Valentina Sampaio opened up about the “ignorance” she faced when her modeling career began
Valentina Sampaio revealed she was “fired and humiliated” during a job because the brand found out she was transgender, calling the incident “traumatizing.”
The latest episode of Victoria’s Secret’s podcast “VS Voices” published on Friday featured Sampaio, a Brazilian model who became the first transgender woman to appear in Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue in 2020 as she spoke to host Amanda de Cadenet about her initial struggles in the fashion industry.
Sampaio, 24, who also became the first transgender cover star for Vogue France in 2017, said she faced “ignorance” and said it was “very challenging” to get work as a model.
“Even when people wanted to work with me, they would be prejudiced or scared of hiring a trans woman,” Sampaio said on the podcast. “I faced much ignorance and fear.”
Sampaio said she was once fired from a gig after an unnamed brand learned she was transgender.
“Being fired and humiliated on set that day was traumatizing, but it was also what led the fire within me to overcome my personal heartache,” she said.
Sampaio added that the incident allowed her to see “beyond” herself.
“It allowed me to understand that I need to shed light and create not just for myself, but for the humanization and benefit of all trans people whenever possible,” Sampaio said.
She added: “Shortly after that experience, I was cast in a film that was shot in Rio. That creative opportunity gave me the courage to open myself up to modeling and move to San Paolo. Within a few months of that movie, I was asked to model for the cover of French Vogue, and my career took off.”
Sampaio burst onto the scene with her Vogue France cover before becoming the first openly transgender model to work with Victoria’s Secret in 2019 and later securing her spot in Sports Illustrated.
She also appeared on the covers of both Vogue Brazil and Vogue Germany in 2017, following her debut in Vogue France.
More recently, Sampaio became one of the inaugural members of the VS Collective with Victoria’s Secret, which replaced the brand’s well-known cast of Angels.
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