Interview: Jawahir Khalifa, of HNTM fame

In this section we interview inspiring people: how did they get to where they are today, and what can they give others? Today: Jawahir Khalifa (19). Familiar face, isn't it? You may know this mega handsome beauty from the last season of Holland's Next Top Model. She was on TV several times. She didn't win the program, but she came a long way and can be very proud of herself!

Tell me, who is Jawahir?
Originally I was born in Somalia , I left there when I was five. Then I lived in Kenya for three years, and finally I came to the Netherlands when I was eight. I ended up in Sprang-Capelle, and now I live in Den Bosch. Due to living in different countries I speak many different languages: Somali, English, Dutch, and I understand and can read Arabic.

How has living in different countries shaped you?
I often had to move, so from the beginning of my life I learned to become less attached to places and people. Home is not a place, but home is you. Because of the moves I have learned to adapt easily to situations and to other people.

Has this also affected the relationships you have had with other people?
Of course. I don't get attached to people that easily. I have a few important people in my life, and it has taken me a long time to bond with them. I'm open to meeting people and I'm very social, but I just can't really bond with people that quickly.

And then your participation in Holland's Next Top Model… How was that?
Yes, that was a very nice experience. It was quite difficult during the recordings. You are not used to constantly sitting with people you do not know. And then you also have no telephone and no internet. I'm very attached to my phone, so this was the first time that I couldn't use it for a really long time, and that was quite difficult. Especially that because of this I couldn't have contact with my mother and with friends. I missed them very much. But because you're constantly sitting with people, you quickly build a relationship with them. You get to know each other really quickly.

How do you look back on your HNTM adventure?
I look back on it with a feeling of pride. I really learned a lot from it. I now know exactly how television works and how recordings go for this. I have really noticed that the makers of a program can choose exactly how something is cut, so that some situations appear very different from how they actually went.

How do you think you came across yourself?
Honestly not really like myself. I am very honest about that. I noticed that it had a lot of effect on me that I wasn't with family and friends, so I couldn't be completely myself.

What is the biggest lesson you took from the adventure?
I do think: always be yourself. I always say to myself, no matter what you do, people always have something to complain about. So why not just do what you want? Go for it, if it makes you happy, go for it. Every day there is something new to learn. Sometimes you think you already know everything, but every day you can find something new to learn. I think that's a beautiful thing.

Have you always wanted to be a model?
Not really, I used to want to join the army. But then I was increasingly approached on the street, by people who said that I really should become a model. My mom then arranged a shoot for me, and because this turned out super cool, I got a lot of confidence. Three years ago I really started modeling, and now I really like it.

What would you like to say to young girls who want to become models?
I hope they take the time to learn. Take your rest, take your time, nothing is too late. Love yourself, because if you don't love yourself no one is going to love you. And just dare! You often have young girls who want to become something and the pressure is very high, and they want it as soon as possible. But they also need to understand that the process takes a long time. You have to work hard for it and invest time in it, and then it will come.

How have your days been since Holland's Next Top Model?
Well, coincidentally, today I also signed with my current agency, DIVISION, in London. I'm 5ft 6in tall, so it's a bit more difficult at times, and that made me scared at times, but I've found that anything is possible.

You also wear a Lunar Wolff necklace. Why did you choose Stone of Ambition?
Yes, because ambition really plays an important role for me at the moment. At the beginning of the year, we all set goals for ourselves. I had thought for myself that I wanted to be ambitious this year. I don't want to give 100 percent, but 110 percent. I want to carry the necklace with me as a reminder to myself. Apart from the fact that I find the necklace very beautiful, I also really attach myself to such a personal value.

And to conclude: what is your life quote?
Love yourself. I still strongly support that. I only learned to appreciate things when I started to appreciate myself. As a young teenage girl there are always things you are not happy about. When other people saw me, they thought I was beautiful, but I didn't immediately see that in myself. So that quote started with accepting and loving myself. It may sound selfish, but it actually makes a lot of sense. You have to love yourself and that starts with yourself.

Dear Jawahir, thank you for your nice words and the nice conversation! Do you want to see more of her? Then follow her on Instagram: @jawahirkhalifa !


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