Maxim Mexico cover girl Yovanna Ventura recalls early struggles to be accepted as a model: ‘I had to fight’

Yovanna Ventura, Maxim Mexico’s February 2020 cover girl, never imaged she would be a sought-after model.

The Miami-born star, who spent most of her childhood in the Dominican Republic, was introverted as a child and felt more at ease on a farm surrounded by animals. The 24-year-old’s mother, however, encouraged Ventura to take ballet and attend modeling school to ease her shyness.

And while Ventura admitted her success didn’t come overnight, she was determined to make her mark and inspire other girls to step out of their shells. Today The Lions modeling agency talent, who has over 5 million followers on Instagram alone, works closely with the Black Jaguar White Tighter Foundation to protect large cats, as well as various animal adoption centers in Miami, Maxim Mexico shared.

Ventura spoke to Fox News about shooting for the outlet, her secrets to looking good in photos, why she’s determined to clean up the environment and how she stays in camera-ready shape all year long.

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Fox News: How were you discovered as a model?
Yovanna Ventura: Well, that's a funny story because I was not discovered like a regular model. I had to really fight to be able to become what I wanted. I had to knock a lot of doors and be neglected many times, but it was all worth it. It was all hard work. It took me to where I am today and now I am proudly signed with The Lions, which is an amazing agency and the team... believes in me. So yeah, it's not the regular story, but I am very proud of how I got to where I am.

Fox News: What was it like shooting for the cover of Maxim Mexico?
Ventura: It was amazing. The whole team was great. They made me feel super comfortable... It was kind of like a "Euphoria" vibe with the shoot, so very excited about it.

Fox News: You always look amazing in photos. Where does your confidence come from?
Ventura: I always try to remain really confident, regardless of anything. At the end of the day, I'm not the regular high fashion model, but I embrace the way I am and the way I look. I love to represent my Latinas and my Hispanic industry. That's my main goal with everything.

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Fox News: Based on your Instagram, you’re a big fan of fitness. What’s your routine like?
Ventura: I really do love going to the gym. The thought of going to the gym? Don’t get me wrong, the thought of going to the gym makes me go, “Oh my God, I have to go to the gym.” (Laughs.) I can feel lazy in the beginning. But once I’m there, I can’t stop. I really do love that feeling of being active and knowing I accomplished something. Lately, I’ve really been into boxing and kickboxing. I love hot yoga and regular gym routines when I don’t have the time to do those other activities. I feel like it really helps with my stress and anxiety. It just brings peace to my mind most of the time.

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Fox News: On your cheat days, what’s on your plate?
Ventura: I really love cookies. I am obsessed with cookies and ice cream or any type of dessert that I can mix with ice cream. I have a really bad sweet tooth. So that's one thing that I can't stop.

Fox News: You have over 5 million followers on Instagram. With such a large platform, how do you deal with trolls and negative comments?
Ventura: Well, it used to get to my head when I was a little younger, since I started getting followers when I was younger. But on this day, I don't really pay attention to any of that. I mostly pay attention to the positive comments, which, thank God, most of what I get on my comments are positive. So I always try to keep that in mind. There are way more positive comments out there than negative. And the negative comments probably don't come from people that are very happy. So I just try to be nice about it and not really pay it any mind.

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Fox News: You’re very open and honest with your followers on Instagram. How do you find that balance of sharing your life, while also keeping certain aspects private?
Ventura: I try to be open with my followers with things that I know could motivate them, things that could help them... be better and do better in life. And then the things that don't really matter for me to show out there, I try to keep private. But I just try to stay connected with them with the things that really truly matter.

Fox News: As a model, what’s your secret to looking good in photos? 
Ventura: When I have a shoot or something important coming up, I make sure that I eat healthy the day before. No dairy, nothing like that because it makes me wake up puffy or tired. I try to work out the day before, or the morning of, if I can. It helps get rid of puffiness or if I'm bloated or anything like that. Also, putting ice on my face in the morning helps a lot with puffiness.

Fox News: Was there ever a point in your career where you felt like giving up because things weren't going your way? What kept you going?
Ventura: There were definitely different points in my career where I felt like, "What am I doing?" I never felt like giving up, but I have had moments where I'm like, "Is this really what I should be doing?" I've gotten so many "No's" in my career. Should I keep pushing? And thankfully, I have really amazing people around me. I think that's very important — to have positive people, hardworking people that want the best for you around you.

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And I have a really amazing manager, who never gives up on me and always pushes me. I have amazing friends that always push me, never let me get down or give up on anything. So I'm very grateful for the people that I do have around me. And also, as I said before, it's really important to me to be the face for the Latin industry in the fashion industry right now. I feel like it's really important for Hispanic girls and girls from Miami as well, where I was born, to have someone to look up to and know that they can do whatever they want with their lives.

Fox News: Who were some of your inspirations growing up?
Ventura: My main inspiration is JLo because she’s a very strong Latina. She came from nothing and pushed through. She really had to work to get to where she is. And every goal, everything that she said she would do, she did it and she did it amazingly. She never gave up. So [she’s] one of my biggest inspirations.

Fox News: You were originally a model for Kanye West’s Yeezy collection. What was that experience like?
Ventura: It was great. I actually got the call a day before the shoot so everything happened so fast. But I was so excited and the team was wonderful. Everything looked amazing. I loved the whole look they did. And [I met] Kanye. He was great, very hardworking. He was very into the shoot and very committed [to the creativity]. That didn't really surprise me because I know those people have to work really hard. But it was very refreshing to see that he is so involved with his work and the campaign and everything going behind the scenes.

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Fox News: You’re all about raising awareness on the environment and animals. 
Ventura: It’s true. Before I even got the followers or anything, I've always really loved doing volunteer work... I have this crazy love for animals. I recently started doing beach cleanups and I'm very proud of that. I really want to try to do, instead of a meet and greet, I wanted to do something that I could meet my followers, but also do something for them and for the planet. So I thought about the ocean cleanup and making that a meet and greet. That way we can all meet and do something for our community... Things like that really make me happy.

Fox News: What advice would you give to someone who wants to be more involved in helping their environment, but doesn't know where to begin?
Ventura: I think it's very easy. Little things, like not using plastic as much. Carry your water bottle everywhere with you instead. That's something I started doing recently too and it's so easy... That stops you from using so many plastic bottles.

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Little things, like when you have a free day and a few hours, you can meet up with your friends and go clean up your neighborhood park. Or beach cleanups with your friends too, super easy. You can do little things that don't have to involve a big organization or a big group of people.

Fox News: What are three fun facts our readers should know about you?
Ventura: Maybe something that people don't really know about me is that I do love to dance. I love to dance to my Latin music… I used to be super shy. I still am working on it and I fight through it. But... that's why I didn't get into the industry a lot sooner because I was extremely shy. I could not talk in front of people. So that's something really cool for me, that I have been able to push through all these fears and shyness and everything.

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Another thing too is that I was raised, I really love going to visit DR because I was raised around animals... My grandma had a whole farm behind her house. She still has it, but not as many animals because she's older now. But I used to spend all my days climbing mango trees and just being with the sheep and the goats and everything in the back. That was my happiest place ever.