EXCLUSIVE: Transgender model Valentina Sampaio advises all to keep fighting, says ‘our life is important and unique’

23-year-old Brazilian model, Valentina Sampaio, is an inspiration for many. She is the first transgender model to be featured in Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue, which will be released on July 21. Besides, she has become the first openly trans model to collaborate with world-popular brand Victoria Secret. This is not just it; there are innumerable achievements like these that make her one of a kind.

Excerpts from the interview:

Victoria Secret is one of the biggest fashion brands in the world. Tell us how you were approached and how did you land the gig?

Valentina Sampaio: VS’s (Victoria Secret) team reached me trough my Instagram profile and asked me to pass by their headquarters in New York to make a casting.

At that time I was working in Milano and obviously couldn’t go to them. So we ended up having a Skype video call. To be honest, I can’t hide to you that I was super excited yet super nervous. Working for them has always been a dream for me, which I fortunately accomplished.

Tell us a little about your journey.

Valentina Sampaio: I come from a small fisherman village in the northeast part of Brazil close to Fortaleza – the capital of state of Cearà.

I had a happy childhood growing up there, surrounded by my big family (we are 7 brothers), friends and an amazing landscape. I went to a fashion designing high school and started modeling. During that phase, I met my agent, who took me to New York and my career took a huge turn thereon.

What were the biggest challenges you had to face during your growing up years?

Valentina Sampaio: As I told you my childhood was kind of happy and normal. I know I’ve been very lucky and I’m grateful for that. Having said that, my challenges started with the high school because I was very focused on my studies and wanted to become a famous fashion designer. But destiny had some other plans for me and I ended up becoming a model (lol).

In many of your interviews, you have stated that your parents have always been supportive but you do understand many don’t have that privilege. What would your advice be to them?

Valentina Sampaio: I will never stop being grateful to God and my family for everything they have given me. But I am well aware that things are not as easy for everyone. My only advice to them is to keep fighting and be yourself. Our life is so important and unique that we have to make the best possible out of it.

Was there ever anything hateful that was said to you which perhaps strengthened you from within?

Valentina Sampaio: We live in a world full of haters, especially in times of social media. In my career, I have received a lot of awful comments and for sure I will receive a lot more. But as I told you, life is one and is too important to be wasted on haters, I do not care about them anymore. Irrespective of what they say or will say, I will continue living my life and fight to make this world a better place. I want to walk straight, unaffected by the hate comments, to reach my happy place.

In many press meetups, you stated that you were never bullied because of your sexuality but were you or are you always confident about who you are especially in a world that is rife with so many different parameters of perfection?

Valentina Sampaio: I’ve told that I was not bullied in my childhood but I’ve never talked about how my life and journey hasn’t been a cakewalk, especially when I started this job. From the beginning of my career, I faced a lot of difficulties just for who I am and lost a lot of jobs when the clients got to know about my sexuality. Even today, though I am famous than before, a lot of time in my business, even if people do not tell me directly, I can feel it that I will not catch the job due to my sexuality.

I believe that things are definitely changing but I think we are still at the very beginning of the process and a lot more still must be done and achieved.

Finally, what would your definition of beauty be? And what would your message be to those who are trying to grapple with their sexuality?

Valentina Sampaio: In my opinion, beauty is the strength to be yourself. Beauty for me is not only something related to your looks but also your soul. And if your soul is free to express itself, then you are beautiful.

Subscribe to our newsletter
Subscribe to our newsletter
Sign up here to get the latest news delivered directly to your inbox.
You can unsubscribe at any time