Overcoming many hardships in her formative years enabled Sabrina to develop a strong sense of self. Today, she’s in the Big Apple pursuing her passions in creative expression. Check her out below.
Say hello to Sabrina:
Where are you from? Where have you been?
I was born in Providence, Rhode Island. Right after I was born, my family moved to Waco, Texas where my dad is from and grew up – my mother is from Naples (Gaeta), Italy. My parents had an arranged marriage and my oldest brother was born in Italy while my parents were still living there before moving to America. My dad was in the Navy, stationed in Italy at the time. When I was 7 years old, my parents separated and my mom moved my two older siblings and I back to Rhode Island (first Providence then Johnston, then back to Providence’s East Side for me), where I remained until I moved to New York City (Brooklyn) four years ago. My sister and her family still live in Rhode Island, while my dad remains in Texas, and my mom and three brothers now live in Phoenix, Arizona. Rhode Island is very close to New York City, about 3 ½ hours, so I go back whenever I can to visit. Same with Texas and Arizona, except those visits take more effort and planning. As you can imagine, all this makes for quite a diverse background. Home, to me, is not just one place. It is a mixture and influence of all the places I have familial and personal ties to. I feel all these contrasting environmental connections is part of what makes my life it’s own and unique.
What’s your favorite place in the world?
I do not have a favorite place in the world, as there is still so much world for me to see and explore. I do really love Central Park, however. There is a fountain in the middle of the park. I would have to say it is one of my favorite places so far. People from all walks of life visit and spend time there. It is peaceful. It is interpretive. It is inspiring. It has stood the test of time so far.
What’s on your “bucket list” of ideas to create?
A book of Poetry, which I have already started the processing of compiling all my selected works for its creation. Actually, I am pretty much finished with it. I just have to find an interested publisher. I am also considering self-publishing it. We’ll see what happens!
How does acting influence your modeling and vice versa?
I didn’t realize they influenced one another until I started really training and becoming more seriously involved in my acting pursuit. They both have more in common than I originally thought. The main way they have both affected one another is that in acting, it is very much about being free and liberated in your instrument (your body, mind) in order to effectively transition between different character channels and variables, surrendering to your vulnerabilities and staying completely focused on the present moment. Modeling also requires these person attributes. Through my acting training and work, I have become a better model than I ever have been. On the other side, modeling is very much about confidence and beauty and creativity, for me at least. With modeling, I am always experimenting. Always working on myself in some way or another, ALWAYS learning. You have to be a strong person to model, as it is an industry that can really break your spirit. Because of my experiences in modeling, and how much I am constantly having to persevere, I am a really strong person. I can say it makes for great practice, as with acting it is important to be really strong within yourself. Modeling has also helped me embrace a more diverse personality and sense of self, which is extremely important to acting.
Was there a particular movie or film director that inspired you to pursue acting?
There are 3 films that I can say imprinted on me and left me very inspired, yes. Labyrinth (as in, the 1986 version with Jennifer Connelly and David Bowie), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and MANHATTAN (Woody Allen). All films had a prominent message about the different psychologies and philosophies internally and externally. I am drawn to films that tell a story and represent some form of real life, (r)evolution and the human condition. All three movies had so much depth to them. They all make you think, make you question, are interpretive. I want to do work that is purposeful, meaningful, and most of all, impactful. Wes Anderson is one of my favorite directors, however, to sidestep topics. I am just in love with his visual aesthetic and film style. He’s individualistic, creative, expansive, and brilliant.
Tell us about your career. How did you get into it?
I have always been drawn to expressive arts, since I young. I was really tall and really thin and really awkward looking as a teenager, and modeling just made sense, because models, especially during that particular time, were exceptionally tall and thin and awkward. I was scouted at 15 and asked to sign a contract and live in a model house in New York City. Even though it was exciting, and kind of a big deal, I didn’t feel ready for it. It seemed overwhelming for me at that age, being very shy and introverted and awkward. I didn’t have the right family support, and I was comfortable with my friends where I lived, and being in high school (even though I didn’t like my high school experience so much), it was still what I thought I was supposed to be doing. I had no one I felt comfortable with to advise me or protect me. I wasn’t aware at the time to all the harsh expectations and unrealistic qualifications placed upon models. I really thought, they want me now, and they will want me whenever I decide I am ready. I really thought I could just go back to it whenever, at whatever age, and have the same opportunities. Well, after life took its course over several years – going back and forth with small stints of modeling and acting locally in Rhode Island with moderate success, earning my SAG eligibility, etc., while I worked as a manager in fashion retail for 8 years, competed in beauty pageants and completed schooling (University, etc.). I finally decided I knew what I wanted, and that what I wanted was to act, once and for all. It was the only career that supported who I was as a person, my personality, with all my strengths and flaws, and encouraged my growth. The truth was that it was always what I wanted, I just wasn’t ready to give it my full on commitment until I was done exploring my adolescence and all its possibilities. I also had to get over extreme sensitivities and shyness and work through major self-esteem issues, which were all inflicted upon me growing up. I moved to New York City at 28, 4 years ago, and haven’t looked back since. I have used my natural ability to model as a resource to support myself while pursuing an acting career. At 5’11, having a curvaceous body, prominent features, aggressive personality and love of freedom and entrepreneurship, there isn’t much else I am comfortable doing. With modeling, I don’t feel like such a freak because in the modeling world, I don’t stand out, I am normal. I fit in. I have only ever felt like I fit in or was accepted for who I am, what I looked like, especially physically, when modeling or acting. Anytime I would try and have a low key job or profession throughout my life previously, it was always unfulfilling – there was always a sense of my not belonging. And I won’t even get into the bullying I experienced, almost all the time, because of certain aspects of my looks and personality. I like to think life made this decision for me to have a career in modeling/acting more so than myself. All the roads in my stories kept leading to it. And now I am being led through it. It is wonderful. I feel so youthful. So full of love. Abundance. Energy. And I am so happy.
What’s your favorite picture of yourself?
This picture was taken by one of my best friends. We were at the beach doing a photo shoot back in 2010. She and I are both creatives who love collaboration (especially when combining them with friendship). The setting was Bonnet Shores in Narragansett, Rhode Island – a private beach that is peaceful and vibrant. The photo has a whimsical other-worldly feel to it. We were having so much fun that day. It is a image of pure inner joy.
Do you have any projects you’d like to show off?
I shot an international campaign last year for SKYN condoms that was renewed for a second year buy-out. A few weeks ago, I was cast in and filmed my first small supporting role in a indie feature film. Just a few lines, but the character is going to have a large presence I feel. That will be cool to show off when it’s time!
What was the moment you decided to get into modeling?
I don’t think there was ever a moment, it just sort of happened and when it happened, and I became involved and realized there was this community where other girls were above average height (tall) too, I didn’t feel like such an outcast. That feeling of inclusion prompted me to continue with the pursuit, and it has continued throughout my life.
What was your most embarrassing situation while modeling?
One time my ankle swelled up pretty badly and it happened completely out of the blue. The swelling definitely interrupted and inconvenienced the shoot. Even though it wasn’t my fault, I still felt embarrassed.
Modeling is very competitive. How do you stand out?
I stand out by my energy. It is the only thing that is authentic to me. The one thing that is different from everyone else. We all have our own individual essence. Tapping into that and bringing it to the table each time, whether it is a casting, a job, etc. I don’t want every job in the world. I want the jobs that are right for me to have. I want to work with clients that see me and feel I align with their vision. I have this approach because it is not a contest to me, modeling or acting. I don’t believe in grooming myself metaphorically to appeal to different clients. I believe in being myself, and in that, I do believe is me standing out all on its own.
Who has had the biggest influence on your modeling career?
I was never exactly influenced by anyone in particular, as this has been a 100% independent career choice and journey, but I can say I am inspired by the previous generation of supermodel–Cindy Crawford, Jerry Hall, the late Gia Carangi, Brooke Shields…. To me, they really defined the word, SuperModel. They exuded confidence and femininity and women empowerment. They each challenged the industry in some way, succeeding in breaking barriers.
What’s been the most challenging part of modeling, and how did you overcome those challenges?
Getting over my anxiety, or should I say, camera fright. Modeling is very much about being natural and embracing yourself, and I definitely had challenges with being able to turn it on except when the camera would roll. But I transcended that behavior by nurturing my instrument (my body) and accepting my individuality, and including whatever I am feeling into my work, channel it.
What is the best thing a photographer can do to bring out your personality?
Make me laugh and have good energy!
What was your most memorable photoshoot?
Who was it with? One of my close friends was once very interested in designing clothes and hats. She wanted to create a brand, and she was brilliant with her ideas and vision. She asked me to be her model for her website and digital look book. The collaboration took us all over Rhode Island and Boston, shooting everywhere. The reason the shoot is so memorable is because we drove to Northeastern University in Massachusetts to specifically shoot on a dock that was private property. You could not go on the dock unless you were associated with the University. There was a fence around the dock…. We were determined to use this perfect location and not let anything stand in our way. We shed layers of clothing and climbed the fence and jumped onto the dock. We could have gotten hurt. It didn’t matter. Halfway through the shoot, a supervisor shows up and starts questioning us, why we are there, do we go to the University, etc. Well, my friend pulls out a random name who happened to actually be a professor at the school and the supervisor says he is going to go check in with him and be back. When the guy left, we finished up our adventure and got out of there. We had gotten what we needed, so it worked out.
What do you like most about modeling?
It is a creative way to express myself. I love visual stories. Modeling is a form of visual storytelling. It is fulfilling in that sense.
What’s your philosophy when it comes to being a great model?
BE YOURSELF. Seriously. I mean it. Embrace YOUR essence. It is the one and only thing that can really set you apart from the rest and make you and your work stand out.
What’s a deal breaker for you when deciding to do a shoot?
The energy associated with my interaction. I know it sounds out of left field. Everything and everyone has a energy. And If I feel something about someone or something is not right, or if I disagree with the values behind the person in charge, that is a deal breaker for me.
What are the top 3 tips you have for aspiring photographers?
1. STOP with all the ego.
2. Work with models/subjects, not against them.
3. Bring good energy and leave your libido at the door.
What are the top 3 tips you have for aspiring models?
1. Develop some kind of spiritual foundation for yourself, whatever that is. It is important to be rooted in self-love in this industry, as the industry can be harsh. It is too easy to get lost without a strong sense of self.
2. Prioritize self-care. There is a lot of competition. INVEST in yourself. Purchase good skin products and develop consistent hygiene habits. Have routines to keep yourself physically and mentally prepared for anything.
3. BE optimistic and be brave, but realistic about your goals. Create a plan, not a timeline, to achieve them. It is not a race to the top. It is about writing your own story, and giving it meaning that is authentic to you.
What do you want people to remember about you after a shoot?
That I had great energy and was fun to work with!
If you could model anywhere in the world where would you go?
Italy. I have a lot of family there on my mother’s side. I could work and spend time with family. Sounds perfect.
What advice about modeling do you wish you had when you first started?
Take nothing personal. It’s almost never about you.
Who’s your biggest hero in your life?
The Universe, and whatever higher power is associated with it. It taught me forgiveness. It taught me that I am the hero of my own life.
What’s one of your biggest fears?
Not using my individual gifts/talents to their fullest potential. At the end of my life, I want to have used everything god gave me.
What’s something nobody knows about you that you’d like to share?
I wouldn’t say this is something no one knows about me, but it is something only a few people know about me.
When I was five, I was in a car-accident with my mom. My head smashed the dashboard, and I can still remember, even today, looking in the mirror and seeing blood stream down my face from my head. I was told as a result of the accident, I would suffer from memory inconsistencies throughout my life. There are many instances when I am in the middle of a conversation and I will completely go blank on the conversation, or I will be explaining something and will out of the blue, forget what I was going to say. It can be quite embarrassing. It comes off to others like I don’t listen, or remember details, or am flaky, or even worse, like I am making up what I am saying, etc. I have developed techniques so that I am more in control of this neurological tendency, but I didn’t start to develop the techniques until I started really getting into my training for acting, as script memorization is so important to the job. This is one reason I say my pursuit of acting has been a complete blessing in my life. It has forced me to confront my shortcomings, and transcend the barriers that surround them, in order to uncover and embrace my talent. Also, on a more lighthearted note, I have always been fascinated by numbers and have done great research on the topic of Numerology. I have a great understanding of Numerology and can decipher anyone’s numbers with the meaning and purpose behind them.
Who do you want to give a shoutout to?
Everyone in my life that has stood the test of time. They all know who they are.
What fashion trend do you wish would come back?
Shoulder Pads! I know it is a controversial choice – but honestly, they look great on me. I feel in my woman power when wearing them.
Which current fashion trend do you wish was gone forever?
Teeth Grills. I’m not sorry, I think they are pointless and look ridiculous.
What do you think is your best feature?
Eyes. I get complimented on them often. I think they hold a lot of depth. They have seen a lot of life, yet they still seem so innocent when I look back at them in a mirror or picture.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
My smile. I’ve always been self-conscious about it. People tell me I don’t know what I am talking about. I am aware it is not my strong point, aesthetically speaking. I have developed posing methods to enhance its quality. I practice self-affirmations for me to make peace with my smile lottery.
What’s something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t?
Travel Europe! I love adventure, culture and traveling so much. I haven’t done it yet because I used to have a fear of flying. The desire has always been present, but not as strong to make the desire a reality as it is today. There was a lot I had to work out in terms of other areas of my life first. I am currently making plans to go in 2017. It will be a big trip, I will probably be traveling for a solid month. Unless through acting/modeling, I get an opportunity to go sooner, which definitely could happen. And unlike in my previous life, I am open to it if it does!
What are some major struggles you’ve overcome?
I had an incredibly challenging childhood and upbringing where I suffered a lot emotionally. The experiences colored and defined my life for most of my adolescence. Learning to live without needing approval or validation from anyone other than myself and untangling myself from the web of fear that was instilled in me have been pretty major obstacles. The ability to take full responsibility for my life regardless of my circumstances and be completely independent and decisive and disciplined in my decision making as well. I grew up often neglected and suffered from ADHD pretty badly, and it went untreated for a long time. Then again, I was never aware of it’s connection to my specific daily life struggles until I started doing research and getting really into psychology and self-development in my twenties. I have developed tools and techniques to overcome these challenges, as I don’t believe in pharmaceutical medicine – rather, I believe in healing and transformation through nutrition, exercise, nature, vitamins, and meditation. I guess you could say I am dedicated to spirituality and a holistic lifestyle, and through those mediums, I have transcended many of the previous barriers that existed in my life. I will always be a work in progress, however, because life will always be a work in progress.
What is the most life-changing event that you’ve experienced?
I’ve experienced a few life changing events, and they all contributed to changing me in some form. One of the events happened September 2010. Two friends and I were heading back from an all day hiking trip in the White Mountains in New Hampshire. I was the passenger in my friend’s SUV. It happened so fast…. We were singing and laughing and talking about what a great day we had had, and then all of a sudden, the SUV starts swerving to the left and turns on its wheel and skids off the highway, slamming straight into a wooded area and heavily concentrated thick of trees, my side being the side that slammed into it. As it was happening, I thought for certain it was my time. I closed my eyes and just started praying, right up until the moment of impact. It was surreal. It felt like being on a roller coaster. After the accident, I opened my eyes, the whole passenger side pushed in and destroyed.… No way for me to get out….and as for me….. Staring outside the windshield…. I was alive and walked away from the most bizarre, unpredictable event with nothing more than a sprained ankle. Paramedics couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it. I knew, in that moment, my life had a definitive purpose. I made a promise to myself I would dedicate my life to discovering that purpose and living it. I do believe I’ve honored that promise so far.
What’s your greatest failure, and how did you overcome it?
There are no failures, only lessons. I will say that academics have always been a struggle, as I am not naturally dis-positioned for such structured ways of learning as is in this country, and do best learning one subject at a time. However, I overcome this everyday by continuing to embrace learning in whatever capacity I can, whenever I can, and absorbing whatever it is that is being taught in whatever environment I am exposed too.
What’s your greatest achievement, and how has it shaped you?
Moving to New York City. It was the biggest fear I had had in my life, moving away from a life I knew, to pursue the life I knew, deep down in my subconscious, was waiting for me, and it took all the courage I had within me to do it. I conquered it in the most bad ass way too, by moving spur of the moment and completely unexpected, even to myself. I am no longer afraid of change, no longer afraid of not having “security” or “stability,” or to make big waves in my life, which has been so incredibly liberating and life-altering. Everything we think we “need” to live a happy life – it is all elusive. The only real freedom is in the courage to challenge yourself to live and expand beyond your self-imposed fears, restrictions and limitations, in following the call inside you to meet new horizons head on.
What was the happiest day of your life?
The day I understood everything I needed to be happy and feel loved was already within.
For anyone that wants to get in touch with Sabrina, here’s some contact information:
Sabrina, we love your philosophy and work – we look forward to seeing your future projects. 🙂
If any artists out there want to collaborate with FStop, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.