From the Runway to the Classroom

Mikayla Mifsud, of Ford Models, is currently in her third year at Ryerson University studying in the Business Management program. Photograph by Shanene Lau for Ryerson Folio.

Update: January 5th, 2012

We’re happy to share that Mikayla Mifsud was recently the model seen on the 2011 Polaris Music Prize nominee The Weeknd’s “Echoes of Silence” album cover.

[I]t’s a Tuesday afternoon, and the third floor of the Ted Rogers School of Management is painfully quiet. Students are huddled together at tables, typing on laptops and sipping from coffee cups.

And then there’s Mikayla Mifsud, delicately flipping through the pages of her Ford Models portfolio. She shows me a photograph of herself walking with a goat.

“We bonded,” she says of the animal, laughing.

“You get to the end of the runway and hear a million flashes going off. You think to yourself, ‘oh my god, look pretty.’” Photograph by Shanene Lau.

Along with her portfolio, the Business Management student is about to leave school for a Cheryl Gushue swimwear fitting. She is preparing for a runway show – an experience fairly new to the model of 10 months.

“You get to the end of the runway and hear a million flashes going off. You think to yourself, ‘oh my god, look pretty.’”

This is funny to me — because within a few seconds of being with Mifsud, I already feel like she’s one of the prettiest people I’ve met. Even sitting in this concrete school environment, with her cluster of wild, brown hair, Mifsud looks like a model.

But there’s more to her than this. Mifsud is also a friend, a daughter, a full-time student, and a girlfriend. This is what it’s like to be her.

Mifsud, 20, says that she became a Ford Model overnight. The student met with modeling manager Chantale Nadeau one day and was signing a contract with Ford Models the next.

“I always heard ‘you’re tall, you’re thin, you’re a model.’ It always seemed like a dream, like it would never happen.”

But Mifsud says the dream hasn’t stopped since.

There are some days when she rushes to three casting calls a day, on top of fittings and attending classes.

“If I could invent anything, it would be teleportation,” she said.

Mifsud often feels the strain of balancing both her school and work life, like when she modeled for Fashion Week 2011. It happened to be during the same week as her midterms.

“By the end of it I was sick and just felt disgusting,” she said. “The hardest part is feeling like a superstar all day and then coming home to do homework.”

But it was also at school that Mifsud found out she landed a dream job in the Canadian fashion industry. When she got the call from her manager, she was speechless.

“My mouth just dropped. I stumbled out of the classroom and freaked out,” she said. Mifsud found out that she would be modeling for a Fashion Television intro.

Photograph by Shanene Lau.

[M]agazines like Elle, Revive, Anokhi, Schön, Clin d’Oeil, and Lush have all captured Mifsud in fashion spreads and on covers. She has also modeled for campaigns by Aqua Di Lara, Project Runway Canada contestant Brandon R. Dwyer, and several bridal lines.

In the midst of this, Mifsud had a chance encounter with Canadian fashion icon Jeanne Beker. The student was in shock when Beker told her that she looked really familiar.

“Jeanne Beker was incredibly friendly and easy to talk to,” she said. “I feel so lucky to have met someone that’s a staple in Canadian fashion. Hopefully that won’t be the last time.”

Despite the recognition she’s getting in the fashion world, Mifsud says she tries to keep a good head on her shoulders. The student will gush over simply seeing herself in the Sears Christmas catalogue.

“When I was younger, the catalogue would come every year. I would notice which girls were in it more than once,” she said. “I remember tearing it open to show my family and saying, ‘oh my God, I’m in the Wish Book!’”

Mifsud says that she appreciates the quality time she has with her family. When she’s with them, she often turns her cell phone off.

“I want to be there [with them] and actually enjoy being there,” she said.

Now in her third year, Mifsud says that she chose business as it could open a lot of doors. She doesn’t know what to expect of her future, but she hopes it involves her passion for modeling.

“I don’t even know what I see myself doing this summer. As long as I’m happy, then I’m good.”

You can follow Mikayla Mifsud on:

Q&A with Mikayla

Favourite Model?
Lina Shekhovtsova is one of the most beautiful people I have ever met.

Favourite Places to Shop?
Anywhere on Queen West but that might be because I like being outside in between shops and the location is pretty central.

What others would find surprising about you?
I’m crazy for muffins! No matter how busy my schedule is I usually bake at least once a week. Cranberry lemon are my favourite right now.

What’s on her iPod?
My iPod has a little bit of everything on it. Some of my favorites right now are “We Found Love” by Rihanna ft. Calvin Harris and “Cinema” by Benny Benassi. I love Foster The People and have a big crush on Katy Perry. But the song I can never skip and always makes me smile is one some friends and I recorded back in high school.

What’s in your purse?
Heels, my portfolio, an apple, a granola bar, my wallet, iPod, and homework.
Photography by Shanene Lau:
Make up by Shawnna Downing: