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.