Early life, family, educational background
Humanitarian, model, documentary maker and social worker, Gelila Bekele was born on 4 September 1986, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She was raised in a conservative, middle-class family with her younger sister, Anna Wrossetti; from a young age, she dreamt of becoming a model. She posts photos of her parents, so she seems to be close with them, but her grandmother, Almaz, raised her. She moved around a lot in her childhood, including her family’s move to Europe when she was nine-years-old. She currently resides in America.
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When looking back on her childhood, she has said that living between rural villages and then cities, really helped shape her adulthood.
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“We live in the culture of the Big Me. The meritocracy wants you to promote yourself……This individualist worldview suggests that character is this little iron figure of willpower inside. But people on the road to character understand that no person can achieve self-mastery on his or her own…… All the people I’ve ever deeply admired are profoundly honest about their own weaknesses. They have identified their core sin, whether it is selfishness, the desperate need for approval, cowardice, hardheartedness or whatever. They have traced how that core sin leads to the behavior that makes them feel ashamed. They have achieved a profound humility, which has best been defined as an intense self-awareness from a position of other-centeredness.” -David Brooks @asmeretasmeret ❤️ #ConfrontationWithYourOwnWeakness.
She added that moving when you’re very young is easier because children quickly adapt to new surroundings. With regards to how it has affected her, in an interview with The Cattwalk, she said, ‘… I connect to places, what makes me feel at home and myself. Very free, climbing trees, drinking goat milk straight from the goat.’
She is proud of her Ethiopian heritage,e and often writes her captions on social media in the official language of Ethiopia, Amharic.
Who is Tyler Perry?
American songwriter, producer, actor and director, Tyler Perry – born Emmitt Perry Jr. on 13 September 1969 in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA – is best known for creating and portraying the character, Madea, a headstrong black woman.
In 2011 he was listed as one of the highest-paid men in entertainment by Forbes; from May 2010 to May 2011, he reputedly earned $130 million. He enjoys acting in stage productions, and his film differs from the usual filmmaking techniques; most of his stage productions have been adapted as movies. He wrote a good portion of his stage plays in the 1990s and early 2000s.
He has also worked on television too – “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne” premiered on TBS on 21 June 2006, and lasted for eight seasons, wrapping-up on 10 August 2012. For the series, Tyler made a deal with Oprah Winfrey and the Oprah Winfrey Network, mainly for Oprah’s benefit, as her network did not yet have a scripted television show.
I don’t care how ashy I get! I will keep washing my hands!! Y’all stay safe! Wash your hands!! And keep up the social distancing! Let’s help stop this thing!
Wanted to make you laugh but Pray, Church, Pray!! pic.twitter.com/ijfM3i26Nt
— Tyler Perry (@tylerperry) March 18, 2020
For her network, Tyler has created a few other series, including “The Haves and the Have Nots,” which received the network’s highest rating in 2014. Critics called the show, Oprah Winfrey Network’s ‘… biggest success stories with its weekly do of Soapy fun, filled with the typical betrayals, affairs and manipulations.’ In 2009, he played Admiral Barnett in “Star Trek”, the titular character in the 2012 “Alex Cross,” and Baxter Stockman in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” in 2016. His net worth as of early 2020 is estimated at over $600 million.
In 2006, Gelila was scouted by an advertising art director, and became a Ford model – she was a freshman at the University of California, Berkeley, and was on her way to class when she was scouted.
Her modeling work was mainly done in New York and Paris. Within a few years, she was featuring in major worldwide advertising campaigns, and posing for several of the world’s most famous fashion designers. She mostly works in and around the US and Europe, for international brands such as Michael Kors, Tory Burch, Nespresso and Anna Sui. She has also appeared in multiple magazines and media publications, and graced the covers of several, including Essence, Marie Claire and Allure. Gelila has worked with, or currently works with modeling agencies such as Model Management and W360, both of which are based in New York, and Premium Models, based in Paris.
She has appeared in a few films, and in 2009 produced the movie, “Full” on which she worked with Dino Antoniou. She has directed several documentary films too, her most famous documentary film was released in 2015 and is entitled, “Mai: Life is not Honey.” The short movie follows the life of young Ethiopian girls living in a rural village, and also touches on topics such as gender inequality, the importance of educating girls, and climate change.
Her book “Guzo” was published in 2016, and became a bestseller after receiving an abundance of positive reviews. It deals with the complex traditions, culture, customs, occupations and religious beliefs of the six major Ethiopian tribes: Afar, Lasta Lalibela, Hamar, Raya, Tigray and Harrar. The book also contains stunning photographs of historical monuments, crafts, traditional art and observations of the tribes.
She hopes that her book will encourage all Ethiopians, including those living overseas, to embrace their culture and be proud of their heritage. She wants her work to reflect how rich the country is in culture, and to emphasize the country’s need for humanitarian efforts.
Being a social activist and humanitarian herself, she knows what she is talking about; she has won accolades for her philanthropic work in and around Ethiopia. Entrepreneur and photographer Scott Harrison founded Charity Water, an organization which Gelila has partnered with on numerous humanitarian projects. She also often works with Glimmer of Hope, with her main focus being on helping people with their livelihoods and rights when living in developing countries.
She also focuses on providing clean water to rural villages in Ethiopia, and quality education to the girls in the country. In an interview with The Other Festival, she shared, ‘I have a duty to people on the other side of the world, especially young girls who often have no chance or access to education.’ She has also spoken out against bullying and body-shaming in interviews, stating that throughout her modeling career, she has learnt to love and embrace her body and femininity.
In 2018, she was listed in Okay Africa’s 100 Women, which celebrates meaningful work done by African women across the globe.
Gelila met Tyler Perry at a Prince concert in 2007, and the two began dating soon after.
In an interview with Jess Cagle, Tyler recalled when Gelila facetimed him in 2014 with a big surprise, ‘… she’s holding up the pregnancy stick. I’m like ‘I guess this is happening.’’ Their son, Aman Tyler Perry was born on 30 November 2014, and was Christened in November 2015, thrown a Christening bash by his godmother, Oprah Winfrey.
Gelila has spoken out about wanting to raise her son with the knowledge of his Ethiopian heritage, but will not include all of the customs in her parenting. In an interview with The Cattwalk, she candidly shared, ‘… it [Ethiopian culture] can be very silencing to children because it’s like ‘I’m the adult, and I know everything.’
She expressed that she feels that her son teaches her who he is as an individual, and that traditional discipline is not always the best route to go. She prefers to parent her son according to what works with him, and not what and how she was taught when growing up.
Gelila and Tyler have been together for many years, so there have been a lot of marriage rumours – neither has denied or confirmed these claims. However, on 11 June 2017, singer and Grammy Award winner, Stephanie Mills, uploaded a photo to Instagram and referred to Gelila as Tyler’s wife. Although it may sound like a hint that the two secretly married, Stephanie could have called Gelilia Tyler’s wife because the pair have been together for so many years, that they are practically if unofficially married.
Hobbies, favorite things and interesting facts
She is a vegan and encourages her followers to join her green lifestyle.
Gelila has black hair and brown eyes. She is 5ft 9in (1.75m) tall, weighs about 134lbs (61kgs), and her vital statistics are 33-24-35.
Net worth and salary
According to Payscale, models earn between $22,206 and $739,782, but Gelila’s experience spanning over a decade would put her in the higher margin of the scale. As of early 2020, her net worth is estimated at $2.5 million.