I met Diandra Forrest a few years ago when I first moved to New York City through mutual friends. I still remember being so captivated when her presence I was when my eyes met hers. I tried not to be rude, but it was impossible not to stare. Her features spoke sweet tales of beauty and grace. Her high cheek bones, full African lips, pale skin, bright blonde hair drew my attention, but her soft and welcoming personality was what really struck me. After running into each other a few times at friends' parties, we exchanged numbers and kept in touch throughout the years.
Being a fan of Diandra's modeling, I followed her journey as she continued to grow. And each time I saw her accomplish something amazing, I felt like her success was mine. After learning a bit about Diandra's background as a black girl with albanism growing up in the Bronx who had to deal with bullying because she looked different, I felt strongly connected to her victory. There's something about a woman overcoming her fears, and stepping over boundaries that really gets me going. Maybe it was her bravery. Or the way she glances around timidly before she decides to open up. Or how she hugs everyone, and actively listens to other people's stories when she meets them. I also admire how she's proud of being a Bronx girl and casually mentions her "ratchetness". (I'm still getting used to that word.)
I cheered on when I saw her in Beyonce's video, Pretty Hurts. I teared up when I saw her TED talk on beauty and her upbringing. And I continue to root for her as she strengthen her humanitarian efforts on raising awareness on albanism with various organizations. Recently, Diandra and I reconnected because we are both headed to Bermuda Fashion Festival, an annual week long fashion event produced by the city of Hamilton. We spent a few hours in Harlem to discuss the exciting week ahead. She was as excited as I was to hit the colorful, sunny Bermudian streets. I told her about my experience from last year, the connections I'd made, and how I expected to be even more fun this time around!
I asked Diandra to share four things about herself, and here's what she had to say:
1. Tell us three random things about you that are not so obvious.
When I was 11, I was scolded for littering and ever since then I've been really passionate about taking care of our environment.
When I signed my first modeling contract I cried so hard, I myself was shocked.
I love cards. Birthday cards, thank you cards, get well cards, any kind of cards, I keep them all.
2. When was the last time you cried from laughing so much or being extremely happy.
A few months ago my older sister came to town for the first time in 7 years and it was seriously nonstop laughter between us. Reminiscing, stories about the exes, those are always funny.
3. Do you have "spirit animal"? If so elaborate.
I'd say mine is a cat. They move in silence but are fierce, calm, but will pounce on your ass if they're not in the mood.
4. Tell us about baby Rain, being a new mom and being a kickass fashion model.
Motherhood is completely wonderful! Rain is seriously the best thing that has ever happened to me! When I was pregnant I didn't think that I was ready for a baby. But when I look at her now, I really don't know where I would be in life without her. I thought that my career was going to come to a halt, and I was prepared to make that change for my baby. But her presence in my life has empowered me and blessed me with even more opportunities. She inspires meeveryday to keep learning, perusing my dreams, and working towards making some kind of difference in this world.
I'm just thrilled to return to Bermuda Fashion Festival this year with international models like Diandra, whom I truly admire to bring you all the scoops, and all the the colors I can find! I'll be showing some behind-the-scenes magic, our daily adventures, and of course, expect some style posts! I'm honored to be invited to such an exciting event to tell all the stories I want my way with my very own colors.
Photographer: Joey Rosado