MelissaRoshan (“MelRo”) Potter’s life began in violence. She is the product of the rape of a 13-year-old girl. Upon her birth, the Latina experienced a series of comparable brutality: a childhood filled with physical abuse, early teen years bouncing between emotionally, sexually and physically abusive foster homes and older teen days escaping intimate partner violence while homeless with an infant.
At 17, MelRo came across a teen parenting homeless shelter that had just one bed available. She, for the first time in a long time, felt lucky. The part-Cuban, part-Puerto Rican, part-African American mujer became determined to make a better life, if just for her son. The transformation, however, happened sooner than she imagined. When shopping for diapers one day, a woman approached MelRo, asking if she had ever considered modeling. She didn’t know it then, but this stranger at a drugstore would play the role of fairy godmother in her own Latina Cinderella tale.
Before she knew it, MelRo was traveling the country, walking in fashion shows and smiling for photo shoots. But despite her sudden celebrity, financial independence and glamorous new vida, she was deeply depressed. Never healing from, or even dealing with, decades of violence and trauma, MelRo attempted to commit suicide. It was after this moment that she realized make-up could only cover up pain, not heal it.
Today, the Seattle, Washington-native is using modeling, and the popularity she has received from it, to show up for issues that directly impacted her own life, being a spokeswoman for Children’s Rights, an organization reforming child welfare systems, and writing and advocating for causes like foster care reform, teen dating violence and more.
Get further acquainted with this powerful, inspiring and beautiful mujer ahead!
Where were you in life at the time you were “discovered” at a drug store?
Gosh, when I dial back to where I was at that time, I still have to pinch myself. I was literally homeless, living in a teen parenting homeless shelter with my baby son.
After that day, you became a model almost over night, quickly walking on runways and heading photo shoots. How did this make you feel, going from the girl whose life literally started from abuse, which continued as you grew up, to becoming the girl that people actually envied and wanted to be?
I never stopped feeling honored or grateful, because I knew where I'd come from. But there was also a while there that I felt like I wasn't worthy to be a model. There was a time that, even though I had an aesthetic quality that allowed me to become one of those "super human" type people, I still didn't feel good enough to do it. In my younger years, I hadn't yet dealt with all the inner mess that I accrued from my abusive past, and that constantly left me in a state of not quite believing I was worthy enough.
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