Victoria's Secret's First Transgender Model Valentina Sampaio Tells Us, "This Is Just the Beginning"

Courtesy of Valentina Sampaio
Courtesy of Valentina Sampaio

22-year-old model Valentina Sampaio, who was recently announced as Victoria's Secret's first transgender model, is bringing some much-needed diversity to the brand. After Ed Razek finally resigned from the lingerie company following his discriminatory — and frankly, horrific — comments about "transsexual" models and minority groups, we're hopeful that we will also begin to see body diversity on the Victoria's Secret runway, when and if another show takes place. (Rumors have been swirling that the 2019 event may be canceled.) Honestly, I'm not interested in watching a spectacle that sets any sort of standard for who a woman should be and what she should and shouldn't look like.

Valentina agrees that "fashion is for everyone," from all backgrounds and all communities. "This is just the beginning and it is an evolution for everybody." Valentina still dreams of walking in the VS show, despite the uncertainty around this year's event. "Yes, it is still one of the biggest dreams of my life," she told me when we talked after she made her official announcement via Instagram on Thursday August 1. While Valentina is certainly tacking on the social followers now that her involvement with the lingerie brand has been confirmed, that relationship, she said, isn't what defines her.

"To me, [gender-neutral modeling] represents a victory for society; not just the trans community, but for all people who are currently underrepresented in fashion. We are experiencing a moment — an evolution, and it is a positive one. Brands are finally learning and catching up to the importance of inclusivity and diversity," she said. Valentina went on to tell us about her most pinch-me career moment thus far, as well as the incident that made her feel like she didn't belong in the modeling community. Of course, the experience only made her stronger. That's plain to see as you scroll down to admire Valentina's clear talent (and learn a little bit more about her, too).

Valentina Sampaio on Modeling

POPSUGAR: When was the moment you knew you wanted to be a model?
Valentina Sampaio: At 18.

PS: Which models have you always looked up to?
VS: Gisele Bünchen, Linda Evangelista, and Cindy Crawford.

Valentina Sampaio's Advice For Trans Models

PS: What's a piece of advice you repeat to yourself during tough times?
VS: Never give up.

PS: What advice would you give to other aspiring trans models?
VS: To stay focused and ready, because this job is super hectic and you never know what is going on.

Valentina Sampaio on Modeling For Victoria's Secret

PS: Why is it special to you to be booked by Victoria's Secret or hired by the company at this point in time?
VS: I'm really happy and proud to be working with Victoria's Secret, especially during this time of change. I hope it can be a huge step toward more inclusivity and representation for everybody. It is an empowering moment, and I am proud to represent a positive change within the fashion industry and within Victoria's Secret.

PS: Is modeling for Victoria's Secret a career milestone for you?
VS: For sure! I mean, to work for VS is the dream of any model, and being appointed the first transgender model for the brand is a hugely important moment not only for myself, but my community and beyond.

Valentina Sampaio on Memorable Career Moments

PS: What's your most pinch-me career moment so far?
VS: For sure when they told me I was confirmed for the Vogue Paris cover.

PS: What was one moment you can remember when you were made to feel like modeling wasn't for you, and how did you overcome that and move forward?
VS: When I was still modeling in Fortaleza (Brazil), I was canceled for a job when the client discovered I was transgender. That, at the beginning, left me really sad and I wanted to quit the business, but then it made me stronger because I wanted to show to everybody who I am and what I'm able to do!

See More of Valentina Sampaio's Modeling Photos
Courtesy of Valentina Sampaio

See More of Valentina Sampaio's Modeling Photos

Courtesy of Valentina Sampaio

Courtesy of Valentina Sampaio

Courtesy of Valentina Sampaio

Courtesy of Valentina Sampaio