Award-winning actress, history-making supermodel, staunch philanthropist, conscientious activist, author, and loving mom Patricia Velásquez applies an eternal creative spirit to everything she does—whether it be starring in blockbusters a la The Curse of La Llorona or launching the Wayúu Tayá Foundation. Regardless, she makes major strides by drawing on instinct and deliberately paving her own path.
“I look at my career as a long staircase,” she says. “I took every single step up. It was amazing to do so, because there has been longevity. I just put my head down, moved one step at a time, and never stopped.”
The metaphor directly resembles a formative experience. Born in Venezuela but raised in France and Mexico, she relocated to Venezuela after a handful of years. In South America, her parents worked in education and moved the family into a crowded apartment building with no water and inoperable elevators. In order to supply water for the unit, Patricia often carried heavy buckets up fifteen flights of stairs.
In between studying engineering and intense dance training, she endeavored to help the family however possible. Scouted to model in Milan, the multitalented artist’s ascent to the top of the fashion world hinged on a promise to those she loved. She recalls, “When they asked me to go to Italy, I said, ‘If can send thirty dollars a month back to Venezuela, it’s worth it, because that will pay for the whole building’s water’.”
Patricia’s success represented a turning point in fashion as she drew industry attention to South America for the first time. She experienced a big break upon becoming “the first model Karl Lagerfeld ever photographed” and going on to walk in shows, star in editorial spreads, and front ads for Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Chloe, Cover Girl, and Victoria’s Secret, to name a few. Resonating around the globe, she appeared in Oprah and Ford Models’ “Supermodel of the World” contest as well. Not to mention, she graced the covers of Vogue, Bazaar, Marie Claire, and many others. She artfully channeled her dance training during shoots.
Simultaneously, she ignited an impressive acting career. Not only did she star in The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, but she also appeared on The L Word, Arrested Development, CSI: Miami, Ugly Betty, and Rescue Me. In 2006, she made her stage debut by starring in School of the Americas—produced by Academy® Award winner Philip Seymour Hoffman and written by José Rivera at New York’s famed Public Theater.
However, Patricia kicks off a bold new chapter in 2019 by starring in The Curse of La Llorona.
“The movie is really important to me,” she goes on. “It’s a timeless independent folk tale, and I was honored to be a part of it. I fell in love with the story and really got into the character.”
Throughout her career, she capitalized on every opportunity to give back. In 2002, she founded the Wayúu Tayá Foundation. This non-profit preserves the culture of indigenous groups throughout Latin America by way of support and the drastic improvement of living conditions. UNESCO invited her to be a celebrity advocate, and the United Nations granted her the 2009 Women Together Award. Other honors include the 2010 Solidarity Award, the 2015 La Femme Film Festivals’ Humanitarian Award, and the 2018 Visibility Award from The Human Rights Campaign. 2018 saw the Organization for American States (OAS) appoint her as Goodwill Ambassador for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of the Americas in Washington, D.C. An outsider empathy continues to inform this myriad of charitable efforts.
“Going from France to Mexico to Venezuela and moving so much, I always felt like an outsider,” she admits. “I could identify with indigenous communities because of this shared sensibility. One thing that kept bringing me back home and made me feel protected was knowing that I was indigenous. It keeps me grounded, so I do whatever I can to help.”
As a published author, she penned a powerful and page-turning autobiography entitled, Straight Walk: A Supermodel’s Journey to Finding her Truth. Released in 2015, it details her unbelievable career up that point..
In the end, Patricia’s creativity always leaves a lasting impression.
“I’ve realized you can do the work you love, and the results can manifest on many different levels,” she concludes. “You can take those things, turn them around, and create something environmentally friendly, sustainable, new, or beneficial to the world. Everything feeds off each other. It all comes from the same creative place.”
Patricia is Member Leadership Council of The Global Alliance for a Sustainable Planet.