Elon Musk is a tech billionaire and entrepreneur who is best known for his work with PayPal, Tesla Motors, and SpaceX. However, before he began manufacturing electric vehicles and launching rockets into space, Musk spent his childhood in South Africa with Maye. Apart from raising Elon and his two other successful siblings, Kimbal and Tosca, Maye’s life has been filled with accomplishments and fascination that, while different from Elon’s, are comparable to his own. Here are ten interesting facts about the billionaire’s mother that you might not have known:
She’s a supermodel.
Maye began modeling when she was 15 years old. Despite the fact that she was told her modeling career would be over by the time she was 18, she went on to work as a print and runway model for decades. “My friends had told me that I was famous before Elon was famous,” she told Vanity Fair. “I was famous before Elon was famous,” she added.
Maye claims that she became more successful after turning 60, which she attributes not coloring her hair anymore. After landing jobs with a stylish shock of white hair, she gained notoriety for her appearances in commercials for Virgin America, on the cover of New York magazine in 2011, and in the music video for Beyoncé’s “Haunted.”
By 2015, Maye was still required to audition for jobs, but she did make her runway debut during New York Fashion Week, where she walked in her first show. In 2016, she was signed by IMG, one of the most prestigious modeling agencies in the world. She also made headlines in the fashion world that year when she accompanied Elon to the Met Gala. In 2017, at the age of 69, she was appointed as an ambassador for CoverGirl. As a result, she holds the distinction of being the company’s oldest brand ambassador in its history.
“I think it gives women hope that as they age, they can continue to work and be relevant, confident, and comfortable in their skin,” Maye said of her accomplishment in an interview with Forbes magazine.
Her continued success also serves as a positive role model for others in her field. In an interview with Marketwatch, she said that young girls approach her on the street and express their admiration for her work, stating that “if I’m doing this at 70 years old, they can do it at 25.”
She works as a dietitian.
The dietetics and nutritional science master’s degrees that Maye holds are from the University of California, Davis. She established a thriving dietitian practice in South Africa before relocating to Canada in her forties and reestablishing her career there. When modeling work was scarce, Maye’s position as a dietitian provided her with a stable income.
As she entered her 30s, Maye gained weight, but she lost approximately 50 pounds in the 1990s by refocusing her diet on more nutritious foods such as beans, vegetables, and yogurt. Yet, despite her honesty, she’s been open about how difficult it has been to keep her weight under control, particularly given her fondness for sweets and the temptation of treats such as chocolate and sticky toffee pudding.
She’s a whiz when it comes to social media.
Maye disproves the stereotype that older people are unable to navigate social media platforms. Her Instagram feed piqued the interest of IMG Models, and she subsequently signed with them, which helped to propel her modeling career to new heights. Maye attributes her first couture show, which took place when she was 67 years old, to connections she made on the social media site Facebook. In addition, she has used Twitter to advance her professional career as a dietitian and lecturer.
Maye documented some of her runway moves on Instagram during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic to raise funds for the struggling fashion industry.
She competed in beauty pageants and other competitions.
A 20-year-old Maye was entered in a beauty pageant by a friend of mine. She decided to participate in the competition and was victorious. She was a finalist for the Miss South Africa title in 1969.
She is the mother of twins.
Maye has a twin sister named Kaye, with whom she maintains a close relationship. Kaye and Maye’s children spent a lot of time together as children, and like Maye, Kaye raised successful entrepreneurs.
She grew up in an exciting environment.
She was almost 3 years old when her family relocated from Canada to South Africa in 1950 when she was still a child. The family would travel to the Kalahari desert during the winter, bringing enough supplies to last them three weeks there. They had hoped to find the rumored Lost City in the desert but were never successful in their search.
She is a victim of domestic violence.
Maye Musk tied the knot with Errol Musk in 1970. As Errol reportedly beat her and forced her to cut off contact with her family, it marked the beginning of a marriage that would be characterized by physical and mental abuse. On the other hand, Maye found it difficult to part ways because she was embarrassed by her situation. Furthermore, at the time, South African divorce laws did not consider domestic violence to be a sufficient reason to end a marriage.
After the divorce laws were changed in 1979, Maye could finally walk away from her marriage. Years later, she opened up about her marriage in her 2019 book; A Woman Makes a Plan, which Penguin Random House published. According to Page Six, Maye has also expressed support for women who are victims of domestic violence by saying, “When you make a big change, it’s going to be scary, but you can’t just stay in a bad situation.”
She put in long hours as a single mother.
Maye, who had recently divorced, was struggling to make ends meet. The following is what she said in an interview with the Huffington Post: “After my divorce, I was left with the responsibility of housing and feeding three children on my own. Poverty forces you to put in the extra effort. When one of my children accidentally spilled milk, I sobbed. When it comes to spilled milk, the saying goes, “don’t cry over spilled milk.” I sobbed because I didn’t have enough money to buy more milk that day.”
Purchases of secondhand clothing and the use of her dietitian skills to prepare inexpensive and nutritious meals, such as peanut butter sandwiches and bean stews, allowed Maye to survive. Keeping afloat also necessitated a lot of effort. However, as she explained to CNBC, “I never felt bad about working full-time because I didn’t have a choice. I was forced to do so. To me, the most important thing was to provide for my children. I worked extremely hard to keep a roof over my head, food in our stomachs, and basic clothing on our backs.”
When Maye was modeling, she frequently brought her three children with her to the shows. Her children also assisted her in her dietitian practice, something Maye had done for her own parents’ chiropractic practice when she was growing up.
She was in her forties when she decided to start a new life in Canada.
Because Maye was born in Canada, her children were able to obtain Canadian passports due to her citizenship. After graduating from high school, Elon moved to the area when he was 18. Maye’s teenage siblings were also interested in relocating to Canada, so he traveled to the country to assess the possibility of a move.
While Maye was in Canada, her daughter Tosca made arrangements to sell her mother’s home and car in South Africa, which she completed. When Maye returned from her trip, she was faced with a difficult decision: should she give up her possessions and the career she’d worked so hard to build, or should she stay? She signed the paperwork and decided to go for it.
However, because South Africa restricted the amount of money that could be taken out of the country, the vast majority of the proceeds from these sales were not made available to the artists. Maye worked up to five jobs at a time while establishing a new life in Canada; as she explained to Forbes, “In my previous position, I worked as a research officer at the University of Toronto. I worked two nights a week as a nutrition instructor at a community college and two nights a week as a model agent. I was a model and a public speaker, and I also had a private practice.”
She has no intention of retiring.
Maye has stated that he has no intention of slowing down any time soon; according to The New York Times, “I have no intention of retiring. My mother never took a pension. When no one wants me anymore, I’ll find something else to do, but I’ll continue to work as a dietitian conducting nutrition research, which is something I enjoy doing.”
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