Behind the model Jeryka

Jeryka wearing Kuiviti by Epeli Tuibeqa at the 2021 Virtual FJFW show. Picture: FJFW

Her unique physique has earned Jeryka Prasad a lot of attention that in a few short years, the Levuka beauty has become one of Fiji’s most increasingly popular and the choice as one of the faces of Fiji Fashion Week.

With four years and several big shows under her belt, Jeryka explains that being a model takes a lot more effort than many realise.

“I have been with FJFW since 2020, and it has been a very informative teaching/learning experience, as well as a fun one. I enjoy modelling because I get to meet new people, try on amazing outfits, and travel,” Jeryka said.

“Modelling was something that I just wanted to try out for fun, and then ended up getting selected for it. Now I enjoy doing it part-time, and I’m looking forward to learning, growing and assisting new models.”

While her working hours are quite flexible, she is big on time management and advance planning to maintain the lifestyle she wants for herself as a professional medic and as a model that many Fijian designers want showcasing their clothes.

Jeryka first started modelling in 2018 for the Fijian Fashion Festival and after its second year, got picked by Wearing Fiji model selectors and the Fiji Musem’s “Evolution of Fashion” show in 2020.

In that same year, she worked for Fiji Fashion Week and was recalled for the FJFW 2021 virtual show.

“Before getting into the industry, I thought that the models being selected always had to be extra slim, or that the designers always had to use new fancy items/resources to prepare an outfit, or that you couldn’t be muscular as a woman because you might not be selected to wear a particular outfit,” she said.

“I later learned that working in fashion was way more than that. There are a diverse number of girls of different body shapes and sizes, and heights. I’m quite broad built, and it was something that I thought most designers wouldn’t want, that they might want more petite looking ladies. But a lot have complimented me on my build, which made me more confident about my body.”

Another big fashion surprise for Jeryka was realising “designers do not only use new fancy items to prepare their outfits, but they also use more sustainable resources/objects to prepare their stunning garments.

“They use more affordable, environmentally friendly items/objects/materials to make these amazing outfits and it showed me how innovative these designers are since we have a lot of natural resources to be able to produce such quality outfits/clothes. The designers are truly amazing and creative.”

What many don’t realise though is Jeryka is a medical professional having graduated with a Bachelor of Physiotherapy from the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences of the Fiji National University in 2019.

She is now a licensed physiotherapist at the Pasefika Physiotherapy in Suva. As popular as she is on the fashion runway, Jeryka is already making a name for herself on the medical scene because of her interest in and commitment to sports science. One of her biggest pastimes which allow her to have fun and yet develop her professional skills is rugby.

The former Gospel High School student has been involved in providing medical support on the sidelines since her final year of university in 2019 when her class attended the Fiji Bitter Marist 7s tournament, one of Fiji’s largest sporting events, as general FNU medics.

“I realised it was something fun and engaging to take part in as a physiotherapist. To be able to perform on the field, we did have to complete training modules and practical sessions to be able to attend to the players. It is mandatory to complete these World Rugby Training online and practical sessions. These are usually updated every two years, so I get to redo these
modules and sessions again next year,” she said.

“In 2020, I worked with my colleague, Lawrence Shaw, to look after the Marist men’s and women’s teams where there were six sets of Marist teams we looked after and I also got to assist him with other rugby clubs to get more exposure.”

By 2021 she was invited to work on the Marist 7s tournament again and then was asked to travel with a few other physiotherapists to the Wariki 7s tournament.

Last year she was brought into the Marist 7s tournament again and for a few days managed the work alone.

“It was truly a rush and I really enjoyed working with the men and women, as well as getting to meet the NZ physiotherapist. The hype in meeting well known players/ athletes is great, but tending to them and assisting them with their treatments and rehabilitation program is more rewarding since we know that we are contributing to their recovery and improvement in their performance.”

The lessons and exposure from national rugby tournaments had some crossover benefits onto the runway as well, she explains.

“Being a physiotherapist requires one to be fit, up to date with the latest evidence based treatment methods, and to perform as quickly as possible in times of an emergency.  Being fit and keeping healthy has allowed me to maintain a healthy body/ physique for both work and sports-related events, as well as for modelling.”

To keep healthy, Jeryka exercises four to five times a week and chooses healthy food and hydration. Though she allows herself a cheat day “once in a blue moon” with a bar of chocolate or a packet of chips, her ability to stay fit enough to work in the clinic, at a rugby tournament or on the fashion runway is a priority.

Her beauty regime is simple; “Having a facial steam bath at least once/twice in the week, washing my face everyday and applying moisturiser are a part of keeping my skin healthy.

“For the young women who would like to model, my advice would be to always put God first and to be yourselves. God made everyone unique, and you are a beautiful piece of art. Hold yourself up and be confident whenever you’re asked a question and/or if you have to introduce yourself and/or when you’re asked to do something.

“When you model (or do any other particular activity) you’re representing your family as well as the fashion industry, so remember to keep your head high, work smart and perform honestly. Always seek advice/help whenever you’re in need of assistance so that you can perform and present amazing results.”

The face of FJFWxPalmolive 2022 said that while she may have been introverted, modelling has helped her express herself better.

“Being able to share allows others to learn from others experiences and learn to manoeuvre differently to get more favourable outcomes. It also reminds us to be humble no matter how high up we are lifted in any particular field. Modelling has helped me share these different personal aspects of my life.

“It is nice to be able to share so that the audience knows that the models look beautiful and are working and studying too. These activities help us capture different areas of growth around life.”

  • Lice Movono is a freelance journalist and independent communications consultant

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