"The Dream is Free, the Hustle is Sold Separately.” —Ariena Vasquez
Ariena is no stranger to the grind. Growing up with a single mom, she experienced the struggle of life first-hand. Sometimes sleeping at parks, hotels, motels, and using clothes as blankets, she would lay at night contemplating how she could help the situation. Ariena watched her mom struggle working three jobs to support her only child. Giving up on her own dreams, like so many parents do, to do whatever she could to support and provide for Ariena. At a young age, Ariena had a dream to make money and help her mom.
Ariena decided the victim mentality in life was going to be a thing of the past. Mentality can make you or break you. For Ariena, she took the struggle and changed it for the better. Now Ariena is a social media influencer inspiring others with her story and working with several brands to reach the young adult generations. Ariena is also in the studio working on music about love, loss, and the story of so many can relate to in feeling used-up. She continues to push forward. Ariena landed a movie role and will soon be seen nationwide.
Take a closer look at our personal interview with Ariena as she details her struggle, milestones, lessons learned throughout her journey, and what’s in store for her next.
My name is Ariena Vasquez. I’m 20 years old and originally from Queens, New York. I was raised there my whole life, so I’m definitely a city girl, but New York has forever been my home. I feel like that‘s where I get my music taste and why I love music so much. There’s so much talent out in the city. I was raised in a small town in Queens, but outside of that small town, I had bigger dreams and I knew I was going make it happen. Since I was a little girl, I would go on trains with my mom, play my guitar and just sing anywhere. I loved to sometimes pretend I was on a stage and imagine that I had a sold out show in Madison Square Garden, or that at the age of 7 I wrote an Emmy’s speech to prepare for one day when I receive one because that’s one of my goals, and I still have it till this day. In school I was a quiet girl who kept to herself. I got bullied a lot for having such big dreams, but I never let that get in my way because I knew I could do it.
I got started at the age of 5. My mom one day was walking with me and this agent walked up to us and said my mom should put me into modelling, and that’s when it all began. My mom started putting me into auditions wherever she could find one, and I loved it. I knew this was what I wanted to do. I knew that being in the entertainment space would be a crazy world, but I was ready for the challenge. There were times where my mom didn’t want me to be in it at such a young age. She wanted me to be a kid, but It didn’t stop her from supporting my dreams continuously. So it truly all began with my moms support.
You see, I never realized that. I just did it for a hobby and wanted to see where it would take me, but I didn’t take it seriously at all. So many people would tell my mom that I need to be out there and have a gift. I never really took that in until I got older and started wanting to do it more, and then I was like, okay maybe I need to take this serious, so I did. The minute I kept going to auditions everyday, I didn’t want to stop, and that’s when I realized that maybe I have more to offer.
The biggest challenges I had to face were struggling at a young age and seeing my mom as a single mother, working three jobs, trying to put a roof over our head and food on the table. She would always spend her last dime on all the auditions she would take me to, and scrape through all the change in our house to take the bus or train. She gave up her dreams for my dreams to come true. There’s days we would go to hotels to motels or sleep in parks, and use our clothes as our blankets. I had to grow up at a young age. Every time I wouldn’t get a role, I would get so mad at myself because I wanted that money to help my mom so I wouldn’t have to see her struggle anymore. I honestly can say though that I’m grateful for whatever struggles I endured because they taught me how to love and be kind to others. You truly don’t know anyone’s story. It taught me to be thankful for everything that I have and the people in my life. It taught me how to be a strong woman in a crazy world. My mom never made it seem like we never had, she always turned bad into a fairytale because at the end of the day I knew I had her, so I overcame these obstacles and hardships in my life knowing that I’m good and will make it having a positive mindset and only seeing this struggle as a challenge that I will overcome.
The piece of advice I wish someone told me in getting into the industry is to stop being so hard on yourself, what’s meant to be will be. Patience is the key. I use to be so hard on myself and till this day, when I didn’t get a role, I felt like I let down so many people who believed in me, but most of all myself. I wish someone told me that it’s going to be okay and there’s a reason everything happens, before I doubted myself. But life’s a lesson and I’m grateful for whatever is meant to be.
My mom—I admire her and her strength, being alone in a world with no one to run to for help. She is my my biggest influence, and she’s the reason that I’m doing all of this, not just for me but for her. She worked day and night to make anything happen for me. She grew up in poverty at a young age, and she didn’t get the chance to finish school our fulfill any of her dreams. She never had guidance, so she wanted to show me different, and I will forever admire her for her strength and keeping it together when she didn’t need to be so strong but she did for me. She’s one of the most selfless woman I know, and I hope I’m half the woman she is.
Yes my mom once again. She never gave up on me or my dreams. I was a hard child. I don’t know how she dealt with me, but she did, and I will forever love her for never giving up on me. She made all of this happen for me. She put me first and my dreams before anything else. She knew I wanted it and she was going to make it happen. I will forever be grateful, and I couldn’t ask for a better role model.
My greatest success is empowering our generation to have a voice, to stand up for what’s right, and to make a difference. I want to have a platform to use my resources and help build schools and homes for other kids in countries—but not just donate—actually go to other countries and build it with them. I want to help as much as I can in this world, and empower young kids my age who go through struggles at home and poverty. I was a little girl with so many hopes and dreams, and I thought because I didn’t have I couldn’t make it in such a big industry or anything. I didn’t think I had a purpose or a destiny, so my greatest success will go towards our generation to help others—that’s all I ever wanted to do. My greatest success before I leave this world will be knowing I made a difference for others and being a helping hand.
Toxic people who kept pushing me down. I learned so much from them, so I’m glad it’s over with now. It definitely mentally drained me, being there for people and never getting the same energy reciprocated back, or others using me for there own selfish reasons. So getting rid of them taught me a lesson that in this world you’ve only got yourself, and the real ones will stick with you through thick and thin.
I’ve been done with it for a little bit but it should be coming out soon nationwide, so I’m excited about it and can’t wait for everyone to see another side of me.
Looks fade away but a good heart and intellectual mind will always remain.
I hope people can one day take my knowledge and the actions I show, and make this world a better place. Hopefully I can be an influence and change for our generations now and to come. I hope that people can also see that I’m not just a pretty face with a body, I’m more than that. I have a story and there’s more to be than what’s on the outside. I want people to focus on what’s on the inside and to never judge a book by its cover. I feel as people see me as a dumb pretty girl and they never see my personality or who I truly am. This generation focuses on looks and who’s the hottest that they forget what’s on the inside. I think a woman and man who are smart, beautiful and kind is hot. Hopefully, people can see me more than what they assume.
By seeing the real me and who I am as a person. I feel when people have similar stories they can relate to an artist and others in the industry, and that’s what makes it unique. Because others can relate to me and my story, so it’s like I have a connection with them through my own journey.
Parul Agrawal is an International Bestselling Author, Speaker, Forbes Coaches Council Member and Podcast Host. She holds a double Master’s in Engineering from Arizona State University (ASU); worked as a Research Scientist at ASU and Engineer for Intel Corporation. In an effort to help others address major medical issues and live more healthily, she pursued holistic studies and acquired her certification as a wellness expert. After launching a successful Wellness Coaching business, Parul delivered the message of health through public speaking in various community centers and corporations. Parul’s life and business changed dramatically after she wrote a book on the benefits of juicing that became an International Bestseller in multiple categories. The book’s phenomenal success resulted in her being featured in major publications like the Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Forbes and as a guest on ABC Arizona. Parul has not only continued her success as an author and businesswoman, but she has paid-it-forward, by helping over 100 writers become bestselling authors, too! She is the founder of an International Publishing Platform where she helps thought leaders in the areas of health, wellness and consciousness write their books, achieve bestseller authority status, and land in mainstream media - just like she did! Parul is currently experiencing the honor of being listed as one of the 30 change-makers in India for the year 2018.