For years, you have seen Erica in your favourite music videos, print advertisements, television shows, etc. You may have not known it was her, but you saw her. Erica is a veteran in the modeling game. She has been the main girl in videos such as Chris Brown’s “Yo (Excuse Me Miss)”, featured in major videos like 50 Cent’s “Candy Shop”, walked runways & so much more! But how much do we really know about Miss Mena? Her being on Love And Hip Hop showed us one side of her, but being her friend I know there’s so much more to this dynamic beauty. I wanted to interview Erica so the world can get to know the crazy girl that I love. Her story is a lot like yours…
PS – the image of Erica that I used in this interview was from the wonderful photoshoot where I was able to do her make-up!
Check out the interview after the jump…
Lyssa Honey: For those who don’t know who you are can you please introduce yourself.
Erica Mena: My name is Erica Mena and I do it all. I’m a model, a singer, an actress, and a mother. I’m an all around entertainer.
Lyssa Honey: I was lucky enough to be able to do your make-up for a photoshoot and I noticed you called one of the pictures “Still E from the block.” What was your early life like before all of the glitz and glamour of fame?
Erica Mena: I’ve always been a hustler and made a business out of something. I even used to sell bus passes! I’ve always been about making myself better and establishing myself as a business woman. Growing up in the Bronx for me was all about making and improving my wealth.
Lyssa Honey: Growing up in the Bronx must’ve been exciting, the bustle and buzz of a big city. I’d like to ask you to share your best and worst memories. Now, by this I mean; your proudest moment growing up and, of course, your most embarrassing memory.
Erica Mena: My proudest moment was doing Fabolous “Breathe” music video when I was 16. It inspired me to do more and to do bigger better. Overall my proudest moment was becoming a model. My worst moment? Well, growing up wasn’t easy. People would always test my character. People in the Bronx were very territorial. Girls would mess with me; it was always a problem. But growing up the way that I did definitely made me strong.
Lyssa Honey: We’ve seen you in countless magazine spreads and in music video’s alongside some of Hip-Hop’s biggest names, Lil Wayne, Chris Brown, and Fabolous, just to name a few. You’ve also been featured in various print campaigns for Sears and Tommy Hilfiger and was a cast member on Khloe & Kourtney Take Miami how did it feel the first time you saw yourself on television and on print advertisements?
Erica Mena: Seeing myself just made me want to do more. Most people would feel accomplished but I felt that I had to do more and I had to do better. I thought, “Ok, this is good but this is only the first step.”
Lyssa Honey: How did becoming a cast member on Love And Hip Hop come about?
Erica Mena: They pretty much reached out to me and wanted me invovled because I’ve been in the modeling industry for years, since I was 16. Unfortunately, I didn’t really let the viewers know who I was but it wasn’t an opportunity to pass up. I didn’t get on the show to be on television or be famous, I’ve already done that. I wanted to show a different dynamic to the world of urban modeling. I wanted people to see that you can come up from [urban modeling]. Urban modeling needs to be used as a pedestal; it doesn’t last long. My intentions for the show did backfire due to the drama, but that was not my intention.
Lyssa Honey: On the show, you have spoken about how your modeling career differs from those today who consider themselves to be urban models. Can you explain that? What was it like walking in Fashion Week in New York & Miami?
Erica Mena: I’ve done Show and King magazine spreads but you never see me in a thong or bending over. I always make sure that my deliverance and poses are tasteful. A lot of females just do soft porn. Bending over is a sexual pose. Being a model is about being attractive, appealing and delivering in our own way. I can be sexy AND subtle. It’s all about how you pose and carry yourself. I’m not putting anyone down either. Yes, I take pictures in sexy clothes but you’ll never see me bent over. That’s not modeling, that’s porn. No offense to porn. Walking in Fashion Week was an overall relief. Yes I’ve been in Chris Brown, 50 Cent, Lil Wayne videos but I can also carry myself on a runway. It doesn’t matter what I did to get here but I’m here. Anything is possible regardless of Stereotypes as long as you carry yourself the right way.
Lyssa Honey: What in your career and image has changed since being on Love & Hip Hop, for better or worse?
Erica Mena: People assume that I’m all about drama and fighting. I did not get a chance to tell my story and let them know who I was prior to the show. People act surprised that I’m not a bitch and that I’m so cool. I’m that everyday girl that you chill with, your best friend. It’s so unfortunate that I did not get to show my other side. Everyone has different sides to them; at that point I showed a side of complete frustration. Don’t get me wrong I don’t regret it because I am extremely passionate about who I am.
Lyssa Honey: You came on to Love & Hip Hop as a model who wants to transition into the music world as a singer. What made you feel like now was the right time to do so? Can you tell us about your first single? Once your singing career kicks off, will you continue to model?
Erica Mena: I’ve always wanted to transition, it’s always been on my ‘to do’ list. I just always had so much going on that just took time out of preparation. Now I have time to fully focus, so I am taking full advantage of it. I’m still trying to pick a first single; I have a lot of options. Not sure which one I want out first but it will be released by summer time. I’m sure modeling will naturally sink in. I won’t have to chose. I’ll be able to do it all. I can never really give up modeling; it’s my first love. It’s what got me here.
Lyssa Honey: I wanted to chime in on something that I’ve noticed. When you first came on the show, you had a bit of drama. On the “reunion” show, you said you wanted people to see that there was more to you than just that. It’s great that you were able to move on from the drama and negativity with your head held high. There are many women who can’t seem to shake drama from their lives. What advice can you give to those who seem to consume their lives with ‘haters’, drama and negativity?
Erica Mena: My reaction on the recap was because Love & Hip Hop showed how I came at one of the cast members and a video of my son’s father and I fighting was released around the same time. I think right away people assumed I needed anger management when there’s a lot more to me. Don’t get me wrong, my back was against the wall and I had to defend myself. My breaking point was caught on camera and it sucked. At the end of the day, I am like everyone else. I am definitely the person you can chill with. I’m not a bad person. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why people assume [I’m consumed in drama] but get to know me! As far as keeping it out of your life? You have to stay focused. Make sure you stay in that lane in that sense, you know what I’m saying? Don’t drift off. Once people know what you are trying to do with your life they will mess with you. Don’t let them.
Lyssa Honey: I remember you being a cast member on Khloe and Kourtney Take Miami, how was that experience? Will there be any more acting projects in your future? If so, anything you can tell us about?
Erica Mena: I loved working with them, they taught me a lot about being a woman in this industry and making the best out of everything. Their brand is amazing! The way they all work for one empire is extremely inspiring. I’m in the process of reading a few scripts. There’s one I’m really interested in, I just have to figure out how I can fit in my schedule. I love acting. it will always be there.
Lyssa Honey: Erica, you are definitely known for your fashion sense. You always look fabulous. A little birdie told me that there is a cocktail dress line in the making. Is there a name for this line yet? What about your line is going to make every fashionista need one of these dresses?
Erica Mena: Yes, I’m doing my own line. I love fashion. And as much as I love making money, I don’t love to spend it. I’m cheap. I like wearing stuff once. I’ll wear a cheap outfit once but accessorize it expensively. Why waste money when something next month won’t be in style? It’s all about feeling fabulous and not having to break bank to get that feeling. Buy yourself a pair of red bottoms and a $100 dress and you’ll feel great. That’s where I’m going with it. There’s no name for the line yet. I’m working on that as well as a logo now.
Lyssa Honey: What can we expect from you in the upcoming season of Love and Hip Hop? Any exclusives you have for us?
Erica Mena: All I can say is stay tuned! If I will take on next season my main focus will be all about where I come on, being a young mother, and getting on my feet. It will be about making my own identity and my career. I want to show the world who I really am. I am just like the every day woman – our hustle & struggles are all the same.
Lyssa Honey: What advice do you have for young women who want to break into the entertainment industry? Any “definitely do” or “definitely don’t do’s” for our readers?
Erica Mena: Definitely make sure you know who’s who and make sure you know what you take on, do the homework. Never do favors. There’s no such thing as favors. Never do anything for free and never settle. If you don’t feel good about something, speak on it. You will get more appraise and respect for that.
Lyssa Honey: Ten years ago did you see yourself here? Breaking into the ‘household name’ category of the entertainment industry?
Erica Mena: Yes, It’s something I’ve always aspired to do. Even my days of boys & girls club and dance club I always saw myself being a public figure.
Lyssa Honey: What plans do you have for the NEXT ten years? You have already done a fabulous job at breaking onto the scene. Where do you plan to go from here?
Erica Mena: I plan on making my official imprint. I’m not going anywhere. I’m here to stay.
Lyssa Honey: Thank you so much for all of your insight. Its been amazing being able to get a taste and feel of the life of Erica Mena, is there anything we haven’t touched upon that you’d like the readers to know?
Erica Mena: Check out my website http://IAmEricaMena.com and stay tuned for my single and book. If you felt any kind of negative views on me I will say definitely take into consideration I haven’t been given plateau yet to give my story and struggle. Bear with me. You can hate me once you get to know me, just get to know me first. I’m not perfect; I am crazy. I am fun. I’m a mom, a sister, a daughter. I am somebody who wants a lot out of life, I go hard and I never settle. I have a strong personality. I’m definitely somebody everyone can relate to. Oh and my book – My book is going to be about my life, about being the industry. I’ll also be giving tips to those who want to be in the industry. I’ll even be explaining my faults as well. I get asked about how do I become a model – so in between explaining my life I’m going to tell people what to do if this happens, what I did in that situation. It’s a how to guide in the midst of my life experience.