For those who don’t know you, tell us a little bit about who Cherry Mendoza is:
My name is Cherry Mendoza. My legal name is Cheryl Theresa Mendoza, but my mom started calling me Cherry since I can remember. When I was first born, my name was Sara Nicole, but they changed it right before we left the hospital. I moved around a lot because I was an Air Force brat, and it was hard to pick up and move every few years. I am extremely outgoing and close to my family because of it. I went to the University of Texas and got my bachelor’s degree in Acting. I was planning on moving after college, but I realized Austin is my home!
Tell me about your connection to Hawaii? Were you born and raised there? And what is it like living in Austin, Texas:
I was born in Hawaii and the majority of my family from my dad’s side is from there and currently live there. My grandparents, while they were still alive, have a house in Mililani where we would go visit. It’s the house my dad grew up in. I definitely get homesick, but I’ve lived on the mainland for so long that I cannot be there longer than a month! Plus, it’s super expensive!
Austin is such a great place to live, especially for a creative mind. It’s also awesome for people who love to eat and drink! It’s definitely changed a lot since I first moved here for college, and it’s pretty sad to see the “Austin Weird” that I fell in love with start to disappear. But Austin is home. I love it here.
I noticed you had a birthday in early November; do you think much about aging or do you just take the years as they come:
Wooooo, this is a loaded question! I have my moments where I take the years as they come, and then I freak out about aging. I just turned 28. So many people are either engaged, married, having kids, buying houses; you know, adulty stuff. And I am nowhere near that. I am close to 30 and nowhere close to being engaged or married.
I’m feeling like Rachel from Friends! I know things will come with time, and it doesn’t bother me that much. But I am getting those questions, be it from family or my nail lady, and then the judgmental looks of “You’re not getting any younger!”
I think I can settle with being the cool aunt that does cool things and gives him whatever he wants, while drinking wine.
You are a multi-talented woman, you sing, model, act; is there one thing you enjoy more than the other or do you love them all about the same:
I love everything that I do, but I would say that I enjoy singing more. Music has been extremely therapeutic for me. I do Music Therapy to help with my depression. I have grown up with an eclectic music household, and a lot of my memories are associated with music. So definitely singing!
How did you get into modeling:
Honestly, it fell into my lap. I actually booked a boudoir shoot for my ex-boyfriend, and also for myself, back in March 2019. I was feeling extremely self-conscious and depressed and wanted to do something for myself to break out. The underlying issue of that was, (1) I already struggled with mental health and depression, and (2) my ex-boyfriend was extremely abusive mentally, emotionally, and sometimes physically.
I booked with a well-known photographer and it was such a magical experience. There was a makeup artist who made me look gorgeous, and the photography made me feel so comfortable and sexy. She kept telling me I should model, and that I’m a natural. I didn’t think too much about it until I got my images, and she said, consider it. She also posted my images in an Austin Models and Photographers Facebook group, and so many people kept asking her who the model was. I started answering messages and booking TFP (Time for Prints) shoots and grew my portfolio.
Fast forward a year and a half later, I am now a professional model, pose coach, and stylist who gets paid to do what I do! I never thought I would be able to do something like this, but look at me now!
Do you look at modeling and photography as art? If so, explain to me how you came to that conclusion for yourself:
Modeling and photography are 100% art. There is so much creativity that goes into it. The poses, the makeup, the hair, the clothes, the location, the lighting, the lenses, the backgrounds, the editing, the vision — everything!
It’s definitely a process and the product that comes out is the interpretation of whoever composes it. A good exercise to prove my point is to give different editors the same raw image and see how they edit it. You will get something different every time.
Partially nude and complete nude photos get a bad rap. How do you see nude modeling/photos and why do you think it gets a bad rap:
Partially nude and complete nude photos are art and are beautiful. A body is a body! We all have one and it should be celebrated. No body is the same, and that’s what is exciting about it. It gets a bad rap because people will always sexualize a body. No matter what. People are uncomfortable with nudity. We are moving closer to a more progressive mindset where people don’t care, and I am excited for the day when nudity isn’t taboo! But for the time being, I will continue to post my nude photos on my Only Fans until Instagram lightens up! 😉
Do you have any musical projects currently out or that you are working on? Or do you leave singing for your acting? Also, were you ever vocally trained:
I am vocally trained, and I am still vocally trained. I have been trained for about 13 years. Currently, due to COVID, I do not have any musical projects. I did have a Virtual Christmas concert on the 23rd, but at the moment, nothing else. I love doing musicals and I am hoping to do one once it is safe.
Also, what’s your background in theater? Tell me a little bit about that. Things like when you got started, and what you enjoy most about it:
So, I started theatre in high school. Again, it was something that fell in my lap. I took Theatre 1 my freshman year for an arts credit. I really enjoyed it, so decided to do Theatre 2 my sophomore year. I was really into volleyball, convinced I was going to get a full ride volleyball scholarship and go to school for Pre-Law (let’s all laugh at that real quick).
After the season, my theatre teacher told me I should audition for the winter musical since I won’t have practice after school anymore. I told him, no, theatre kids are weird. He then threatened to fail me if I didn’t audition, so I said fine! I auditioned and was cast as an ensemble member. After my first rehearsal, I was hooked! Getting on stage, you get a rush of adrenaline, and I loved it. I started auditioning for other shows, getting cast in bigger and bigger roles.
In Texas, there is something called UIL One Act Play, where we compete against other schools in Texas. We didn’t advance, but I was awarded All Star cast, the only one in my cast! Then our last show, I was the only underclassman to be cast in that play. Then, there is something in Fort Worth, TX called the Betty Buckley Awards, which is the equivalent to the Tony Awards for Texas High School theatre. I was nominated for best ensemble. I didn’t win, but that was enough for me!
I started drifting from the original dream, and in my senior year in high school, I decided to study theatre in college. My senior year, I was the only non-choir female to be cast as a lead role and I was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for the Buckley Awards. I didn’t win, but we did win Best Musical at the Buckley awards, out of ALL the schools in Texas. I then studied Theatre at UT, and now I do it in the Austin community. I’m very blessed and thankful for my journey!
Let’s switch gears and have a little fun. What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you:
Hmmmmm. I used to be extremely conservative, but then I went to college and lived life. Now I am extremely liberal!
Where do you see yourself a year from now or where would you like to see yourself a year from now:
Well, I do have a full-time sales job, and I am hoping to be able to completely work for myself by 30. I’m hoping to be able to work in a staged show, and fill my calendar with more paid shoots. I am also considering starting my own marketing consulting firm. But that’s what is so great about life. YOU NEVER KNOW!
Photography Credits: Isla Monet Boudoir, Elysian Boudoir, and Art Flores Photos.
© 2021 | Michael Nelson for Drty Ones