By: Vivian Nunez
When Denise Bidot was 18 years old she had one dream — to become an actress. Her first baby step towards that dream was to move from her native Florida to LA. Her first encounter with how the best dreams are sometimes the ones we stumble upon was when her career as an actress took a detour and instead found her becoming a makeup artist.
“One day, [at a shoot where I was the makeup artist] a photographer asked me if I’d ever modeled before and if she could take my photos,” shares Bidot. “I was at a crossroads in my life and thought what do I have to lose? Sometimes life guides you on a path so that you can find yourself.”
Bidot’s path since then has found her breaking barriers as the first Latina plus-size model to walk NYFW runways and being featured in campaigns for everyone from Target to Nordstrom. Tapping into her Latinx roots and the pay-it-forward values she was raised on, Bidot has also founded “No Wrong Way Movement” — a body positive Instagram account that celebrates that “there is no wrong way to be a woman.”
She currently champions all of these overlapping values as one of the judges on Univision’s Nuestra Belleza Latina, the Spanish-network’s longest-running talent competition, which premieres its final episode of its revamped season this Sunday.
“I’ve been part of NBL’s creative board and was able to give input when the show was being reimagined,” notes Bidot. “I wanted to make my mark and ensure that the modern Latina woman was reflected on the show. When you look at the three NBL finalists, you see diverse representation of Latinas. This show has even inspired my own daughter who is Afro-Latina to speak Spanish as she sees more representation on television.”
Below Bidot shares advice she has for Latinxs who are looking to break into the modeling industry, her tips on negotiating, and why she started “No Wrong Way Movement.”
Vivian Nunez: What helped you when learning how to navigate the business side of the modeling world?
Denise Bidot: What has helped me the most to navigate the business side of the modeling world was having open conversations with colleagues. When I first started out, I asked other models about compensation and started learning more about the business and uncovering the truth. Having these open dialogues helped me understand more about the business side.
I also talked to my aunt who is a doctor and had her own business. She advised me on how to start my own business. She taught be how to be business savvy, how to save and be smart about this business.
Nunez: What has been your biggest lesson learned through this season of Nuestra Belleza Latina?
Bidot: The biggest lesson I’ve learned through this season is really from watching the girls and how they deal with the different challenges they encounter on a weekly basis. Often in life, you get thrown curveballs and how you handle them and how you bounce back from them, will define who you are. I made a special connection with many of the contestants on the show and I will continue to follow their careers and mentor them long after the show is over.
Nunez: What advice do you have for other Latinas who are looking to break into the modeling world?
Bidot: The biggest piece of advice I can give to other Latinas is to be confident, strong, and secure in who you are. Once you are secure in who you are, no one can break you.
Nunez: How has your Latinidad influenced the trajectory of your career?
Bidot: Everything I have ever done throughout my career is because of my family and my roots. I always keep thinking of my abuela and her positivity and energy – she has always fueled me. Whenever I had concerns, I’ll give her a call and she knew exactly what to say to uplift me and guide me.
Everything I do is with passion and care. It is the core of who I am. I never thought that anything like this was a possibility. I feel very blessed and thankful. This is all because of my Latin roots and what my family has instilled in me.
Nunez: You come from a family of strong women — what has been the biggest career lesson you’ve learned from them?
Bidot: The biggest career lesson that I’ve learned is that sometimes you have to say “no” to things. When I first started out in modeling, I missed out on so many family vacations and moments, I wished I hadn’t. Family always comes first and now I’m comfortable and ok to saying “no” to certain projects. I don’t want to miss out on those family moments.
Nunez: What inspired you to start No Wrong Way Movement?
Bidot: The No Wrong Way Movement is my passion project. In 2016, I started to get messages from girls around the world and I wanted to create a safe place where they can tell me their stories. I created a campaign that included all ages, sizes and colors and I wanted them to wear their truth confidently. It was amazing and touching to see girls from Germany to Brazil wear my t-shirts and join this movement that encourages everyone to embrace their authentic self.