I’m a Jersey girl. I was raised by my mom—who was the flyest girl ever—my older sister, and my grandmother. My father died of AIDS when I was 2, but I grew up really happy; there were women around me all the time, and a lot of love. My mom is Peruvian and curly-haired and is a big beauty inspiration for me. We’d always be singing the latest hits, and she would enroll me in little plays, but I was shy. I was more into doing things by myself: I’d wrap a T-shirt around my head and put on makeup to try to look like her. I knew that I was different, but my mom never told me I should be any other way. Consequently, I didn’t grow up thinking that I was wrong being who I was—until I got to school. That’s when the actress in me had to come out.
Steven Meisel/W Magazine