We thought it was about time you met the face of American West Jewelry. Monique Candelaria has been modeling for us since 2015, but this New Mexico-born actor is a diverse and passionate artist with a fascinating story.
American West Jewelry: How do you describe yourself, artistically?
Monique Candelaria: Artistically, I would describe myself as being fluid. I flow through many art forms every day of my life – whether it be for my career as an actor, singing around town as a passionate hobby, or writing stories or drawing as a form of meditation.
AWJ: Describe the experience of being the face of American West Jewelry.
MC: Honestly I felt truly honored to be considered for such a position. The brand itself embraces the cultural influences of its creative inspirations while emphasizing the empowerment of women. Being born in the state of New Mexico, I am a product of my environment by being a mixture of Mescalero Apache, Aztec and European descent.
Essentially, I feel that by being able to embody the history of my ancestors I have helped bring to life the authenticity of the brand while also emphasizing that acceptance in a diverse mixed-culture can help us evolve and create a better world filled with beauty. I am embodying the values of American West by making sure that I embrace who I am as a person, follow my dreams and never allow myself to be limited by fear.
AWJ: Was there a moment when you knew you were going to be an actor?
MC: I was two years in at the University of New Mexico when I realized that even though I excel in science, I was always looking for a way to be creative. I realized I’d rather live a life of unpredictability and be happy than go for stability and live a life of monotony. So, I changed my academic path from science to the arts and ended up graduating in 2009 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre with an emphasis in acting.
AWJ: What have been the highlights of your career?
MC: The seed that allowed my career to blossom was being cast in Bless Me, Ultima where I became eligible for the Screen Actors Guild. Then, The Control Group was my first lead-role on a feature film. It was also my first time having a role where I was sent out of New Mexico to Fergus Falls, Minnesota. I will never forget the feeling of getting on an airplane and knowing I was going to be away from home for a month because I was actually doing something I love.
The most recognizable highlight in my career was being cast in Breaking Bad as “Lucy” in Episodes #501 Live Free or Die and #516 Felina! Suddenly I was getting recognition internationally. It was an exhilarating feeling but one of awe as well because even though I watched Breaking Bad, I had no idea at the time how far its reach truly was.
My most recent major highlight was being cast as a recurring character on a mini series called Snatchers! The second season I was cast in New Mexico, and when the show got picked up for a third season I was flown to Salt Lake City, UT. These 2 seasons have not yet been released but when they do I will definitely post it on my Instagram page (@MoCa369) and on my Facebook fan page. So keep an eye out for it!
If you’re interested in seeing other films I have been a part of check out my IMDb page at imdb.me/moniquecandelaria.
AWJ: Who are the women that have inspired you the most along the way?
MC: The woman that has inspired me the most is my mama. She is the strongest person I know, inside and out, with a heart of gold. She has taught me to always ask questions, take the time to analyze, know where I stand, and never be afraid to fight for what I believe is right.
She has also encouraged me to follow my dreams, and although she gives me my space to create my own life path, she is the one person I know that will always be there for me. She ultimately inspires me to be the best person I can be while finding ways for those around me to shine, as well.