Check out our interview with philanthropist/model and recent Sports Illustrated Finalist and Brain Tumor Survival Victoria Vesce is telling has a long history of advocacy and philanthropy with various organizations, but her advocacy took on new meaning when she became a cancer survivor at age 24. Today, Victoria is the first brain cancer survivor/partially deaf model in Sports Illustrated!
In 2017, Victoria was diagnosed with multiple Paraganglioma, a brain-skull tumor and a carotid body tumor that required surgery and pin-point radiation treatment. During her time at Duke University Hospital, she voluntarily participated in a study to help more patients overcome rare tumors.
Follow Victoria @victoriavesce
Hi Victoria, please tell us a little about you?
I’m a small town girl who was raised on a Buffalo Farm in Eastern NC. I grew up loving the outdoors and playing Basketball. I went to NC State University where I studied Media Communications, Film, and Journalism. I was a dancer for the Charlotte Hornets NBA for 3 years, and I was able to travel to the Rio 2016 Olympics and Shanghai Global Games meeting the icon, Michael Jordan. During my time as an NBA Dancer, I was diagnosed with a rare Brain and Neck tumor. I went through surgery and radiation treatments at Duke University Hospital and Duke Cancer Center. After recovery, I decided to further my education and pursue my juris doctorate and received the Presidential Scholarship at Charleston School of Law. I still pursued modeling and social media during my time in school, because my motto has always been to do it all! My last semester of law school my mom tragically passed away. I decided in honor of her to round out my last semester and graduate. Now, I am a Grief advocate and speak openly about my journey through grief.
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Vivacious, Overcomer, Persistent
Who is your role model?
My mom will forever be my role model. She always was a shining light to everyone, and she had the most radiant smile. She was a ball of positivity and instilled greatness and positive force in me. I am blessed to have been raised by such an amazing woman.
How and when did you start into modeling?
I did my first pageant when I was 18 years old. I had no clue how to do my hair and makeup, but somehow I lit up in front of the camera. Being innately shy, it was foreign to me, but somehow it sparked this passion in me to model. At my first pageant I was discovered, and modeling has just been flowing in since then.
What is fun and rewarding about modeling? And what is not?
Meeting new friends, networking, traveling, and the experiences are what is the most fun! Body shaming and the harsh atmosphere of modeling is tough, but the industry is changing slightly – but not enough.
Can you name a few of the brands you are working or have worked with?
I got to walk for Nike Swim, Kino Swim, Anma Blue, NAAVA, and several other big brands during this past Miami Swim Week which was so much fun! I work a lot with Monster Energy and doing catalogue/e-commerce work for brands. Now, I’ve been more focused on growing my social media.
What did you learn from your biggest failure?
To keep going. I tell a lot of people to stay persistent. Once we receive failure or rejection, we start to feel like we aren’t good enough. Don’t let one person’s opinion or even several people’s opinion define you in a world of almost 8 billion people. Keep knocking on doors until something sticks and make your presence known.
The most important thing when you are shooting is?
Maintaining energy and having fun. Maintaining energy is important for shoots, because it doesn’t matter how much one edits the photos you’ll still look tired if you are. I make sure to eat a well rounded meal and get adequate sleep before shoots. Having fun is also important, because if you aren’t having fun or loving what you do, then it’s time to move on.
Now tell us about your Sports Illustrated experience?
It was an incredible experience to work with the SI team. They are so positive and uplifting. It was one of my bucket list experiences that I can finally mark off. I hope to work with them more in the future.
Do you still get nervous?
Always. I always have a little bit of nerves, but I’ve controlled how the nerves overcome me. Instead of being shy, I used my nervousness to energize me to really go all out.
What’s your advice for the newer models and influencers?
Be yourself and don’t compare. Everyone is unique and different. Everyone’s journey is different. Some get there quicker, some slower. Just keep pushing and keep knocking on doors until that one door opens that opens many more for success.
What mindsets helped making you so successful and popular?
Just being real. I used to have this perfect patty mindset, and I never wanted to show the vulnerable side or the struggles I was going through daily especially with my health. Now, I’ve come to a point in my life of just being more open and helping others, and that has shown the most growth in my life.
When you started your Social Media accounts, did you expected such a success?
Absolutely not. I didn’t know things would start blowing up or people would start noticing. I mean you always hope it would, but you never expect it when it happens. It just does.
As a popular model and influencer you are followed by so many people. How do you feel about that pressure of doing always the right thing, and encourage people to follow their dreams?
I feel no pressure. I’m open, authentic, real, and vulnerable on my social media. There’s some guidelines I have to follow for myself, my career, and other aspirations, and that may be the only pressure.
Now let’s talk about your experience with the brain tumor and how you are moving forward from this experience?
It was a tumultuous time to say the least. It had to be not only physically tough, but mentally tough to get myself back up again. Losing half of my hearing and becoming hard of hearing after the fact has been hard, but I have learned to adjust. Dealing with radiation, the hospital, and recovery haunt me, but it just proves to myself that I am strong.
Do you have any positive message to other people dealing with the same diagnosis or treatment?
I am here if you ever need someone to talk to. Also, for me affirmations and prayer were the best thing to keep me mentally sane during such a rough time. I prayed constantly and affirmed that “I am healthy”, “I am going to get through this”, and I repeated that so much that it became how I lived rather than succumbing to the pain.
If you are a book, what would be the title of the book and why?
The Power of Persistence.
I don’t stop. I never will. Not even during my brain tumor did I stop. Living my life and pushing myself has led to being my superpower.
Any advice to entrepreneurs out there?
Stay true to your passions and yourself. Network like it is your full time job even if you have one. Networking is so key in the industry. People want to get to know you, not just read your resume.
What book should every entrepreneur read?
48 Laws of Power, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins
What did you learn from your biggest failure?
To keep going and to not let that failure define me.
What advice would you give to your younger self and why?
Don’t worry about what people say or gossip about you. You are destined for greatness. Shine bright and keep smiling and never let someone walk all over you.
Do you support any charities?
The National Brain Tumor Society is one that helped me through my radiation process. I continue to support them whenever I can!
How would you explain your fashion style?
I’m either full Glam or comfy casual. I mix up my fashion styles a lot.
How would your best friend describe you?
Loyal, supportive, and goofy
What’s next for Victoria Vesce in 2022?
I am hoping to produce a motivational reality TV show that has the drama everyone loves, but also motivates people to do more in a healthy way.
What is your favorite healthy food?
Brussel Sprouts. Yup everyone’s yucky food is my favorite- especially when roasted.
And your favorite cheat food?
I loveeee buttered movie theater popcorn.
What is your own definition of happiness?
Being comfortable in who you this very moment.
How is a normal day in your life?
My days are vastly different, but I always try to work out, eat breakfast, shoot content, and do a lot of work in between.
What is your idea of a perfect Sunday?
Church then cozy up on the couch with my dog Daisy.
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
Hands down Sandra Bullock. I’ve been told I look like her allllll the time. I really want to meet her! I’ve heard she is super down to earth too!
Best advice ever given?
Always speak positive words over your life.
Name 3 things you can’t live without?
My dog Daisy, my guitar, and my mom’s bible.
Where do you see yourself and your career in 5 years from now?
I see myself wildly successful. An entrepreneur who has opened up several businesses and continuing to make a positive impact on the world.
Favorite song? Why?
Stars Go Blue by Ryan Adam – First song I learned how to play on guitar.
What music do you like?
I like all music, but I love some 70s/80s jams.
What do you think of Social Media?
That it’s a double edged sword. It is amazing how creative you can be and grow, but it is also a toxic environment filled with hate. You have to learn how to have a healthy balance.
Where we can follow you?
@VictoriaVesce on all platforms
@VictoriaVesceVlogs on YouTube
Quote: Let Go and Let God
Favorite Singer/Artist: Fleetwood Mac
Movie: The Proposal
Travel Destination: Spain
Sports Team: Charlotte Hornets
Tv Show: Suits
Book: The Secret
Light Green Outfit Photo Credit: Nicole Lebris