Stephanie Rosa… from homelessness to a career as a supermodel!
She’s been a staple in the plus-size modeling industry for many years and this month we have the incredible honor to feature Stephanie Rosa on our cover and feature story.
When she was younger, she aspired to become a supermodel like Tyra Banks and today SHE IS the inspiration for so many… Her journey has taken her from homelessness to supermodel status all the while living with grace and gratitude.
This is one interview you do not want to miss… Get to know Stephanie Rosa (IG @thestephanierosa)
Can you share more about your journey from growing up in the Bronx to becoming a plus-size model in New York? How did your background shape your perspective and influence your decision to pursue a career in modeling?
Growing up in the Bronx instilled in me a resilience and determination that shaped my perspective on life. It was a tough environment, where scarcity was often a reality – there were times when food was scarce, and the living conditions weren’t always pleasant. The struggles I faced made it clear that I couldn’t settle for that kind of life. Having experienced such scarcity, I realized I couldn’t stay stagnant; I had to strive for more.
The challenging circumstances I witnessed motivated me to seek something more extraordinary. It fueled a fire within me, pushing me to break out of the limitations of my environment. Modeling became an avenue where I could redefine beauty standards and represent those who, like me, didn’t fit the conventional mold. It wasn’t just about pursuing a career; it was about breaking barriers and showcasing the beauty of diversity in an industry that often adhered to narrow standards.
My upbringing taught me the value of perseverance and seizing opportunities. It’s what propelled me to chase my dreams relentlessly, knowing that staying in the same place wasn’t an option. Ultimately, my background served as a driving force behind my decision to step into the world of modeling and make a difference by embracing diversity and inclusion in the fashion industry.
Earlier this year we read an article about your journey from homelessness to being one of the most successful models in our industry. Overcoming homelessness is a tremendous feat. How did you find the strength and courage to continue pursuing your dream of becoming a model during such challenging times? Were there specific moments or realizations that fueled your determination?
The experience of homelessness was undeniably challenging, yet it also became a pivotal moment in my journey. During those difficult times, the dream of becoming a model served as a beacon of hope, a guiding light that kept me focused and determined. What truly made me resilient during those challenging times was my unwavering belief in a higher power. I found strength in faith, trusting that there was a guiding force that would help me navigate through the hardships.
There were moments of despair and uncertainty, but within those moments, I found a reservoir of inner strength that I didn’t know existed. Believing in something beyond myself instilled a sense of purpose and hope, reminding me that there was a greater plan beyond the struggles I was facing. It was this belief that fortified my spirit, allowing me to endure and persevere through the toughest moments.
The realization that my dream was bigger than my current situation became a powerful driving force. I made a conscious decision to channel any negativity or hardship into fuel for my ambition. The human spirit, when intertwined with belief and faith, becomes incredibly resilient. It’s this combination that kept me steadfast and resolute in pursuing my dreams. Even in the darkest times, my faith in a higher power and the strength of the human spirit propelled me forward, reminding me that with perseverance and belief, anything is possible.
The modeling industry can be notoriously competitive and challenging. What obstacles did you face, and how did you navigate them to establish yourself in the industry?
The modeling industry is undoubtedly competitive, presenting numerous challenges along the way. One significant obstacle I encountered was the lack of financial resources for appropriate clothing during photoshoots. With limited to no funds, I navigated this hurdle by leveraging alternative approaches.
To address this issue, I strategically utilized an approach known as “TFP” (Time for Print), where I offered my modeling services in exchange for images from photographers and collaboration with stylists without financial compensation. By advertising TFP opportunities, I aimed to attract professionals who shared a mutual passion for their craft and were open to collaborative, non-monetary arrangements.
This experience served as a realization that success in modeling doesn’t solely hinge on financial means. Instead, it underscored the importance of resourcefulness and collaboration. Working with like-minded individuals who shared a genuine passion for their work became my cornerstone. I discovered that success in the industry isn’t solely about financial wealth but about utilizing available resources and partnering with individuals who share a profound love for their craft. Modeling wasn’t just a job; it was my passion, something I was willing to pursue regardless of monetary gain.
Who were your role models or sources of inspiration in the modeling world, especially considering your admiration for Tyra Banks? How have they influenced your approach to your career?
Tyra Banks has been a significant inspiration to me in the modeling world. She stood out as a trailblazer, especially being a woman of color, and her success resonated deeply with me. Her ability to excel across various facets of the industry—from modeling to entrepreneurship and television—sparked a sense of possibility and potential within me. Tyra’s resilience, confidence, and advocacy for diversity in the industry greatly influenced my approach to my career.
Additionally, I’ve looked up to other figures in the modeling world who have redefined beauty standards and championed inclusivity. Icons like Ashley Graham, who broke barriers as a plus-size model, and Adwoa Aboah, who uses her platform for mental health advocacy, have been instrumental in shaping my perspective. Their fearlessness in embracing their uniqueness and using their voices to promote positive change has profoundly impacted my modeling approach.
These role models collectively taught me the importance of authenticity, resilience, and using my platform for more than just modeling. They’ve inspired me to challenge conventional norms, celebrate diversity, and advocate for inclusivity within the industry. Their influence drives me to carve a path beyond just modeling, aiming to create a more diverse and accepting space for everyone.
As a Hispanic woman, did you encounter unique challenges or stereotypes in the modeling industry? How did you address and overcome these challenges?
Facing stereotypes in the modeling industry can be a significant challenge, especially when these stereotypes intersect with cultural biases. Being a Hispanic woman in this field can sometimes invite assumptions or biases that undermine intelligence or capabilities.
I’ve encountered the stereotype that models might lack intelligence. Moreover, as a Hispanic woman, I’ve observed the tendency for some to treat individuals from specific backgrounds differently. However, I address these challenges by firmly acknowledging my capabilities and worth.
I combat these stereotypes by embodying confidence in my intellect and abilities. I actively demonstrate that intelligence isn’t determined by profession or ethnicity. Through my actions, work ethic, and dedication to my craft, I debunk these misconceptions. By being articulate, knowledgeable, and proactive in my approach to modeling, I challenge these stereotypes head-on.
Furthermore, I aim to be an advocate for change within the industry. By promoting inclusivity and diversity, I work towards breaking down barriers and reshaping perceptions about Hispanic models. Embracing my cultural identity while excelling in my career, I strive to inspire others and create a more inclusive and accepting space within the modeling world.
Balancing motherhood and a career can be demanding. How do you manage to strike a balance between your responsibilities as a mother and the demands of your modeling career?
Balancing motherhood and a career in modeling is undoubtedly a juggling act, but I’ve found a supportive partner to be instrumental in maintaining this balance. My partner plays a significant role by sharing responsibilities, alleviating some of the weight on my shoulders. Whether it’s helping with household chores or understanding the demands of my career, their support is invaluable.
Prioritizing my daughter is paramount. I ensure she feels included and informed about my work commitments by communicating with her beforehand. Setting aside quality time for her is a non-negotiable aspect of my routine. Every moment I’m not working is dedicated to her, cherishing and nurturing our bond.
Modeling is a passion, but my family is the core of my life. They are my anchor, my source of strength. Balancing these responsibilities involves making deliberate choices and managing time effectively. It’s about dedicating myself wholeheartedly to both aspects of my life—modeling and motherhood—while maintaining a clear focus on what truly matters: the well-being and happiness of my family.
Can you share any specific moments or experiences in your modeling career that have been particularly rewarding or memorable? What achievements are you most proud of?
Throughout my modeling career, there have been numerous rewarding and unforgettable moments that I hold close to my heart. However, what I’m most proud of is the consistent growth and the fulfillment of the goals I set for myself.
Walking the runway for esteemed names like Tommy Hilfiger and being part of projects like Project Runway have been surreal experiences that have exceeded my wildest dreams. Each opportunity to showcase my talent on an international stage has been a monumental achievement and a testament to the dedication and hard work I’ve invested in my career.
But beyond these incredible milestones, what truly fills me with pride is the continuous growth I’ve experienced. From envisioning these accomplishments to actually manifesting them, I’ve remained committed to my goals, turning aspirations into reality.
The ability to evolve, adapt, and keep reaching new heights in an industry as competitive as modeling is what I cherish the most. Each step forward, each new opportunity seized, represents not just a career milestone but a personal triumph. These moments serve as a constant reminder that with determination, perseverance, and dedication, dreams do come true.
Representation and diversity in the modeling industry have been important topics in recent years. How do you see your role as a plus-size Hispanic model contributing to the broader conversation about inclusivity in the fashion world?
As a plus-size Hispanic model, I aim to challenge beauty norms and promote diversity in the fashion industry. By confidently representing my body and heritage, I break barriers and advocate for inclusivity. I use my platform to amplify marginalized voices, collaborate with brands prioritizing diversity, and inspire others to embrace their uniqueness. My goal is to foster acceptance and create a more inclusive fashion landscape for everyone.
What advice would you give to aspiring models, especially those who come from underrepresented backgrounds or face difficult circumstances? How can they navigate the industry’s challenges and stay true to their dreams?
My advice to aspiring models, especially those from underrepresented backgrounds facing challenges, is to stay true to yourself. Pursue modeling because it’s your passion. When you love something, you infuse it with life, dedicate time and attention to it, and naturally find the resources needed to progress on your path. Stay committed to your dreams and authenticity; that’s the key to navigating challenges in the industry.
Looking back at your journey, what would you say to individuals who may be facing adversity and contemplating whether to pursue their passions? What lessons have you learned that you would like to share with others?
For those facing adversity while contemplating their passions, I strongly advocate pursuing what ignites your soul. A vital lesson I’ve learned is to discern advice, avoiding counsel from those who lack self-love. Celebrate each milestone on your journey, big or small. Remember, success correlates with the effort you invest. If you aim for the top, devote yourself wholeheartedly to your career.
Cover Image Series
Photographer: Ace Amir @spadesstudio2 Stylist: Ayumi Perry @ayumiperry Stylist: Fet Hilario @rufiopierce Makeup Artist: Stefanie Lamm-siu @anie_lamm_siu
Photographer: Carly Tice @bycarlytice Stylist Ada Victoria: @adavictoriachoaarce Makeup Artist: Andrea Wilson @andreawilson_hair