DAVAO-BORN model Frances Margarette “Marga” Esquivel caught everyone’s attention during the Gucci Cruise 2016 collection runway show.
Marga was 19 then and considered it as her big break. She remembers walking the show and then getting a call afterwards from her agent in New York saying that Vogue wanted to do a feature on her for being the “show-stealer with the silver hair.”
That was the experience that opened so many doors for the 5’9” California-bred model and put her in the spotlight. She booked jobs for Marc Jacobs and was sent to Paris for haute couture shows where she was booked for the coveted Chanel Haute Couture. “It was definitely the most exciting part of my career,” she intimates.
Since then, the statuesque stunner has worked with a myriad of prominent brands ranging from commercial, cosmetics to high fashion such as Gucci, Chanel, Max Mara, Marc Jacobs, YSL, Valentino, Roberto Cavalli, Miu Miu, Mac Cosmetics, L’Oreal, Shu Uemura, Nordstrom, Vogue Japan, Vogue China, and L’Officiel.
When she was a little girl, Marga loved looking through her mom Marjorie Sagulili-Wright’s photo albums with her runway work. She was so inspired by her that she thought to herself, “Wow, I want to do that, too, when I grow up!” She envisioned it as such a glamorous thing and wanted to be on the stage presenting the beautiful pieces that the design teams worked hard on.
At 14 years old and towering at 5’9”, mom Marjorie was serendipitously discovered as a model in Davao City by Manila Textile (Mantex) Department Store owner Tata Martinez. She was eventually trained by Joey Espino, the premier model maker in the Philippines and metamorphosed from being a shy teen into a confident runway model.
“Many believe that as models, we are being judged by how we look, but, for me, more importantly, it is the mental aspect of it. You must believe in yourself to look and feel good. I developed self-assurance as a model,” confides Marjorie.
Based in the US since 2002 and happily married to Steve Wright with whom she has a son Kai, Marjorie currently works as a registered nurse in one of the best hospitals in Southern California and has recently finished her master’s degree in Nursing with Emphasis in Nursing Education. “As a nurse, my confidence which was honed during my modeling years has molded me into a strong leader and a better patient advocate,” she shares.
Mental health break
Marga arrived in the US when she was just 6 years old. “At 15, Marga went to an open call for LA-based modeling agency Photogenics. I knew big things were coming when she signed modeling contracts in New York, Paris, London, and Milan, the fashion capitals of the world. I reminded her to cherish the moment, value every experience to learn and grow, pray, and give thanks to God. Her family will support her every step of the way,” declares the proud mom.
After a while though, Marga realized that beyond the glam, being a runway model was a very demanding job. “The hair, skin, and body measurements need to be on point because there is no Photoshop for the runway photos. You really need to be dedicated to it. And, traveling on a whim, takes a huge toll on one’s body,” discloses Marga.
“It also starts to get to your head when you see the girl next to you and you ask yourself, “Why am I deserving of this job more than her? We are all so beautiful, how do they pick?” she continues.
Marga decided to take a mental health break from runway modeling so that she could slow down and really focus on what was important to her. “I am not sure if it is a permanent one, I might come back for a season, who knows? I’m open for it”.
First things first
Even before her breakthrough in modeling, Marga knew that she wanted to save money so that she could attend college without having to take student loans. She budgeted while living in New York, bought only the necessities, and lived in an ordinary apartment with other roommates. Staying grounded helped her avoid unnecessary expenses.
Being financially independent has allowed Marga, now 25, to have her own apartment (with her adorable Labrador Rosa keeping her company) while pursuing her college studies at the University of Cologne in Germany where she is taking up her bachelor’s degree in Geosciences.
“Cologne has the feeling of being a big city and a little village at the same time. It is far enough from modeling, but close enough for me to ride a train to my commercial modeling jobs and photo shoots,” Marga explains. To prepare her for university, she attended language school in her first year in Germany. “My course is 100% in German, but the professors also have no problems with speaking in English.”
Marga chose Geosciences because she always loved learning about the Earth when she was young, especially growing up in California with the San Andreas Fault and spending summers in Yellowstone National Park. She believes that due to climate change, research in geology/environmental sciences will be quite interesting in the upcoming years.
“I am pretty selective with the jobs that I do at the moment because I am more committed to my education than modeling now. I had to decline big offers, but I know it will pay off in the future with my other endeavors in university. When you know what you want to dedicate yourself to, then it is easier to make decisions,” Marga enthuses.
For aspiring models, Marga has this advice, “At the end of the day, you need to be happy and comfortable with yourself to continue in this line of work. Do not be afraid of evolving though because it is only natural that things change. Just go with the flow, but always remember who you are.”
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