PEOPLE TO KNOW
Yes, ASL is my first language before English and speaking.
How are you feeling?
I’m feeling okay. I do have depression and anxiety. They come and go.
What are your honest thoughts about modeling?
I honestly believe in this generation, with body positivity and diversity, that the modeling industry is doing a little better than before. It’s still a work in progress, fashion. It's always progressing in every direction.
What is it like being deaf in a field of fashion that's so insensitive?
Fear and ignorance. The industry’s never been exposed to Deaf Culture, let alone other cultures.
Last summer I was invited to a few fashion events. However, the owner and team of one event didn’t acknowledge the fact that I requested accommodations. They don’t really pay attention to my needs. Aren’t models supposed to ask and have their needs met to meet the expectation of any assignment? I don’t think so.
Right now, Nyle DiMarco and Chella Man have the upper hand. I always wonder how they get through their shoots and how they’re always accommodated. Who knows? I feel it’s bit unfair that I didn’t get to join the wagon with them but oh well.
Do you ever come across ignorant people?
Yes. Yes. Yes. All the time! My goodness. It comes from a place of fear and ignorance.
Does that affect you?
It affects me horribly. I’m always hesitant when it comes to speaking and signing. What do I do? Do I speak to this person? Do they like me because I don’t look Deaf? Or should I sign and hopefully they’re okay with it? I always juggle with that all the time when it comes to meeting people in this industry.
How are you changing the standards?
By speaking up. Being Deaf, Gay and Latino has let me experience the many things to go left unnoticed. I need to break through that barrier and let people know that it’s okay. We’re all the same. Communication takes the effort. I’m currently studying pre-med right now and trying to build my platform. I really want to become a spokesperson. Someone people look up to. Maybe one day I’ll get a chance to spread awareness through the right platform.
How has being deaf impacted your journey to modeling?
It impacts me in many different ways. I ask myself, what am I doing to change people’s perspective on the Deaf community? It’s hard. I have to speak and accommodate to hearing world but do I get the same treatment back? No. It’s always 50-50. Every. Single. Time.
What would your advice be to anyone about getting out of their comfort zones?
Think about yourself. Speak up! Make a video. Do your thing. Everyone deserves a voice and we need to spread awareness of something we feel personally. This generation is new and we’re changing everyday.