Model, Blogger, writer and entrepreneur. Awanda Pérez is the founder of MINOIRE models, the first agency specialized in the management of ethnic models in Madrid. An effective tool to combat racism inherent in the fashion industry and, in particular, in Spanish society. Awanda’s revolutionary agency is dissecting race and beauty policies, providing a refreshing and much needed alternative to the world of contemporary fashion. Giving a progressive response to this problem, Awanda believes that, in order to address the issue of diversity, the only way forward is to initiate racial awareness through a visible and critical discourse on issues of race and diversity, a perspective that she feels missing from the dialogue of Spanish society.
We talked to Awanda about her goals for MINOIRE Models and asked her what her main influences and motivations are when it comes to promoting the politics of race, diversity and beauty in the public sphere of cultural awareness within the world of fashion and beyond.
Q.- To begin, we would like to know what prompted you to found MINOIRE Models?
A.- My inspiration to create MINOIRE came from the need to reflect and cover an existing reality in Spain, in this case in the fashion trend and, specifically, racial diversity on the Spanish catwalks.
Q.- In addition to being the founder of the agency, she also exercises as a booker and image of the agency itself, what do you look for when casting or when you walk down the street and discover a “new face”?
A.- Well they usually come to us, but in a casting, at MINOIRE we usually seek authenticity and naturalness. In reality, you know it when you see it. It’s that something that attracts you to look at and then you tell yourself, yes, it can work. But, it’s also very important. MINOIRE is a growing family, and in which we support each other to give our best.
Q.- How is it a day in Awanda’s life??
A.- A day in Awanda’s life!! It is a whirlwind. I don’t have a certain time to go to sleep as it goes from the activities you have. But, with regards to work, I wake up, I look at the most urgent emails and WhatsApp messages while I prepare a tea. Then I look at the agenda and start the marathon of meetings and then attend an event related to my work. In the midst of all this, I update and check social media, without neglect the different collaborations that I also model with other brands.
Q.- If you could redefine the standards of beauty, what would be your definition?
R.- It is complex to give a definition of something so broad and diverse according to cultures. We are borderless, we come and go from one side of the world to another with a previously unimaginable ease. That also makes what is meant by beautiful also be expanded. As for fashion, I see it as hesitous, indefinitely and with some ambiguity in terms of gender.
Q.- Outside our borders, especially in the U.S., we’re seeing a boom in black culture in all its odds, and proof of that is Netflix’s bet. Also in the fashion industry, we have seen an increase in ethnic models such as Adut Akech, Anok, Yai, Adesuwa aisghewi or Linesy Montero, Do you consider this increase as a trend or an inevitable reality?
A.- Both. I think one thing leads to another. On the one hand, this is the reality that marks a tendency to show what exists. Factors that people feel or have to be with, create that need and then become a trend. What is clear is that, today, society is increasingly aware of the importance of diversity in tastes.
Q.- Focusing on the Spanish territory, how is the impact on the thoughts and paradigms of those more “traditional” in the hiring of black models. How do these thought processes be changed so that people automatically consider “Diversity” rather than more of the same?
A.- How do you change? Well, with a lot of work, hahahaha. It’s more of a matter of them knowing we’re here. If they don’t know you’re here, they won’t consider you. And I think the same thing happens on almost any project. To be able to count on you, it is necessary to show up and then gradually to teach your worth as a professional. It takes time, but I am totally convinced that it is worth living every day as if it were the last and knowing that with your work you contribute something to you that will come after us.
Q.- Finally, if there was an opportunity to get everyone on this planet to hear a single sentence of yours, what would you say?
A.- Never forget your natural essence, she is never wrong.