A Valentine’s Day interview with Hawaii’s Tia Morales

Danny de Gracia gets a Valentine's Day exclusive interiew with fashion model Tia Morales. Photo: Tia Morales is one of Hawaii's fastest rising stars. / Photo by Images by Keoki

HONOLULU, February 14, 2013 – The astronomer Carl Sagan famously said that somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. Here in Hawaii, Tia Morales is one of the brightest and most incredible rising stars to grace the professional modeling industry.

Featured on the cover of numerous tourist magazines and now expanding into modeling for high profile brands, Morales has an aura of gentle, feminine strength empowered by an inescapable exotic charm that makes her Hawaii’s most beautiful ambassador of aloha.

Speaking with a soft-pitched voice and an erudite, articulate lexicon of words that would make even an Ivy League alumni reach for a dictionary, Morales is every bit as luminously cerebral as she is radiant in form. Morales’ love for language compelled her to create a Word of the Day educational video series and she spends her spare time often looking up new words to memorize and reading romantic novels by A Walk To Remember and The Notebook author Nicholas Sparks.

When I first spoke with Morales, I was amazed at her optimistic worldview and her passion for always seeking the good in life and those around her. Always found with a pearly smile on her face, Morales brings portable sunshine to her fashion shoots and has an uncanny social thermostat-like gift: whenever she speaks or smiles, everyone else smiles. Social responsibility, sincerity and love for all aren’t just taglines for Tia Morales – they are her.

As one of the most remarkable minds I’ve interviewed yet, Morales shared with me some incisive insights on relationships, Valentine’s Day and the future of women in America.

Danny de Gracia: Tia, you’ve been very busy lately! You were just featured on the cover of Hawaii Wedding & Honeymoon Escapes Magazine and I know that you’re always going from one high profile event to another there in the islands so tell our readers some of the things you’ve been up to these days and what’s new for you?

Tia Morales is one of Hawaii’s most beautiful personalities. (Make up by Nathalie Kim, photography by Images by Keoki)

Tia Morales: Besides the cover of that magazine I’ve been shooting for 33 Butterflies. It’s a local company here and they’re affiliated with Cinnamon Girl. They just opened up their new shop in Kahala!

DDG: Oh, congratulations!

Morales: Thank you! I’m also looking forward to another cover on This Week Magazine it’s one of those tourist magazines. I’ve been featured on about maybe eight covers with them.

DDG: So you gotta tell our female readers what’s the secret to your hair? In all of your photo shoots even in your regular life you always have perfect hair but I know a lot of people don’t have the same … (laughs) exceptional results as you. So what’s the secret?

Morales: (Laughs) honestly I’m a makeup artist and hair stylist, I’ve been doing that as a trade for the past few years so I have a little bit of an unfair advantage to other women. But it’s just practice.

DDG: Valentine’s Day is here. For our male readers looking for last minute gift ideas and ways to impress a sweetheart or a special woman in their life, do you have any advice on what they can do?

Morales: Well, the best thing you can do is to just spend time with the person that you love and do whatever you can to show them that you do love them, whatever it is, whether it’s a card or  just spending the day with them or bringing them their favorite kind of flowers. I believe Valentine’s Day is all about celebrating the love that you share with the person that means the most to you.

DDG: You mentioned flowers. Do you prefer flowers or the ubiquitous heart-shaped chocolates?

Morales: (Laughs) that’s a tough one, I love chocolate but I think that that flowers are a little bit more exciting to receive.

DDG: So do you have a favorite Valentine’s Day song?

Morales: Oh, I actually don’t have a favorite Valentine’s Day song but I do love music and any love song is definitely special.

DDG: You have a pretty well-modulated voice, have you ever thought about singing or getting into recording maybe?

Morales: (Laughs) Well, you know that’s a really nice compliment. I’ve had a few people tell me that but it’s really hard to believe. I love singing and I always sing in the car but I was not blessed with a nice singing voice unfortunately.

DDG: Well anything is possible, it’s just like that movie, The King’s Speech where they taught the king how to overcome a stutter and give a good speech. Maybe it’s just a matter of training, because you already have the talent.

Morales: Oh, you’re so sweet. I haven’t seen that movie yet, it’s definitely on my watch list.

DDG: So do you have a favorite romantic movie you like to watch on a movie date? Is there a classic movie you like to watch like Sleepless in Seattle or some other movie you like?

Morales: Actually, one of my favorite romantic movies is Tristan + Isolde. That for me is the epitome of love and sacrifice and there’s a lot of drama that goes on but it’s the best love story I’ve ever seen. You should check it out if you haven’t watched it.

DDG: Wow. You know in Washington D.C. we have the highest ratio of single women to men in the entire country, you could call it the singles capital of the nation! Do you have any advice for our female readers who might be feeling a little down or lonely because they don’t have anyone to go out with on Valentine’s Day?

Morales: My advice to those women is to know that you don’t have to have a date on Valentine’s Day to celebrate. You can ask your best friend or your family and you can have fun. It’s all about celebrating love and the people that you love, so you can just get some candy and flowers for friends or family. It doesn’t have to be for a romantic partner, it can be with someone you love. It can be anybody that makes you happy.

DDG: Sometimes people today have these expectations that are so big that it just makes relationships impossible. What do you think about that?

Morales: I do believe that some people place too high of an emphasis on Valentine’s Day. You know the actual origin of Valentine’s Day stems from a very dark and gloomy tradition from the Romans and they would actually beat the women with animal skin that they sacrificed that day.

DDG: Wow.

Morales: It’s pretty morbid. But I believe now within our civilized society there shouldn’t be such an emphasis on gifts. It should just really be with spending time with someone you love and showing you care for them.

DDG: So maybe at the end of the day I guess what’s most important is just sincerity and loyalty?

Morales: Definitely.

DDG: So let’s talk a little bit about you. Every rising star has a dream behind it, so what would you say is your long term vision for yourself and your career? Do you see yourself eventually branching out into Hollywood or staying in fashion or a little bit of both? Maybe even writing a Tia Dictionary since you have your Word of the Day series or maybe even a book?

Morales: I actually have a very deep love for English, that was my favorite in college so I love reading, I love writing, I would love to be an author and write a novel. My favorite author is Nicholas Sparks, I’ve read every book from his collection, so to be a famous novelist is one of my dreams. But I’ve always dreamed about acting, modeling and dancing and Hollywood, but if does happen I would be lucky have any of those as my career.

DDG: Well you could have the best of both worlds, the new trend these days is you could write the book, produce the movie and then star in it!

Morales: That would be wonderful (laughs) I would love that.

DDG: You know a lot of times though just touching on that topic, a lot of things in life are a lightning strike. It’s a sudden, flash opportunity sometimes and it’s no exaggeration to say that there’s a time that comes that you can have almost anything you want or desired and that moment never comes a second time around. If you had that moment now where you could just do anything what would be that one thing you’d go for?

Morales: You know that’s a tough question. If I could do anything at all, I would definitely pursue modeling because if I got famous I would give back to my community. There are so many things that I would be so grateful to give back. Right now I’m just one person and I try to do things for the community but if I were to become very successful there are a lot of things that I would like to do to help out people.

DDG: Well you definitely have a gentle heart, that’s very obvious.

Morales: (Laughs) I try.

DDG: There’s a lot of things going on in the world right now, that’s a good attitude to have. There’s a lot of unique challenges that women like yourself face these days. Each generation has its struggles and it seems like young people especially are getting a hard burden put on them and I think that a lot of the older people especially here in D.C. don’t really get it. Could you tell our readers for their benefit just exactly what it’s like being a young woman in today’s world and some of the things that’s on your heart and mind?

Morales: I believe that right now the society we live in has a lot of opportunities for women. You know the glass ceiling has definitely been raised. You can be whatever you want to be with enough determination and hard work. We’re definitely lucky that we live here in America.

DDG: Do you think that though that society might be changing a little bit too fast?

Morales: Well from my standpoint I think that there are a lot of changes going on, and I think it’s a little harder for the older generation to keep up – especially with technology these days – but I think that if you make an effort to keep up with everything it shouldn’t be too hard.

DDG: So last but not least, is there anything you’d like to say to the rest of the nation?

Morales: Well I’m a simple kind of girl and the only words I have are not to worry too much about the little things in life and just enjoy life and be happy.


READ MORE from Danny de Gracia at Making Waves: A Hawaii Perspective on Politics



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Danny de Gracia

Dr. Danny de Gracia is a political scientist and a former senior adviser to the Human Services and International Affairs committees at the Hawaii State Legislature. From 2011-2013 he served as an elected municipal board member in Waipahu. As an expert in international relations theory, military policy, political psychology and economics, Danny has advised numerous policymakers and elected officials and his opinions have been featured worldwide. Now working on his first novel, Danny resides on the island of Oahu.

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