These days, Joan Smalls is rocking the runway for Givenchy, Chanel, and Tom Ford, and helping usher in a new era of diversity in the fashion industry. Named the first Latina face of Estee Lauder’s global marketing campaign in 2011, by 2015 Smalls placed sixth on Forbes list of the world’s highest-paid supermodels.

Smalls had an unlikely catwalk coach. “My dad would love to say he taught me how to walk,” she laughed. “He taught me how to be like, “This is your space.” Smalls’ mother taught her confidence. “She taught me that power. She’s like, ‘and Joan, you remember you on that runway. Remember you’re the star.’”