Early life, family, educational background
Gelila Bekele, humanitarian, model, documentary filmmaker and social worker, was born on September 4, 1986 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She grew up in a middle-class conservative family with her younger sister, Anna Wrossetti; from an early age she dreamed of becoming a model. She posts pictures of her parents, so she seems to be very close to them, but her grandmother, Almaz, raised her. She moved around a lot in her childhood, including her family’s move to Europe when she was nine years old. She currently resides in America.
Looking back on her childhood, she has said that living between rural villages and then cities really helped her shape her adulthood.
She added that moving when you are very young is easier because children quickly adapt to a new environment. In regards to how it has affected her, she said in an interview with The Cattwalk, “…I connect to places, which make me feel at home and myself. Very free, climbing trees, drinking goat’s milk straight from the goat.’
She is proud of her Ethiopian heritage and often writes her social media captions in the official language of Ethiopia, Amharic.
Who is Tyler Perry?
American songwriter, producer, actor and director, Tyler Perry – born Emmitt Perry Jr. on September 13, 1969 in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA – is best known for creating and portraying the character Madea, a headstrong black woman.
In 2011, he was listed by Forbes as one of the highest paid men in entertainment; from May 2010 to May 2011, he reportedly earned $130 million. He enjoys acting in stage productions and his film differs from the usual techniques of film making; most of his stage productions have been made into films. He wrote a lot of his plays in the 1990s and early 2000s.
He has also worked in television – “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne” premiered on TBS on June 21, 2006 and ran for eight seasons, ending August 10, 2012. For the series, Tyler made a deal with Oprah Winfrey and the Oprah Winfrey Network, mainly for the benefit of Oprah, since her network did not yet have a scripted television show.
I don’t care how ashy I get! I keep washing my hands!! Everyone stay safe! Wash your hands!! And keep social distancing high! Let’s help stop this thing!
I wanted to make you laugh, but pray, church, pray!! pic.twitter.com/ijfM3i26Nt
— Tyler Perry (@tylerperry) March 18, 2020
Tyler has created a few other series for her network, including “The Haves and the Have Nots,” which received the highest rating from the network in 2014. Critics called the show Oprah Winfrey Network’s “…biggest success stories with the weekly version of Soapy fun, filled with typical betrayals, affairs and manipulations.” In 2009, he played Admiral Barnett in “Star Trek”, the titular character in 2012’s “Alex Cross”, and Baxter Stockman in 2016’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows”. His net worth as of early 2020 has been estimated at more than $600 million.
In 2006, Gelila was scouted by an advertising art director and became a Ford model – she was a freshman at the University of California, Berkeley, and was on her way to class when she was scouted.
She mainly did her modeling work in New York and Paris. Within a few years, she was featured in major global advertising campaigns and posed for several of the world’s most famous fashion designers. She mainly works in and around the US and Europe, for international brands such as Michael Kors, Tory Burch, Nespresso and Anna Sui. She also appeared in multiple magazines and media publications and graced the covers of several, including Essence, Marie Claire, and Allure. Gelila has worked with, or currently works with, modeling agencies such as Model Management and W360, both based in New York, and Premium Models, based in Paris.
She has appeared in a few films and in 2009 produced the movie “Full”, which she worked on with Dino Antoniou. She has also directed several documentaries, her most famous documentary film was released in 2015 and is titled ‘Mai: Life is not Honey’. The short film follows the lives of young Ethiopian girls living in a rural village, also addressing topics such as gender inequality, the importance of education for girls and climate change.
Her book “Guzo” was published in 2016 and became a bestseller after a plethora of positive reviews. It covers the complex traditions, culture, customs, professions and religious beliefs of the six major Ethiopian tribes: Afar, Lasta Lalibela, Hamar, Raya, Tigray and Harrar. The book also contains beautiful photos of historical monuments, crafts, traditional art and observations of the tribes.
She hopes her book will encourage all Ethiopians, including those living abroad, to embrace their culture and take pride in their heritage. She wants her work to reflect how rich the country is in culture, and to highlight the country’s need for humanitarian efforts.
A social activist and humanitarian herself, she knows what she’s talking about; she has won awards for her philanthropic work in and around Ethiopia. Entrepreneur and photographer Scott Harrison founded Charity Water, an organization Gelila has collaborated with on numerous humanitarian projects. She also often collaborates with Glimmer of Hope, with a particular focus on helping people with their livelihoods and rights when they live in developing countries.
She also focuses on providing clean water to rural villages in Ethiopia and quality education for the girls in the country. In an interview with The Other Festival, she shared: ‘I have a duty to people on the other side of the world, especially young girls who often have no chance or access to education.’ She has also spoken out against bullying and body shaming in interviews, stating that throughout her modeling career she has learned to love and embrace her body and femininity.
In 2018, she was listed in Okay Africa’s 100 Women, which celebrates the meaningful work of African women around the world.
Gelila met Tyler Perry at a Prince concert in 2007, and the two began dating soon after.
In an interview with Jess Cagle, Tyler recalled that Gelila Facetimed him in 2014 with a big surprise: “… she’s holding up the pregnancy stick. I’m like, ‘I think this is happening.'” Their son, Aman Tyler Perry, was born on November 30, 2014, and was baptized in November 2015, a christening hosted by his godmother, Oprah Winfrey.
Gelila has spoken out about wanting to raise her son with the knowledge of his Ethiopian heritage, but will not adopt all customs in her parenting. In an interview with The Cattwalk, she candidly said, “…it [Ethiopian culture] can very much shut up kids because it’s like ‘I’m the adult and I know everything’.
She said she feels her son is teaching her who he is as an individual, and that traditional discipline is not always the best course of action. She prefers to raise her son according to what works for him, and not what and how she was taught growing up.
Gelila and Tyler have been together for many years, so there have been many marriage rumors – neither has denied or confirmed these claims. However, on June 11, 2017, singer and Grammy Award winner, Stephanie Mills, uploaded a photo to Instagram and called Gelila Tyler’s wife. While it sounds like a hint that the two got married in secret, Stephanie could have called Gelilia Tyler’s wife because the couple have been together for so many years that they’re practically unofficially married.
Hobbies, favorite things and interesting facts
She is vegan and encourages her followers to join her green lifestyle.
Gelila has black hair and brown eyes. She is 1.75 m tall, weighs about 61 kg and her vital statistics are 33-24-35.
Wealth and salary
According to Payscale, models earn between $22,206 and $739,782, but Gelila’s experience of more than a decade would put her in the higher end of the scale. As of early 2020, her net worth is estimated to be $2.5 million.