanted to wear something by a Canadian designer, and the Jason Wu dress was perfect. For me, deciding on a dress is about a feeling: When I see it, I just know. After getting dressed, we return to the Fairmont hallways and elevators to finish off photoshoot for Coveteur.
5 p.m.: With just my mom and best friend left in the room, I practice my script for presenting the Stylist of the Year award. We then do a toast, take last-minute photos and touch up my makeup. Sometimes, when it comes to these things, I get nervous — but as I’ve started to get more invites to speak in public, I’m getting more comfortable.
6 p.m.: I hit the red carpet for photos and press. I enjoy it, but it’s definitely a blur. Sometimes on the carpet, I’m blinded by the lights and just have to roll through. I do see a few people I know — designers, photographers, editors, stylists and agents.
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7 p.m.: We get seated at the tables, and there, I’m reunited with my mother model agent, Elmer Olsen, who discovered me when I was 16 and convinced me to move to Toronto to become a model. I made the move on the condition that I could continue playing basketball and going to school. I then decided to do it full-time, thanks to him.
7:40 p.m.: I am whisked backstage with the other award presenters, where I finally run into Jason Wu. He didn’t recognize me, at first, because he has only seen me with my hair straightened. The curls are here!
8 p.m.: After presenting Stylist of the Year award, I can rejoin my table, nerves-free! At some point there is an intermission in the run-of-show for dinner to be served, and of course, more photos.
10 p.m.: The CAFAs have ended, and everyone is heading to the Sephora after-party held next door. The Sephora team is doing hair and makeup touchups at the party. But first, a quick outfit change back in my hotel room. I slip out of the Jason Wu gown and into something a little more casual, now that I’m in party mode: a black bodysuit with denim details and stilettos.
12 a.m.: We head to a secret after-after party, which is more intimate and relaxed. That was fun.
??? a.m.: After the after-after party, BEDTIME!
Banner image: Grace Mahary for Harper’s Bazaar (image via IMG)