After releasing the Tools Of Life project with photographer Hanna Agar the most unexpected responses started coming in. The idea of inclusive beauty - a glamour that includes those with walking or speech challenges touched those I had not even originally considered enough. As soon as it went up, Hanna and I were contacted by Gabby Banda's mom, Teresa, about the way the series touched her and her daughter. Gabby is an adorable, active, smart aspiring hard of hearing/deaf model and actress.
Gabby is working hard to book her first job in modeling. Teresa is hoping to get the word out to get Gabby booked so you can help by liking her page or posting it. https://www.facebook.com/Gbanda123
I asked Gabby some questions and she decided to resound in a video. Below is an interview with Teresa about why this is so important to her.
EL: How do you understand the word beautiful?
TB: I can find beauty in everything around me, even in the simplest of things. When my kids are playing with each other, when I see the sun shining on their faces, and when they start laughing and suddenly you hear them snort. I tell my children that they are amazing and beautiful everyday. I think they need to hear it everyday, just like the words I Love You. I didn't hear it enough as a child myself, so I promised myself when I had babies that I wouldn't let a day go by without telling them something loving. Gabriella is our youngest and as the baby of the family she automatically garners more attention, but she has a dynamic personality that naturally draws people to her. Almost everyday someone tells me what a beautiful child she is, and they aren't just talking about her physically, but about how sweet she is. That being said, beautiful is sometimes on the outside, but more importantly it is a quality that needs to be on the inside.
EL: Why did you choose modeling for your daughter?
TB: I modeled when I was younger. I won a modeling contest in 1993 (JC Penny Hispanic model search). I had a lot of good experiences, and some bad. I have some pictures around the house that my husband had framed for me, and Gabriella would ask me about them and I would tell her stories of the things I did when I was younger. Last December Gabriella came to me and asked if she could be a model. She said that she wanted a job, she wanted to be on YouTube, or on TV. She kept bugging me about it. So we reached out to a local talent agent and they signed her. The day we took her headshots she was so natural and so interested in what the photographer was doing, and more importantly so proud of the fact that she was going to have a job! I didn't chose modeling for her, Gabriella chose modeling for herself. She is 8, but there is nothing "normal" about my 8 year old. Once she sets her mind to something she finds a way to get things done. Just like modeling. A year has gone by, she still hasn't booked a job, but her Daddy and I will continue to support her in this adventure until she says she is done. Aside from modeling Gabby wants to be a cheerleader and works hard at improving her tumbling skills. She likes Tennis and swimming too. Modeling is just one of the things we are trying in hopes of creating opportunities for her.
EL: How does seeing Gabby in pictures make you feel? and why?
TB: The first time Avant Talent agency shared her pictures on their Facebook account - I cried. I felt like we made a dream come true for her. Gabby was born "functionally deaf" (hard of hearing) She faces challenges every day communicating, making herself understood, but when I saw her pictures, how beautiful she was in them; I thought there is nothing my baby can't do. She may be hard of hearing, but it's not going to hold her back, because she doesn't see herself as any less then anyone else. It's hard to explain unless you've experienced having a disability. I'm hard of hearing too, so I know some of her struggles. She still tells me she wants to be famous, she wants to be in magazines....As her mom I want to help her achieve her dreams.
Added in by Teresa after the interview... thought we all might appreciate what sincerity feels like.
It was hard answering them by email. I just want to add that I want to try and make all of Gabriella's dreams come true. If she had said to me a year ago that she wanted to ride horses I would have paid for lessons. I grew up in a very poor neighborhood; my husband family was very poor too. I want my kids to have more and go further then we did and so it's my mission to put them in places where they will be noticed, and opportunities made available to them. I could go on and one, but I'll stop now. Thanks again for the interview.
Good luck Gabby!
To book Gabby:
Teresa's Email -- firstname.lastname@example.org