Delisi Araceli Duarte

Miss Latina World has full calendar at UTSA

By Lynn Gosnell
Special Projects Writer

(May 7, 2009)--Actress... Model... UTSA student... Delisi Araceli Duarte, 24, wears many hats, or perhaps more accurately... crowns. Duarte also is the reigning Miss Latina World and former Miss Latina Mexico.

And, she is a hometown girl who settled (for now) in San Antonio after pursuing an acting and modeling career in Los Angeles and New York directly after high school. Since January, Duarte has been pursuing another dream -- earning a college degree.

Did we mention that she also works full-time in her father's law firm? The hard-working freshman maintains a full calendar of work, classes and appearances at nonprofits and events as part of her Miss Latina World duties. With her crown and sash, the 5-foot 7-inch beauty queen makes quite a splash, especially with young girls.

"I'm a role model for them," said Duarte, a trained actor and model. "I've known since kindergarten that I wanted to be an actress," said Duarte, who sounds poised and down-to-earth in an interview. She signed with a modeling and acting agency at age 14 and sang and danced in musicals at Sandra Day O'Connor High School in San Antonio. In Duarte's senior year, it was her father who pointed out an ad for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts -- with its illustrious photos of alumni -- in the local paper. Her mother drove her to the audition in Houston.

"One week after I walked the stage for my high school diploma, I packed my bags and moved to Los Angeles," said Duarte. There, she pursued her acting studies while holding down a "regular" job. After graduation in 2004, she remained in L.A., getting small acting gigs in TV ("That's So Raven," for example) and modeling at fashion shows.

In 2006, Duarte moved to New York, where she quickly discovered that her frame ("I'm Hispanic, and I have curves!") would not find a home on a traditional runway with its willowy models. She tried breaking into the "Law and Order" television franchise, but without much luck there or in the theater, she decided to head home."

"I came back to San Antonio to get grounded," Duarte says. "I needed to reestablish who I was and where I was going." Duarte had also called off an engagement, and she longed for her family. But, if she thought moving back home would mean slowing down -- she was wrong.

"I have never been so busy in my life! I am constantly working here," she said. Asked if her fellow students know -- or care -- about her title, Duarte mentions that her beauty queen status was revealed after she wrote a paper for a composition class. But, no one has a clue in her political science class. It will soon be a moot point, as on June 14, 2009, Duarte will pass her crown to another young woman.

Duarte looks forward to being able to take more classes and pursue a major in communications. She already has made numerous appearances on local TV programs as Miss Latina World, getting to know a number of local media professionals.

So, when the news broke recently about Miss California's answer to a question about gay marriage, the media were on the phone to Duarte asking for her reaction. Her answer was tactful. "I just said, 'You have to think about who you represent.'"

Duarte is still in demand for acting and modeling jobs, maintaining an active relationship with talent agencies. She doesn't rule out a future involving acting, citing Selma Hayak and Eva Mendes as idols. In the meantime, Duarte has finals coming up... and a crown and sash to don, for a little while longer.

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