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ZQ makes a comeback!
"I know that if I ever have a daughter I would never want her to become a model."
It can never get boring or quiet with ZQ around because she is one fashion model who loves to talk. And she certainly can carry a conversation much better than most models around. And so ZQ has talked herself through a successful modeling career, out and over to television. But despite talking nine to a dozen and then reinforcing that image on television by hosting the controversial Jerry Springer look alike show Maachis (though thankfully she looks nothing like Jerry Springer), she insists she is terribly shy at heart and only talks so much to camouflage her general nervous disposition. Nervous and ZQ don't really go together, but she insists she is. She is shy along with being hopelessly romantic and filmi. Filmi one would vouch for, having seen her through the different obsessions in like: Arjun Rampal, Abhishek Bachchan just naming two.
Instep got in touch with ZQ to ask her how and why she was making a comeback into fashion after openly retiring last year…

Instep: You have been making a subtle comeback into fashion with Karma, Labels and now The Designers. To what extent are you planning this comeback exactly?
Zainab Qayoom: I never technically left. I always continued modeling and when I retired it was from the runway. I enjoyed the fact that I retired when I was on the top of my career and people missed me. Most of them were so surprised that I would give it up. But runway modeling was giving me too much anxiety. I wasn't enjoyed it anymore. I enjoyed it as a teenager but after 18 years in the field I was getting very anxious about myself on the runway. If I had a choice between runway and donating a kidney, I'd rather donate a kidney. But I'm in a happy place now. I'm doing what I want to do.

Instep: Which is exactly what?
ZQ: A whole lot of things at the same time. I have left Maachis. I felt it was getting stagnant. Plus people began thinking that was how I really am, which isn't true. I don't think I was built for that role. I'm talkative but not a troublemaker and inside I'm very shy. All that talking was defense mechanism.
There are other TV projects in the pipeline but nothing like Maachis.

Instep: Why did you step off the runway and do you think there is a specific age or time when models should stop runway modeling?
ZQ: Sitting in the front row is so much more fun than dressing up and walking up and down the runway. No one told me that! No one told me how great it would. But no, there is no specific age to retire. Look at supermodels around the world; they are all making comebacks.

That said every one needs to grow and modeling can get a little monotonous if one is doing nothing else. What I love is that the fashion industry has a swinging door for me, I feel I can walk in any time I want to. And whenever I want to come back I am welcomed. Teaching, journalism, TV serials, and modeling… I've been doing so much that I never get bored, and I bore very easily. That's what I love about my life right now. I hosted the last week of the Nadia Khan show (before Nadia made a comeback) and did eight fashion shoots in one week. I'm geared up for a serial now. It's constant evolution. The possibilities are endless.

Instep: Why do you say runways make you anxious?
ZQ: Because on the runway I'm just not comfortable anymore. Being on television you become more conscious and aware of how people look at you on the runway. I don't want to be that object anymore. On TV I play different characters. On the runway there was too much of myself.
Instep: Do you think models will ever be taken seriously as actors?
ZQ: It depends on the models and the kind of projects they undertake. Some of the major directors take us for the glam factor. A lot of people make derogatory comments about models in acting (as certain senior actors have) but I think (those) people should stop making comments and should concentrate on their own work. I think all it takes is one break to make it big. Look at Iman.

Instep: What kind of girls are coming into modeling these days are how are they different from your times?
ZQ: I think it's going through a cycle. Ours was an age of innocence. We had fun at rehearsals and we had endless rehearsals, which began months before a show. Yet it was fun. It was hard-core. Things are so different now. There are hardly any rehearsals and every model comes in feeling like a star. It's also become too competitive in a bad way. We looked up to our seniors and respected them. These new girls don't have that respect for their seniors or their profession. The newer lot has some girls who stand out, like Fayeza Ansari and Neha Ahmad but many of them aren't well rounded. And when I look at most of them I think to myself, 'who are these girls…where have they come from?'
Girls from normal backgrounds don't come into modeling and that's a fact. By normal I mean girls from normal, regular families whose parents are not dead, divorced or separated. My mother always says that if my dad were alive I would never have been allowed to model. I know that if I ever have a daughter I would never want her to become a model.

Instep: Why?
ZQ: Models have just become a dime a dozen. They are trophies to hang out with. And they don't respect the profession or the industry they are in. They only model to jack their prices up.

Instep: If you were to write an advertisement inviting girls into modeling, how would you phrase it to attract the right kind of girls?
ZQ: I'd write: 'If you think you can balance your education (very important) with having fun and if you think you have what it takes and are willing to work, then show up.'
But on a parting note, I think if I was eighteen right now even I wouldn't stand a chance in this industry and more importantly would I want to?
- ZQ was talking to
Aamna Haider Isani

ZQ can be seen modeling new collections at The Designers on style section.