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Sharina Gutierrez Talks About Her Modeling Career and Being a Proud Filipina

She shares the lessons she's learned on modeling, life pursuits, self-care, and what Filipina beauty truly means.

by Steph Sison | Oct 31, 2018

"I am very much a morena and I am proud of it. In the industry, I was told to stay out of the sun because I'm Asian but I can't hide who I am. I had such a hard time growing up trying to fit in with everyone else when I'm born to stand out."

You could perhaps recall the name Sharina Gutierrez as one of the two Filipinas who auditioned for the 2018 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show (the other one being Kelsey Merritt, of course). But to set the record straight, to trivialize her as just another model would be unfair and naive. Sharina, a Filipino-American, was merely a 12-year-old girl when she was plucked out of obscurity and thrown into the spotlight. She grew up both under the admiration and scrutiny of the world, which led her to question a lot of things about her true purpose in life. It took her years before she's become more certain of her footing in the world after accepting who she is and isn't, while learning to embrace her features. Suffice to say, she's come a long way since and no longer doubts herself. Still, she continues to learn more about herself, believing she can do whatever she sets her mind into.

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While Sharina may have been away for so long, she has come back to get in touch with roots. And now that she's finally home, she shares with us some nuggets of wisdom she's learned the hard way in the hopes that she may change someone's life along the way.

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On modeling

What got you started on modeling?

"I was discovered by a woman named Susie. She insisted that I join the International Model and Talent Competition (IMTA), which is an organization that found Ashton Kutcher, Katie Holmes, and a few other big names. And amongst thousands of other girls, I won! I was 12 years old."

Can you tell us about your first booked stint as a model?

"My first booked stint was Italian Vogue with Michelle Comte. At the time, I didn't know that it was such a big job for me. It was an honor to book Vogue as my first job."

"I don't really feel much competition because I just show them who I am and just wish for the best. If it's meant to be, it's meant to be."

You were trained in the US. How has this shaped your perception of the craft?

"I think everyone has their own journey. I have a very blessed journey that not everyone has the pleasure of having. I got to experience this career in many different lights, in many different stagesfrom polaroids to now digital polaroids. I feel like I've had the upperhand in this career because I've learned to keep a career based on longevity."

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What were your struggles as a foreign model in the US?

"I'm born American but I don't look like the girl next door. I look very much Filipina—both of my parents were from Batangas. I came out when blonde, blue-eyed girls were popular. I was the alien-esque looking girl. To me, it has both advantages and disadvantages. Pretty much, when you put me in a room and I have to sell myself, I'm pretty good at doing that. So, I don't really feel much competition because I just show them who I am and just wish for the best. If it's meant to be, it's meant to be."


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How do you take rejection?

"I used to not take it so well because I used to think I was the issue. I was the reason why I wasn't booking jobs. In some cases, yeah, I probably was. But rejection now, I just see it as somebody doesn't see that light in me. And just because one person doesn't, it doesn't mean another person isn't gonna see that light because all I can do is just be positive and understand that some things are meant for you, some aren't."

What's the most rewarding part of the job?

"The friends and connections I get to make. And the doors that opens up for me. I don't see modeling as just taking pictures in front of a camera. I see it as an opportunity, a door to open you to a more purposeful life."

What's one misconception about modeling that you'd like to debunk?

"The glamorous life behind it. Yes, you get to see the girl in the photo, with a man, in some exotic place but you don't know the hard work that it took to take that one photo. People, when they look at it, they don't appreciate the art behind it. And I feel like social media has drowned out that whole aspect of what art really is. Because they see the photo, and they just scroll up, they don't really take the time to look at it anymore. People don't buy magazines anymore because they can all get it in digital."

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"I don't see modeling as just taking pictures in front of a camera. I see it as an opportunity, a door to open you to a more purposeful life."

Do you have some practical tips for aspiring models?

"Don't take no for an answer. Go out there and take a leap. If you believe in yourself, you won't really think about what someone else thinks. You're going to think about your purpose and what you want and how you're going to achieve it. My best advice is to get aligned with your own mind, body, and soul before you enter this industry because it comes with criticisms, rejection, a whole lot of waiting time so you need to have a whole lot of patience."

On work ethic

How does your day go about when you have castings or shoots?

"I just have to go with the flow! I have to understand that things pop up in the middle of my day, that I have more than myself to keep my marbles together! My day changes every day. Between work and castings, my day is really spontaneous and I just have to take it as it comes and as peaceful as I can do it. It just takes a lot of patience and with this industry, it's a key thing to have because this job is so spontaneous. It's just all about balancing and understanding not to lose my temper in every little thing that could happen."

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How do you prepare for your shoots? Say, for example, you're shooting or walking for a swimsuit line, a designer, or a beauty campaign?

"Ladies, I don't know why it's so hard for a lot of you to do this, but nails. Nails, for sure. The first thing I do is I make sure I get a manicure and a pedicure so I'm gonna go in there looking my [best]. Physically, if you're not working out as a model and you're not trying to keep yourself fit, then you're in the wrong industry."

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What's the hardest lesson you've learned while living in the US as a model?

"The hardest lesson is that you have to be grateful. Sometimes when you're young, you don't understand that this job can be easily taken away from you. And sometimes you don't get a second chance, let alone three, like I have. Gratitude is attitude."

What is professionalism for you?

"Professionalism to me is making sure I stick to my word. If I say that I'm going to do something, 99.9% I'm going to do it and that 1% is because something interfered with me. I'm a big advocate of sticking to your word because when I was younger, I didn't do that. I was ungrateful. I feel like when you keep a professional relationship with people, it's all about understanding that you have to respect other people's time."


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On taking care of oneself

What is self-care for you?

"It's making sure that I am aligned. If I am not aligned, everything goes to—excuse my language—goes to sh-t. That includes how I look, how I feel, how I act, and that's everything when it comes to this career. So, I have to make sure that I take care of me inside; all my chakras are aligned. I have to make sure that my mind, body, and soul are perfect for me, the way that it best suits me. I have to make sure that I am mentally in a good space."

We noticed you're a very spiritual person. How did you start this journey?

"I started this journey eight months ago. For 27 and a half years of my life, I was torturing myself. I never realized that in life, you have a choice. You have a choice to let things go. You have a choice to let something affect you or to let those things off with love and understanding. You know yourself as a person so don't let what other think affect you. Don't let the little things affect you because those little things can be carried on and be trauma in your life till you realize to confront them."

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"I have to make sure that my mind, body, and soul are perfect for me, the way that it best suits me."

You're also a vegetarian. Have you always been? If not, how did you transition?

"I love my crispy pata, kilawin, liempo, every Filipino dish with fat that you can think of. But I don't miss it at all. It was kind of a matter of life or death. I just heard my shaman tell me that my ancestors didn't give me the choice of being either a vegetarian or not. You need to take this journey and you need to do it seriously because it's the last chance you have to do things right in this lifetime. I followed suit and it's been that has ever happened to me. I felt better, stronger, and looked better than I ever have. Being a vegetarian in the Philippines is not easy, but it is doable with determination and persistence because it's easy to be strayed."

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What's your workout routine like?

"Spontaneous, like my life. It could be yoga, pilates, then I could be with a trainer—I have different trainers, one in LA, one in New York, one in Manila—and they all train me differently. I don't have one particular type of way that I workout. I just love doing something different all the time. "


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"People don't really understand how much different kinds of beauty we have in our culture. And I feel like it's a wide variety of unknown that makes us exotic and different because there's not one Filipina look."

On Filipina beauty

In three words, how would you describe Filipina beauty?

"Authentic, majestic, exotic. Why? Authentic because I don't think we're like any other Asians. We're a breed of our own. Filipinos are some of the most beautiful women in the world, which is true because we are majestic inside. We are a breed of people that [other] people don't really know about. We're barely breaking through with understanding what real Filipina beauty is. People don't really understand how much different kinds of beauty we have in our culture. And I feel like it's a wide variety of unknown that makes us exotic and different because there's not one Filipina look. We're like chameleons; we have a certain aura about us that is unexplainable."

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What's your position on morena beauty?

"I am very much a morena and I am proud of it. In the industry, I was told to stay out of the sun, try to be light because I'm Asian but I can't hide who I am. I had such a hard time growing up trying to fit in with everyone else when I'm born to stand out. My skin thrives in the sun."


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How do you take care of your morena skin?

"Coconut oil and tons of it! A lot of organic products."

On future plans

Do you plan on modeling here for a while?

"To be honest, I came here to find myself and be connected with my ancestors, sit with tribes and learn how our ancestors did healing and what they did to survive."

What are you most thankful for? And what are you currently praying for or working hard to achieve?

"I am most grateful for my son. He teaches me patience and unconditional love. Before him, I didn't know what real love was. I want to achieve perfect alignment, to reach my higher self. To allow my spirit to flow freely in my vessel, without ego. And to help others see their own light."

"I want them to think of me as a safe place, to be able to be free with no judgment, with understanding, and love."

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When people hear your name, what do you want them to associate you with?

"Love. I want them to think of me and say, 'Wow, she's always in the best mood. Whenever she's around, I get enlightened.' That my words can affect them in a positive way. I want them to think of me as a safe place, to be able to be free with no judgment, with understanding, and love."

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What's your dream modeling project?

"Well, it's always been a dream of mine to be a Victoria's Secret model. But it's more than what it used to be for me. What it used to be for me was to be seen as that supermodel. When I already am. I don't need them to prove to me what my career has been. I feel like now, it would be my dream because I want to be a real life angel on this world. And in order for me to get those wings, I have to live with my purpose. So my dream job would be to walk that runway because I deserve it. Because I deserve to have my wings because I'm giving back, I'm changing people, I'm helping people, and I am being the difference."

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Produced by Steph Sison

Photographed by Miguel Alomajan

Art Directed by Mark Buenaobra

Styled by Loris Peña

Makeup by Omar Emita of MAC Cosmetics

Hair by Mong Amado

Sharina wears select pieces from Rajo Laurel's The Archipelago collection and shoes from Charles and Keith

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