“The most powerful way that women can change the world is by setting up the next generation with a healthy, positive, and successful mindset.” – Tiffany Hendra
Welcome to Face Time, and welcome to 2015. DFW Style Daily’s exclusive series goes beyond the runways to get to know top Dallas models on a personal level. Why? Because there’s so much more to achieving success in fashion, or any other industry, than just a pretty face.
Today, as we look ahead to a fresh annual start, a model citizen offers an optimistic and hard-working outlook. Tiffany Hendra is a self-proclaimed “strong Southern spitfire,” who recently returned to her home state of Texas after launching a successful television and modeling career in Los Angeles. You may recognize her, in fact, from hosting gigs on VH1, Comedy Central, and FX, in addition to national and international campaigns.
Now making her home in Big D with musician hubby Aaron Hendra, Tiffany divides her time between her inspirational vlog and philanthropic outreach efforts. From her own Sanctuary of Style to a sanctuary for children in Africa, read on for Tiffany’s back story, on-set adventures, and how she plans to hit the ground running in this brand new year.
DFW Style Daily: At what age did you begin modeling? Were you scouted or did you pursue modeling as a career?
Tiffany Hendra: “I started modeling at 14, after being scouted by the legendary Mr. Neal Hamil, founder of the Neal Hamil Agency in Houston. This was thrilling, because I picked up my first Elle Magazine at about age 12, and was consumed with it all – the models, the fashion, the glamour, the ads, and the graphic art. I later went to college on an art scholarship.”
Do you recall a favorite, unusual, or particularly memorable job?
“There are so many, but one particularly memorable job was one that I booked while living in Milan, Italy. It was the catalyst that prompted me to explore acting, commercials, and hosting. For that job, I had to fake an Italian accent in the audition for a top gelato company, and I booked the job! We shot in a castle at Lake Como, and I thought I had died and gone to TV heaven. It was both challenging and a blast, and after that, I knew I had to try my hand at Hollywood.”
Fast forward to today, and you are now an experienced television host! What has been your favorite assignment so far, in that aspect of the industry?
“I still believe that my favorite assignment is on the horizon, but so far, I would have to say that my favorite has been the edgy talk show I hosted for VH1 called The Girlie Show (pictured below). It was an amazing experience, working with some of the top talent in the industry. I was still very green, but the executive producer, Jane Lipsitz, now known for Project Runway, and the casting team took a chance on me. They all appreciated that I was a strong southern spitfire from Texas.”
“The greatest lesson I learned from that experience was the validity of one of my favorite Oprah quotes: ‘Let excellence be your brand. When you are excellent, you become unforgettable. Doing the right thing, even when nobody knows you’re doing the right thing, will always bring the right thing to you.’ From the very first call informing me that I was in the running for the show, Oprah’s team handled everything with excellence.”
What is the biggest misconception you have encountered, with regard to working in the fashion and entertainment industry?
“The most surprising thing I learned early on about this industry is that it is filled with highly intuitive and intelligent, driven, business savvy, and kind people – especially the models. The working models I have encountered, no matter what part of the world I was in, are great businesswomen. The fashion industry gets a rap for being full of narcissistic, rude, and shallow people. It’s just not true.”
Moving on, your website, Sanctuary of Style, utilizes a multi-media platform to empower women through fashion, fitness, and lifestyle advice. What is your favorite area of focus? Or do you find it easy to hone in on each subject, as necessary?
“It’s interesting that you ask that question, because everything has its season, and right now I find it a chore to give beauty and style tips. I have drained my style tip reservoir dry after over 100 videos. I’ve learned through this journey that there is an ebb and flow to blogging and vlogging. As I grow and evolve as a woman, Sanctuary of Style grows and evolves, as well. I am encouraged daily by the comments and emails I receive from women around the world, describing how Sanctuary of Style has rescued them from a lackluster image.”
Why, as you say, do you believe that “confident women can change the world?”
“The core of this concept is that confident mothers change the world by raising confident children. The most powerful way that women can change the world is by setting up the next generation with a healthy, positive, and successful mindset.
“This doesn’t necessarily mean actually giving birth. I don’t have biological children, but I mentor teen girls, and I am passionate about building confidence in them and helping them create a positive vision for their life. I’m very open and transparent about my past, and about how living a fear and shame-based life caused me to go down the wrong paths with very little confidence. I hid behind my successful career, and would seek validation from all the wrong things. Back then, I wasn’t powerful, or doing anything to help and change the world.”
Your passion for philanthropy has taken you to East Africa on several occasions. Describe your work there, and what it means to the community served.
“Sam Childers is known for the major motion picture about his life, entitled The Machine Gun Preacher. He has built an orphanage in South Sudan for the children he has rescued from life as child soldiers. He has also built schools, implemented meal programs, and established various businesses in Kampala, Uganda, which have created jobs and aided in the community. My husband and I help with all of those projects. Being in Africa with the children is truly where I feel most alive.”
Speaking of your – very handsome rock star! – husband, what is the key to balancing work and marriage, with two busy schedules?
“For starters, we regularly turn off our phones and step away from the computer! We don’t take our cell phones into the bedroom, and on weekends, we enjoy the simplicity of pizza, movies, and napping together. But, most importantly, the key for us in remaining healthy and close is that we believe in each other’s dreams and do the hard work together.
“The reason my husband’s band is named the Aaron Hendra Project is that he combines his music, sales, and performances with our efforts in Africa. He even performed in Kampala to raise money, and last year, he did everything from clearing acres of brush to installing an LED light panel in the orphanage so that the kids could study at night.”
Tell us about the attributes you admire most in your husband.
“How much time do you have? Aaron’s heart is so massive, his capacity to love is mind-blowing, and he’ll stop whatever he’s doing to help anyone. Also, I admire his faith and integrity. In a world where most people are chameleons, changing who they are to be what others need them to be, my husband never waivers. He’s my rock.”
What was the last book you read that made a big impact on you?
“The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions In The Midst of Endless Demands by Lysa TerKuerst was life-altering for me. Although I had learned the art of setting boundaries, I would still battle with saying no to endless invitations, events, favors, etc., when saying yes was not in my best interest.”
Lastly, as we embark on a brand new year, do you have any specific wishes or goals for 2015?
“Moving cross-country from Los Angeles to Dallas was a big leap, and now that my husband and I have our bearings and we’ve learned the city over the past year, we’re excited to hit the ground running in 2015. Dallas has changed and grown so much since I lived here last. This is a thriving and creative city with so much opportunity, and we plan to be right in the middle of it all. We’re grateful we can continue doing what we love, and be closer to friends and family.”
All images courtesy of Tiffany Hendra. Professional headshots, credit photography by Morgan Chidsey and styling by Stephanie Quadri.