Watch: Interview With Maya Haile

Model Maya Gate Haile is represented by the world's top modeling agencies including IMG, Elite and Ford. (Tadias)

Tadias Magazine
By Tseday Alehegn

Published: Thursday, June 17, 2010

New York (Tadias) – This week Tadias TV highlights international model Maya Gate Haile. The Ethiopian-born model grew up in Holland before relocating to New York where her fashion modeling career has flourished. She is represented by the world’s top modeling agencies including IMG, Elite and Ford.

The choice to become a model as a teenager was a tough, personal decision for Maya. Her parents, who migrated to the Netherlands when Maya was 13, pushed their daughter to focus on learning a new language, excelling in school, and perhaps consider becoming a doctor or a nurse.

“For a long time I had [modeling] on my mind, but I could not bring it home,” Maya says. And those who saw the tall, somewhat shy, and elegant girl with an infectious smile would often remark “Are you a model?” At 20 Maya finally decided to tell her decision to her family.

Maya recalls “My brother was really shocked: ‘You’re going to be a model? Are you kidding me?’” But Maya took the opportunities before her and delved into the world of fashion. As much as she loves her work, Maya points out that modeling for her is not “a final destination.”

“I love modeling because from modeling you can become something else,” she says with enthusiasm. She points out that one can grow from the networking opportunities modeling affords and get involved in other entrepreneurial or humanitarian ventures. “You could take advantage of modeling and you could be activists, film-makers, photographers. It is not only about modeling,” she emphasizes.

Which leads us to ask her what other projects she has been working on.

“I have several projects in mind but one that I am currently working on is to provide opportunities for girls in Ethiopia to get access to my world. I would like to give those who aspire to become models an opportunity to come to Europe and to get a taste of what fashion and modeling career is all about. I want to provide access and mentoring, so that they can see that it’s possible to be successful and to go after their dreams. I want to share what I have learned.”

Maya also works closely with UNICEF’s New Generation program. Her husband, Chef Entrepreneur and Author Marcus Samuelsson, introduced her to UNICEF and currently serves as Ambassador for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. Both Maya and her husband are particularly committed to supporting the organization’s immunization programs and its efforts to deliver clean and accessible water to millions of children around the world. Maya also focuses on providing entrepreneurial opportunities for youth aged 18-34 who are residing in developing countries.

Asked how her work with UNICEF has enriched her personal life, the model says it helps her to put her own life in perspective. “I could be one of the kids in Ethiopia,” she says. “I compare it to myself and my husband Marcus. Everyday we think about those kids in Ethiopia.”

On a lighter note, we asked Maya about her hobbies including basketball. “Who wins when the two of you play?” “I always win,” Maya says with a smile, “but you have to ask [Marcus]. He should tell you about it.” In the couples interview last summer Marcus confirmed her side of the story. “She kicks my ass in basketball!” Marcus told Glamour magazine. “Also, Maya translates so much for me—not just words, but culturally. When my sisters call with a problem, she takes the phone. I can’t give advice—unless it’s about cooking. Before Maya, my primary relationship was with food. Luckily, she loves to eat!”

Below is part of Tigist Selam’s conversation with Model Maya Haile at home in Harlem.

Watch: Tadias’ Interview With Model Maya Haile

Tigist Selam interviewed Maya Haile at home in Harlem on Tuesday
June 15, 2010. (Video by Kidane Films)

About the Author:
Tseday Alehegn is the Editor-in-Chief of Tadias Magazine.

Watch Related Tadias Video:
Video – Tadias’ Interview with Meklit Hadero

19 Responses to “Watch: Interview With Maya Haile”

  1. 1 Hana woldeleul Jun 17th, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    Hey Maya, I have seen your photo on other magazines and billboards before but I was always debating if you were Abesha or not. It is great to know that you are from Ethiopia and it’s wonderful to get to know you up close and personal. Tigist has such a relaxed and intimate interview style, I just love her. You have a good vibe too Maya…good luck in your current work and your future endeavors and keep loving Ethiopia! Thank you Tadias!

  2. 2 Abera Jun 17th, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    Hi Tadias, I read your magazine and watch your TV. I like how you follow my fellow country heroes. I always forward all your works to Ethiopian youth, those who live in different countries. I am proud of you.

  3. 3 Nolawi Jun 17th, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    she is cute.. i like her Qindib

  4. 4 MO (New York) Jun 17th, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    Beautiful, elegant, soft spoken, very proud of her Ethiopian Heritage (love the jacket at the opening scene of the interview), True New Yorker in spirit and flesh, woman with a mission! Gobez Maya! Good luck!

  5. 5 Haile Jun 18th, 2010 at 4:41 am

    TADIAS has been doing a superb job both by reporting on issues connected to Ethiopia and featuring people like Maya who are great role models for all youth in general and for the Ethiopian youth in particular. Our heroes like Maya, Marcus, Liya, among many others are telling us that achieving something in life by itself is not and should not be the high mark.

    Making a difference by contributing to the betterment of others lives especially to needy ones is what makes your life worthy and define you as a “fulfilled” person.

    Thank you, TADIAS.
    My compliments to Maya.

  6. 6 Doro Wot Jun 18th, 2010 at 10:14 am

    Endih new yagere qonjo!!! I love you! I think ur cute in every way, including your accent!

  7. 7 Brooks Jun 19th, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    {When I first arrived in New York} The Subway fare was $0.45. The top movie was’Saturday night fever’ (John Travolta’s disco craze) with the Bee Gee’s top soundtrack. {Harlem used to be a neighborhood filled with abandoned buildings and drugs.} Well, Harlem has changed a lot now, just like Maya said!!

    As a resident of Harlem now, you might hear the New York Times (complaining) about “gentrification” or long-time residents (complaining) about “Church busters.” Don’t listen to them, it is just aberration. Harlem has changed for good. Welcome to the new Harlem my dear Girle!!.

    Maya,I share your signature about “Tadias” I appreciate the editors and remarkable Mrs/Selam Thanks.

  8. 8 Afro Harlem Chick Jun 20th, 2010 at 9:48 am


    subway fare was $0.45??? :-) You are dating yourself girl!!! That must have been before World War II :-)

    I love you Maya!!!

  9. 9 Rahel Jun 20th, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    Tigi, so good to see you!!! You’re so yourself!!! The best!


  10. 10 Brooks Jun 20th, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Afro Harlem Chik!!

    From the History Books!!!

    By June of 1975, ridership had fallen to levels not seen since 1918. On September 1st, 1975, the fare rose from 35 cents to 50 cents. The Add-a-Ride ticket was established at 25 cents.

    I am not Female!! I am Male. Thanks

  11. 11 Afro Harlem Chick Jun 20th, 2010 at 8:04 pm


    Sorry for confusing your gender boo! I have a friend called brooks, who is female. Anyways, I was just playing with you Pa. I just think it is very funny you’re talking about .45 cents subway ride. That’s soooo old. 1975 was 22 years before I was born! :)

  12. 12 Tatari Temari (Studious Student) Jun 20th, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    Maya is totally cool!!! She is the new face of international Ethiopia, just like dearest Liya Kebede! Big thank you Tadias and the lovely Mrs Tigist Selam!! Is she a model? But the point being she’s very beautiful as well. She could be one if she chooses.

    Tatari Temari (Studious Student at a college much smaller in size than its name)


  13. 13 Brooks Jun 21st, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    Afro Harlem Chick (Respectfully)

    Good to be young & the restless. Young age is the time we make funny faces in the mirror. Middle age is when the mirror gets even. Old age is when we start reading our copy of life. You have a long way to go. Good luck. Thanks.

    Respect to my hero Maya.

  14. 14 Hiwot Jun 22nd, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    Tadiasoch, I echo most of the comments here. Thanks so much for being my go-to page for coverage on inspirational Ethiopian folks, from Bethelhem of SoleRebels backhome to the likes of Maya in the diaspora. Thank you!

  15. 15 kaleb Jun 24th, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    u r simply beautiful.

  16. 16 Maramawit Aug 20th, 2010 at 2:44 am

    Cheers Tegist, Cheers Maya, Cheers Marcus, cheers Tseday, Cheers Kidane, Cheers Tadias!

    Much blessing and Love to all!!!

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