Jchell: Where are you from?
Sheila: I’m a valley girl. Anyone from South Texas will know what that means. I was born and raised in Brownsville, Texas which is a border town, very rich in Mexican culture. I moved to Austin, TX for school in 2005 and I’ve been here for over 10 years. I love it!
Jchell: Where did you attend high school/college?
Sheila: My high school was Lopez High School. Our mascot was a lobo, which is Spanish for wolf. I’d like to think I have some of that ferocious spirit. I graduated and attended the University of Texas for film school, which may seem far from what I am doing now, but I think that’s where I get my visual aesthetic. As a filmmaker, you have to think about the mise-en-scène, everything within the frame. The same applies to photography. As a model, I feed off the energy of the photographer and collaborate. We think about wardrobe, props, jewelry, location, and all the elements that bring a scene to life.
Jchell: What are some of your main interests and hobbies?
Sheila: I love writing. I think that’s what sets me apart. I blog about my experiences being a plus-size model, positive body image advocate, and fashionista. I am a pretty open book. I guess an unknown fact about me is that I love cooking. My culture is rich with delicious food and I love feeding people. It’s a way of showing how much you love someone, feeding their body and their soul.
Jchell: How long have you been modeling?
Sheila: I did my first photoshoot back in February 2014. I was entering this plus-size modeling competition based in Atlanta, GA. Since then, I have been featured in magazines for publications and became a brand ambassador for Arista Active Wear. It’s a brand that creates active wear from a range of sizes including plus-sizes. It started out with its focus on pole fitness wear. When I joined their new body diversity campaign for their new fantasy line, you can see how the pieces translate well into everyday fashion. I absolutely love the leggings. http://www.artistaactivewear.com/
Jchell: Are you an independent or agency model?
Sheila: I am an independent model. All bookings are done by contacting me via email. I am working on developing a website that encompasses my portfolio and blog. As for being signed with an agency, that’s the next step.
Jchell: What was it like starting out as a model?
Sheila: I feel like it was just yesterday, but so much has happened since then. I was very nervous to put myself out there. And, I have faced rejection. That was the hardest part, getting into a mindset where I would be okay with that. Body positivity helped me deal with rejection. I am still worthy and valuable even if my submission is rejected. It is not a measure of my worth as a model or a woman.
Jchell: Have you been published in any magazines?
Sheila: Yes, I have been featured a few times in Curvy Connect Magazine. I was their cover girl for their February 2016 Boudoir Edition. That photo is one of my favorites. https://issuu.com/curvyconnectmag/docs/ccm_feb16_final
Jchell: Besides modeling, have you done any acting?
Sheila: Does a grade school play count? I would love to venture off into acting. It’s something that I am looking toward and there are opportunities in Austin, TX for that, lots of independent and big budget films are shot here.
Jchell: Let's talk about your beauty regimen: How do you keep your hair and skin looking healthy?
Sheila: I recently got a cute short haircut with bangs. I walked into the salon and literally showed the stylist a picture of Kerry Washington with a similar hair style. She got the point. Since I dye my hair often, my hair can get damaged so I get it trimmed or cut for new growth. I also use keratin based hair products to help smooth out my hair and protect it. As for my skin, I often use Korean beauty products as I find they are less harsh on my skin.
Jchell: What are your favorite fashion trends you love?
Sheila: I love the whole boho chic look, like a flowy print maxi dress that I can dress up or down. I think pieces like that can translate so well from daytime to nighttime. I also love leggings paired with tunic dresses or t-shirt dresses.
Jchell: Every girl has a special “can't live without this” in her closet, what's yours?
Sheila: It has to be a wrap dress. I just love the way wrap dresses look on my figure. It accentuates my curves in all the right places.
Jchell: Who is your favorite photographer(s)?
Sheila: I would have to say Shellie from Solight Photography. She has taken all my pictures that have been published. She’s based here in Austin, TX and I absolutely love her. I think it’s like a special bond and connection we have. When I work with Shellie, I know I am going to be well taken care of and the pictures will be amazing.
Jchell: Knowing what you know, what advice would you give to other models trying to establish themselves?
Sheila: Start taking pictures. Look for a local professional photographer in your area and look at their portfolio. Use those pictures to build your portfolio, submit into magazines, take to casting calls, and use them on social media. Get your name out there.
Also, be open to working with new people and traveling. I am taking a trip to NYC in mid-September to work with a few different photographers. I have another photoshoot in December for the Project Mermaid Tour in San Diego, CA.
Lastly, be yourself, be authentic. You’re already a beautiful and talented person. If they pick someone else, that’s okay. There are other opportunities around the corner, believe me.
Jchell: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Sheila: To anyone that reads this article and is thinking about modeling, blogging, acting, or even just trying something new, go for it! I struggled with low self-esteem and body image issues at a young age and that carried into my adult hood. I really wish I had discovered body positivity earlier in life, but I am here now and I hope that what I am doing is making a difference. I don’t just take pretty pictures. My goal is for you to see a woman like me, full-figured Latina, and see the celebration of curvy/plus-size bodies, the way they move in the world.
You can connect with model Sheila on the following social media outlets:
Facebook fan page: Jchell Plus Size Model On Deck