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valentina sampaio will take your breath away

We meet the Brazilian bombshell and first transgender model to grace the cover of Vogue.

Tish Weinstock

Last month, French Vogue made fashion history when it revealed its March cover star. Valentina Sampaio, the model in question, is the first trans woman to appear on a Vogue cover, ever. Of course, the fashion bible has featured the likes of Hari Nef and Andreja Pejic inside its hallowed pages, but never an entire cover. One progressive step for Vogue, and a giant leap for diversity worldwide. But enough about Vogue, we want to know more about the Brazilian bombshell that is Valentina Sampaio. Born in the vibrant fishing village of Prainha, in the north east of Brazil, 20-year-old Valentina spent her childhood making art and dreaming of becoming an actress. Putting her Hollywood dreams on hold (for now), last November she put her first foot forward as a model, by stepping onto the catwalk during São Paulo Fashion Week. Since then she's gone from shoot to shoot and strength to strength, even finding time to fit in filming an independent Brazilian production, which comes out later this year. Here, the incredible beauty shares her advice for following in her footsteps and top tips for learning to love yourself.

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Can you tell us a bit about who you are and where you grew up?
I'm a 20-year-old girl from Brazil. I grew up in a cosy fishing village (Prainha) close to Fortaleza in the north east of Brazil.

How has your background shaped who you are today?
My childhood was nice and smooth, everybody from my village was always so good with me; I never suffered bullying, so I would say it was a normal and nice childhood.

Growing up who were your role models?
My role models were Brooke Shields, Brigitte Bardot, Grace Jones and Angelina Jolie. They're all pretty different to each other, but they are all strong and talented women.

What did you want to be when you were a kid?
I wanted to be a fashion designer or an actress.

When did you want to be a model?
Frankly speaking, I never thought of being a model. Modelling is something that happened to me and I'm trying to make the best of it. For me, it is a way to express myself in a different way

You seem to ooze confidence, where did that come from?
That's funny! I'm actually pretty shy, especially when I do not know people, so I'm happy to come across confident... it's like there is an undercover tiger within me. I'm very focused and determined. Hopefully modelling will help me to express this more easily.

What's been your career highlight so far?
Well my career is still so short! I just started last November with São Paulo Fashion Week, but I've already achieved so many important steps so I'm pretty happy about how it is going...and I've already made a movie! Can you believe it? It's a Brazilian independent production, I really loved it. It has been one of the best experiences in my life for sure, but it has not come out yet, so let's keep it secret!

What is the significance of gracing the cover of French Vogue?
My French Vogue cover is definitely one of the biggest accomplishments in my short career, I'm so happy and proud of it! It is still early for me to totally understand its impact on my life and career but for sure it has spread my name all over the world. Working with such a talented and professional team made it such a profound experience.

What does beauty mean to you?
Beauty is something that comes from your soul, much more so than your face.

What does it mean to be a woman in 2017?
Having strength and sensibility.

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If you could change one thing in the world what would it be and why?
I would eradicate any kind of preconception. We are not born with preconceptions, so why do we have to fight them the whole time?!

What advice would you give to young girls wishing to follow in your footsteps?
I would say keep fighting and follow your dreams even when everything looks bad.

What are you three tips to loving yourself?
Understand yourself, accept yourself and understand that everybody is unique.

What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
I hope to go as far as this job will to take me, but I also want to have my own family and a little, cute farm where my kids can grow up.

Read: How Skins provided teens with vital, nuanced depictions of mental illness.

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Text Tish Weinstock