Photo by Genevieve Mumma
Since 2016, MHS Junior Malia Boksanski has pursued a career in modeling with Renew Artists, one of Hawai’i’s top modeling agencies. Boksanski has done an array of photoshoots and fashion shows, some of which include Honolulu Magazine and Velocity Honolulu. More commonly known as Malia Estella, Boksanski took an interest in modeling at first as a hobby, but over time her passion for it grew as she gained more experience.
“I started it in 2016 so I was 14, I think, but I wasn’t really getting any opportunities, it was more for fun. But then over the summer of 2018 I started getting a lot more opportunities and things to do,” said Boksanski.
Boksanski first took an interest in modeling in order to overcome her shyness. Boksanski’s name, Malia Estella stems from her first and middle name — after being scouted by Renew Artists, this then became her name in her modeling career. “So before I started modeling — like in middle school and in my freshman year of high school — I was so introverted, I didn’t have a lot of friends, I stuck by myself and public speaking, even in class if one of my teachers pulled a stick and it was me I would like freak out, I’d have to stand up and I couldn’t speak, my voice was so shaky and it was just a terrible experience. And I don’t know what prompted me to get into modeling but I was like, ‘I don’t think this is good, I want to put myself out there more,’ and I got into it. And I feel like once I started modeling (it) just kinda flipped a switch inside me and I just started being more outgoing and more talkative,” said Boksanski. “So Estella is my middle name and that was just my Instagram username, Malia Estella. And I got scouted by an agency in Hawai’i called Renew Artists and they just got in touch with me and they started calling me Malia Estella. And I was like, ‘You know that sounds good, so I’ll just go with it.’”
Through her experiences with modeling Boksanski has been able to connect and meet people within the industry. These opportunities have helped her to come out of her shell and allow her to enjoy the art of modeling. “I think it’s (that) I meet a lot of new people and everyone kind of in the modeling agency: other models, photographers, agents — they are genuinely nice people which is really great. So it’s good to network with a lot of people and a lot of people ask me if I do it to get paid. And I mean, that’s definitely a cool aspect of it to me, but the main thing is really just — it’s like a risk for me (to) go out there, take a chance and have fun,” said Boksanski.
Through her numerous experiences with modeling, she is able to participate in new opportunities that push her out of her comfort zone. “I did a shoot for Honolulu Magazine with two other girls, and that was so much fun. Because at first everyone told me it was gonna be for this small Kahala Mall magazine and all of a sudden one day a friend sent me a picture and was like, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re in this magazine,’ and I was like, ‘That’s so crazy.’ But then also, I did this really fun one where at this event for The Modern at Velocity Honolulu and it was basically an informal modeling thing where I just walked around wearing a designer’s clothes. And I think that was really memorable because again, modeling for me is getting out there and trying new things and that was a step forward in that,” said Boksanski.
The average height for a model is between 5’8 and 5’11. Boksanski is 5’6 and faces some obstacles when it comes to her height and modeling, but doesn’t let her height stop her. “I think the biggest challenge I face is my height because sometimes I’ll go to shoots and I’ll be with girls that are super skinny and almost six feet tall. And I’m a good half a foot shorter than them so it’s definitely — at first it made me feel really unsure about myself. I didn’t think it was something that I could pursue because of my height. But the more I thought about it, I was like, I need to have tough skin and my height is what makes me who I am and I love it, I wouldn’t change it now,” said Boksanski.
Along with modeling Boksanski also has a passion for serving her community. In July 2018, she went to the Dominican Republic with Global Leadership Adventures where she worked with a nongovernmental organization called 7 Elements. “So I went to the Dominican Republic because I found this really cool program about going abroad and working on sustainable development in the Dominican Republic and that was super cool to me. It was what I was interested in — I’m really interested in the environment and engineering and I went there for about three weeks and it was such an eye opening experience. And actually when I came back I was like, I’m not gonna do modeling, I’m gonna delete my Instagram — I just felt so grateful for all the opportunities that everyone was giving me and just being able to go to school and live in a nice house,” said Boksanski.
Even though Boksanski has gained much experience in modeling, her humility for the opportunities she has gotten is her main focus. By being able to influence those through not only modeling but also service work, her overall goal is to influence people to make a difference. “I think the biggest thing is being humble, I’m so thankful for every opportunity that I’ve received and I’m definitely — I still feel like I am the same person, I’m still the introverted person, public speaking was the most terrifying thing ever. I feel like modeling doesn’t change that, it’s just a thing that I like to do, it’s a thing that’s fun for me and it doesn’t make me any less of a person than I was before,” said Boksanski. “I’ve learned that I’m just one person but even being one person, I can make a big difference. Either me going to a different country or even just going in my community and doing volunteer work, service work, or even just modeling — I have little cousins who are just like, ‘Oh my gosh we saw you in this magazine, that’s crazy.’ Just being a role model for them or even being a role model for other kids just by doing community service, that’s really cool to me.”
In the future, Boksanski wants to attend college for civil engineering or environmental science. While focusing on school is her main priority, she hopes to continue modeling in the future. You can follow her on instagram @maliaestella.