Important career advice from supermodel Coco Rocha

Vernise Tantuco
Important career advice from supermodel Coco Rocha

Alecs Ongcal

'It's nice to be important, but it's important to be nice,' says supermodel and entrepreneur Coco Rocha during a quick stop to the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – Canadian supermodel and entrepreneur Coco Rocha was in the Philippines May 18, and she spoke to some members of the press that evening.

During Diageo’s #LoveScotch Night, Coco was asked if she had an inspirational message for young women in the Philippines.

Photo by Alecs Ongcal/ Rappler

Coco, who began modeling at 15 and later graced the March 2006 cover of Vogue Italia when she was 18, answered, “I think the motto I’ve always lived by is ‘It’s nice to be important, but it’s important to be nice.'”

“I think anyone in any career, in any field should live by that, to always make sure that even if you’re made to think you’re important, you’re not. But if you think so, it’s important to be nice to every person out there,” she continued.


It’s taken a lot of courage for Coco to blaze her own trail and carve her own path as a model, but that has also helped shape and define her work. She is also an advocate against eating disorders in the industry, especially among young models. At a 2010 symposium held by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Coco, then a size 4 as opposed to the industry sample size 0, said, “It took a while to grow the confidence to say, ‘This is who I am, take it or leave it.'”

She also admitted that at her thinnest – 108 pounds 5 feet, 4 inches – she was asked to lose weight, and so she took diuretics.

Photo by Alecs Ongcal/ Rappler  

Following headlines about what she said at the symposium, Coco published a blog post saying that the issue has always concerned her, regardless of her success:

“In the past, models have spoken out on this issue, only to be accused of saying something because their careers were on the brink of extinction. This is not so in my case. I actually first spoke out about this two years ago at the peak of what a model would consider the ideal career, and indeed there was a reaction – those who were the worst offenders suddenly asked me to work for them! This was a public relations ploy and I wasn’t prepared to fall for that. I said, ‘No, lets go a few seasons, lets see if you change, then I will work with you.’ They didn’t change. I haven’t worked for them.”

After her Vogue Italia cover, Coco’s modeling career skyrocketed, and she’s well known for her striking poses – even publishing a book about them. Recently, she launched a clothing line, Co+Co, with her husband James Conran.

Photo by Alecs Ongcal/ Rappler

Coco, now 27, is enjoying motherhood. Her daugher, Ioni, was born in March 2015.

“I got a schedule now,” she said on how motherhood has changed her. “But it is amazing present you can be, as a mom, and I cherish it everyday.”

She added, “This is the longest trip I haven’t had her with me, so a lot of Facetime. But usually she travels with me, but because this is a quick, stop-and-go trip, so she’s at home with grandma right now.”


Coco was in Manila to launch the Diageo’s worldwide Scotch Movement, as she’s the brand’s global ambassador. At the #LoveScotch Night, she was joined by Johnnie Walker brand ambassador Raymond Gutierrez.

Photo by Alecs Ongcal/ Rappler  


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Vernise Tantuco

Vernise Tantuco is on Rappler's Research Team, fact checking suspicious claims, wrangling data, and telling stories that need to be heard.