In a life marked by problems with her racial and sexual identity, drug abuse and dabbling in prostitution, Venezuelan model and actress Patricia Velasquez reveals in an autobiographical book her difficulties in "accepting myself."
As is made clear in "Sin tacones. Sin reserva. Diario de una supermodelo en busqueda de su verdad," the Spanish language version of her autobiography, "Straight Walk: A Supermodel's Journey to Finding her Truth," it has not been an easy road for a woman who for decades hid her lesbian identity from the world and a Latin community that generally stigmatizes that group.
But the need to acknowledge before everyone her sexual orientation finally overwhelmed her fear of being judged by others and so she published this version of the book in Spanish, a work that will go on sale on April 29 at the Colombia Book Fair.
In fact, it was during the 2012 filming of the still-unreleased "Liz en septiembre," in which she portrays a lesbian with a terminal disease, that Velasquez realized that she needed to break free of her voluntary isolation.
"You have to outfit yourself with courage ... because you have to get into those life experiences once again and suffer them (in the film)," said the artist in an interview with Efe in Los Angeles.
So, she added, one of the aims of her book is "to encourage Hispanic families to support their children," whether they be gay, lesbian or transgender.
Born to a mestizo father and an Indian mother, the model's racial makeup has been a big element in her life and, as a little girl, to avoid facing the social stigma of being a "poor Indian," she told her schoolmates that she was Mexican and copied the accent of that country.
But thanks to almond-shaped eyes and her Wayuu heritage, Velasquez became the first Latina supermodel and the first Hispanic to appear on the cover of CoverGirl magazine.
The Venezuelan used her professional success to create social awareness of the poverty in which the Wayuu people in Venezuela and Colombia live, and which her family also experienced.
But, above all, her greatest wish was always "to help put food on the table" for her family. Her desire to help resolve that precarious situation led the 17-year-old Velasquez to prostitute herself and she used sex as a means of financing her participation in the Miss Venezuela competition and launching her career as a model.
"I made many mistakes with my decisions," she admitted, adding that "Helping (others) is what has gotten me through all my stumbles."
One of the "hardest" periods for the actress, who starred in "The Mummy" (1999) was her addiction to cocaine during the time she lived in Spain.
"I needed to show all the young people who may read the book how a person loses their way when you get involved with drugs," said Velasquez. "That takes you off course," she added.
After leaving drugs and getting herself back on track, she moved to France and signed a contract with a big modeling agency.
Shortly afterwards, she moved from Europe to New York, where she consolidated her international career on the catwalks and moving into acting, with guest appearances on the television series "CSI: Miami" and "Arrested Development."