We had the good fortune of connecting with Tatianna Valiente and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tatianna, have you ever found yourself in a spot where you had to decide whether to give up or keep going? How did you make the choice?
A year ago, I moved from Miami Lakes to Homestead and was working a full-time corporate job in midtown while finishing my A.A. degree. I was making a substantial income that helped me pay for my bills and out-of-pocket tuition costs, and I tried to squeeze in any freelance modeling/styling time I could because that is what ultimately brings me joy. I slowly began giving up on the idea of becoming a signed model after years of no-replies, rejections, and even scams. I felt like for a model, I was already on the older side of the spectrum and my measurements weren’t the runway model “standard”; I started feeling like my dream was becoming more and more unattainable. I continued doing what little modeling and styling I could while working (with a daily 3 hour round-trip commute) because I remained hopeful. In April of this year, as the coronavirus cases reached the United States and spread like wildfire, I was laid off by my job. Of course, I immediately filed for unemployment and have since then been on it. For that, I am eternally grateful because millions of other people did not have the same luck as me and have had to put themselves at risk to continue working to survive. Living through such a tumultuous and historical moment in time sobered my perspective on life’s priorities profoundly. It actualized the fleeting moment in time that is a human lifespan and how important it is to commit yourself to what you love, without hesitation. The time off I have had these past six months has taught me so much about myself and has given me the space and opportunity to nurture my passions. Since January, I have been working on my bachelors in Asian Studies/Japanese Language at Florida International University, and my dream of becoming a signed model finally came true in August. A supermodel that I follow on Twitter (@awengchuol) tweeted about an agency that was looking to sign new models. I thought to myself, “It wouldn’t hurt to try” and went outside to take some digital casting photos of myself and sent them over. Truthfully, I wasn’t optimistic about getting a reply at all, but something in my gut begged to differ. The very next day I got a reply from a gentleman named Pablo Ferreira, who is the CEO and founder of The Titans Management, and he interviewed me the following day. A few days later, I officially signed with the International modeling and talent agency, The Titans Management. Their focus is diversity, inclusivity and models with purpose; they look past measurements and look for personalities and people driven by purpose. I sincerely resonate with that and I am so elated to be represented by them. With the remaining time I have off, I am working really hard to create a means of income through modeling and independent projects. My goal is to ultimately make my life my work through my creative pursuits. What we spend days, months, or even years hoping for can come true, at the most unexpected times; it just takes effort, consistency and patience. What you want will manifest when you don’t give up. Get up every single time you get knocked down and fight like hell! Living with regret is worse than living with defeat.
Please tell us more about your art. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
Fashion has been a long-standing passion of mine ever since I could remember. To me, it is the most effective method of self-expression. We have to wear clothes every single day of our lives, and we have clothing for different occasions, weather, and even moods. It is often an overlooked aspect of the art world that we autonomously practice all the time. I am a huge advocate for slow fashion, and implementing green practices through thrifting and repurposing/altering used clothing. As we all know, we are facing the crisis of climate change and the fast fashion industry has a negative impact on the environment. According to the Institute of Sustainable Communication, the clothing industry is the world’s second-largest clean water polluter. The industry also emits 10 percent of the global carbon emissions, which is more than international flights and maritime shipping and produces 21 billion tons of waste each year. There are already many ways people are going green and being mindful of how fashion can be approached this way is essential to be aware of so that we can contribute to helping slow the rate of climate change; however little that margin may be. I used to go to thrift stores all the time with my grandmother when I was a child as it was her hobby apart from being a seamstress. My grandmother had a profound influence on my current interests because I grew up watching her construct all sorts of garments on her Brother sewing machine. She taught me all the basics; how to thread a needle, sew on a button, hem curtains and pants, sew on a zipper, cut out patterns, make minor alterations, etc. She always told me stories of all the years of Halloween costumes she made for my mother and aunts, and all of the beautiful wedding dresses she used to make for family, friends, and customers. In my late teens I started thrifting and it quickly became my primary source for “new” clothes. I have pieces that I thrifted years ago that are still my favorite to this day. Eventually I acquired the skill of learning how to put together outfits from thrift finds by experimenting with color blocking, combining different textiles and altering pieces to match my vision. Of course, I also got really into finding unique accessories and trying different types of makeup that complimented my outfits. Coupled with my paralleled interest in modeling, these two hobbies became inevitably intertwined. I never had the money to go to fashion school, but I made do with what I had and I don’t think I needed it anyway! My style is unique because it’s just me; My approach to fashion is androgynous and chameleon-like because I don’t limit myself to one single type of style and adamantly support the notion that fashion is genderless. No one should have to feel limited or afraid in how they can drape their body with fabrics. Apart from recently becoming a signed model, I also opened up a Depop where I will be selling new, used, and altered clothing. My goal is to eventually list exclusively altered and original hand-crafted pieces by me. I’m really looking forward to where this venture will take me. I’m not an artist in the applying brush to canvas kind of way, but in the art in motion kind of way. I don’t just put on clothes everyday, I turn myself into art.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
There’s no place like the 305! If my best friend was visiting the area I’d make them want to move here by the time their visit is done.
Day 1 (Monday): Go to Miami Beach and have a relaxing beach day after driving through Deco Drive! What better way to be introduced to Miami than by visiting our famous beach?
Day 2 (Tuesday): Have lunch at El Rinconcito De Santa Barbara Restaurant. It’s a family run Puerto Rican and Cuban restaurant tucked away in the corner of a plaza in Northwest Hialeah. They have the most amazing mofongo I’ve ever tried, outside of Puerto Rico of course! Then drive around Hialeah and find a ventanita to have a colada.
Day 3 (Wednesday): Visit the Perez Art Museum and the Frost Science museum which are located literally right next to each other in Downtown Miami. The art museum is in a beautiful industrial style constructed building and has rotating exhibitions year-round. The science museum is relatively new and has an array of fascinating displays.
Day 4 (Thursday): Visit Lincoln Road mall on Collins Avenue and spend the day shopping and eating at the various stores and restaurants. I used to frequent the outdoor mall as a child, so it’s a personal favorite of mine.
Day 5 (Friday): Go on an afternoon stroll through the streets of Wynwood. The countless walls full of art, the eclectic shops and the unique restaurants are quite the experience. For dinner, I’d stop by BND Burger, home to my all-time favorite veggie burger.
Day 6 (Saturday): Go back to Wynwood and eat at Soju; a Korean barbecue restaurant with the best food, soju (Korean liquor) and the friendliest staff! Then hit up Las Rosas Bar to party with locals.
Day 7 (Sunday): Wrap up the trip with a drive to South Pointe Park for beautiful bay views and a short walk to Nikki Beach (famous beach hotspot) to spend the rest of the day.
Alright, so let’s jump right in! The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there a person, group, organization, book, etc that you want to dedicate your shoutout to? Who else deserves a little credit and recognition in your story?
First and foremost, I would like to shoutout my mom for all the support she has given me through every step of my journey. She taught me how to have confidence and to stand up for what I believe in. She always prioritized my mental health and happiness and continuously pushes me to try new things. I truly wouldn’t be who I am and where I am today without her.
Next, I would like to thank my partner of 8 years, Paul. We’ve been together since the age of 16, so we pretty much grew up together and taught each other so many things about ourselves, about patience, and about communication of emotions. Being by his side and watching his own personal journey as an artist really inspired me and motivated me to free the artist within myself. The love we share transcends this life.
Finally, I would like to shoutout my modeling agency, The Titans Management. I would like to specifically thank the CEO and my agent, Pablo Ferreira, for giving me the opportunity to actualize my dreams of modeling. Having the ability to be part of an agency whose focus is diversity and inclusivity is of paramount importance to me. For too long the modeling industry has failed in representing the full spectrum of beauty this world contains. I’m looking forward to contributing to breaking barriers and uplifting the voices of those who need to be heard. I am proud to be a Titan!
I would also like to thank all of my friends for their constant love and support in a world that can make you feel so small and invisible.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
First and foremost, I would like to shoutout my mom for all the support she has given me through every step of my journey. She taught me how to have confidence and to stand up for what I believe in. She always prioritized my mental health and pushed me to try new things. I truly wouldn’t be who I am today without her. Next, I would like to thank my partner of 8 years, Paul. We’ve been together since the age of 16, so we pretty much grew up together and taught each other so many things about ourselves and the love we share transcends this life. Being by his side and watching his own personal journey as an artist really inspired me and motivated me to free the artist within me. I would also like to thank all of my friends for their constant love and support in a world that can make you feel so small and invisible. Finally, I would like to shoutout my modeling agency, The Titans Management. I would like to specifically thank the CEO and my agent, Pablo Ferreira, for giving me the opportunity to actualize my dreams of modeling. Having the ability to be part of an agency whose focus is diversity and inclusivity is of paramount importance to me. For too long the modeling industry has failed in representing the full spectrum of beauty this world contains by going no further than seeking models beyond their physical appearance. We are in the midst of a major shift in the modeling industry where we are seeing these changes happen. I’m looking forward to contributing to breaking barriers and uplifting the voices of those who need to be heard. I am proud to be a Titan!
Daniella Pinzo (@girlunbotheredmedia) email@example.com