In 2005, we were introduced to a humble and graceful young contestant on Cycle 4 of Tyra Banks award winning TV series, America's Next Top Model.  More than anyone else, she's knows how the Hollywood lights and fame can change someone for the worse, yet she's remained grounded, valued her self-worth and stayed focused on her true passions.  Allow me to reintroduce to you Naima Mora. 

Name: Naima Mora
Age: 34
Location: Mexico - Los Angeles, CA
Current Title/Company: Model / Musician / Actress
Social Media: @naimamora

What has the journey been like from being on reality tv and winning ANTM to now, an accomplished model, actress, author and musician?

WOW! That's a bit difficult to summarize into a short answer. But, I guess I can just say that it has simply been life. I have had to do a lot of growing as a young woman and human being. I've had to push myself when I didn't want to pursue my dreams because of depression or sadness like everyone does. I've also had the experience of sharing victories with my friends and family that I am so proud of. The most beautiful part of the journey has been having really supportive fans from all over the world, folks I've never even met before, whom have continued to inspire me, encourage me and give me a reason to keep making something out of myself.

Take us through a typical day in the life of Naima Mora

Well, it really depends on the day. Normally I wake up, have a coffee and either read Buddhist study materials or review the day. Then, I work out for about an hour, as part of my job, to maintain physical health and for vanity purposes because I want to look hot! I usually run a few miles and some small calisthenics. Then, home and shower and I chant. Lately, I have been chanting a lot. Its Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and reciting the Lotus Sutra. I am a Nichiren Buddhist and I practice with the international Buddhist peace organization Soka Gakkai International. My Buddhist practice has given me the courage to really conquer any kind of suffering or doubt I have ever had. It gives me a powerful tool to focus and be free, align myself with the workings of the universe and accomplish my dreams! After that, I make a smoothie and get to work. That means, studying and writing. I'm working on a new album and music project so I devote at least 4 hours a day to that. Its coming along great! If another day, I have a casting or photo shoot, of course I do that. I like movies in the evenings with great dinner! Maybe a book before bed.  Sleep, repeat. 

What has been the most surprising thing you've learned about yourself since being in the public eye?

My vulnerability. By being so shy naturally, I am always nervous about giving too much of myself or too much of my life. But I realized that at the end of the day, I want to connect with folks and share my life to encourage each other! So, I've forced myself to be extremely vulnerable at times and live without regret about it. 

What five adjectives would you use to describe yourself?

Shy. I always have been!
Introspective. My friends and family are beginning to tell me more than ever that my favorite thing to say now is "hmmm, I have to think about that."
Inquisitive.  I love learning and understanding new things and being adventurous. 
Creative.  I just love creating.. everyday... I really don't feel fulfilled if I don't.
Loving.  I think happiness extends from love. So I really express that part of myself to be happy! 

If you could have brunch with any women in the world, who would it be?

My mom, I don't see her enough.  Michelle Obama, because she's awesome! My childhood besties, because it's been too long, and Tyra Banks, just to catch up!

What is the primary message you want to convey to young girls and women around the world?

Pursue your happiness, no matter what! Never sacrifice or surrender it! And encourage the happiness of those around you!

What do you want your legacy to be?


Recommended business tool every Iconic Girl should have:

Respect... for herself and for the people she works with. True respect allows growth of oneself, acceptance of new knowledge and information. It allows incredible relationships to develop that will ensure the support and success of her career for a life time! 

Favorite show to binge watch on Netflix?

Star Trek: Discovery or any animal documentary narrated by David Attenborough. 

The last thing I do before bed is...


One day I hope to...

Travel more! There is so much of this planet and world I haven't seen yet! So much I want to celebrate and learn from other people, cultures, languages and foods! So many people reach out to me on social media from all over the world and I am always imagining what its like where they live. How do we connect as human beings, despite those cultural differences as well? Its' really fun for me! 

Are you working on any new projects that you can share with us?

YES! I am actually releasing new music in a couple of months! I haven't had a release in a couple of years. I wanted to change direction and write something authentic to me and that is just fun to listen to and dance to! Its a new feel and vibe thats really based in my renewed determination to just be happy and enjoy life! I'm excited about it.
photos courtesy of Naima Mora