It was an Instagram direct message sent in 2021 by supermodel Coco Rocha herself that pushed Dalia Frago so to give modeling a serious shot.
Up until that point, the 25-year-old, who grew up in Brighton and Dearborn, would connect with local photographers and model for their fashion photoshoots as a creative outlet while working as a lab coordinator for Michigan State University’s Clinical Neuroscience Lab (she obtained her undergraduate degree in psychology at MSU) and later pursuing a Master of Social Work at the University of Michigan.
She questioned if modeling was work that she could go far in, considering her height (she’s 5-foot-3, which perhaps even a decade or so ago was a height that wouldn’t have even been considered by modeling agencies) and that she was living in Michigan. But when Rocha sent that message commending the work Fragoso was posting to her Instagram page and inviting her to apply for the Coco Rocha Model Camp — a master class taught by Rocha herself both online and in person in New York to aspiring models — Fragoso knew she had to go for it.
She completed the four-day course in early 2021, returning to metro Detroit with newfound knowledge on the industry, a portfolio of photographs to submit when applying to agencies, and a shaved head (she’d been considering making a drastic change to her then-long hair for some time and figured then was as good a time as ever to do so).
Now, Fragoso is an agency-signed commercial and editorial model. On the commercial side, she’s done commercials and photoshoots for clients like Ford Motor Co., MasterCard, and Zoom. Editorially, Fragoso has been published in indie beauty and fashion magazines including Rise, Scorpio Jin, and Detroit-based Something Different. And as for her career as a social worker, a field Fragoso is still equally as passionate about, she is currently a clinical therapist at StoneCrest Center, a small psychiatric hospital in Detroit focused on behavioral therapy.
Here, Fragoso tells us more about her modeling experience, her own laid-back style, and more.
My personal style:
I’m a “cute but comfortable” person. I like to prioritize comfort, if I’m being honest. If I could wear sweatpants every day, I would. I feel more androgynous because I wear a lot of men’s clothes — I’m a pants, flannel, boxers type of person.
Where I like to thrift shop:
I get really lucky at Plato’s Closet. Goodwill, too. I’m all about going to places that have a bunch of stuff and you have to sort through to find the one thing that’s like, “Oh, my God, look at this.” A lot of the time, my shoots are just planned with friends and my pieces or their pieces. My favorite thing is to thrift and find statement pieces. I’ll find a piece, [the photographer and I will] plan a whole shoot around it, and it becomes a thing.
My ideal day in Detroit:
Me walking around with coffee, thrifting, going to record stores, maybe getting some lunch and a cocktail. I love Vicente’s [Cuban Cuisine]. I’m Cuban, and they have the best Cuban food.
My most memorable modeling experience (aside from Coco Rocha Model Camp):
I did a [TV commercial] shoot for MasterCard [a collaboration with Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever]. They had a little girl dress up; she goes into a bookshop, and the owner of the shop is a superhero. It was a really cool day. We shot at a movie theater and a bookstore [Comma Bookstore & Social Hub] in Flint. Just knowing it was for this movie and it was going to be a national commercial, it was really great.
Tips for aspiring models:
Don’t give up and stick with your gut. Also, be careful, because not everyone in this field is genuine and safe. Don’t let anyone tell you [that] you can’t do something. If you have the passion and the drive, you can do it. And if it’s meant to be, it will be.
Keep up with Fragoso’s modeling work on her Instagram page, @DaliaFragoso.
This story is part of the May 2023 issue of Hour Detroit. Read more in our Digital Edition.