HHD: You’ve been modeling for about 16 years now, that’s a great deal of time. What is the most important lesson you learned from your modeling career?
CM: I had some time off so it wasn’t consecutive 16 years. I actually learned more from the time when I didn’t model but still had those dreams to model. I stopped modeling because I had a son and he was diagnosed with autism. That showed me that things happen on their own time. Seeing the other girls go through it when I can’t and seeing my body change — I was just growing with them, just not in the industry. I’ve learned a lot about patience. I’ve learned a lot about perseverance. I’ve learned a lot about timing. Of course, I learned about loving my own body the way it is.
HHD: You took time off from modeling to birth and care of your son. How difficult was it for you to exit and then re-enter the modeling world?
CM: It was tough and it is still very difficult because most models can pick up and go. Modeling is very unpredictable — you can be really busy one week and another week you can be having nothing to do. Models with no kids, it’s easier for them to pick up and go to another city.
HHD: What has been your most favorite photo shoot or runway show and why?
CM: My favorite runway show, no question has to be Rip the Runway. The energy of the show is really, really live. There are so many different kind of models and they walk their different kind of ways. My favorite photoshoot has to be a shoot I did for Glamour. That’s the only photoshoot I had that they closed down the city streets. That was exciting, it gave me a little rush.
HHD: Your son is autistic and you volunteer with Autism Speaks. What difference has Autism Speaks made in the lives of you and your son?
CM: With them, they’re nationwide, so they do a lot of things in the community. Particularly in New York they have a lot of networking events. These are top notch people in the industry when it comes to schools and therapy. The founder of Autisms Speaks is Bob Wright and he’s the CEO of NBC. They’ve given me an opportunity to meet people that I would have never met.
HHD: Do you consider yourself an urban model? Why or why not?
CM: I don’t like to give myself any title but people give me urban. I would like to say that I’m just a model. But people do say I’m urban because Im curvier. Even a plus-size model that’s squarish, you know, doesn’t have the butt or the curves, they don’t say she’s urban. They just say she’s a plus-size model.
HHD: Who are your favorite rappers and why?
CM: A favorite rap group would be Tribe Called Quest. I love KRS-One.
HHD: What do you find special about hip hop?
CM: I love classic hip hop, that is like my favorite. I love 90’s hip hop. I love everything about classic hip hop.
HHD: How was your personal experience as a presenter at the Urban Music Awards this year?
CM: It was very exciting. I was extremely excited to present anything. But when I got there I was supposed to present for the best video, I think it was. But there was a little confusion backstage, but it was all to my benefit. At the end of the day I was able to present the legendary award to Grandmaster Flash. I was ecstatic! That was really surreal to me to present him that award. He deserved it.
HHD: What projects do you have coming up?
CM: In September my son and myself will be featured in The Source magazine. I’m looking into getting into acting. I’ve been reading a lot of scripts.
HHD: What is your definition of a hip hop diva?
CM: To know the music, embrace the music, love the music, and understand its history. I would consider myself a hip hop diva because if I go to a hip hop concert I’m not worried about wearing something tight or heels. I’m in the crowd. I’m popping my head. I’m signing along. To me hip hop comes before all that classy, I’m a diva, I got my wig on. When I go to a hip hop concert I’m totally transformed into the music and I’m appreciating it.
Check out Christina Mendez out at www.christinamendez.com.