Araweelo Abroad got a chance to speak with the globetrotting ball of energy that is Marawa the Amazing. We talked to her about the Guinness World Record, being a television star, fashion, and the circus.
IA: Hello, Marawa! Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us especially considering how many different time zones you fly through each week! If you were asked to define what you “do” in 2 words or less, what would you say?
Marawa: Professional hoola-hooper (it’s kinda three words…but kinda two.. is that ok?!)
IA: Is it true that you are a 5 time Guinness World Record holder and hold the world record for spinning the most hula hoops at once? How did that happen and how does it feel to hold a world record in something?
Marawa: It’s true! It’s my favourite thing on my resume - I read the book as a kid - always trying to work out what I could do. I spent nearly 2 years working on the record for most hoops so I was super happy when I finally made it!
IA: You’ve collaborated with some big names in the fashion world. Everyone from Opening Ceremony to Kenzo to Monki. What form do these collaborations usually take and what do hulu hoops and fashion have to do with one another?
Marawa: It’s just a great fit with any fun brand that uses interesting design, stretch fabrics, or bright colours. They just kind of work well together. All the brands I work with are young fun brands so it seems to make sense. We have done everything from shows instore to workshops with the brands.
IA: What has the reaction been from both loved ones and strangers regarding your career?
Marawa: I don't always tell people what I do because it always leads to lots of questions and always the same questions! Which gets exhausting or boring. “WHAT ?! You are in the circus?!” “Your full time job?!” “Hoops?...hula hoops?!”, etc. But I get it- it’s not something people hear about normally as a day job. My mum has been super supportive at every step of the way. My dad is still slowly coming around. It took me a long time to come clean about what I was doing to him - I don't think he planned on sending his daughter to private school to have her then study at clown college.
IA: You’ve been on both Arab’s Got Talent and Britain’s Got Talent. How have you dealt with the fame that has come with being on TV? What is the strangest thing that has happened to you as a result?
Marawa: With so much social media etc, it’s weird seeing what people say, write, and discuss online I try to avoid it pretty much – It’s great reading emails from fans that tell you stories about how you inspired them - that’s the best stuff ! The strangest things to me are the photo-shopped images! People will insert me into their pictures - or put their head on my body that’s hooping - so weird?! But funny!
IA: You have also taught all over the world. Everywhere from Paris to Poland. But we are curious to know how you were able to get into and teach in North Korea and what that was like!
Marawa: It’s amazing! It’s not THAT difficult to get in there, you just have to go on a tour. So the tour people help you organize all the visas and then you have to really stick to their itinerary - you don't get to go off by yourself, ever. But it was an amazing opportunity and experience. I wanted to see the mass games - that was my whole reason for going. I took the hoops because I figured it was too good of an opportunity not to! when we had a day in the park I brought the hoops out and taught the local kids and adults it was so nice. I don't think they had ever seen anyone like me before so we were all smiling at each other, unable to communicate apart from smiles and laughing. But it was so sweet!
IA: What was your experience teaching hula hoops in Somalia? Any plans to do more teaching in Somalia?
Marawa: I would love to but I can’t say I felt totally safe there. I don’t know - it’s tough. There are amazing people out there trying to make it happen, rebuilding a country and I admire that big time. I took 120 hoops with me that a TV show had given me for a performance. I didn’t need them so when I went to Somalia with my dad I took them and we split them between an orphanage and 2 circuses. I didn’t even know there would be a circus there. I had never heard of them! But I was so excited - I sent them some more circus equipment when I got back to London. I hope they are still going and YES I hope to teach there again in the future!
IA: Who are the Majorettes and how did they come to exist?
Marawa: The Majorettes are my troupe of hoopers! The performance troupeare based in London but I am planning on starting a troupe in the US later this year. We started the troupe in 2012 when the girls performed for the London Olympics torch relay and they have been going strong ever since! Most of the girls could not hoop at all. But now they perform, teach and hang out together. Last year they all started skating too! I want to expand the group internationally - for performance - but also just for girls that want to get fit, have fun with their friends, and hoop!
IA: You just came out with a new book called "The Girl Guide" which is about learning to love your body. What inspired you to come out with a book and what has the experience been like for you? Also where can we cop it?
Marawa: YES! It has been 3 years in the making. I have been thinking about it for a long time. Like since I went through puberty myself and really wished there was a book to consult that wasn’t all about periods = having a baby. I wanted answers to all the embarrassing questions! I feel like even with the internet around it’s hard to find real stories and information and that’s what this book is aiming to do - give a really realistic personal look at EVERYTHING that happens when puberty kicks in. It comes out June 1st and is easiest to order via amazon! Link below!
IA: What is next for Marawa the Amazing?
Marawa: Another summer bouncing between LA and London - I am trying to settle in LA but keep running back to the UK !
Marawa’s book “The Girl Guide” can be found here.
Ifrah Ahmed is an Editor of Araweelo Abroad.