MODEL DATA SHEET
Name: Marsha Elle
Birth date: 01.01.1994
Current city: Miami, USA
Languages: Kreyol, English and French
Height: 167 cm
Weight: 72 kg
Bust: 106 cm
Waist: 86 cm
Hips: 120 cm
Eye color: Brown
Hair color: Black
Favorite book: “The Alchemist” – Paulo Coelho
Favorite movie: “Coming to America” – John Landis
Favorite song: “I am Beautiful” – Marsha Elle
When I got my first prosthetic leg, at the age of five, I saw it as a gift.
I was born with proximal femoral focal deficiency, a condition that affected how my right leg was growing. Throughout my adolescence I received different treatments—including an amputation—and tried various types of prosthetic legs to compensate for the way my body was growing at any given time.
I was born in Haiti, but my family moved to Orlando when I was only nine months old so I could receive medical treatment. The move gave me an opportunity to go to school and start walking for the first time. It was frustrating that they didn’t have prosthetics in my complexion, but at that point I was just grateful to have a leg. Eventually the technology got better, but it was a long time till I had a prosthetic that matched my dark skin.
In middle school my classmates would stare at my leg when I passed them in the hallways. I would try to leave class before the bell rang to avoid it. I’d wear baggy clothes—not only to hide my leg but to hide my whole body. I began struggling with bulimia.
My faith, my mom and my love for music helped me get through those tough times, but my ultimate saving grace was community. When I turned 16 I began attending an amputee summer camp in Salt Lake City. It was the first time I met anyone with my specific condition. I found people I could intimately relate to. I could ask them stuff like “Hey, how do you clean your prosthetic?”
I was so inspired when I got back to Orlando that I wrote a song called “Unlimbted.” Being at that camp was the beginning of accepting myself, and the song captured that. I realized that being different was a good thing.
“Unlimbted” brought me closer to my passion for music. Growing up I always dreamed of being a pop star. I liked that people couldn’t judge me on what they saw; they could only judge what they heard. Music made me feel I had a voice. It gave me a purpose and allowed me to share my story with the world.
When I released my first album, amputees from all over the world began reaching out and sharing how my music had resonated with them. It made me want to open up even more. For the cover of my second album, Brave, I decided to show my leg. I used to hide it (I didn’t wear shorts until I was 23), but now I feel I owe it to my fans to be vulnerable.
Brave jump-started my career as a model and motivational speaker. Pictures of me started going viral, and opportunities came pouring in. Next thing I knew, Jada Pinkett Smith was sharing a photo of me on her Instagram. The world was embracing something I’d been ashamed of. There are still times when I feel insecure, but I’ve learned to love and accept myself. Modeling has helped me amplify my story and show other disabled people that we’re beautiful the way we are.
When Jameela Jamil asked me to be the April 2020 Playmate, I couldn’t help crying. Never in a million years did I think I would be a Playmate. The world is becoming more inclusive, and it’s inspiring to know that I can help move the needle.
When I get caught up in booking jobs, I have to stop and remind myself why I’m doing this. It’s not about money or success; it’s about me and my amazing community. As I say in “Unlimbted,” I’ll never give in.
– Marsha Elle
I grew up in the 1990s and early 2000s, so Britney Spears, Cher, Celine Dion, Christina Aguilera and Janet Jackson were my idols. When Christina Aguilera came out with “Beautiful,” I bought it three times. That’s my song.
I get a lot of attention at events and on Instagram for my leg. I used to joke and tell my prosthetist, “People love your leg,” but sometimes I feel like saying, “Okay, look up here. Hi, I’m Marsha.” I think people are just excited because it’s something they haven’t seen before in the media. My story always takes precedence, and I’ve learned to be okay with that.
My resolution this year was to jump in head-first and not overthink anything. Only one week into the year, I confessed my love for someone!
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is one of my favorite books. I also love reading autobiographies; Nelson Mandela’s is one of my favorites.
For the past two years I’ve worked as an independent contractor in litigation. It gives me the flexibility to focus on my true passions of acting, singing and modeling.
ON MOM LOVE
My mother has always believed in me, and she never babied me. She would sign me up for random stuff like gymnastics and tell the instructors, “Her leg might fly off, but she’s very good on one, and she’ll balance.”
In Miami we have huge iguanas. You may see an iguana, but I see an alligator.
I love water. It’s part of the reason I love Miami so much. I’m like a fish. I love the beach—and also bubble baths. I’ll light a candle, put on some music and tune everything out.
I don’t hesitate to delete mean comments and block trolls. I do it not just for my mental health but for the sake of my fans. I want them to be immersed in positivity when they come to my page.
I shouldn’t have to be ashamed of my sexuality. I can’t help that I have big lips and am naturally thicker.
Look where this leg has taken me—it didn’t just take me to school; it took me across the world to freaking Hollywood!