‘LL: What inspired your campaign, “There’s no wrong way to be a woman”? What do you want it to accomplish?
Denise: I kept being asked, ‘What’s different about being a curvy woman?’ It was always an “us” vs. “them” thing. I thought it was so unnecessary. We’re all women fighting this battle of self acceptance and self love. I showed women of all backgrounds that they can do absolutely anything. We all need to learn to be a little rebellious. I always say if I would have let what I was supposed to do run my life, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
‘LL: How does it feel to know that your work is being recognized by others like the National Association of Hispanic Journalists?
Denise: I received the NAHJ Latina Innovator Award and I’m super excited! It’s an honor especially when you’re doing it just to be a good human. I’ve really fought hard to stay true to myself. Any philanthropic efforts fuel my fire. Helping someone flourish that’s a big step. We’ve gotten such a huge response from women across the world, the LGBT community, it’s really stripping all boundaries.
‘LL: You’ve helped make curvy women fashionable. What other barriers do you want to break in modeling?
Denise: I want to encourage diversity in a real way. People keep saying it but I want to see it more on the pages. As a half Latina, half Middle Eastern woman and they don’t know where to put me. There’s usually only one spot for the curvy girl. I can’t wait to see not just one spot but a space for all. Everyone mixed together, not just for a PR stunt. Educate each other and the industry we’re in. It’s a constant conversation that needs to be happening.
‘LL: What would people be surprised to know about you?
Denise: I’m extremely goofy and clumsy. There hasn’t’ been a client yet that hasn’t seen me fall.
‘LL: What’s your definition of a ‘LLERO?
Denise: I love manners. I love a guy who will hold the door open for me, pull out the chair. That’s one of the few things, say “please” and “thank you”, treat the waiter at the restaurant nicely. I’m all about character. And I’m a sucker for a good conversation and smile, a sexy well-mannered man.
‘LL: What’s the best/worst part about Latino men?
Denise: I’m a sucker for a man who knows how to dance. I’m learning to dance a little better. If I could find a man to do a tango with me…it would be great. My least favorite thing? I don’t have one. I think everyone has their flaws. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
‘LL: What’s next for you?
Denise: I’m working on a few different projects: a book, speaking engagements and a school tour. I’m also going to be auditioning for TV and acting gigs. I want to transition this campaign to a bigger empire. So many people reach out to me and send me their stories. We’re trying to come up with a good platform. That is a priority.