Can you tell us where you're from and what the best things to do there are?
I come from a small island called Santo Antão in Cape Verde, which is located on the west coast of Africa. I was born and raised there until I was 15 years old. After that, I had the opportunity to fly to Europe and work there. Cape Verde has ten islands, each with its own "identity." My island is known for its rugged terrain, beautiful hiking trails, and black sand beaches. You can also experience the tradition and culture of the island. You can reach each island by plane or boat as they are quite close to each other.
How long have you been modeling, and what was the highlight of your career?
No words can describe how grateful and blessed I feel for everything that has happened in my life. It all started almost ten years ago when I was 14/15 years old. I was discovered on my island while on my way to school. I remember that moment as if it were yesterday. The lady who discovered me went straight to my family to talk to them and convince them to participate in a concept called "Elite Model Look," which I won, and then I went to China on my very first trip. I was named one of the top 15 talents of that time. I had the opportunity to fly professionally to Europe and participate in fashion weeks in Paris, London, and Milan, which was amazing. A year later, I moved to New York, the place where I spend most of my time and feel at home.
Between flights and cities, I've experienced many highlights in my career. For me, each one is important and has led me to grow and live in the moment. For example, walking for designers like Louis Vuitton, Dior, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Tom Ford, Tommy Hilfiger, Victoria's Secret, La Perla. Walking for the VS show and the Chanel show in Cuba was a real highlight. I'm grateful that I could work and meet such inspiring people.
What was the biggest surprise for you when you started working in the fashion industry?
Everything was surprising to me. I never thought that at 15 years old, I would leave my island and my family, work in the fashion industry, learn a different language, travel around the world, and discover a culture completely different from my own.
And what would you like people to know more about the fashion world?
I want people to know that the fashion industry is not as simple as they think. We only see the front of the cameras. Behind the cameras, there is an enormous amount of work to be done, such as castings, traveling, different time zones, looking fresh. The fashion industry requires a lot of dedication and hard work. I needed my family and my agent, who support me every day, to be where I am now. I also think that without passion, I wouldn't be able to do it. When you love what you do, life becomes easier.
What have you learned from your work in the fashion industry over the past ten years?
Everything! I've learned so many things in the fashion industry. Firstly, I had to learn to speak English, which wasn't easy. I learned to be responsible and not be afraid to speak up; everyone is different, and we all have to respect each other. Lastly, you should believe in yourself because your attitude matters more than your clothes.
What have you discovered about yourself during the challenges of this year?
I've discovered my ability to fight for a global cause and to help my island, Cape Verde. I've donated and helped starving families with food donations. I felt proud of myself when I helped these families because I knew they were going through a very tough time. In this difficult time, I've also learned to appreciate the little things in life.
Who do you admire in the industry and why?
I admire Gisele Bündchen because she left the country where she lived with her family to pursue a modeling career to help her parents, and also because she is an exceptional woman. My story is similar to hers because when I left the interior of my island, I didn't know much about fashion, and I didn't know if it would work, but I wanted to go because I wanted a better life for myself and my family.
What advice would you give to young aspiring models?
My advice to young models is to be yourself, be determined, not give up, even if someone tries to bring you down, and fight for what you want.
Finally, as the year 2020 comes to an end, what do you hope 2021 will bring?
I hope that 2021 will bring more love and equality, and that people start looking at each other and helping each other. I want our lives to return to how they were, to be able to finally be with our families and embrace the people we love the most.
September 14, 2023