Transgender superstar Carmen Carrera didn't make it to the runway in this year's Victoria's Secret Fashion Show on Wednesday night, but that doesn't mean she's giving up her dream of becoming the lingerie company's first transgender Angel. "Next year's another year," Carrera told Metro. "I'm definitely going for it no matter what."
Carrera's goal of becoming a Victoria's Secret model made headlines after a fan started a petition onChange.org asking the brand to make her its first transgender model. The petition had more than 38,000 signatures — what had started as a whimsical Facebook post by Carrera became much more.
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Carrera said though she always dreamed of being a Victoria's Secret model, she didn't take it seriously until after she modeled a runway show by designer Marco Marco during Los Angeles Fashion Week. "I was unsure of myself when I got offstage," she admitted. "But when I watched it back, I was like, 'Wow, I'm giving Victoria's Secret model' and I shared it on social media and asked, 'Oh I think I can! What do you guys think?' and that's where this all came from because my fans said, 'You're right, Carmen,' and I thought, why not?"
Carrera said she loves Victoria's Secret's annual fashion show because of the high production value. "They're amazing," she gushed. "The lighting, the costume, the way the models walk — and that's how I felt after the Marco Marco show."
Carrera first became famous when she joined the cast of "RuPaul's Drag Race" in 2011. She came out as a transgender woman in 2012 and her star continued to rise as she joined Elite Models, an agency that represents supermodels like Monica Bellucci, Hilary Rhoda and Agyness Deyn. She was profiled in W magazine in August; the feature was appropriately titled "Showgirl."
"Growing up, I never had a specific dream and my dreams were always changing, but I always wanted to do shows or some form of entertainment," said Carrera. "I grew up in an apartment complex so I was always around a lot of people, and I'd do little things like put on shows for other kids in the court."
But the last person who expected this level of fame is Carrera herself. "I never thought about it. I never thought this would happen," she said. "I found myself working with great artists like Steven Meisel and Pat McGrath and it just kind of happened." She's had plenty of role models along the way, not least of all her mother. Carrera also counts makeup artists Scott Barnes and Pat McGrath, Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce, Kim Kardashian for beauty, early '90s Mariah Carey and of course RuPaul as influences.
Carrera pays it forward, as well. She stays in touch with Marco Regalado of Merced, Calif., who started the petition. "Honestly, if I had walked this Victoria's Secret show, I would have made my manager get [Marco] to come with me — that one dreamer," she said. "I'd want to share that moment with him."
Though Carrera has countless fans, she still gets bothered by her detractors and cyberbullies, especially people who insist on calling her a man. "It makes me angry because even when you're 100 percent sure of something, someone who's ignorant comes along with the strongest opinion and you're like, 'What are you talking about? You sound so stupid,'" she vented. "I don't like to use words like that, but people can be so ignorant and passionately against something when most people don't know transgender people, have never met a transgender person and don't know anything about it."
She added that some people claim that she tries to use her sexual identity for fame. "It's not something I want to exploit, that I was born male for attention," she said. "They come in and argue with my fans and it's like, 'You're crashing my party and you gotta go.'"
But the haters won't stop her from living her dreams. For now, Carrera is busy spending time with her 9-year-old stepdaughter ("She's so smart and she teaches me so much," she gushed), and she has big plans for the future. "I want to do Maxim Top 100. I want to do Sports Illustrated. I want to be on People Magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People. I want to do it all." Adriana Lima and Alessandra Ambrosio better watch out.
Follow Andrea Park on Twitter: @andreapark