HONOLULU, January 13, 2013 – As a regular backdrop for so many big screen movies and major network television shows, the Aloha State is quickly becoming the 21st century’s hotspot for some of the most incredible new talents and rising stars.
One woman who is turning heads in the islands with her amazing allure and forte for fashion is Tia Morales, a model who has a passion for lifelong learning and a deep heart for the future of her community. Always full of smiles and speaking with an articulate, disarming and gentle-modulated voice, Tia talked with me this week about her thoughts on modeling, politics, pop culture and staying happy.
Danny de Gracia: So Tia, tell us a little bit about yourself, what it’s like living in Hawaii and just how you got started in modeling.
Tia Morales: I was born and raised in Hawaii, so I’m a local girl. I love living here in the islands because everybody knows everybody and it’s very community-oriented which is one of the things that makes Hawaii so special. You also can’t beat the beaches (laughs) … in fact there was an article that came out which included our beaches in the top list to visit in the world.
DDG: Yeah I saw that, in fact Hawaii almost always dominates that every year!
Morales: So you can’t beat the beaches here, they’re beautiful. I’m actually going to go surfing after this interview at my favorite spot.
DDG: So you like surfing? President Obama visits Hawaii a lot for his vacations, have you ever seen him surfing the waves or hanging out at the beach or in a shave ice store?
Morales: I’ve never seen him – ever! What a bummer! I’m always stuck in his traffic. (Laughs) But as for your question about how I got started in modeling, I just kind of fell into it. My sister dances and her coach was putting together a show with modeling and dance and art and all sorts of fun things and for the show she needed to gather a few models for the fashion segment and she asked me if I wanted to participate.
I said, “Oh, I don’t know, I’ve never modeled before, I’m not that tall” … and she said “No you’ll be fine, you’ll be fine” and told me it would be really fun and persuaded me. I did my first show and it was amazing. It was fun, I got to meet so many new people – designers, models, photographers – from there people just kept asking me to keep coming back for other fashion shows and photo shoots and I just got integrated into the modeling scene and from there, just took off. And now I’m in magazines and it’s amazing, I feel very blessed.
I’ve even been asked to volunteer and speak at the career fair to young women to give them advice and to inspire them –
DDG: So you mentor others as well! That’s great!
DDG: So what would you say is your advice for young women who are reading this?
Morales: My best advice is just to know that everybody is beautiful and everyone is unique and special in their own way. They just need to be confident in themselves, to believe in themselves and that’s all that matters. And if you have faith in yourself and a dream and aspire to do something, you can do anything.
DDG: Speaking of confidence, I notice you always seem to be very upbeat and positive. What’s your secret to having that glowing outlook?
Morales: (Laughs) Well, I feel that for me my motto in life is that life is short. You never know when your last day is going to be, so you should just live happy because this time is too short to worry or harp on the miniscule things in life. Life is beautiful.
It’s the same way with my career. I believe that you should get into something that you can wake up every day and love doing. You never know when your last day is going to be.
DDG: That’s a good policy, you know a lot of people are miserable these days because they’re always thinking, “I just need to work a little harder and things will work out!” but sometimes things never do work out!
Morales: Yeah! Yeah. Wow.
DDG: So did you set a new year’s resolution this year?
Morales: Just to be a better version of myself! (Laughs)
DDG: That’s a good one, that’s an attainable one, since you get to judge the outcome! (Laughs)
Morales: Definitely. (Laughs)
DDG: Now you have a very popular “Word of the Day” video series and that’s a lot of fun. I admit even being an Ivy League guy myself I watch your videos and even I learn something new from watching your series –
Morales: Wow! (Laughs)
DDG: Yeah! So how did your “Word of the Day” series get started?
Morales: Well I’ve always had a penchant for learning and I’ve always been enamored by knowledge and I just … you know if I could be a professional student for the rest of my life and get ten doctorate degrees that would be great!
Morales: But that’s not practical so I read a lot of novels and I love reading and I just love being able to expand my vocabulary and when I was in college I felt I didn’t know as much as I should and so I would read the dictionary all the time and I would look up new words and study them and try to use them in a daily context. I would read novels just to keep my brain active and my creativity flowing and I decided I should share it so I would post it on my Facebook page every day and I would get such a great response from it.
Everybody would say “I love your Word of the Day” or that it taught them something and they would use it themselves in their daily vocabulary. I got so much positive feedback that I continued to do it and then I sort of stopped doing it for a little while because I got busy with work, but then one day I decided maybe I should do a video, it might be a little bit more interesting than text on a Facebook post and that’s how it all began!
DDG: Tia, let’s just talk briefly about some of the things that are going on in the world lately. You know it’s a new year and we have a fresh slate with a completely new set of elected officials in government. What do you think are some of the most important issues that need to be addressed in D.C. and Honolulu right now?
Morales: I think we should really look more into sustainable resources. I remember reading somewhere that for example there’s more than enough potential wind power to power our needs but that’s a resource we haven’t fully tapped into.
There’s not enough emphasis on sustainable technologies and renewable energies right now. If we could focus on more sustainability – especially in energy – instead of importing foreign oil that costs so much, we could probably save a lot of money that could go into building the economy.
DDG: I’m glad you mentioned that, I’d just wrote an article earlier this week which discussed how Hawaii needs to work on renewable energy, especially since it has the highest electricity prices in the nation. Definitely the sustainable, renewable energy is something that needs to be addressed.
This upcoming session of the Hawaii State Legislature, one of the big things that’s coming up is the issue of the solar income tax credits. Some people want to repeal that, but I’ve been saying that the tax credit is the only thing keeping the economy going in spite of all that’s going wrong. Not sure if you heard about that?
Morales: Right, right, I heard about them talking about that today. If they take away that tax credit, I don’t think a lot of people are going to go for it anymore and that’s what we need. We need more people jumping on that. I also think that’s very important and very key to our future, especially here in Hawaii.
DDG: So in closing, is there anything you’d like to say to our readers in D.C. and to the nation?
Morales: Right now I just want to encourage people to always remember to be safe, be happy and smile.
We greatly appreciate Ms. Morales for the opportunity to interview her.
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