Model Latina arrives in Miami with an admirable purpose

The 16th floor of Miami’s avant garde Epic Hotel provided quite the sensory experience for its poolside guests this past Saturday, hosting the promotional set for SiTV’s reality television show “Model Latina.” From buzzing crew members trying to get it right to 15 vivacious women posing gracefully on the breezy balcony, the scene was not one to be ignored.

The deck is absorbing. To one side, twin crystalline infinity pools flow endlessly at the foot of elegantly stacked cabanas containing tropical drinks and artificially sun-kissed tourists. To the other, hard work and dedication come alive in front of cameras and spotlights as the contestants of the show’s second season work for the best shot. The Biscayne backdrop intensifies the spectacle more than thought possible.

In between shoots, the exotic-looking women hustle to meet the press. Away from the cameras, each girl seems more tangible. As questions range from their favorite ethnic food to what they plan to do with the $10,000 prize money, its obvious there’s more to these girls than just looks.

And that is exactly the message SiTV wants to convey to its 20 million viewer demographic: attractive women can be strong, intelligent, self-assured and powerful players in today’s changing world.

“Young women can use their beauty as an opportunity; it can open doors for them,” said Maria Perez-Brown, the senior vice president of programming at SiTV, who created the show with the intention of fashioning positive female role models for young Latina women in the United States. “But what do you do when you get into that door?”

In a country where only a handful Hispanic women are noted for their strengths in business, talent and philanthropy, “Model Latina” pioneers in targeting bilingual Latina women who want to watch a modeling contest that hits closer to home.

“The women of ‘Model Latina are definitely not the women our mothers were. They are culturally mindful women, who appreciate their heritage, but also have evolved into a more modern, influential woman,” said contestant Sonia Miranda, when asked what makes a Model Latina.

There is no room for cultural stereotypes in this contest, either.

“It seems like the United Nations is represented on this show,” said Amanda Rodriguez Smith, another contestant who stands between three impressively diverse ladies – one Basque and Mexican, one Puerto Rican, Jamaican, German and Swedish, and one Mexican and Portuguese.

As many of them are college graduates or students, they digress about their plans for the future.

“The best part about [the girls] is that they all have alternative plans. They are not throwing it all away for 15 minutes of fame,” says René Aguirre, the director and producer of the marketing shoot.

When asked what advice she would give to motivated Latina women at the University of Miami, contestant Carolina Arellano said, “Reach for the starts. Strong women can pursue anything they want, no matter what part of society they belong to. Take risks. Remember your roots. And most importantly, never be discouraged.”

Quick Facts:

Who: Fifteen hot Latina women compete for the grand prize of $10,000 and a modeling contract with Q Models.

What: Contestants are put to the test in different areas of skill: modeling, editing, design, technical and camera work, etc., to prove they are more that “just a pretty face.”

Where: SiTV is based in Los Angeles, but is filming its entire second season of the reality show “Model Latina” in Miami.

When: To be announced. Currently in pre-production.