She’s been a model for 50 years, but Maye Musk still recalls the biggest obstacle she’s faced in the fashion industry — and it is something that others have faced.

“Oh I think it’s when I had a model agent who kicked me out of the business,” the 71-year-old exclusively told Closer Weekly of the biggest barrier she’s faced. “I believe this happens a lot with actors but I didn’t know it happens with models and that’s made me very sad because I kept being told ‘I’m not good enough. Nobody wants to see me. Nobody even wants me at castings. I won’t get a job for many years,’ and I said ‘well can I leave?’ ‘No you’ve got a contract.'”

“That made me very unhappy but eventually when I left, within a few months I had billboards in Times Square and Madison Square Garden, campaign, editorial, and I found out that everybody had been trying to book me for years!” Maye continued. “But in the beginning it was like ‘why aren’t they sending me out?’ I should’ve done something sooner. So when you’re in a bad situation and you get a feeling that things are wrong, you have to get out of it sooner than I did.”

Maye Musk
Kristina Bumphrey/StarPix/Shutterstock

“[I was] in my 50s and early 60s! Once I broke free, I just stepped in  — after I was out of my contract — went to the senior person, and then the whole modeling world just exploded for me which is great,” Elon Musk‘s mother added.  However, for someone who has been in the business for quite some time, Maye has also seen things change.

“It was always part time with me and I didn’t see much change with me except I used to do six outfits on a runaway show and now I do one. And now people look after me a lot where before you were responsible for yourself. So it’s been much easier for me,” Maye explained. “I wasn’t in the party scene — I’m too much of a nerd for that, although now I get invited to the party scene which is so funny.”

“I didn’t have anybody. If a client says to me ‘let’s go and talk in my hotel room.’ And I’ll say ‘no the hotel lobby is fine. I can’t see a reason for it and now I’m in a rush, or I’m studying for exams or I have my two kids,’ depending on what stage of my life I was in,” the star revealed. “It never occurred to me that ‘why would I want to go to a hotel room when you can talk in a lobby?’ So I never had any bad experiences but then I read about these models who have had a hard time.”

Maye Musk’s new book A Woman Makes A Plan: Advice For A Lifetime of Adventure, Beauty, And Success is out now.

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Reporting by Diana Cooper