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5 Reasons Supermodel Joan Smalls Slays

(Image: Elle Magazine)

(Image: Elle Magazine)

Supermodel Joan Smalls Rodriguez is having a great year. The Puerto Rican-born beauty has achieved tremendous success, much of which happened before her 25th cumpleaños.

After leaving her family in Puerto Rico to pursue a modeling career at 19, Smalls got her big break in January 2010 when she walked exclusively for Givenchy during the couture shows. The fresh-faced model has since walked for Fendi, Prabal Gurung and Stella McCartney, among others; served as the face for major advertising campaigns, including Gucci, Ralph Lauren and Roberto Cavalli, and even picked up a hosting gig as co-host of MTV’s House of Style alongside fellow supermodel Karlie Kloss.

The Victoria’s Secret model made news recently for appearing in superstar Beyoncé’s video for her new song “YONCE,” with models Chanel Iman and Jourdan Dunn. Smalls’ appearance was the icing on the cake in my admiration for the NYC-based model. Here are my top five reasons Ms. Smalls is doing the damn thing:

She knows her history

Smalls will tell you she’s Latina. “I’m a little bit of everything,” said Smalls to W magazine in 2012. “Sometimes people think I’m not Puerto Rican, because my name doesn’t sound Spanish.” Many Afro-Latinas can relate, but love how Smalls is grounded in her identity and is not afraid to discuss.

In another interview, Smalls said: “I just want to continue to break barriers and to show the industry and the world that beauty is diverse, and you don’t have to be a certain stereotype to be beautiful,” she said to CNN. “When you look at the world, the world isn’t just one palette. It’s a beautiful rainbow, and why not have someone to represent that rainbow?”

Let ‘em know!

First in line

Smalls became the first Latina face of Estee Lauder’s global marketing campaigns in 2011.

Brains and beauty

The sought-after model is more than a pretty face. She graduated magna cum laude from the InterAmerican University of Puerto Rico.

She’s a business, [wo]man

Coming in at No. 8, Smalls made Forbes’ highest-paid models list in 2013. She’s new to the list and I’d expect her to be recognized again, and again.

Upward trajectory

Smalls has gone from catalog model to runway slayer to popular cover girl. Magazine readers are used to Hollywood heavyweights and celebs gracing covers, but Elle is taking us back to the original fashion template and placing a top model, Smalls, on the January 2014 cover . She talks about her career and the industry’s diversity issue in the upcoming issue, which hits news stands on December 17. Smalls has covered various international Vogue editions, and glossies like i-D, Harper’s Bazaar (Brazil, Bulgaria and UK editions), and W magazine.

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