“When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in Black and White, you photograph their souls!”
My life in front of the camera to many might be an accident, to some a destiny, to me…my calling. The desire to be in front of the camera might have sparked when I was in my preteens playing in Madrid, Spain while memorizing every Fame episode on t.v. And reenacting them in front of the mirror. My aunt Judy states, ever since I was a toddler I claimed I wanted to be a model as I strutted around in my little matching outfits.
The idea actually ignited my senior year because my real mom mentioned if I lost some weight, I could potentially make some fast cash to put myself through school. Being right and left-brain, my ambition truly was in the art and medical field…desiring to become a ‘medical illustrator’. After much thought I realized the occupation of illustrating body parts would be mundane and boring and so I set my sights high to enter the glamorous world of modeling.
Growing up, I never had a true Asian-American role model to look up to but the blonde and blue-eyed Barbie dolls of the fashion world. Inspired to represent women of all colors, a thirst to travel, the dreams to walk the runways of Paris, and a goal to live in the Big Apple of New York I packed my bags for my first destination, the beautiful island of Hawaii.
In Hawaii I was represented by a small boutique agency modeling for swimwear and different clothing lines, while I took classes and later taught at JRP Modeling School. I knew JRP was my doorway to the Big Apple because in 93’, I competed in the M.A.A.I. (Modeling Association of America International) at the prestigious Waldorf Historia in New York. Taking away the Grand Awards for Runway, Photography and Commercial I was scouted by 13 agencies and later I found myself living in Model Capital being a in-house lingerie model for Vanity Fair at nineteen.
With a few years behind me, the realization the modeling world was not at all glamorous due to the every day pressures from my agents to be thin as possible. My booker would rant, ‘’ You can never be too thin and you could never be too rich!’’ She was correct, the thinner I became, the more I was paid!
Disgusted by the image the modeling world feed to society, I decided to leave my ‘’unhealthy’’ lifestyle for a healthier one. I became a fitness instructor at the age of 21, which led me into the world of martial arts. Later after moving from place to place, I was living in San Francisco and eventually was pulled back into the modeling world.
The euphoric feeling that emanates while doing runway shows made me realize I ‘’enjoyed’’ the procedure of creating fashion. Hooked once again, I decided to move to L.A. at 22, to go to art school while I worked for two well-known designers…Bijan and Michelle Bohbot of BISOU BISOU.
During my journey learning about how the fashion and retail world operates, I was introduced to a second passion, the Art of Acting through my best friend. I immersed myself into the world of acting with acting classes, surrendering to my past and channeling into the corridors of my soul to better morph into ‘’characters’’. It was phenomenal and addicting! Before a horrific automobile accident shifted my life into another direction, I booked a small part in the Fast and the Furious and later a guest appearance in V.I.P. with Pamela Anderson at 26.
Unbeknownst to me, I thought my career to be in the entertainment industry was over until four years into my paralysis while attending a Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation Benefit and awareness was shed upon me by a fellow actor Tobias Forrest about a P.W.D. (Performer with a disability). Toby invited me to a class taught by David Zimmerman for the M.A.O. (Media Access Awards) and I entered my way back in crazy world of being in front of the camera.
As I literally sat around waiting for wheelchair roles to roll in, I decided to make a whole new statement by entering the modeling world in a wheelchair. Breaking the boundaries, fading the ignorance and bringing awareness about disability was lacking in the entertainment world. I witnessed friends with disabilities struggle and fight to be seen in the medias eyes that it fueled me to attempt to make a difference.
From 2005 to 2013, I energized my modeling career with bookings from major clients of Target and Nordstrom. In 2011 I became the first quadriplegic to land a major national campaign that went viral overnight.
In the world of entertainment, there are far and few roles available a year for PWD’s, I luckily booked three national commercials with Sony, AARP, and Mabelline.
The year of 2010 it all changed from the suggestion of my best friend Geraldine Hernandez to have my own reality show. With a sudden twist of fate, the law of attraction, a vision to bring awareness and enlightenment into a world of ignorance with disability, I reached out to executive producer David Hurwitz of Fear Factor and American Gladiator. After a few meetings, brainstorms and being introduced to the lovely Gay Rosenthal of Little People Big World I was on a journey of making a change in the entertainment world.
One call to my girls to do a show with me, four months later of pitching, another five months of shooting, three major networks interested, an excellent reel manifested, and one bold network who could think outside of the box. The diligent work was done. Push Girls Critics Choice Awards Best Reality Series was made in 2011 on Sundance Channel.
My girls and I have successfully executed our first and second season of Push Girls to bring awareness to the world about disability and to remind others to push the limits on life no matter what but my journey has just began in a new realm, a paradigm I will continue to shift, transform and help evolve with all my heart, mind, and soul.