Inspiring Latina of the Week: Model & Autism Advocate Christina Mendez

You are a model, actress, philanthropist, and hostess (just to name a few). How did you fall into this line of work?

When I was in high school, I walked in some local fashion shows to test the waters but my big break came in 2008 when BET had an open call for Rip The Runway and I was selected to walk the catwalk that year.

I wanted to see if I would still like modeling after divorcing my highschool sweetheart, birth of my son, and my son’s autism diagnosis. Much of my life was halted after his diagnosis, but when he started to grown-up, accomplish goals/defying the odds , and begin schooling, I wanted to see if modeling could still be possible.

The rest is history with me modeling for amazing brands such as: Sofia Vergara for Kmart, PZI Jeans, Qristyl Fraizer Designs, Ashley Stewart, Madrag, Cyberswim, Baby Phat, Rocawear, House of Dereon, and more!

What advice would you give to other Latinas who would like to get into the entertainment industry?

The internet is your friend and filled with helpful information to make the leap into the industry. I have a blog called Happy Curvy You where I share tips, real life experiences, motivation, and information on the plus modeling community. 

I would also suggest that Latinas to create their own path – whether it’s writing, dancing, one-woman shows, etc! We are in a world of social media with twitter, facebook, youtube, etc., so we can create dynamic content that will grab attention in a positive, thought-provoking way. We have the power to change the way we have been portrayed in the past!

You're the granddaughter of Meringue King Joseito Mateo. Did he have a special impact on your life?

Unfortunately with me living in New York and him residing in the Dominican Republic, it doesn’t allow us to have the “granddaughter-grandfather” relationship where I can visit on the spur of the moment or weekly. But through many stories my mother and grandmother provide and his frequent visits I’ve learned to admire him and respect all that he’s done for music and the people of the Dominican Republic. Besides his voice and moves, he’s the most humble person I know and has a heart of gold.

Even though we are not as close as I would like, because of how physically far apart we are, I am proud to be apart of his legacy. I’m happy to say that I inherited his moves and love for music as well.