The sensuality of the Caribbean, the exuberance of the tropics and the taste of its mixtures is in her smile. Her gaze transpires warmth and a kind of angelic glamor. She is 23 years old, measures 1.73, is a model, DJ, clarinetist and, with her expressive and refined projection, she conquered the directors of the video clip Súbeme la radio by Enrique Iglesias with which he jumped to popularity a few years ago.
Her name is Karina Valero Tieles, she is half Cuban and half Spanish and in a few days she will participate in the famous Miss Universe Spain beauty pageant.
How do you get to the pageant?
It was all a bit by chance, because honestly I have never been linked to the world of beauty pageants, basically because not existing in Cuba, it never formed part of my expectations.
But recently I was offered to participate in Miss Tourism Balearic Islands, and I liked the idea. Then I had to quit because I had previous work commitments that coincided with the pageant. That was it until a friend of my sister (Pascu) got it into her head that I should present myself to Miss Universe Spain.
It seemed like a joke to me, because I have always considered it as “the big leagues,” as we say in Cuba, but she wrote and I was contacted. They did a telephone interview and asked me for a video casting, and here we are.
How did you receive the news and what did you feel when you heard about your participation in the pageant?
The truth? At first it was difficult to assimilate. I even hesitated in participating. I couldn’t think straight. There are many emotions: doubts, fears, euphoria…. Everyone reacts in their own way and I started taking it, like almost everything, very calmly. But when I finally reacted that it was a reality, I felt great joy and great pride.
What expectations and perspectives do you have with the pageant?
Well, first, to enjoy it. This is a unique experience I know I will remember all my life, so I want to have a great time. I also know that it can open many doors on the professional level and I am very curious about what may come of it.
On the other hand, I would be very proud to be able to represent that part of multiracial and multicultural Spain. I know it’s a great responsibility and a great platform that I would like to use to send a positive message, of integration.
You are a model, DJ, musician and muse for many brands and designers, how do you alternate everything and manage to be so successful?
Actually, it’s not easy, for obvious reasons. Both music and fashion are careers that require a lot of time and dedication. I always try to respect the issues I consider a priority and I also play a lot with intuition. And on the other hand, important too, I have had the support of my family.
In Cuba my mother always respected and supported my decisions, since I started studying music and then when I started the modeling career. She did not have much knowledge about the subject but, for example, whenever she could, she accompanied me to all my jobs and was aware of who I worked with. It’s always good to have someone you trust to guide you and give you their point of view.
How do you get to the world of modeling?
When I was in the last year of the ENA (National Art School of Havana) I met Miguel Leyva, a friend with whom I started having photos taken for his fashion blog and after seeing the result of the photos and seeing that I had fun doing it I began to investigate further how this fashion world worked and to dedicate myself to it.
What do you prefer, music or the world of fashion?
I don’t think it’s about preference. Music has been part of my life since I was little and it’s what I’ve done since then and somehow it has to always be present in my life. Fashion came later, in a positive way. It’s something that I have done as a hobby but then it has become work and has contributed a lot to my life, professionally, and also on a personal level.
What is it like to be a Cuban influencer today?
I already know they call me an influencer because I have a lot of followers and I’m active in the social media; but the truth is that I do it because I like it and I have fun, and because it’s a great professional tool. I collaborate with brands that inspire me or with which I identify; but I don’t consider myself an influencer, beyond the awareness that I always have to send a positive message.
What is the best and worst part of fame and how do you assume yourself as a public figure?
I think it’s funny when you say that and I feel very flattered because I don’t consider myself “famous.” It’s not false modesty, it’s just that I don’t see myself like that, just a little popular. Of all that “attention,” the best is the people’s support. In each of my most important jobs and right now with the pageant, it is incredible. I haven’t had any bad experience as a result of “fame,” luckily. I guess the worst thing would be the destructive and pointless criticism of some people, but honestly, it is something that I hardly pay attention to, therefore it does not affect me.
How would you define yourself?
It’s always easier for those who know me best to do this, but I consider myself a cheerful, positive and sometimes absent-minded person. The first two characteristics are something that I consciously like to be and transmit. Being absent-minded is hereditary and inevitable.
What should not be missing, from your experience, in a good model?
Attitude and your own style! Today I notice that the super good-looking girl or boy is not what they are looking for, even with the perfect measurements. What they are looking for is that you not only wear the clothes or the brand, but what you can project and that is beyond the physical.
How is a normal day in Karina’s life away from the cameras?
I’m not really a morning person, so I take advantage of the days I don’t have much to do to sleep in. I like to listen to a lot of music and go for walks in the city or go to a beach. Mallorca has many super nice ones, and I try to go to a different one every time…. And although I’m not working, I try to do some kind of sport or physical activity. (This is a “resolution” that I have to make every day, but I’m making an effort.)
What brands and designers would you like to work with?
Well, if I start to dream, I would like to work with haute couture designers like Chanel and Prada, but I’m really quite open about working with little-known brands or people who are starting. Because if it’s quality work, it’s always a pleasure.
What have you learned most from the world of fashion and what are you most passionate about?
Professionally and personally it has given me more than many would think. It has taught me to be more patient and a professional ethics. It is a job that although everything looks like fun―in many ways it is―also requires a lot of discipline and seriousness.
Will you return to work in Cuba after the pageant?
Well, I will always return to Cuba. But right now I have no immediate plans, mainly because of work.
What plans could you tell us about?
Well, as you can imagine, the Miss Universe Spain is my priority now. I also have musical projects of which I cannot give many details, because I’m working on them.