AN industry where “sex sells” might not seem an obvious career choice for a young Muslim woman.
As a singer, dancer, actress and former model, Mary Habiba Davidson — also known as Mary HD — had felt pressure to conform to the stereotype that comes with making it in the entertainment world.
When she started out Mary posed in a bikini in the pages of Vogue, Marie Claire, Elle, Cosmopolitan and Company magazines in a bid to make a name for herself.
But after finding her faith, the 27-year-old has turned her back on her former raunchier self — and is now more successful than ever.
Mary who first converted to Islam at 19, has started to carve out a successful career as a singer while setting up her own business to help others follow in her footsteps.
Mary, of Brookhouse, Blackburn, hopes to inspire other women to follow their dreams but to stay true to themselves.
And the entrepreneur, who started dancing at the age of three, says that converting to Islam was the best career move she could have made.
“I started modelling when I was 15. At that time I knew I wanted to make something of myself and there is pressure in the industry to bare a lot of flesh,” said Mary, who was born to a Christian mother and Muslim father.
“At that time I was going out and drinking and needed some guidance and direction. Then I found Islam. Being a Muslim made me realise that I didn’t want to do that any more. I realised what was important was to help other people, and spread the word of love, hope, peace and charity,” said the former Beardwood Humanities College student.
Since giving up modelling, Mary has appeared in the TV dramas Clocking Off and The Parole Officer and the soap Hollyoaks.
In 2008 she travelled to New York to work on songs with producer Rodney ‘Darkchild’ Jerkins, who has worked with Mariah Carey and Mary J Blige “My religion hasn’t stopped what I can do. It has helped pave my career. It has inspired me with my singing and the messages I want to spread about peace and love,” she said.
Although she has not faced any prejudice because of her religion, she says that her faith has made her think about how she approaches her job.
“There are certain things that I would not do because of my religion now. I wouldn’t want to wear a bikini in one of my videos or sing about something meaningless.”
Last summer she was asked to strip off for a music video, but she choose not to and decided to set up her own business called Mary HD Entertainment Ltd aimed at helping young people further a career in the music industry in order for her to control her image.
Her company, based in Bala Close, Blackburn, has been so successful that she was nominated for the Business Personality Of The Year 2009 award.
In February, Mary was invited by The Prince’s Trust to work on a project called Dreams, where she wrote and recorded a song with 10 girls between the ages of 16 to 25.
The group performed the song to Prince Charles when he came to Turf Moor in Burnley.
“It was a brilliant experience working with the 10 girls,” she said. “I watched them build in confidence and improve their social skills during the workshops.
“I have been asked to run another workshop in April. Hopefully the girls will enjoy it and be inspired to follow their dreams.”