September 28, 2015

Beachroad Magazine meet up with Dubai based New Yorker Leila Antakly GM of Wilhelmina Models and chat about the industry and the places she rates in the neighbourhood.

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Where do you like to eat and socialize in the community?
The Beach Road area represents a weekend unwind for me. The lifestyle in Dubai has become incredibly fast paced so chilling on the Beach Road is always something I look forward to on weekends or whenever I have some free time. I like to eat at Salt on Kite Beach, Jean Georges at the Four Seasons, Loca at Dubai Marine, Tashas at The Galleria on Al Wasl and Masgouf. As for shopping I visit Sauce Gifts on Al Wasl Square, West L.A at Sunset Mall and the new Boho Beach at the Mall in Umm Suqeim and for home decoration Comptoir 102 in Jumeirah 1.


A Dubai based New Yorker, Leila holds a Master’s degree in Luxury Goods Management from Bocconi University, Milan. She began her career in fashion producing photo shoots for Vogue Italia in New York, where she had the opportunity to work with world’s most famed fashion photographers, stylists, designers and models. She later went on to produce documentary films, started a popular blog, and is currently involved in many philanthropy projects around the world including Aziza’s Place in Cambodia. She enjoys traveling and exploring new places and regularly takes her pooch Mr. Coco wherever she goes.


Leila's personal goal is to raise the standards of the industry so we sat with her to discuss what having the Wilhelmina name in the region means and the challenges she faces. "Creating rates to protect our talent and educating the market on quality. Tailoring our approach with models and talent alike makes us different. Recently I heard an editor complain about the lack of professional fashion photographers working in Dubai, and this is completely false. Unfortunately the market is saturated with key players that make it challenging for new talent to emerge. If you have a look at our creative division we represent International talent that will push boundaries and provide clients with something unique and fresh. Getting them out there is a challenge for us in this cliquey environment but we are confident their work will speak for itself."

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Leila answers the Beachroad Magazine Q&A.

NAME? // Leila Antakly.

YOUR FIRST JOB? // Production Assistant for an HBO film in Los Angeles, CA.

YOUR CURRENT OCCUPATION? // GM at Wilhelmina Dubai.

YOUR GREATEST LOVE? // Photography, movies, music and my dog Coco.

YOUR GREATEST FEAR? // Fear itself or the fear of losing someone close.

WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY? // The first thing that comes to mind is dancing with my mother.

WHO IS YOUR ROLE MODEL AND WHY? // Definitely my parents for their strength and for teaching me compassion.

WHAT WAS THE LAST GIFT YOU GAVE SOMEONE? // I just bought a friend The Monocle Guide To New York City and a Personality Test called Psychogames from the cutest shop in London called Magma.

IF YOU WERE 80 YEARS OLD, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR CHILDREN? // To be happy with who they are and to never take anything for granted.

YOUR WORST TRAIT? // I am a space cadet sometimes and can be incredibly forgetful.


WHO WOULD PLAY YOUR ROLE IN A MOVIE? // No idea, I would love to see who would be interested in playing such a role in the first place?!

FAVOURITE MUSIC? // This could take me years to answer, so what I've decided to do is to list the first few favorites that pop in my head: • The Cure, Acid Pauli, The Pharcyde, • Thievery Corporation, Depeche Mode, • Tribe Called Quest, Massive Attack, Madonna, Ricardo Villalobos.

LAST RECORD YOU BOUGHT? // Actual record LP? I think it was LL COOL J’s “ Mama Said Knock You Out” or maybe Ice Cube's " Today Was A Good Day".

FAVOURITE BOOK? // The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera.

LAST BOOK YOU BOUGHT? // Thinking In Numbers by Daniel Tammet.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU? // Traveling is my greatest source of inspiration. Nothing beats getting lost and exploring the world. Nothing.

THE CLOSEST YOU HAVE COME TO DEATH? // I am pretty sure it was when thunder hit the tiny propeller plane I was on during a flight from Guatemala City to Tikal.

FAVOURITE DESTINATION? // Burning Man at Black Rock City, NV.

LEAST FAVOURITE DESTINATION? // I haven’t been anywhere I don’t like so I can’t answer this one.

HOW DO YOU RELAX? // Either I do yoga, go for a swim, prepare a nice meal or I blog on

WHY DUBAI? // So much going on here, why not?!

ARE YOU SPORTY? // I’m very active but not sure I'm sporty.


URBAN OR RURAL? // I always loved bright lights and big cities, but now I appreciate a balance between the two environments. I need both.

CATS OR DOGS? // Dogs specially my dog Coco.

COFFEE OR TEA? // Both, I need coffee but I love tea.

WHAT YOU MAKES YOU LAUGH? // I would say my life in general and the special people in it make me laugh (a lot).

WHAT MAKES YOU CRY? // When I see or feel that someone is very sad or knowing that someone is suffering.

YOUR MESSAGE? // Thanks for the opportunity to share a little about myself. Dubai has been a great experience and I really want to continue my focus on making a difference by raising the standards and pushing the bar for International models and the fantastic creatives (photographers, stylists, make- up artists) we represent in the region.

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