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Kenza Fourati is a Tunisian Fashion and Swimsuit Model. She is the eldest daughter of a radiologist and a Film producer.

Kenza Fourati is Tunisia’s newest supermodel sensation. The 23-year old was born in Lille, France, but Fourati’s family moved toTunisia when she was only two months old. She attended a French lycee in Tunisia and began modeling after graduating from high school. Shortly thereafter, Fourati moved to Paris. She received a degree in French Literature from Sorbonne and has begun a Master’s program in  film-making.

She made her debut in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in 2011. She is the first Female Muslim Arab model to pose for the magazine.

In 2002 she finished third place in the Elite Model Look competition, and is now represented by Elite Model Management Paris and Ford Models New York.

In an interview with Global Grind, Kenza asserted, “I grew up in a Muslim culture, but I can still be a swimsuit model too! Why should the two be exclusive? It is not…I am very supported back home.” 

Post-revolution, Kenza has been an advocate for artistic expression in Tunisia. In the same interview with Global Grind, Fourati commented, “We are at a point now in Tunisia where we are free. We should be able to portray art like this if we want to, as the extremists are allowed to express themselves, too. That is a debate that we want to create, but it must be a peaceful one.”

Fourati is currently represented by Elite Model Management. She began working for the agency after winning third place in the 2002 Elite Model Look competition at the age of 15. She has appeared in numerous international magazines, such as Belgium Elle, Vogue, and Marie Claire, and has attended countless Fashion Weeks.

The young model blasted onto the modeling scene and international stage after appearing in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in 2011. As the first Arab Muslim model to be featured in the magazine, she raised debates in Tunisian society and abroad about what it means to be Muslim and about variety within the religion.

Fourati walked the runways for international designers such as Armani, Valentino, Ferre, Jean Paul Gaultier, Stella McCartney, Vivienne Westwood, Celine, and Tommy Hilfiger.

She appeared in editorials for Vogue ParisElleMarie ClaireL’officiel VoyageGrazia, and GQ.

In 2005, she appeared in the film Frankie directed by Fabienne Berthaud alongside the actress Diane Kruger. In October 2010, with Tunisian actor Dhafer Labidine, Fourati co-hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the Carthage Film Festival.

In August 2011, during the 2011 month of Ramadhan, Fourati appeared in bikini recovered with tags on the cover of Tunivisions which created controversy.

Fourati also graduated in Literature and Fine Arts from L’Universite de la Sorbonne in Paris. She also studied Film making and Acting in London.

MEF Exclusive Interview with Kenza Fourati

Kenza, first of all we would like to thank you for taking the time to provide us with this interview.Tell us more about you, your background and how did you get into modeling ?

I grew up in a small town in the suburbs of Tunis, by the coast in a very tight and very intellectual family where freedom and education were the most important values if I can say.

Friends of my mother organized the Elite Model Look. They proposed me to enter the contest, I did it just to do it, not knowing my life would take a complete different turn.
I ended up amongst the three international winners.

How would you describre yourself as a model?

Well lol, modelling is my job, I love what I do and I believe that s probably the key to be good at whatever you do!

Is that an answer? 🙂

3 words to define the modeling industry.

Moving constantly Always

What are your favorite aspects of your job?

In every aspect of it. 🙂 The travels, the surprises,  the independance , the art, the artists, the creators  around it.

Any less favorite aspects ?

The surprises lol, the travels lol but also the impossibility to plan anything then it gets in your lifestyle and you become someone hard to rely on and I found it sad sometimes.

What do you do to stay in shape, any strict diets?

Try to eat healthy, love to cook and eat at home but no diet.
I work out with my trainer sometimes and do some yoga and pilates but mostly love outdoors sports: kayak, hiking, biking, sailing, etc….

How would you describe your personal style?

I love fashion, this is my world for a while now and it grew in me.
My style evolves all the time.  I like to be in timeless,  comfortable and versatile clothes, so I believe in investing in a few pieces you will keep forever and play around with your accessories.
I am also not really girlie, I feel actually more “me” sometimes in masculine pieces.

If you could live anywhere on this awesome planet where would you build your dream home ?

My dream home would be on a sailing boat! I am obsessed with discovering this awesome planet as you said. Travelling, discovering places, cultures, cuisines, people is truly my passion. But I consider NY as home now and with La Marsa, my home town, they are my favourite places in the world.

You were the first Arab ever featured in Sports Illustrated magazine, how does that make you feel ? Can you tell us more about your experience as a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model ?

Honestly I never thought of me as the first Arab to pose for SI. I am, though,  an extremely blessed model to have landed a gig in this Iconic American Publication.
The team is adorable, I am in contact with all of them and you feel quickly part of this beautiful family.
I didn’t know much about it before moving to the US but in America it is really a classical turn over in a model s career  so I am extremely proud to be an SI girl.

How do you see Fashion in Tunisia and the Middle East?    

Do you think Fashion is getting the attention needed in the Middle East?

I think you will agree with me the Middle East is too vast and various to be all included in the same package. And the social differences just like the cultural ones are huge.
But I can see a fascination in fashion and it s reflected in the interest the international brands take in the region.
The  middle eastern women are very coquette, they take an amazing care of themselves and are very resourceful.
The problem is the lack of choices, yes they are few Brands imported but there is no real domestic brand addressing to this niche.

Kenza, We’ve been following you on your Twitter since a while now and we have to say that you are a politically conscious person ! What can you tell us about the situation in your country now ? Are you optimistic ?

Yes, I m politically conscious. But it s far from being exceptional. If you go in Tunisia, from the taxi driver to the housewife everyone feels involved. And I must say I love this. We cant let this incredible and inspirational Historical Event slide from us so we watch carefully what is going on and everyone steps by their beliefs. Sometimes it clashes but I m very optimist for the future.   We are setting up  a New History and A great Example for the region.

Can you tell MEF about your future projects ?

I am working With a little group of AWESOME kids from NY and Tunis on launching an exclusive Line in 2013.
There is also a lack of exposure of fashion, art and culture in North Africa that s why we decided to work together and launch an online magazine. It will be live in September 2012, www.BYKENZ.com
I’m very excited because we are all working very hard on these projects.

Any tips/advice do you have for aspiring Middle Eastern models just starting out ?

Good Luck Lol! No I must say, work hard, Work on developing yourself as a person and dont let anyone define who you are because that s the danger with this job.

Can you tell MEF about your future projects ?

I am working With a little group of AWESOME kids from NY and Tunis on launching an exclusive Line in 2013.
There is also a lack of exposure of fashion, art and culture in North Africa that s why we decided to work together and launch an online magazine. It will be live in September 2012, www.BYKENZ.com
I’m very excited because we are all working very hard on these projects.

Any tips/advice do you have for aspiring Middle Eastern models just starting out ?

Good Luck Lol! No I must say, work hard, Work on developing yourself as a person and dont let anyone define who you are because that s the danger with this job.

A quote that you could leave us with?

“You are the wind behind my wings” Siri, Iphone. (Today) I thought that was pretty freaking awesome lol

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