Before 'Runway ALMA' commenced Oct. 12, Windy City Times briefly chatted with one of the event's honorees, model/reality-show personality J.P. Calderon, about his life, ALMA's honor and coming out.
Windy City Times: What was your reaction when you heard you were being honored by ALMA?
J.P. Calderon: At first, I couldn't really comprehend it; I was like, 'Who? Me?' [ Eventually, ] I realized that things were really happening and I said, 'This is unbelievable.' Then it really hit me when I saw it on the Internet—and that's when I got emotional, for once. I realized that I'm in a good place; I'm happy with who I am.
First of all, I'm being recognized for being Latino—which is huge for me. I grew up with a lot of people not knowing [ that I'm Latino ] . Also, I'm being recognized for being gay, which is something I was not proud of and was something I feared being ridiculed about—but now, it's being celebrated.
WCT: Your life has been such a ride over the past year.
JPC: It really happened when my father passed away. When he passed away, I had this release—like [ his passing ] was a sign. I'm not sure that I would've come out if he were still alive; he had this emotional hold on me. When I was around him, I felt nine years old.
Everything's been for a reason, and timing is of the essence. When [ my father ] passed away, I realized that I was 30 and that I wasted so much time wanting to do things but never acting upon them—and for what? The disapproval of one person? Or the disapproval of society? Who cares if someone I don't know doesn't like me? What have they done for me? I realized that I was becoming more angry and bitter because I really wanted to be out, but I couldn't because I feared things, like stupid stereotypes.
[ Then, ] Survivor came about and I took it. I thought about coming out on the show but I didn't last long enough—and I think I was intended to be the leading man on the show. I would do [ the show ] again, especially now that I have a clearer mind.
I always wanted to be an actor when I was kid. I was in all the plays and in the choir; then, my dad came along and abolished it. I also wanted to model when I was a kid; I was really intrigued by it. I always watched The Style Channel or MTV's House of Style—but if I heard my dad coming, I quickly changed the TV back to soccer.
I like to think that I represent a different aspect of the gay community, just to show the world that there are more avenues than the stereotypes people have. There's nothing wrong with acting the way that you are; I just like to think that I represent a different avenue.
WCT: The third season of The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency has already been filmed. What can we expect?
JPC: It's going to be a really good season. There will be a lot of twists and turns—and I'll be doing something I don't normally do. There'll [ also ] be new models; I guess I'm a veteran, now. We finish the season in a very good way—we take a nice trip.