Supermodel Maiysha is more than a pretty face; she is a real person and a survivor of “life”.
We look at models and can imagine what their life is like… maybe we think, its all glamour and no issues… after all, she is living the ‘dream’ of being a model. Not so…
Maiysha opens up with PLUS about the challenges to discover who she is, developing as an artist and dealing with an eating disorder. With this interview we celebrate a very long journey that has finally come to a place of happiness for this wonderful soul.
The name of her album is appropriately titled This Much is True and will be available on August 26th.
[Maddy] Tell me a little about yourself….
[Maiysha] I’m a city kid from the Midwest and ended up in NYC for College. I was very interested in musical theater and gender studies. After two months in college I remember calling my dad and saying “Dad, I have a problem. I don’t think I want to be an actress anymore!” My dad asked me what I wanted to be and I told him ” I think I want to sing.” So I stayed at Sarah Lawrence College to pursue a singing career.
[Maddy] What do you think influenced you to change your mind from acting to singing?
[Maiysha] Well I was always singing… I always did prefer musical theater, so singing was already a part of me. I feel like I was being pulled in this direction. College, for a lot of kids, is a time when you really start to discover yourself. I realized that once I was out of college, what would I be cast as, or my what would my opportunities be? All the great roles that I would want to play I would probably never have a chance to. Maybe it was true or maybe it wasn’t but I felt like I wanted something that was a little more wide-open. I also discovered new music… being in NYC introduced me to all this new music.
[Maddy] Once you left college did you pursue your singing career?
[Maiysha] Actually no – I was a little freaked out about how fast my time at college had come and gone. I realized I had to be “grow” and felt completely overwhelmed by it all. I was also in a pretty serious relationship at the time. I think looking back I chose to be in that relationship because I was so scared to be on my own. It was a pretty volatile relationship and uncomfortable but we stuck it out for a few years. During this time I did not feel encouraged to pursue my passion. The first thing I did when we first broke up was to look at the back of the Village Voice… I looked for bands to audition for. I just knew I had to do something.
[Maddy] So when did modeling come into play?
[Maiysha] Well after college I was teaching and not making ends meet so I attended some open calls. I was about 20 years old at the time. I was not looking to pursue it as a career but more as a means to make some money and survive. I basically walked into a few agencies, I got signed and then very quickly fell in love with modeling. The timing was perfect because once my relationship ended my modeling career picked up quite a bit, so I left my job as a teacher and started to model full-time.
[Maddy] So did modeling halt your singing aspirations?
[Maiysha] Not really, I started singing with a “bar band” while I was modeling. If you’re a NY native then you are familiar with the bars down in the Bleeker Street area. Singing in this arena allowed me to begin to write. Up to this point I just sang but never wrote my own songs. I was singing with this one band for about a year and a half then I was introduced to Scott who became my best friend and my producer.
[Maddy] How long has this record been in the making?
[Maiysha] Well from the very beginning we knew we had to put a demo together and then sell it to a record label. Easier said than done! The only thing we knew for sure is that we wanted to work together (Scott and I). We met, got together in the studio a few days later and wrote our first song which is the first song on the album. We have been working together for a while now – our musical chemistry is very strong and we have become like an old married couple… we may not agree on everything but we always manage to work through it.
We have been shopping demos around for a while and went through the “circuit”. People would seem interested and then that contact person would get fired or something else would happen. So it has taken us about 2 demos and 4 years to get to this point.
[Maddy] Was there anything in particular that the labels would tell you was the reason why you were not being picked up, for instance, was it the economy, you were not right for that moment, etc?
[Maiysha] You know what I heard a lot was that I was too smart to be a pop singer. LOL! They thought it would be easier if I was not that “wordy” and complex with my music.
[Maddy] Do you write your own music?
[Maiysha] I write all my own melodies and my lyrics.
[Maddy] Tell me about the album, do all these songs come from different experiences in your life?
[Maiysha] Exactly… people ask me all the time which one is the most personal? And the answer is they are all very personal to me. Each song expresses some aspect of me. I hope that my songs will be able to speak to the people.
[Maddy] How would you describe your style of music?
[Maiysha] I would say its “Progressive Soul,” meaning I’m a black woman and anything I do is going to be soulful. I also have so many other aspects to it as well. You will hear some pop, funk, rock and jazz.
[Maddy] How are you handling the promoting of your album and your modeling career?
[Maiysha] I’m still very much a model and I’m juggling both. Thank God I have a great agency – I have been with Ford for the past 5 years. They have been incredibly supportive of me. Honestly speaking, I would not have been able to do this album if I had not been modeling. The support of everyone in this industry helped to make this all happen.
[Maddy] Well we love your music – we actually were able to listen to six cuts on your album and it’s very good.
[Maiysha] I’m so happy to be interviewed by you. I want to reach out to your demographic – it’s the industry I represent and I’m so proud of.
I do want to touch on something. I recently had a very drastic physical change. I lost a lot of weight and I wanted to clarify how this all happened for me.
I dealt with depression for a very long time. I was a binge eater for a very long time… nearly 20 years. Essentially about 20 months ago I was very unhappy and it seemed so contradictory being that I make my living being happy in front of the camera. I had been in and out of therapy for about 3 years and I called my therapist and said, “Look, here is the deal, I think I have an eating disorder and I think I’m ready to deal with it.” My therapist was happy to help me and I was very committed to the process. In the process of doing this I got a nutritionist and learned to be present in my body, and as a consequence I lost weight. I did not set out to lose weight I just was not happy. At my heaviest I was a 16/18 and that would have been fine if I was happy and taking care of myself. I would yo-yo up and down with my weight… and it was not about the weight… it was always about me and what I was feeling. So in losing the weight the natural assumption was that I lost weight for the album and it actually is not the case.
[Maddy] Well you certainly sound so happy and relived.
[Maiysha] This is definitely the happiest time of my life…