Zara Martin is nothing if not versatile. After presenting for shows such as Show Me Your Wardrobe and Al Gore’s Current TV, Zara switched her passion for music from hobby to full-time gig. Spinning tracks for the likes of Chanel, Dior, and Tom Ford, she is practically the in demand DJ on the party circuit. She also models (for clients such as Topshop, Selfridges, and more), partners with brands for collaborations (most notably her headphone line with Skinnydip) and is an ambassador for one of the leading organisations supporting women affected by war-torn areas, Women for Women.
DISORDER: As a successful model and DJ, how do you think the push for diversity in the entertainment industry has affected you?
ZARA: Diversity has become such a hot topic. It’s something that I think needed to be raised in the industry, [and to] reach further than just fashion and music. With modelling, you get booked [for] the way you look; if you don’t fit the brand, you don’t get the job. So in that sense I accept it. I haven’t come up against stuff in [a bad] way, so I’m fortunate. But I think that perceptions are changing and brands are opening their minds. Are open to hiring a more diverse cast. It’s strange for me because my mum grew up in South Africa during Apartheid, so when I hear the stories she tells me about how my brother was the first Indian boy in his school, and things like that, I can’t imagine [it]. I grew up in London where you don’t see the difference. I have Chinese friends, I have African friends, I have Arab friends… For our generation it’s changed. However, I think big brand decision-makers are perhaps of an older generation, and maybe that’s why it’s become such a big topic.
What have been your biggest challenges?
I think fighting to have a career in any industry is a huge challenge. It’s very hard in this day and age without knowing someone or having a connection or being someone’s girlfriend, or daughter, or son, or cousin, or god-daughter. When I was younger, I definitely had it in my head that everyone makes it. But I realised there’s absolutely no order to it, so the challenge is just to continue.
Was that you with modelling?
I’ve never really been a “model” model, so, for me, the brand deals and stuff that I aspire to would never just come from being a model, [but] they would definitely come from the other stuff that I’m doing. So, I think the biggest challenge really is to just keep finding stuff you love.
At the Golden Globes almost everyone showed up in black for Time's Up (an organisation that provides legal support to victims of sexual assault). You’re an ambassador for Women for Women; has the organisation dealt with or talked about this stuff?
Yeah. Women for Women are extremely vocal and support any issue that pertains to women and equality. I don’t think Women for Women are a feminist organisation, per se, I think they’re an equalist organisation, so as much as you’re supporting women, you’re [also] supporting men in the sense of education. I think Time's Up is a great movement. It did get a bit of flack on Twitter but I don’t think anything that’s spreading a message isn’t gonna get flack from someone. [But] it’s a good thing because you’re putting the word out there and you’re drawing a line underneath something.
The world has seemed pretty bleak lately. What do you do in terms of self-love that you could recommend?
I eat nice food and then go to the gym. I love it when I have the time to just wake up naturally, go to the gym, take it easy, eat good food. I think that always makes everyone feel better. And apparently getting you hair done was scientifically proven that, like, you can’t be depressed with blow-dried hair!
Is there something that can always put a smile on your face?
TED Talks. If I need some inspiration I watch a TED Talk.
What do you like to do for fun?
I’m pretty low-key. I watch a lot of Netflix. I don’t really go out that much anymore unless it’s to a gig or something. I have lots of musician friends so I’m always supporting them. It’s great, it’s inspiring. I used to go to a lot of art galleries; that’s on my list of things to get back into doing this year. And I’m learning how to play the piano again, so that’s the next thing.
Do you have any advice for young women looking to get into your line of work?
The advice that was given to me was don’t compare yourself to other people. It’s hard, especially when you’re young and starting out because there’s someone that you always aspire to be. But you’re never going to be that person.
Who did you aspire to be?
Oh, god. Well when I wanted to be a TV presenter I wanted to be Cat Deeley, and when I wanted to be a model I wanted to be... you know what I mean? There was always someone. You’re never going to be someone else, so just do your own thing. There’s never been a more exciting time to be yourself.
Got any exciting projects lined up?
Yeah! So I’m planning on an audio line, that’s in the pipeline. Expanding from headphones into speakers and things like that. And then I’ve got some other exciting things which I can’t talk about but look forward to.
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Model: Zara Martin @ Elite Collective
Photography: Emma Woolrych
Stylist: Rebekah Roy
Make-up: Lara Zee
Hair: Scarlett Burton
Stylist: Rebekah Roy
Fashion Assistants: Salama Hamed & Lauren Ablondi Olivo
Location: Ace Hotel