What made you decide to sign on and do this season of The Challenge?
I had actually declined this challenge a few times before I finally gave in. A couple months before shooting this season my father had passed away in Brazil and I wasn't mentally prepared for all the craziness. But my passion for adrenaline and the need to get my mind off my pain finally said yes to participating. As much as I despise the drama in the house, I love doing the crazy stuff we do, and I thought I could use the distraction.
How did you prepare for it?
I didn't. I had my mind set on not doing it, and I literally decided to participate a couple of days before I flew out to Uruguay. I had so much going on in my personal life at the time I thought there was no way I was going to go. But things changed.
What was it like being in Uruguay? What did you do on your off time?
Uruguay was much different then I thought. I expected it to be more like Brazil, my home country, since it is so close to home. But it was much more peaceful and quiet. Our challenge house was right on the water, and I woke up to the most beautiful view of free horses just leaping around by the water- one of the most beautiful images I save in my mind. On my free time, I was either sleeping or eating... lol anything to get my mind off the game and how much I missed home, my family and most of all, my dad. Of course there were always the "fun" (as in crazy) nights when we did not have a challenge the next day, and we all just hung out and tried to come up with theme parties, games, and even a tv show "the latoya and brandon show... and sometimes isaac"... when you don't get to leave a room with 30 other crazies, you have to get creative [Laughs].
What were you doing before this season of The Challenge?
I own a store in South Miami called Clean Start Miami, which keeps me pretty busy. And I was also finishing school at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln with a double major in Journalism and Business. Between being a business owner and a full time student, I had very little room for fun, but I believe in balance so I always tried to make room for those 'once in a lifetime' opportunities like movie awards, vmas, etc. But once my father passed away my whole energy pretty much went to finding ways to support my mother, who is in Brazil, and my younger sister who now lives with me.
What are some of your goals/aspirations for the future?
Oh man, this is a tough one, because there are so many! [Laughs] Since I was a little girl I always told my mom I was going to own hotels, and I believe that hasn't changed. I believe life is all about taking the opportunities one by one, and until I get to my hotels, I want to live the opportunities that have been given to me and use it to help other woman see that everyone can achieve their dreams and ambitions in life as long as you're willing to put your mind and your arms and legs into it.
Living your dreams takes work, but it's definitely worth it. I have a few different projects in the works right now which are super exciting, my new website is coming soon and that will be a good project. Once you lose someone so close to you and dear to your heart you realize that life is so short, and we never know when it will end, so even thought I have a lot plans and dreams, I also think that my best strategy at the moment is to try my best to be the best me that I can and see which shoe fits best.
Tell us about your Latin background.
I am Brasileira! Born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I was adopted by my mom's husband who is Japanese, but also born in Brazil. The thing I miss the most about my Latin roots is the way that we South Americans know how to live -- not just as in being alive, but actually enjoy living life even when you don't have money to eat. I miss the fact that I never needed a fancy dinner in order to enjoy being with my friends and family and still having a good time. I miss the simple barbecues and playing soccer in the streets with all my boy cousins. My mom was a big traveler, and my family lived everywhere in Brazil, and lets not mention that I had A LOT of cousins! A LOT. So I always had family around, my family were my friends and my friends were my family and I feel that is a big part of why I am who I am today. Family is everything to me, and if you are my true friend, you are also like my family.
What was it like growing up in your Latino household?
In one word? Loud. [Laughs] Lots of yelling, lots of talking over each other. I don't know why I swear today because when I was little if I ever cursed I was slapped, didn’t' matter where I was hehe. My mom was very strict, to this day I don’t dare speak loud to her or disrespect her in any way shape of form, she is my best friend. There is so much passion in our family and in Brazilians in general, and even though sometimes we let our tempers get the best of us in certain situations, we know who we can trust and who we cant, and we are always willing to make peace- at least that's how I was raised. But the thing I remember the most is the love. There was so much love. I never needed to seek love from friends or boys, I knew I could just come home and I would be loved. It didn’t matter what I did, didn't matter where we lived, didn't matter how much money we had. The only thing certain in my crazy Latin family is the love we had for each other and nothing in this world can replace that feeling.
What is your favorite Latin dish?
Rice, beans, beef and polenta frita. This just made me hungry!
Who are some notable Latinos that you look up/admire?
I love Shakira. I think that people underestimate her as an artist, and the fact that she got to where she is on her own, and that she keeps improving and getting more and more done makes me truly appreciate her and her work. She is a good example of what I said before -- when you want something enough, you find a way to make it happen.
Anything else you would like to add that we haven’t discussed?
I couldn't be more proud to be Brazilian. When I first moved to America I felt very left out, and felt that I was never going to fit in because I was so different. I always wanted to speak my mind when people believed I should just be quiet, or I would get in trouble even though I had good intentions in school, just little things like that made me feel very misunderstood as a teenager, but it also helped me learn that's the beauty of the world, the different cultures is what makes us one because we have to learn from each other and even without knowing we are always teaching something to others just by being ourselves and being different by nature. I love that I have the opportunity to have other teenagers relate to me in that sense, because I believe that we should never forget where we come from, but that it can also be very good for us to adapt to the environment that is called world by learning to deal with the different situations that life, especially as a foreigner throws at you. I love being the black swan in the lake, being Latin makes me different and I love different.
The Challenge: Free Agents airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on MTV!