Yuri Munguia, a former International Model is now a very respected business owner and Director of Northern California's Miss Mexico U.S. Her business and commitments demand long hours and sleepless nights. We here at ML don't buy the sleepless nights, Yuri doesn't look she has ever lost an hour of beauty sleep.
These days Yuri spends her time traveling back and forth from California to Las Vegas, in the photography studio or in the kitchen where she loves cooking and trying new creative recipes.
Yuri currently resides in Northern California but came from the very small village of El Aserradero, Jalisco. She is very proud of where she comes from and always makes a point to share it with others. Where Yuri came from is very important because it is where her incredible journey began. Being raised among 6 sisters and 3 brothers, family wasn't just big to her but big in general. Her roots and family are very dear to her.
Her father Nivardo Munguia brought the family to the U.S. in 1995 to Halfmoon Bay, Ca where great work opportunities arose for him. This was Yuri's first taste of the American Dream at the age of 11. Speaking only Spanish with very little education made her years in school very difficult. Yuri experienced bullying and was told that she had a learning deficiency. While other kids were living the usual academic experience, she was paralyzed with uncertainty and insecurity. Not knowing her place socially made Yuri realize who her best friends had always been . . . . her family.
In 1999 Yuri had just began to find herself and things at school had somewhat normalized. She found herself heading back to Mexico in preparation for her Quinceanera (sweet 15). While visiting family she received a call from the U.S. that would change her life forever. Yuri received word that her dad had passed. The news was devastating to the entire family and made it virtually impossible for them to return and live life in Halfmoon Bay. The family moved to Las Vegas leaving everything behind without the man they loved. Starting a new chapter in her life as a freshman in Las Vegas it seemed that nothing had changed as the bullying continued but more serious and physical which turned Yuri into a loner as she was still grieving the loss of her beloved dad.
At the age of 18 Yuri began working in the casinos of Las Vegas as a hostess/server. She found herself receiving many compliments on her beauty from executives, producers and modeling agents. Yuri had never seen herself as attractive or even had the slightest thought of becoming a model. Yuri was quickly being recruited to participate in fashion shows and modeling jobs that turned into much bigger opportunities. She was nominated to represent her village in Jalisco in a beauty pageant. She won and was recruited along with another 100 girls as a casting contestant for one of the biggest internationally recognized modeling opportunities. The winner would receive a modeling dream package of a lifetime. Perks included, travel to Miami, a professional modeling trainer, accommodations in a luxurious mansion with 12 other international models, international travel, TV opportunities, major fashion shows and more. Competing with over 100 girls for this opportunity Yuri realized God had a plan for her when she was picked number 1. She was chosen, she was the number 1 pick. The little girl from that small village in Jalisco, that young girl who had endured so much bullying, that teenage girl who lost her beloved father with more than a life time of struggle had finally made it. That moment, more so than ever before she felt God's love and a very proud dad smiling down on her.
Yuri had the International title of Ms. Jalisco 2007, this title transformed her modeling career from local to international. She has traveled to numerous countries for work, has been featured on Telemundo's program "Gordo y La Flaca, Univision, Republica Deportiva, Despierta America and many other media outlets.
With all the success Yuri has achieved, it hasn't changed her. She remains as she says in her own words, "The same, innocent, goofy girl from Jalisco Mexico."
Mr. Latino Magazine Interview with Yuri Munguia
Yuri, first off thank you for your time and sharing your inspiring story with us. With all of your success and business, do you still get excited? What are your greatest accomplishments in your journey thus far?
Things still excite me and I love my work, friends and family around me. My greatest accomplishments are personal accomplishments within myself and helping others around me.
We mentioned in your feature that you lived in Halfmoon Bay, Las Vegas but now are in Northern California, where exactly is that and are family with you?
I live in Sacramento, CA with my wonderful fiancé, Esteban Ramos Lott. God is great and life is good.
ML: As the Director of Northern California's Miss Mexico U.S. what is your role and what is it that you wish to accomplish in this position?
The modeling world became second nature for me. With national beauty competitions under my belt, as a former beauty pageant queen I'm now focused on young aspiring models making their dreams come true. I started modeling at the age of 17, this has given me plenty of experience and knowledge to share with my students. My role in Miss Mexico US is to take young women with basic modeling experience and turn them into catwalking camera ready models.
As your career took you to places all over the world and gave you experiences that most will never experience how do you keep yourself grounded. Also with all that you have done what's next for you?
Even with my modeling career taking me all over the world with TV appearances and high fashion shoots for various outlets, I stay as humbled as the day I started. I'm currently finishing my book, a self help/manifesto on beginners to professional Modeling, and working on getting it published and released to the commercial market soon. "My mission is to instill a positive and strong mental mind set in young models to compliment their beautiful physique and inner beauty.
Photos: Jacob D. Garcia