Dayanara Torres Has Gold In Her Pocket

All photos:  Alan Mercer  Hair & Make-up: Clark Ivor
 Directional Lighting: E. Venturo

The very first time I photographed Dayanara it was pure magic. I can really say I have loved her from the moment I met her. She is everything wonderful a person can be. I've seen her with her children many times and she is the most amazing Mother. I've never seen her be anything but kind to everyone around her.

Along with the new photos I am showcasing some of our past work over the last five years. I consider these photographs of Dayanara among my best work with anyone.

Hair & Make-up: Clark Ivor  Directional Lighting: E. Venturo

The life of Dayanara Torres reads like a modern-day fairy tale . . . From her modest upbringing in Puerto Rico; to being discovered on the streets of her hometown; becoming Miss Universe at the tender age of 18 and, soon-after, a movie star in the Philippines and Puerto Rico, marrying and divorcing, raising two beautiful sons and bravely striving to rebuild her career . . . while Dayanara's story is what dreams, or novelas, are made of it is very much her reality, one that she manages with her signature grace, dignity, beauty and style.

Dayanara Torres Delgado was born in Toa Alta, Puerto Rico into a poor, very loving and close-knit family. As a child, expression and creativity were important aspects of her playtime. She would enjoy acting out roles such as being a model or a queen. Dancing, swimming and horseback riding were other favorite pastimes, which she continues to cultivate today.

From a very early age, Dayanara garnered honors and merits for good conduct in school. She concluded her 12th grade studies in "El Colegio Santa Rosa" in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, intending to one day attend college and become an orthodontist. But life would take her in a different and exciting direction.

At the age of 17, during her senior year in high school, she was walking through the Plaza de Toa Alta when she was approached to take part in the Miss Puerto Rico pageant as a representative of her town.

Dayanara still recalls being incredibly surprised as she never saw herself as a beauty queen . . . not for her home town of Toa Alta and even less as a representative of Puerto Rico in the Miss Universe pageant competing with 78 women from all over the world. It was all too wonderful to dare dream it would come true. Yet it did come true, and in Mexico City on May 21st, 1993, Dayanara became the youngest woman ever to be chosen to be Miss Universe.

On the island of Puerto Rico, she became a national treasure, and a parade was held in her honor. Since her reign she has graced the covers of myriads of international magazines (Cosmopolitan, Vanidades, Caras, Imagen, Asian Bride, and Marie Claire, among many others) and has endorsed many products taking part in TV and print advertisements (Diet Coke, Pantene, Vidal Sassoon, RayBan, Banco Popular, Advil, her own doll and line of shoes, among others).
This photo was used by Clairol

Her humanitarian work during her reign focused on disadvantaged and poverty-stricken children throughout the world. She became an international ambassador for UNICEF, traveling throughout Latin America and Asia in support of the organization's projects, during and after her reign. In 1995 she endowed the Dayanara Torres Foundation which provided aid and scholarships to destitute families in Puerto Rico and the Philippines. In most recent years she has served on the board of, and made contributions to, the Children's Hope Foundation, for children and mothers affected by AIDS and Fundación Sonrisa which helps children with facial deformities in Puerto Rico.

Once her year as Miss Universe was completed, Dayanara traveled to Manila to pass on the crown to the next pageant queen. She even sang a duet during the pageant with Peabo Bryson, called "A Whole New World". Little did she know that night that her own life would, once again, take an exciting turn and that she would be living in a whole new world herself.

During her visit to the Philippines, Dayanara became so well-loved that she was offered the opportunity to host two television shows and star in movies. She made the decision to stay, and her short stay was extended to 4 years. In those four years she became a major movie star and the "It" girl in the country.

She starred in 13 movies in the Philippines and Puerto Rico including "Linda Sara" (1994) co-starring with singer/actor Chayanne and directed by Oscar nominee Jacobo Morales. She was the host of the highly rated live variety show "ASAP" which is broadcast throughout all of Asia. And, as host of another show, "Eazy Dancing", became known as "The Dancing Queen of the Philippines". The country's Press Club honored her with the Best New TV Personality Award in 1995.

She returned to Puerto Rico in 1998, during the promotion of her album "Antifaz", which reached the top of the Billboard Dance charts throughout Latin America and the Philippines. In the Island, she also starred in the theater productions of Cinderella (as Cinderella in 1998) and Peter Pan (as Tinkerbell in 1999).

In honor of her beauty and talent, the Dayanara doll was launched in 1998, complete with a crown, and outfits of a singer, dancer, and model. The doll was immediately sold out in Puerto Rico and the Philippines.

On May 10, 2000, Dayanara wed Salsa/Pop Star Marc Anthony, and made the decision to dedicate herself to her new role as wife and mother. The couple has two children together, Cristian Anthony and Ryan Anthony.

Directional Lighting: E. Venturo

As this is a fairy tale with modern-day twists. . . Dayanara and her husband divorced in 2004, and the heroine of our story is now building her career as an actress, spokesperson and model while caring for her two little princes with the help of her family.

A whirlwind of projects are always in the works in the areas of acting, modeling, endorsements, commercials, production, and even product development. Dayanara is once again looking forward to a whole new world ahead of her.

Dayanara and I were brought together for the eighth time to shoot her new photos for the 'Asma en Español' campaign. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, along with MERCK, provide information to educate Latin Americans about this health problem. It is 'a perfect fit' as Dayanara herself says in the interview.

AM: Dayanara how did you get involved in the Asthma Foundation?

DT: I have actually had asthma since I was a little girl. I was in the hospital every few months until I was at least five years old. I was probably hospitalized seven times. My kids have it too, one more than the other.

AM: So you really know what you are talking about from personal experience.

DT: It is a perfect fit. I know what it is and how people suffer from it. I know how you can't go outside and play sports. I was never that strong as a child and was never able to do those things. Because of having my kids go through it and help them out definitely makes this a cause that is very dear to me.

AM: You are always involved in charities and causes. Is this something you always wanted to do?

DT: I just think that I've been so blessed in my life with everything that has happened. After having kids my whole life has changed in a different direction. Things have a different meaning now. Just having two healthy boys is such a gift. Pretty much all the charities I am involved with have to do with kids like the March of Dimes. It's important to give back. Many times I get asked if my kids were premature or something but I say I'm here because I'm thankful. Basically my kids, thank God, didn't suffer from any of that. I think I am just thankful and I want to do something good.

AM: It seems to be the natural course for someone who as been a Miss Universe don't you think?

DT: From the very beginning I did work with a lot of charities. I started with UNICEF and then I created my own foundation called The Dayanara Foundation in the Philippines. I just knew I wanted to do something. From the very beginning I have been very blessed in my life and I think it's important to give back.

AM: Does this fulfill you?

DT: Absolutely. One day I went to my friends house, who has a niece, who has down syndrome. Just knowing that I could go to her house and bring my crown and it made her so happy. That made my day! She said, "Thank you for coming." I said, "No, thank you for letting me do that." To me, it fills me with joy, to do things like that.

AM: I know you have been doing a bit of acting recently. Have you been filming outside of LA?

DT: I filmed the television show called 'Watch Over Me' for three months in San Diego. The last movie I did was in Philadelphia.

AM: Has it been released?

DT: It did come out. It's called 'The Nail.'

AM: Is it out on DVD?

DT: Yes and it is still showing on Showtime.

AM: Did you enjoy making it?

DT: I did because it was very different. When I was filming the show in San Diego the character was very much like me. I was a student looking for love. In 'The Nail' I was a battered wife. My husband beat me and my child up. It was hard but it was different.

AM: Were you de-glamorized?

Lighting: E. Venturo

DT: I had no make-up on at all plus they added bruises to my face and arms. It was hectic and the scenes were strong. Some of the fighting scenes were pretty tough.

AM: Did you enjoy making it?

DT: I did. It was a challenge and something different. I definitely enjoyed doing that.

AM: Would you like to make more heavy dramas?

DT: I like drama. Yes I would like to make more because I enjoyed it.

AM: Does working on a dramatic film help you process some of your personal life?

DT: Sometimes it's hard because you are working so hard to get out of certain stages or things that have happened in your life. Say you have tried real hard to let go of certain things then you have to go back and film it. So I think if anything my life experience has been like 'gold in my pocket.' That's what I call it. I have it there and when I need it I use it.

AM: By the way how is your sister?

DT: My sister is doing great. She is back in Miami working and she had another baby, a boy named Santiago. She's doing great. She still works for the magazine 'People En Espanol.' She has a column about being a parent. She also does 'Despierta America' where she is the psychologist on the set. Now she's doing a campaign for 'Huggies.' She is traveling all over the states. 'Huggies' made these cute little diapers that are jean colored so the kids look like they have jeans on so they don't have to wear any extra clothes. Babies love that. She is very happy!

AM: You've been living in Los Angeles for five years now. Is it home now?

DT: It is definitely home now. The boys are happy and love the school they are in. They are doing all kinds of sports from golf to baseball and soccer. Because we are in Los Angeles they are both involved in music. They each have their own bands and they play in big venues. It's great, we are very happy here. This is home.

AM: It's such a joy to see you and work with you anytime Dayanara.

DT: Thank you very much. It's my pleasure.