Home is more of a feeling than a physical place for fashion model Awar Malek, who resides in Cobbitty, a rural town in NSW, Australia. Her upbringing taught her to never let the opinions or judgements of others dampen her spirit and to never rely on validations from others, because “the only opinion that matters is your own.”
If you were visiting her hometown, she’d take you out to a restaurant or for a long drive to the Blue Mountains to enjoy the wonderful sites that New South Wales has to offer. “Who doesn’t love a nice hike, beautiful scenery and atmosphere away from all the buildings and fast-paced life of the city?”, she reasons.
Despite being reluctant to get into the modelling industry initially (“I didn’t feel like it was for me”), when Juach Cyer of Rïŋ Models got in touch, she was convinced to attend a casting call. “I thought, Why not, I have nothing to lose, and that’s how I got signed.” It’s a move that’s paid off. Since then, she’s met so many “incredibly talented and creative individuals” within the industry, and it’s been endlessly rewarding for her seeing how passionate and hardworking they are when it comes to their work. “The unpredictability of it all [is challenging,” she admits. “But it’s exciting and provides a new outlook and fresh experiences.”
The best piece of advice she’s ever received is, “Life is what you make of it, either good or bad: you only have control over your actions and reactions, everything beyond that is not worth stressing over.”
Awar thinks the best use of our time on Earth is “to be kind to others and yourself.” Her idea of happiness is not a destination but rather a state of contentment. “It’s being free to make my own decisions, to have peace of mind and stability,” she adds. She identifies as being a spiritual person. “Spirituality is the core of living a meaningful and fulfilled life whatever that may look like for each individual,” she says. “In my opinion, we’re all spiritual beings and we are here for special purposes.”
If she had to give up social media for a week, she believes that it would make for a relaxing and peaceful time. When she wakes up in the morning, the first thing she does is check her schedule for the day as it mentally prepares her for what’s to come. The one meal she’d eat on repeat for the rest of her life if forced to? A mixed fruit bowl. And, what she’d say to her 16-year-old self if she could? “You’re doing amazing sweetie!”.
The coolest thing she’s learned recently is that the Ethiopian calendar is 13 months long, with each month being 30 days with the exception of the last month that has five days in a common year and six in a leap. “The leap year happens every four years, and they’re now in the year 2013.”
When asked if she’d read something recently that completely changed her mind on something, she had this to say: “I read an article on how neuroscientists discovered the source of new neurons in the brain's hippocampus. And how the continuous supply of neurons throughout life is connected to learning and memory. At one point we believed that mammals were born with their entire supply of neurons and that being what they’d have for a lifetime. But these new findings suggest that physical activities and a healthy diet can also help produce new neurons. These findings may help neuroscientists to figure out how to maintain youthful conditions for learning and memory, and repair and regenerate parts of the brain after injury and aging. I found this interesting and it changed my perspective on healthy diet and physical activity.”
The books on rotation for her at the moment are: The Color Complex by Kathy Russell, Midget Wilson and Ronald E. Hall, Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith and Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. Her favourite movies at the moment are Hidden Figures and Black Panther, and while she doesn’t have a favourite song, she thinks you can’t go wrong with Afrobeats.
“Uncomfortable conversations are being pushed to the forefront and I love it,” she says when asked about the cultural and social issues most important to her. “We’re demanding more representation and seeing more inclusivity day by day.”
She believes that friendships are important because they’re “essentially an extension of you” and “good friends keep you sane and on your feet.” Therefore, she always strives to be surrounded by like-minded people that are genuine, kind and supportive. As for the values she looks for in friends? “Someone that is genuine, an individual who has a sense of self that is not intimidated or afraid to push boundaries,” she says. “Someone who is selfless, hardworking, and isn’t scared to go against societal norms. Someone who is always striving for greatness. Someone who is passionate about living a life with purpose but never forgets to enjoy every moment! Someone who understands the value of family, loyalty, love, integrity and respect.”
In other words, someone just like her.
Awar is respresented by Rïŋ Models
Shot on location in The Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia