Although her career was flourishing in Colombia, actress and model Lianna Grethel felt she needed a bigger stage to exhibit her talents in the entertainment industry.
Born in Hartford, Connecticut, Grethel was raised in Colombia but later moved back to the U.S. to pursue more opportunities. Her journey started in Miami where she landed gigs on Spanish-language shows like “Sabado Gigante” as a model and “Control” as a host where she would travel around the world to interview different people.
When she moved to L.A., she was named as one of the 26 models in the third season of the popular TV show “Deal or No Deal.” Grethel held briefcase No. 22 for more than half the season.
During an interview with me, Grethel, who is currently a host for the Estrella TV Network, talked about her mother’s influence on her to become a model and what she misses most about life in Colombia.
Where did you get the idea that you wanted to be a model when you were a teenager?
My mom worked as a model in Colombia when I was young so I absorbed everything she was doing. I told myself I wanted to do the same thing. I loved cameras. I wanted to be famous. That was my life. That’s what I loved to do.
Did you spend a lot of time with your mom on different sets?
Yes. I don’t have brothers or sisters so I would spend all my time with my mom and would go everywhere she would go. She would take me to her photo shoots and to her acting class.
Other than your mother, were there any other people you admired in the entertainment industry?
I love learning about people’s careers. I love reading biographies. I want to have a talk show like Oprah. I love Julia Roberts and her career. I love Ellen DeGeneres. I’d love to be as successful as those women.
What do you miss most about living in Colombia?
I miss my grandparents. I miss Christmastime. I miss the family reunions every weekend, my friends, my school. We have the best coffee in the world. I love my country.
What was the most challenging thing for you making the transition from Colombia to the U.S.?
When I first moved to L.A. I faced racism. When I rented an apartment I had neighbors that would always say bad things about me. They would laugh at me. They didn’t know I was born in the U.S. It was very hard and sad to deal with these types of people.
Of all the things you’ve done in your career, what has given you the most satisfaction?
Hosting. As an actress you have to read the scripts and memorize lines and be different characters. As a host I can be myself.
When you were a host on “Control” who was your favorite interview?
It was a very relaxed show. I enjoyed every interview. I really liked interviewing A.B. Quintanilla, Selena’s brother. It was very emotional because he remembered everything about his sister. He was very human in that interview.
What was your experience like on the show “Deal or No Deal?”
That was an amazing experience. I worked with 25 different models from different countries. I laughed every moment working with Howie [Mandel]. He is so funny. Now that the show is over I miss it.
All the models on that show were very attractive. Does your physical beauty play an important part in who you are as a person?
It’s true that your beauty can open doors, but what will make you prevail is your personality. That is more important than physical beauty.
What is it about your personality that you would like people to know?
I’m very passionate in what I do. I’m very punctual. If my friends want to go somewhere and say to be there at 8:30 p.m. I will get there at 8:25 p.m. I get upset if people are late. I enjoy every moment. I love to read and go to the beach and travel. But I prefer to stay in the house. I like to learn about different cultures. And I’m a really good friend. That’s very hard to find these days.