Sunday Style isn't all about photographers and personal style icons; it's about individuals who have style within themselves. They have an understanding about them selves that allows them to express it clearly and exuberantly to the world. Model Sunamys Villalba is certainly one of those people with her fierce and edgy attitude that makes every shoot with her a sure success. But what really sets Sunamys over the top is not only that she is an amazing model on and off set but that she is a freelance model. That means no agency, no middle man, just Sunamys. If you work in the fashion industry and with models then you know how much of a taboo it is to try and become a successful model with no agent like Elite, Ford, or Next behind you. That is what sparked my interest in interviewing Sunamays for the RAUKUS Taboo issue. I thought that her interview was to good to not share here on the blog too. To see more of her work click here.
It seems that your career as a model has really sky rocketed in the past few months with all of your new campaigns, tear sheets, runway shows, and photo shoots. How long have you been modeling?
I have been modeling since I was a little gal, 10 years old. I always found it so empowering to express emotions through pictures, it helped me develop as a person and as a professional model.
Your modeling has such a strong and raw emotional aesthetic to it. In every photo whether you’re modeling for a swimwear line, underwater, or prancing in a meadow you always seem to bring a dark and hauntingly enchanting aura to all of your work. What is your approach in getting ready for a photo shoot?
I am a “do it in the moment” girl. If I feel a certain emotion in the moment, you will notice as I shoot with the Photographer. I like to keep things real, raw, and natural. I don’t think I remember a moment where I had to “practice”, I feed from the Photographer and just get lost in the process, in the moment. I make it as intimate as possible so real emotions get to come out.
|Photo by Natalie Melissa|
You are currently not signed to any agency nor have representation. What are your reasons for choosing to be a freelance versus agency signed model?
I have gotten asked this question a couple of times and absolutely love it when I get asked again, I like to raise awareness. I have gotten asked before to be in an agency and didn’t even think twice before saying No. I find it more empowering when you can do what you love without having to be told what to do, who to shoot with, how to look. I want to look like myself, not what an agency wants me to look like. I have met beautiful people, out of this world Photographers, made connections with great magazines that always call me their “exception” since I am not signed and tell me how most girls signed had no clue how to move on set... it depends on the experience I guess. I like that people see me being real with myself, getting out there with no title. No one should be able tell you that you are not beautiful enough, good enough, talented enough to be signed. I have met a couple of signed models that tell me how I book more gigs than they do and get paid more. But, this was never about the money. This has always been about the passion, about the love of Art, about creating something so beautiful that you forget you have words to describe it. I have also met Photographers that only work with signed models and after they finish working with me they start over-thinking that issue. I am not saying I am the best, but I know I am enough to make some sense into girls that get turned down by agencies over and over again. To all those “I only work with agency model” Photographers, and you know who you are, remember how you got to where you are now, with help from un-signed models. Never forget your roots; never stop doing what you love for the RIGHT reasons. Everyone is beautiful in their own unique way and everyone deserves a chance.
How would you say your career has benefited from remaining a freelance model? How has it hindered your career?
I have fun with what I do, that always helps me benefit from all of my shoots. I get to work with whoever I want, amazing Photographers that in my opinion should be huge by now and I get a good feeling from standing up in what I believe in every day, every un-signed model should too! I have heard before (sadly enough) from certain Photographers that say “A model that is not signed will not bring the desire to build a portfolio as a model that would be signed; they lack the passion and are always late.” I laugh and nod my head every time that I hear that and hope that one day they will wake up from their little cloud 9 and realize how much passion they themselves are lacking and how numb they sound. Fortunately it has not hindered my career, yet, I try to make the best things out of every issue, I try to stay as real as possible, I remember my roots and where I come from and who has helped me get to where I am today. No one is going to tell me that I have to be 6 inch tall to work it and this goes out to other models with the same issue ;)
Who do you look up to for inspiration?
Devon Aoki and Rooney Mara. Not only is Devon Aoki one of the shortest super models in the industry and killing it but she is amazing at speaking up about the issue too. It is beautiful to see people like her make it even with all the negative comments about her height. In the end of the day, Height is a number that determines how tall you are, it isn’t a number that determines how much passion you have. Work those short legs, girls! Stay different and stay proud.
|Photo by Jonathan Ciotti|
I also used to be a freelance model and would notice such a difference in the way that industry people would talk to me when they found out that I wasn’t signed with an agency, almost as though I suddenly wasn’t “worthy”. Do you notice people treat you differently based on the way that you present yourself as a model?
All.of.the.time. And it is so disturbing to see, almost as if you don’t even exist in their world anymore only because of a title. They speak down to you; they make you feel tiny and stoppable. What us short models have that taller models don’t is the drive to do an even better job because we are aware that we are not tall and we are aware of how the industry will treat us. It is a struggle to pursue this career if you do not know how to speak up and defend yourself against negative criticism. I will continue to present myself as a real human being, not as a robot made up human being with a haircut that I never even really liked…
You also have a jewelry line of body chains, slave bracelets, and head pieces. How did you become interested in making jewelry?
I do! It is called Villalba by Sunamys. It involves different pieces for each part of the body, in silver, gold, gun-metal. My mother always encouraged creativity in my family. She always taught us how to love Art and appreciate it. How to be Free and express it. She inspired my collection.
|Photo by Joshua Weaver|
Where do you hope to see yourself in 10 years?
I hope to have a successful career with my jewelry line/Business Industry. I want to keep creating the unknown. Be the voice for some girls that are afraid to speak up in this industry world. I want to keep loving what I do and doing what I love. Life is beautiful and I want to look back after 10 years and say I stay trued to myself from the beginning.