Azlin Nicolette Esqueda has a prominent gap between her two front teeth. It wasn’t always a positive attribute. But as an up-and-coming model in Dallas, it has quickly become her signature, helping her book shoots and stand out.
“It’s really funny how it worked out, because I went to a really small school in a really small town, and I was always being bullied for the gap in my teeth,” says 18-year-old Azlin. “My family didn’t have the money to just go and get braces. But now it’s come back to help me in my career. I love my teeth. I don’t think I’d be the same person if I had had braces.”
The small town is China, Texas, located in Jefferson County, a five-hour drive southeast of Dallas, with a population of about 1,160. There isn’t much opportunity for being a fashion model in China, Texas. But after doing a few small shoots there, Azlin was introduced to Stasia Langford, co-owner of the Dragonfly Agency in Dallas. In five short months, Azlin has already begun to make a name for herself in the modeling industry. She has been on the cover of PaperCity and in Vogue Italia online. She walked in a Toni & Guy runway show. When I spoke with her in October, she had just returned from Mexico and had been in Miami before that for shoots.
“When I first started, it was very nerve-wracking,” she says. “I never thought I would be doing as well as I am. It’s not an easy industry, but it’s worth it. I think as long as I keep working hard, one day I could do big magazines all over and be traveling all the time. I love being in front of the camera. It’s like getting to play dress-up.”
Her own, off-duty style channels rock and roll. “I love combat boots,” Azlin says. “I have this Rolling Stones bodysuit that I always wear. I usually wear a lot of black. I try to stick to trends, but I’m still working on my fashion sense. As I grow in the industry, I’m sure my style will evolve, too.”
Next month, she plans to take her style to Milan, where she can explore the European side of the modeling industry. But that doesn’t mean she has left her hometown behind.
“I lived a very basic country life before modeling,” she says. “Whenever I go home, I go hunting, I go fishing, I ride four-wheelers. It’s very rewarding that I was able to move out and come to Dallas and model. But coming from a small town keeps me humble.”
Outfit details: Moschino Dress by Jeremy Scott, $9,295, Forty Five Ten; Roksanda Fox Fur, $5,300, Shop Canary; jade, opal, and diamond earrings, price upon request, Sue Gragg Precious Jewels