Nigerian Canadian model Mercy Saidi tells us everything you ever wanted to know about her beauty secrets, modelling in Canada and love for fashion. She also tells us “5 things she can’t live without”.

Mercy+Saidi+Lifestyle+Interview+Zen+Magazine+Africa3Mercy Saidi is a Fashion/Runway Model & Actress living in Canada. (Dress by Nancy Perreault )

Zen: What was the inspiration behind the shoot?
Mercy: The location for this shoot was chosen by the photographer Hannah Earhart. She has a keen eye for good locations, and when she discussed the sleepy, romantic feel of Gastown (located in Canada), we knew we had a good location for our fashion shoot. We wanted to shoot a dark-themed fashion shoot in contrast with the bright and bold colours of the designer outfits we had chosen.

Zen: Why did you get into modelling?
Mercy: I got into modelling by chance really. I had been in law school for 1 year and half at the time, and my friend had insisted that I try out for a fashion show. I auditioned for the fashion show, and the scouts said that I walked like Naomi Campbell. I was truly flattered and also full of anxiety because I knew nothing of fashion. I had always been immersed in my studies.

Zen: Who are some of your favourite African models?
Mercy: I LOVE the classic models such as Alek Wek, Liya Kebede, and Iman, but I also love the new generation of African models because they have so much soul and personality. I feel that models such as Ajak, Nyasha Matonhodze and Philomena Kwao have really paved the way for African women because of their poise, strength, grace, and charisma. Their personalities scream out to you loud and clear whenever you look at their pictures!

Zen: What does modelling mean to you?
Mercy: Modelling means the world to me. It has anchored me in ways that I never imagined. I remember when I was in Manchester for a football game. A young girl came up to me and asked me if I was the model that had walked in London Fashion Week. At that moment, I felt honoured that someone from outside of London would have recognized me. I feel that my presence as a model allows me to become a role model for other young women who have goals and aspirations, and are willing to their their experiences with others.

Mercy+Saidi+Lifestyle+Interview+Zen+Magazine+AfricaDress by Fabryan London

Zen: What has been your favourite shoot or campaign(s) work to date?
Mercy: My favourite campaign to date has been for Jena Theo for London fashion week. I love the artistry in the outfits. It will always be a catwalk to remember.

Zen: How would you describe your fashion style?
Mercy: My fashion style is most accurately described as chic, feminine, and effortless.

Zen: What do you think about African fashion?
Mercy: I think African fashion is actually quite hard to define. When one thinks of African fashion, they think of West African textiles and wood carved jewellery. But it is so much more than that. African fashion exists in a lot of clothing. It’s in imagery, it’s in patterns, and it’s in how the clothing is worn. African fashion has touched so many parts of the world that it’s hard to discern what is African and what is mainstream nowadays.

Zen: Who are a few of your favourite African designers across the world?
Mercy: Ozwald Boateng for starters! He designs outfits for men that are out of this world! My other favourite designer is Asakeoge. If you put on an Asakeoge outfit, you know that you will be the eye of the party because the outfits are truly couture- The outfits and dresses are the epitome of femininity because of the way the outfits fit and the curves they display.

Zen: Do you get to travel a lot for your work? If so what is/are your favourite cities that you have visited?
Mercy:  I do get to travel a lot for work. I’ve had the opportunity to travel to London, Paris, San Francisco, to name a few. My favourite city to travel to was Paris. It truly is the city of love.


Zen: If money wasn’t an option, which African destinations would you like to visit?
Mercy: I would love to visit Botswana. I hear great things about the hospitality, the people, and the cuisine! I would also like to go back home to Nigeria. It has been far too long-I miss my family!

Zen: 5 things you can’t live without.
Mercy: 1) Mascara, 2) mascara, and did I say 3) mascara? So, 2 more things right?! A good red lipstick, and bb cream… (Laughs).

Zen: 5 facts about you people may not know
Mercy: Although I sometimes mention to people that I newly meet, I usually keep it private that I will soon be a professional lawyer. I feel that it may intimidate people. It was only within the last year that I had started mentioning to acquaintances that I graduated from law school. Some people are still unaware. I sometimes have difficulty in reconciling my career as a lawyer with my career as a model and an actress. Another fact is that I have just started acting and I’m really enjoying the journey! I also used to be a ballet dancer as a teenager. I was in ballet for about 2 years before I stopped. I tried to start again at UCLA, but it was hard juggling it with other commitments. Another fact is that I have a British accent. Yes, I do “dahling” I sound for the most part Canadian/American, but when alone with family members, the accent comes out. I love nature! If I could, I would live in an Amazonian jungle. (Laughs)

Zen: Any beauty secrets?
Mercy: A great tip that I picked up from the makeup artist that worked on this shoot (Quennie Rose Artistry) is that you must work WITH your face! This means that you should use beauty tips that are specific to your skin type and facial shape, as not every beauty secret will garner the same results for everyone. My beauty secret from Quennie was that contouring is my best friend. Facial contouring and highlighting can truly take you from average to WOW!!

Zen: You maintain a great figure and we really want to know how you do it. Do you gym? How do you do it Or what do you do to maintain your slim, model figure?
Mercy: You’re making me blush! It’s all hard work I’m afraid. Between studying, I’m usually at the gym or in yoga. I’m also conscious of healthy eating, but of course I also have cheat days. I indulge in cheesecake and chocolates which are my 2 weaknesses. The key is moderation!

Mercy+Saidi+Lifestyle+Interview+Zen+Magazine+Africa2“Even when other people doubt you, you have to believe in yourself.” says Mercy on her best advice for aspiring models.

Zen: What are you presently working on?
Mercy: I’m currently working on a docudrama filming in Canada. I cannot say much about my role (due to confidentiality reasons), but my character has some gut-wrenching decisions to make in the film, and not all of them are pleasant. It was a role that I’m still trying to learn about every day. It is not a character that I’m used to, but I’m certainly up for the challenge!

Zen: Advice for aspiring models.
Mercy: My advice is to never give up! Even when other people doubt you, you have to believe in yourself! There is a quote that states that anything in life worth having is hard to get. If your struggle is real and there does not seem to be an end in sight, know that one day you will get to where you want to be, because of that struggle. That struggle is part of your journey. A great way to help yourself is to also help others in need. I’ve been an avid volunteer at a Charity known as the Chimo Crisis centre which helps women and women with young families deal with issues of crisis, through education and leadership programs. My journey with this charity has been an emotional experience which has made me a stronger person.

Zen: What do you think of Zen Magazine Africa?
Mercy: I can’t sing enough praise about Zen Magazine Africa. Not only is Zen a magazine which provides news and entertainment about the African diaspora, but it is also an ethical magazine. This means a lot to me because I know it is a magazine that I trust and believe in.

Zen: Finally, what do you you think of the #bringbackourgirls campaign to see the return of 240 girls kidnapped in Nigeria?
Mercy: My heart goes out to the families of the girls that were abducted. The behaviour of the group that abducted the girls is appalling and unacceptable. It is up to the International community to do something about this atrocity, and the group responsible should know that we will never give up the fight to bring the girls back home safely. It’s a great campaign and I am fully behind it.

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Photo Credits: Makeup done by Quennie Rose Artistry | Styling & Art Director by Grace Tein | Photography by Hannah Earhart | Accessories by AngelArt | Modelling Agency: NUMA models