During a recent trip to New York City, we scheduled some time in with Colombia-native, IMG model, and Good Squad member, Daniela Lopez Osorio, at one of her favorite spots, Broken Coconut. On this particular day, the sun had decided to come out and play (after a few days of rain), and it’s almost as if our lunch date was the reason for the weather’s upbeat shine. One of the first things you quickly learn about Daniela is how incredibly kind-hearted and warm her smile is. She’s genuine, and inviting, immediately putting you at ease. The second thing you learn, is how passionate she is about helping others in as many ways as possible.
Within 15 minutes of walking into Broken Coconut, Daniela had already dove deep into two things close to her heart–Imagina and Many Hopes. Imagina, a private non-profit organization for children, was started by her best friend’s mother growing up and is based in Daniela’s home state: Quindio, Colombia. In high school, Daniela began volunteering there and has continued to do so ever since. She’s also a spokesperson for Many Hopes, a charity located in Kenya. There she helps in raising funds, donating, and attends their events, like ICAP Charity Day. In April 2020, she’ll make a trip on their volunteer mission. (There is so much important information to share about both organizations, so we provided links at the bottom of her interview for you to learn more!)
Daniela comes from Armenia, a city in the coffee triangle in Colombia, and she’s extremely proud to be representing her country with the work that she’s done–in modeling and with her charities. Although we'd love her to teach us how to work our angles, we're most interested in learning how to give back as beautifully as she does. Here's the story she shared with us.
You’re really passionate and excited about the charities you’re involved in. Can you tell us more about them?
The one in my hometown is called Imagina. It's in Quindio, which is the name of my state. And then the other one in Africa is called Many Hopes. The first one is the one in my hometown in Colombia, and for the past three years none of our kids have lost grades. I basically rent a house right next to the public school where there’s the most violence in my hometown, and I bring in teachers and educators. You could be a soccer teacher, you could be a sex educator, or it could be music. I bring in teachers all of the time, and we give these kids an opportunity to know that we believe in them. The only rule is that they have to go to school, and we’ll help them do homework. We started with 40 kids and now we have 79. The first years, they were all losing grades in everything. Now, for the past three years, none of our kids have lost their grades. We also got two of them sponsored with a full scholarship with their university. One of kids, we helped them go to college.
What’s extremely exciting about the school in Africa is that the Cambridge University just approved it to be the first school in Kenya to get Cambridge status. This is extremely important! (She reads a letter from her phone to us.) “We are delighted to report that we have been accredited by the University of Cambridge as a Cambridge International School." And that is major. What’s in this charity that is extremely special, is that we get kids who have been abused and we do not only take them out of that situation but we sue their abuser. What’s so impressive, even if we don’t win the case, the kid knows that we believe them and that we fought for them. The kids who grew up in this charity are now gradating university and are helping these kids grow even more. It’s just so amazing. I’m so happy with that.
What inspired you or made you want to do that for the children in your home country?
Since I was little, something that my dad really installed in me that I was extremely blessed growing up. Even kids that I went to school with had never even seen the ocean. And the ocean has always been such a big part of me, so for me that was weird. So my dad always installed in me that, "You’re extremely blessed and you have to share your blessings." Since I was 9 or 10, I have been doing charity work with him. It was always just so installed in me, and it’s just when I am the happiest.
So what kind of charity work did you do when you were younger with him?
I helped kids with autism, because my dad’s friend had a big charity for them. He was a dentist and he would fix their teeth and their smile. He was my dentist and he would talk to me about it when I was growing up and I was like, “I want to do this. I want to go, help, and talk to them.” And we got horses for the kids to play with, and we made them a pool so they could have their training. Some kids were in wheelchairs, so we got them teachers that taught them how to start moving their own muscles, and their own body again. That’s easier done in a pool, because then there is not the weight weighing them down. This is actually the first time I am publicly speaking about it, at least the one in Colombia, because I’m very afraid of getting criticism for that.
Why do you feel that way?
Let’s just say, you can easily talk shit about me. I don’t care. But [my charities] are so important to me and I’m not ready to hear backlash on it. If that makes any sense.
Yeah that makes sense, probably because that’s so close to your heart.
Because it’s so close to my heart, it’s so crazy!
It’s good to get the message out!
It’s really helped me be happy. My charities make me the happiest. If anyone knows me, they know that I’m kid-obsessed. I’m not ready to have my own yet, but I am kid-obsessed like crazy.
Tell us how you hype yourself up when you’re having an off day.
First of all, that is one of the big stigmas that people always have to be happy and in a good mood. No, you are allowed to have a bad day or days. The way I pick myself up is first of all, I put on good Latin music–reggaeton, salsa, whatever. And then I make sure I get out of my house, because it can become a very vicious cycle. So, I get out of my house, I go on a walk, I go see a friend, and I also take care of myself: I go get a massage, I take a bath, or I do a meditation online. That’s how I take care of myself, of my mind, and my body when I am having a down day.
Photography by Jamie Girdler
Photography by Jamie Girdler
What does being a Good American mean to you?
Being a part of the Good American Squad is amazing because I get to work with a brand that is so inclusive. It doesn’t matter where you’re from. Look, I’m from Colombia and I’m here! It’s just so amazing because you can go and see one of the girl’s from the Squad and you are able to say, “Oh I look like her, and she looks hot, and she looks so sexy, and she feels confident!”, and you can feel represented by that. I love being part of the Good Squad because of that.
Can you tell us your favorite mantra that you live by?
“Se luz donde sea que estes.” You can be light wherever you are. That’s one of my mantras. Gracias papí por dame la luz.
Ok, so this may sound a little cheesy, but if you had the power to make any change in the world, what would it be?
If I had the power to make any change in the world it would be to make us a little more kind. I feel like we are all getting a bit desensitized about other people’s problems and our planet’s situation. But I really do believe if we were more kind and we all stick together as humans no matter where you are from, I think we’re going to make something great.
Photography by Jamie Girdler