Eritrea: the exact opposite of a typical mannequin
Samrawit is a new talent that appears in numerous music videos, runway shows, clothing ads, promotional posters and magazines. She is a young model determined to challenge the stereotype that models are donkeys. She graduated from Orotta College of Medicine and Health Sciences last December.
Before we dive into your story, we want to highlight your bravery in defeating covid-19. You have tested positive and quarantined. Please give us full disclosure?
Thank you! My mother was the first to show the symptoms. Obviously, I had close contact with her, so we both had to go to the hospital. We both tested positive and then quarantined at a government facility. I was in denial so I was depressed the first week. But over time I got used to being confined. It was a whole new experience for me. I met different people from different backgrounds there. Furthermore, I would like to express my gratitude to all the health workers at this establishment; they were so dedicated that they attended to our every need. I wouldn’t even take care of myself like they took care of me. When we were tested again the results were negative. Recovering from covid-19 allowed me to see my life from a different perspective. One of the funny, but sad things that happened after I left the facility was that people were afraid to be around me. Some of these people have little understanding of the virus and think I can infect them. It’s funny to see their reaction when they find out I’ve just recovered.
We are happy that you and your mother are healthy again. Let’s start at the beginning, who are you?
My name is Samrawit Berhane and I was born in Asmara in 1998. I attended different schools starting from Alliance France kindergarten in Dembe Sembel then to the primary and primary school of the Finnish Mission. After I learned grade 9 at Semaetat High School, I was sent to Debrexion Kedsti Maryam High School where I did the rest of my high school years. After high school, I went to Sawa as a member of the 28th round. I got 3.6 in the graduation exam and joined the Mai Nefhi Institute of Technology. I wanted to study health sciences, so after completing first year courses in Mainefhi, I went to Orotta College of Medicine and Health Sciences to study nursing for three more years. I graduated at the end of last year.
You were one of the students who participated in the virtual graduation ceremony; How was it?
It is unfortunate that due to covid-19 we have not been able to celebrate it as we imagined for several years. But something is better than nothing. So the virtual ceremony went well. My fellow graduates and I were chosen to participate because we had been assigned to A smara where the graduation ceremony took place. Personally, I would have liked the medalists to be present because they worked very hard.
In addition to studying and graduating as a nurse, you were a model for fashion designers. When did you realize you could be a model?
Since I can remember, I wanted to be a model. The first time I walked on a track was in high school. My friends dressed me for the fashion shows organized as part of the events to celebrate our Independence Day. It was my first and good experience. Also, in Sawa, I participated in many fashion shows wearing outfits from different Eritrean ethnic groups. When I came back from Sawa, I didn’t have time to go to fashion shows because schoolwork was hectic and my parents were concerned that spending time working as a model would compromise my focus at school. But at the end of my school year, I was making music videos and meeting designers who wanted to cast me for their fashion shows. So far I have done three shows. I did two of the shows with a designer called Merry and the other with a group of designers. I also made a fashion video with the styling brand YULIA. I haven’t walked as many catwalks as I would like, but I think I did a lot of modeling for photo shoots for clothing commercials.
You become a very familiar face by appearing in multiple clips. How many have you done so far and what was your experience with the first one you did?
At the end of my third year of college, my childhood friend, singer Thomas Mulgeta, asked me to be a model in his music video. Honestly, I never thought of participating in music videos. But this clip opened up a lot of opportunities to me. The music video makers who saw me in the first video contacted me, and I have made twelve music videos so far.
What challenges have you encountered as a model?
Many people misunderstand the work of a model. Some people think it is not decent work. Many people ask me why I do such a job when I have a very respected job. I think all jobs are important.
What are your future plans?
My future plan is to gain a lot of experience and be better as a model. I don’t want to be just a model promoting clothes. I want to be a role model in everything, like the super models all over the world.
Thank you and we wish you good luck!