Model Diaries: Diane Guerrero
Poised, absolutely stunning and glowing with a refreshing sense of optimism and confidence, Diane Guerrero graces the Cover of this month’s Modeliste. Her way of carrying herself seems to arise not only from self-protectiveness but also from a certainty of her worth.
In her book, In the Country We Love: My Family Divided, Diane shares the compelling story of her childhood with immigrant parents from Colombia who initially entered the US on a visitor visa but became undocumented, working toward legal permanent residency, working menial jobs and their struggles always living with anxiety and fear. Diane’s story is that of love and loss, trauma, hope and utilizing education as opportunity overcoming mind boggling obstacles.
When Diane was born July 21, 1986, in the US she received citizenship guaranteed by the 14th Amendment, but her parents were tenuous and their lives in the underground community, moving, seeking work. First her mother was deported, she returned and eventually, when Diane was 14, May 17, 2001, both parents were taken while she was at school and deported. No one ever checked that their daughter, a US citizen, was left without a family.
Her saga reveals a resiliency through the emotional trauma of separation, the opportunity provided by Boston Arts Academy high school. Her opportunities grew and she was able to begin college to pursue a law degree. But her heart was in performance, singing and acting.
“Emotional wellness is a First World Luxury.Living in Underground reality but ambitious following dream. Cycle of poverty and low expectations, American Dream feels pretty unreachable, kids give up on themselves.”
In 2010 she discovered, “you don’t choose your life’s work, it chooses you. When she finally gave in to the major pull the performing arts has always had on me… she found that was all she could think of, excitement in life.
Modeliste Editor-in-Chief, Amy McCabe had the distinct pleasure of chatting with Diane, and this is what she learned.
Modeliste: Your personal story told in your remarkable book, In the Country We Love: My Family Divided, documents your childhood as the American born daughter of undocumented immigrants from Colombia, their deportation when you were 14, your struggles and challenges. Your story is so compelling and revealing and particularly relevant in this emotional time of family separations at our southern borders and the plight of the children.
Would you like to comment on your extraordinary personal journey and your remarkable resilience that has lead to your success?
Diane: Everyone has the ability to make the most of a difficult situation. Some have more help than others. I persevered in times when I didn’t have help. And I recognized help when it presented itself. It’s my hope that we can provide more help to those in need to empower them to achieve their own success.
Modeliste: What do you hope your story does for people and what messages can people expect to receive from the book? You are an inspiration to so many in similar circumstances. Do you have any words to share with Modeliste readers and the children taken from their parents?
Diane: I’ve only ever hoped that my story brings to light the humanity at the core of the immigration problems in our country and around the world. Immigration is not just an “issue.” It’s a reality that millions of people face as they try to improve their lives, as well as when economies grow and there is increased demand for work. At the center of all of that are individual lives, and I just want people to recognize that as we work out a solution.
Modeliste: You also wrote in your book that back in 2010 you discovered the concept that – “You don’t choose your life’s work, it chooses you.” What inspired you to get into acting?
Diane: What inspired me to get into acting was the recognition that I’m a storyteller. I wanted to represent the truth. As a child who had to hide who she was, I’ve always aspired to tell the truth – whether that was mine or someone else’s. I’ve always wanted to be free.
Modeliste: As you inspire others to follow their dreams, can you share your tools or strategies to maintain your spirit and optimism, even with setbacks?
Diane: Nothing is really a setback. It’s all notes. It all goes toward the constant improvement process. I think about moments of triumph and I know that they’re attainable; just because you’re not batting 1000 doesn’t mean you won’t hit a couple home runs.
Modeliste: You landed a role for the show Orange is the New Black which has become a huge hit. What was your favorite part about being part of the show?
Diane: I love being in a show that tells real stories about real women, these stories reflect our community. I loved being in a cast of so many talented women.
Modeliste: What is the last book you read?
Diane: Rebecca Solnit, Mother of All Questions
Modeliste: How would you describe yourself to people who don’t know you?
Diane: I’m spontaneous – I hate planning and I won’t remember your birthday. But I love my family and friends and I guess I’m sometimes also kind of quiet and understated.
Modeliste: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Diane: I really enjoy my time at home. I like having my friends over – I am the “Hostess with the Most-ess”!
Modeliste: Watching your work and appreciating your journey is so impressive. What is the most memorable career moment that you’ve had so far?
Diane: I don’t think I’ll have that until much later in my career.
Modeliste: What is the one word that you live by?
Diane: Curiouser and curiouser
Modeliste: What is the coolest thing that you’ve ever done in your life?
Diane: Saying yes to myself – allowing myself to pursue my dreams.
Modeliste: What is your favorite fashion trend of all time?
Diane: I don’t love fashion trends. I believe we should wear whatever we want – I just love fashion and self-expression.
Modeliste: What is your must-have beauty product?
Diane: My Fenty Glow Lipgloss. Smells like candy.
Modeliste: What is an emoji that best encapsulates who you are?
Diane: The drooling one.
Modeliste: You have an adorable pup named Penny! How would you describe Penny in 3 words.
Diane: Best. Pup. Ever.
Modeliste: You also cut your hair short this year- was that a hard decision for you or do you enjoy switching up your style?
Diane: I enjoy switching up my style; I love trying new things. I’m never stuck to one version of myself.
Modeliste: What do you like to do when you’re not working?
Diane: Not work. At all.
Modeliste: What is one place you have never been that you would love to travel to?
Modeliste: Best advice you’ve ever received?
Diane: Don’t doubt yourself. If you’re consistently great at 100 things, you may fixate on failing at 1 thing, but we need to remember our consistent greatness.
Modeliste: If you could offer a piece of advice to yourself at age 15, what would it be?
Diane: Educate yourself, and never be afraid to use your voice.
Modeliste: What are your latest projects you’re able to share with us?
Diane: I just got cast on Doom Patrol, a DC Universe comic. I’ll be playing Crazy Jane, who has 64 different personalities and a superpower that comes with each one. I’m excited for the challenge.
Modeliste: What do you love the most about Modeliste magazine?
Diane: The art direction is always absolutely inspiring.
Modeliste: Why are you excited to be our next Cover Star?
Diane: C’mon, who doesn’t want to be a cover star, babyyyyy? But also I want to share with my readers that my book My Family Divided is now available for middle grade readers.
(Modeliste also wants to recommend Diane’s remarkable book. Her voice and her story are significant and inspiring.)
Modeliste: What is something you would like to be remembered for?
Diane: My compassion, my curiosity, and someone who didn’t take NO for an answer.
Modeliste: Why does that matter to you?
Diane: Because I care to be a positive example for others who are constantly told no. People will always say “no,” but we have to be the ones to say yes.