Joan Smalls insists multicultural heritage 'helped' her modelling career

Joan Smalls

Joan Smalls is certain her multicultural heritage has aided her modelling career.

The model, who is of West Indian and Puerto Rican descent, has opened up about her background in a new interview with People.com and explained that while the fashion industry is facing criticism for lack of diversity, she feels that her ethnicity has always allowed her to stand out from the crowd.

"(It) has helped my career because it makes you different than everybody else," Smalls told the publication. "However, she complained that "people love to put people in boxes", and added: "Sometimes they can't wrap their head around a person being two different cultures."

The brunette beauty, who said she will "always and forever" be a proud Puerto Rican, also revealed that it was normal growing up in a home where she and her family spoke two languages.

"I grew up in a household where my father was black and my mother was Puerto Rican so it was always my norm... being black, being Hispanic and being able to speak both languages. Those are my roots," the 31-year-old explained.

And Smalls is hopeful that diversity will soon become less of an issue in the fashion world.

"The fact that the fashion industry is embracing more individuals who don't particularly fit the stereotype is beautiful. I hope it continues... and it's not just fashion people riding a wave because they might get called out on social media," she stated.

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