Most people may primarily know Gelila Bekele as the long-term partner of the renowned filmmaker, Tyler Perry, but we daresay that she is so much more than that. This almond-skinned lady with the glorious curly hair has made waves for her modeling work across the United States, as well as numerous European countries. She has also walked the runway in top-notch fashion shows and has graced the front covers of magazines like Essence, Allure, and Marie Claire.
Imbued with a passion for humanity as well as an inner light that most people naturally gravitate towards, Bekele is also a social activist as well as a documentary filmmaker. The model leverages several mediums to promote issues close to her heart including girl child education, providing access to clean water for rural communities, etc. All these have made many describe her as the true definition of inner and outer beauty and we cannot help but agreed with that summation.
The Model Originally Hails from the East African Country of Ethiopia
Gelila Bekele is originally from Ethiopia and was born on September 4, 1986, to parents of Ethiopian origin. She grew up in a small village where she had a carefree childhood, climbing trees, drinking goat milk straight from the source, and things like that. All these later came to a halt after her family relocated to the more metropolitan capital city of Addis Ababa when she was just four years of age.
Bekele would spend about five years in Addis Ababa before her family relocated her once more – this time to Europe. Since then, the model has made her primary residence in the United States as well as Europe but she has never forgotten her roots. She embarks on frequent trips to the rural areas of Ethiopia each year and it was the pictorials from these trips that eventually morphed into her first book titled Guzo.
Published in 2016, Guzo uncovers the intricate culture, religious beliefs, occupations, traditions, dwellings, agricultural work, and customs of six tribes in Ethiopia; Hamar, Tigray, Afar, Raya, Harrar, and the Lasta Lalibela tribes. The book displays beautiful snapshots portraying the fascinating arts, crafts, historical monuments, and significant observances of these tribes. It captured the deep and essential beauty of Bekele’s ancient peoples and is meant for curious-minded fellows.
She Was Raised by Her Grand Mother
Gelila Bekele’s mom had her at the age of 16 and subsequently left her for her grandma, Almaz, to raise. Thankfully, Almaz was a strong woman and she served as a perfect role model for her granddaughter. She also positively influenced her even as the young girl left Ethiopia for Europe at the age of nine. Gelila would spend some years in Europe before moving to America to continue her education.
In the states, she got admission to UC Berkeley and enrolled in a pre-medicine course. Her future was then altered when she was scouted. As the story goes, the young lady was on her way to school one day when an advertising art director spotted her. He noticed that she had the right features to make it as a model and so convinced her to give it a try. She did so and the rest is now history.
Gelila Bekele has featured in Campaigns for Luxury Brands such as Pantene and L’Oréal
During the early days of her modeling career, Gelila Bekele was represented by Ford models, both in New York and Paris. She has now moved on to other modeling agencies like the New York-based W360 and Ley Model Management, and Paris-based Premium Models. The Ethiopian-born model has graced the cover of several top-notch magazines including the African Magazine, Marie Claire, Essence, and Allure.
She has also landed endorsement deals with choice brands such as Diesel, Levi’s, Michael Kors, H&M, Tory Burch, Anna Sui, Pinko, Pantene, L’Oréal, Colgate Palmolive, and Nespresso Grand Cru series of coffee. Bekele has walked the runway at many prominent fashion shows and is now one of the most influential models of color in the world.
The Model has used her Documentaries to shed the Spotlight on Various Issues in her Native Country
Bekele has pursued careers beyond the runway and is also a certified filmmaker. Some of her works include Mai: Life is not Honey, a short film addressing the global problem of lack of access to potable water. It was released in the year 2015 and since then, the model has also directed as well as produced some other projects such as Anbessa (2019) and The Model Activist (2017). Anbessa is a documentary about a charismatic young Ethiopian boy who has been displaced by the effects of urbanization. The film took two years to make and Gelila was one of the producers. Their efforts were well rewarded as the film received glowing tributes from critics.
Bekele is an Activist on Women and Girl Rights
Asides being the gorgeous figure ambling down hallowed runways, Gelila Bekele is also a staunch activist and has a large heart for social and humanitarian works. Since she came into the limelight, she has been a supporter of several charitable and philanthropic ventures. One of them is Charity: water, an impactful project that seeks to improve access to clean water for rural dwellers. The model is also working towards improving education access as well as women’s rights in her motherland.
She Met Tyler Perry at a Prince Concert in 2007
Gelila Bekele first met her heartthrob, award-winning American actor, and film producer, Tyler Perry, at a Prince concert in 2007. They maintained contact but only commenced a relationship in the year 2009. The couple has now been together for more than a decade and is still going strong. Even though they are not ones to expose their lives for public consumption, they do make the occasional red carpet appearance to support each other’s work or that of their friends’. They also make rare references to each other in interviews. For instance, Bekele was once asked whether she would ever star in one of her man’s films and her reply was never.
Wedding bells are not in the works anytime soon
Gelila Bekele and her man have been together for about a decade now and many people have been naturally curious as to whether they will settle down. The couple has done their best to avoid this topic but Perry was put on the spot when he appeared on T.I. podcast in April 2020. The rapper pointedly asked him why they hadn’t yet tied the knot and his reply was that he has someone wonderful and that she would be getting her share of it all. Going by this above statement, it seems Perry believes that what he has with Bekele is great and there is no need for the formalities of marriage especially in view of the fact that she is already guaranteed a portion of his $600 million fortune.
Their Son is one of the World’s Best Kept Secrets
Gelila Bekele and her partner are the proud parents of a son named Aman Tyler Perry who was born on the 30th day of November 2014. The boy is about six years old and Gelila tries to teach him values she learned from her grandma such as etiquette, being a good listener as well as understanding people. The model does not, however, subscribe to the traditional upbringing which overlooks the opinions of children and believes that the adult is always right. Aman is now growing in leaps and bounds and his parents have taken great care to shield him from the media. They want the boy to grow up and develop his own identity before society and social media chimes in with their opinions.