There is an old Turkish proverb that says “you never know the story behind a face”. In the world of social media, where impressions are formed in fleeting seconds, this holds all the more true. It is easy to judge someone after spending a few minutes on their profile, but many people have shed blood and sweat to reach where they are. One such story of struggle-to-success is Sem Graham.
The 21-year-old model might not look special at the first instance – you would be forgiven to think of her as yet another Instagram model making money by posing. But the story behind Graham’s life is an inspiring one. Graham was raised in Florida, where she lived with her parents. She was always fascinated by modeling; her first chance came when she took part in Miss Delray Beach Teen at the age of 16. Things were looking bright for the young girl when tragedy struck.
Graham, her mom, and her newly born sister were met with a horrible car accident. While the sisters were left unscathed, their mom permanently broke her spine. The accident made her an alcoholic, and she often targeted Graham with emotional and physical abuse. Her father didn’t take care of the family either, instead promoting her mother’s alcoholism. When things became too much to bear, Graham decided to leave home and move to Utah.
However, things didn’t improve for Sem Graham as she realized that agencies in Utah didn’t want to hire new models. For months, she had to practically live in her car. She found a job at a fast-food chain that barely met her daily needs. She often had to seek extra money from others, and her diet often included nothing but tomato juice and energy bars. Despite the hardships, Graham was committed to making something better out of her life. She excelled at her school and took additional courses, single-handedly building her life from scratch.
But things took a surprising turn when one day, Sem Graham decided to try her luck on Instagram. Channeling the inner model in her and armed with nothing but an iPhone, Graham started posting her pics on the social media platform. In no time, she started going viral. During the pandemic, when most people were locked in homes, Graham unleashed the full force of her creativity. As a result, her followers skyrocketed; today, she has more than 775k followers on the platform.
Like many other models, Graham turned towards sites like Patreon and OnlyFans to offer her more provocative pictures to paid subscribers. While many people look down upon such career choices, but Graham, it was purely a professional decision. She thinks that it took her a lot of hard work and sacrifices to reach where she is, and she would not back down simply due to the judgments of others. In fact, she says that if she could, the one advice she would have given to her younger self is “opinions do not pay bills”.
From living in a car to owning her own house, Sem Graham has come a long way. With just an iPhone and some modeling instincts, Graham made a career for herself. She proved that nothing is impossible if you are willing to work hard for it. But she has not allowed the rush of fame to blind her other goals; she is also studying to become a graduate and start her Ph.D. by the time she turns 26. The story of Sem Graham stands a proof that you shouldn’t judge someone too quickly. Wishing her luck in her future endeavors.
You can follow Sem on her Instagram.