When Olivia DePiore was born, her parents were told she probably wouldn't speak and probably wouldn't be able to do much for herself. Now 23 years old, Olivia is a published international model who was the first "Model of Determination" to walk the Milan Fashion Week this year. In addition to modeling, Olivia works 2 jobs, she is a Cancer survivor and just happens to have Down Syndrome.
Modeling was something that came unexpectedly. "I just happened to be shopping for a homecoming dress and the very eclectic owner of this cute dress shop in Bedford, Ohio, asked my mother if I would model for her shop in a fashion show. My mum said, "she's right there...ask her,"" Olivia said.
From that day forward, Olivia started to observe other models. Often using YouTube as her source, she watched how the models posed, turned, etc. "I would practice all the time and be asked to model in numerous runway and print shows," she said.
When one thinks of a "model", there is often this preconceived notion that a model has to "look" a certain way. "You should never pigeon-hole someone or put them in a box. Everyone needs to be given opportunities to prove themselves and to work to their own potential...not others' expectations or potentials. This makes me happy...this makes me proud. Let me do it my way and accept me for who I am. I'm much more LIKE you than DIFFERENT from you," Olivia says.
If you are within the modeling community, you know modeling isn't as simple as standing in front of a camera receiving directives from a creative team. It is a challenge. A talent that takes time to harness and grow. Olivia has worked hard to get to where she is today.
"I have smoothed my walk and my gestures vs. choppy styles. I not only use my arms and legs, but bend more, use props around me including walls, and floors. I also move my eyes more now than just my entire head," she says.
When it comes down to a photoshoot, or fashion walk, music is her go to! "It let's me get into some beat and move my feet," she says.
Some of Olivia's biggest influences are from watching the display of confidence of the Victoria Secret models. "But I never want to be so similar to the person beside me like they are. Let me see some diversity in looks, styles, body-type, abilities, etc.," Olivia said.
The best advice that she has ever been given is to be herself, and embrace who she is. Her positive attitude and determination has led her to win "Greatest Improvement in Modeling" award in the 2019 at the Ohio Fashion Week over all other models in the state of Ohio.
"An artist needs to be able to bring their art from within their own mind. Sometimes watching someone else or looking at their styles, can stop us from our own creativity," she says.
Olivia hopes to see more diversity in modeling and in acting, in NYC and Hollywood. "We are starting to make an impact, but it's just the tip of the iceberg. I travel to the places I go for a reason....increase the visibility of people who don't look like the typical model. Force them to look at us and embrace our differences," she said.
Olivia leaves everyone with this," Don't accept NO for an answer. Challenge that mindset and make them recognize you for the talents and skills that you have and COULD have. Give all people a chance. Remember, we are much more alike than we are different. Also, learn from those differences...ask questions."
For more on Olivia, be sure to follow her on Instagram and Facebook!
Instagram - @OliviaDepiore2018
Facebook - /OliviaDePioremodelingportfolio