Núbia Santos: Harder Than Becoming an Astronaut
Brazil and modeling — it’s not an easy combination. Being born in a small town in the southeast of Brazil, becoming a model was not even a cool dream, it was obviously equal to as tough as to become an astronaut for example. I was nearly 16 years old when my cousin tagged me on a Facebook post where one of the not so many agencies was scouting for new faces. However, the agency’s director noticed me and texted back saying they would have loved to meet me in person. That’s how it all started!
I was too young, as well as living far from São Paulo, where were located major modeling agencies of Brazilian fashion industry. During my first year I just learned, studied about the fashion industry, had catwalk classes, and started an English language course. Then, at 17 y.o. I moved to São Paulo to live there with my uncle and his wife. In five months I already had a few castings, some test photoshoots, and had a chance to walk on an unpaid runway show. And after that it finally happened… I got signed with an agency in London!
Moving to another country when you’re just 17 y.o., without knowing anyone was scary as hell and, when looking back, I even find it reckless! I barely spoke English, my family couldn’t support me with money, and GBP 1 was equal to BRL 4,65 (that’s in Brazilian Real), so it was really really expensive! Having in mind I was not from a wealthy family, it was tough! The majority of Brazilian aspiring models usually have a similar life story, so we understand that and try helping each other as much as possible — many of the Brazilian models I met at my first trip were still my closest friends. When being on a modeling contract in Istanbul, Turkey, I lived in a model’s apartment with three other Brazilian models and we really became a dream-team. We used to share our groceries list, cooking together, seeing sights, watching movies, as well as going on some weird castings together. I remember one day, once we arrived for a casting held by a cooking brand, the client asked me to pretend being a flamingo eating a cookie. That advertising video will stay in my memory forever! 🙂
After Istanbul, I went back to London and had only one dream — to go to Paris! On one of the ordinary Wednesdays, I found out that my modeling agenda was free until next Monday, so I called a friend of mine and asked: “Hey, what are your plans for the weekend?”. One of my other friends used to live in Paris, so we could stay at her place. We bought the cheapest tickets and went to Paris for the first time in our lives. Modeling gives you many opportunities to travel but it’s not always that you’re really able to have time to see the sights, so I’m grateful that my first time in Paris wasn’t a work related trip.
Later, in 2021, I went to Paris with my boyfriend. I only visited one agency there and planned to have a nice vacation, but on the second day the agency called me about a great opportunity to have a photoshoot with an amazing team, so I went to work. During the photoshoot I got a call from my London agency that I got a fashion campaign the next day and had to urgently get back to London. I booked the latest night train, my boyfriend helped me to pack things, and I ran to the train station. Some people got stressed a lot with such last-minute plan’s changes, but that’s not my story! I love how modeling always surprises me and how all those sudden things can happen, so I just love it!
The same year, during Lisbon Fashion Week, a casting director gave me some extra tickets, so my boyfriend and cousins could get here to watch me on a runway show, which was just sweet to give them all a chance to see me walking at the fashion catwalk!
To give my family an opportunity to see my achievements in modeling, I usually try keeping and collecting all the photos and magazines, to be able to show them when we meet. Having friends around the world helps me a lot with that! For example, last year someone texted me on instagram “Girl, I’ve just seen you in Vogue magazine!”. I had no idea how could it be so, but it turned out that one of my photos from before the pandemic time got published there! I was so happy, but the magazine issue has already been out of stock (I was 2 months late with my wish to buy it!), so I had to search for it on eBay, then pay the price equal to the price of three magazine’s issues, just to get that very one, to be able to proudly show it to my family! So, sometimes the modeling life is really harder than becoming an astronaut, and that’s true!