On the day our interview & shoot, Maye spun in beaming and radiating…
…with crystal clear make-up free skin, and a hair style only a ‘hip’ grandmother could pull off. Despite the fact that she’s raised three highly successful children (her son Elon Musk– Paypal co-founder, Tesla CEO, Space X founder- has a net worth of 11.3 billion), she struts with humble hightails, her memory clearly serving her well. “I just work really hard to survive. Poverty makes you work really hard.” she said, reminiscing over her days of being a single mom.
As we sat down in New York City, amongst the groovy loft of fashion photographer Ron Contarsy, Maye exclusively shared with me how she’s maintained a healthy (but fabulous) career while raising three of the most influential people in our society(in addition to Elon, her daughter Tosca is a Hollywood film director and her son Kimbal Musk is a restaurateur), still lands billboards, and has sustained her modeling career for 50+ years.
Tony Triumph: Speaking as a business woman, how lucrative is a modeling career in 2015?
Maye Musk: With the years where I had campaigns such as Revlon and Clinique, my modeling income would surpass my nutrition income. At 67, I’m surprisingly doing more modeling than nutrition [Smile].
[Photo: The ‘glam-ma’- Maye models for the cover of Elle Quebec(top left), as Mrs.Claus in a Target Christmas ad(top middle), for the cover of Zoomer magazine(bottom left) and most recently in a Virgin Atlantic Airways ad(bottom middle].
TT: You once relocated your entire family from South Africa to Canada, not to mention you have modeling representation all across the world? Clearly, you have a knack for travel.
MM: I love traveling for work, and now will stay extra days to explore a new city and culture. I speak 4 languages: Afrikaans (like Dutch), German and French, and like to practice in the different countries. When vacationing in Russia, my friends and I were lost in the suburbs where no one spoke English. Fortunately we found a Russian who spoke French and could point us in the right direction.
TT: As you know, working in fashion can be unhealthy. Long hours, egos, pompous attitudes, and then there’s the drugs, and alcohol, which can, at times, lead to self-loathing. This hasn’t been the case for you?
MM: I’ve been fortunate not to have bad experiences. Long hours mean that you eat well, go to bed early and avoid alcohol the night before a shoot or runway show. I’ve found people to be nice. Egos and pompous attitudes are usually due to shyness. This will disappear if you smile and chat a bit. I don’t have self-loathing, and am not sure I’ve seen that on shoots. You get rejected a lot with castings and auditions, but that’s the business we’re in. Think of this shoot, everyone is nice. There are no egos, drugs or alcohol. That’s typical of my shoots. As I was a young model in South Africa, living with my parents, and well protected by my agent, no one offered me drugs or alcohol. I didn’t see any of that on modeling jobs. After I had my 3 children, I always had to rush home to them, so again, I never came across drugs or alcohol.
TT: For models seeking your career longevity, can you offer them any advice?
MM: 1.) Maintain a healthy weight. 2.) Keep modeling until no one wants you, then change agencies. 3.) Update your look every year. 4.) Find your images and continuously update your portfolio. 5.) Have a presence on social media: Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. 6.) Be nice to everyone.
TT: Your son Elon has become a household name. Would you consider him a radical for his internet, energy efficiency, and space exploration inventions?
MM: I don’t consider Elon radical. He just knows the physics and engineering possibilities that improve our lives. Unfortunately they [Elon’s inventions] have nothing to do with my nutrition business or modeling. I wish he had contacts in the modeling industry. Maybe I wouldn’t have to go to castings or auditions.
MM: My goal is to become such a well-known model, that I’ll no longer have to schlep to castings and auditions. Please direct book me! [Laughs]