• adidas + UO: Braina Laviena

    The future is now. For our new + exclusive adidas campaign, we teamed up with 19 up-and-coming creative minds that our shaping our cultural landscape. Scroll on to go behind the scenes of our Fall 2016 campaign and meet the creatives who are working to #createourfuture. 

    From political campaigns in Puerto Rico to Kanye West's much-lauded adidas runway shows, Braina Laviena has worked her way into the cultural conversation. We talked to the Los Angeles-based model about her ongoing photography projects, working with Kanye, and the importance of being hopeful.  
    Lead photo by Petra Collins

    Photo by Petra Collins

    Can you tell us a bit about yourself? 
    I’m from Puerto Rico. I love cats. I love all animals, but for now, cats are just the easiest thing to live with. I went to school in Puerto Rico for Advertising and minored in Journalism. I worked in politics for about two years. I did campaigns for the current government, social media stuff. And then I decided to move to L.A. to pursue my modeling career.

    So, modeling brought you to L.A. Why did you want to model? 
    My dad used to record events with VHS cameras.  When I was a kid, I remember him doing that. My mom’s always been a very creative person, she used to work in an arts and crafts store. So I’ve always really enjoyed making things, you know? Actually making things with my hands. And as long as I can remember I’ve loved dancing. I used to love putting on a show. I’d get dressed up as whatever latin pop stars at the time and make everyone sit down in the living room and I’d sing and dance for them. Being a performer, in front of, or behind the camera, is what I like. 

    How often are you behind the camera? 
    All the time. Mostly when I work modeling jobs. I’ll take a lot of behind-the-scenes photos. I’ll both everyone, sneaking around taking pictures. And when I’m home, my boyfriend and I like to take pictures of each other, just casual day-to-day things. 

    Usually when I travel I take self portraits at the hotel I’m staying in. I couldn’t do it last night because I was so tired when I got in, which was a bummer. I’m also trying to focus more on shooting fashion editorials and other series of photos. 

    Self portrait by Braina Laviena @picsfortipz

    We saw your recent editorial in Sicky Mag. 
    Yes, so my boyfriend, Andrew Echeverria and I are working as a photo duo. That was actually the first shoot that we did together. He usually shoots more natural portraits and I usually shoot like random behind-the-scenes girls. So we’re combining our aesthetics into something that’s like fashion, but a little more low-key. 

    Why are you the way you are? 
    Since I can remember, I’ve been a strong willed and spontaneous person. That could have been a bad thing when I was younger. My mom would tell me, “Hey, you have to think before you speak.” My parents raised me a certain way, they taught me to be independent. They taught me to work really hard for things and to make my own path. They forced me to go to college because I actually wanted to move to L.A. right after graduating high school. I did the eleventh and twelfth grade at the same time, day and night school. 

    So why am I the way I am? I think it all comes down to experiences. All of those things shaped me in a very important way. I learned so many important lessons in all of that. Had I not gone to college, I wouldn’t be where I am now. Working in politics taught me a lot. It opened my eyes to the world and how things really work, and also to be very cautious about the things you hear and the things that are actually true.

    Photo by Petra Collins

    As an influential, creative person do you–
    I don’t think I’m an influential person. 

    You don’t? 
    Not really. I mean, I feel like I aspire to influence people at a certain point, but I don’t think I’m there yet. I think the word “influencer” is throw around very easily. Just because you have a certain amount of followers on Instagram, just because people see what you’re doing, that doesn’t mean you’re influencing them in a good way. 

    Do you feel like your photography transcends barriers? 
    I don’t know. Right now, I don’t really know how I would describe my photography work. 

    It’s still too fresh for you? 
    I mean, I’ve taken pictures since high school. But I’ve never been consistent with it, or said like “I want to be a photographer,” or whatever. I still don’t think that I’m a photographer. When I'm shooting, I don’t like making people be someone that they’re not. I try to make people as comfortable as possible. My boyfriend and I have actually just decided to only shoot girls that are over eighteen. Because being twenty-six and seeing how the industry treats fourteen year old girls and goes through them like they’re disposable, I don’t think that’s a healthy thing. That’s a point where we’re trying to do some good. And as a model, same thing. I’m not 5'9.

    And when I shaved my head, there weren’t that many models doing that, there’s a bunch more now. I think it had a lot to do with working for Kanye. He’s obviously someone that likes to break boundaries and break stereotypes. In his first show, his casting was so diverse and and being in that show helped my career a lot. It showed people that I could be a good model. 

    Photo by Petra Collins

    What does our future look like? 
    We have been moving forward over the years, be it in fashion or in politics or general society. But there's still a long way to go to solve many, many issues and to help people see that things can be different. That things can be better. And like the other day I was watching this documentary, Noam Chomsky. It's like old, it's like from 2003 or something. But he said something that really stuck with me.

    He said he remembered that during  the Great Depression everything was terrible, but people were very, very hopeful about their future. They were sure that they would make it through. They were positive and they tried to help everyone out. And he was saying that, in today's society, he doesn’t see that. I feel like that's very true. There's a small amount of people that are saying, "Yes, we can do this. We can move forward. We can learn and make things better." But a lot of people are just giving up.

    Some things can be left to chance, yes. But the future of the generation, the future of this society, the future of our world, should not be just left up to chance. We should work actively towards making it better. Within that we, need to be very hopeful, and with that hope we can actually achieve things. 

    Photo by Petra Collins

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