Herieth Paul is one of the world’s top supermodels. Since her career took off at age 15, she’s been the face of Armani, Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, Cavalli, and almost any other top designer you can think of. She’s been in Harper’s Bazaar, Elle Canada, Vogue Italia, and the list goes on. At just 23 years old, Herieth has already reached a major milestone that many supermodels can only dream of, with multiple appearances on one of the biggest fashion stages in the world—the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.
She is one of the world’s fashion elite, and a quick search of her name will show you her astonishing career, mixed with pictures of her mingling with today’s top stars, designers and models, including Gigi Hadid.
Herieth was born in Tanzania, and she moved with her mother and sister to Ottawa at age 14. It wasn’t much later that she met Angie, owner and director of Angie’s Models and Talent Agency, who put her on to the world of modeling.
You may recognize the name; AMTI is the same agency that discovered a young Cornwall boy named Ryan Gosling. Angie’s has been a link for many of Ottawa’s actors and models to make it to larger stages in the world.
Herieth spent her teen years travelling the world as an international supermodel. That meant studying for school on international flights to and from fashion gigs and, as she told the Ottawa Citizen in 2014, avoiding the urge to buy a Mercedes Benz for her first car. Now 23, Herieth is a bright and intelligent young woman with an incredible story to tell. She uses her platform and following to give back to her home community, while exuding confidence and a captivating authenticity.
You moved to Ottawa from Tanzania when you were just 11 years old. What was it like for you to move from your home country at a young age?
Moving to Ottawa was an adventure for me. I was able to see snow for the first time and to learn about Canadian culture while living in the Capital City. It wasn’t a culture shock for me at all. I found my way and blended in so quick that I felt like Canada was my home from day one.
What are some of your favourite memories of growing up in Ottawa?
Playing in the snow, skating on the Rideau Canal, eating poutine, and celebrating Canada Day at Parliament Hill. The fireworks were my favourite.
When you were 13, you walked into Angie’s Model and Talent Agency in Ottawa during a casting call. What made you decide to seek out modelling?
I remember I wanted to try acting. After watching so many Disney TV shows, I wanted to be part of the acting world. I had done my research and saw that Angie’s AMTI was the best and had connections with Disney. When I walked into Angie’s, I was early. Super early! So she told me to come back at 1pm. When I came back, she let me skip the line and told me I had potential of becoming a supermodel. I was ecstatic. Angie saw something in me that I didn’t even see in myself, and for that I will always be grateful to Angie Sakla-Seymour.
Shortly after that, your modeling career took off. What were some of the biggest challenges you faced while learning the world of modelling?
One of the biggest challenges I faced was balancing school and modeling. I would be on set on a Calvin Klein shoot and I would be doing my trigonometry homework. It was very difficult but I managed to finish school and graduate with honors. I also had tutors from all around the world. It was a crazy few years of high school.
How instrumental have your mother, sisters, and father been in your modelling career so far?
My family is the best. They have always been so supportive and they have continued to support me throughout all the ups and downs. I look up to my sister a lot and she is a great role model for me. She is the kind of woman that doesn’t take no for an answer. I’m learning a lot from her. Also my Mother Agent (Angie) and my family worked closely together. Angie would always discuss everything with us.
As a young adult juggling school, normal teenage pressures and an international modelling career, how did you manage it all? Did you find it hard to have a balance or to have a normal childhood outside of modelling?
I’m great at speaking my mind. And I know when to speak up if I need some time off from work. Having a diplomat mother taught me from an early age how to manage worldly pressures. Whether it’s work, relationships, etc., it was definitely a challenge to balance it all, but I am honest and I continue to be honest with myself and others around me.
One of the first big campaigns you landed was Calvin Klein. Can you describe the moment that you learned you booked the campaign? How did it feel?
In all honesty, I had heard of the brand Calvin Klein but I had never thought in my entire life that I would be able to work with Calvin Klein. I wasn’t shocked because it had been an ongoing process of castings, call backs and fittings, but I was so grateful. Calvin Klein was one of the first brands to believe in me and give me a chance.
Another milestone in your career has been walking as a VS Angel in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. What was it like when you learned that you’d be walking in the show for the first time?
I can’t describe the feeling. I was in a taxi going home from a shoot and my agent called me and told me that I had gotten the show. I had to get out of the taxi and scream and do a little dance!
I couldn’t believe it. Doing the Victoria’s Secret fashion show had been a dream of mine since I started modeling.
How does it feel it be walking down the Victoria’s Secret runway?
The feeling is indescribable. I felt powerful and strong and beautiful. Being on that runway made me feel like I could accomplish anything I put my mind, heart and soul to.
You’ve achieved so much at such a young age. What are some goals you have for your career in the next five years?
I would love to have my own skin care line. Maybe a collaboration of some sort and maybe even get back to my first love (acting).
If you weren’t a successful model, what career path do you think you would have chosen?
I would still be in this creative world. Maybe an artist, sculptor, or painter. I love creating and making things and using my heart to create art.
Take us behind the scenes of your daily life. What’s on your playlist?
What is one thing you can’t live without?
One thing I can’t live without is lip balm. My favorite one is from Maybelline called Baby Lips.
What are some of your favourite brands to wear?
I wear a lot of different brands. I’m a girly tomboy. For dressy events I love wearing Zarruci. She is an Ottawa designer. She makes amazing dresses And for traveling and just chilling, I love wearing my ToodieFLY hoodie. It’s a hoodie made from towel fabric. It’s so comfortable.
Do you come back to Ottawa often? When you do, where do you like to go? Any favourite restaurants?
I have so many. But my favourite restaurant lately has been Mati. They do amazing brunches on the weekend.
Your mother started an orphanage in your home country of Tanzania. What does it mean to you to be able to make an impact in your home communities?
My mother was always working with charities and in 2013, she started an orphanage, SACHIA Society, which stands for save the children in Africa. My mother has taught me from a young age that giving back to our communities and helping others is our duty. We have been making an impact since day one. The kids at Sachia come from hard and tough environments, and most of them are orphans. We try to teach them life skills and we also support them. Our goal to make sure they know that somebody cares and treasures them, and to inspire them to reach higher and strive for more despite where they come from. All that matters is where they are going.
Are there any other charities that are close to your heart?
I have gotten a chance to work with Every Mother Counts. It’s a nonprofit organization that helps mothers and women in Haiti, Guatemala and other countries. Up to 40% of women have complications during childbirth, especially women in third world countries.
What advice do you have for any aspiring models out there?
My advice would be that if you are disciplined and focused, you can accomplish anything. Trust in yourself and believe in yourself. If you have a dream, hold on to that dream and don’t let it go. Dreaming is manifesting. It will become if you believe.
What is one piece of advice that you received that you will never forget?
One piece of advice I was told and still use to this day is water. Drink it. It will solve 90% of your problems. Skin problems, that is.