It was never Tracy Trinita’s dream to be a supermodel. Instead it was her mother, a fashion designer, who saw modelling as an outlet to help build her daughter’s confidence.
Remarkably, her introduction to the world of modelling led the reluctant Tracy to become Indonesia’s first supermodel at age 14. And even more remarkably, 20 years, later she’s now a Christian speaker travelling the world and sharing her faith.
Tracy spoke to Hope 103.2 in the leadup to her Australian tour.
The Search For Happiness
When she first stepped into the modelling world, Tracy hated the idea of people dressing her and telling her what to do—until she started making money and travelling the world. Surely this success would lead to happiness, she thought.
She modelled for celebrity designers like Jean Paul Gautier, Yves Saint Laurent, Benetton and Kenzo, and strutted the catwalk with the likes of Naomi Campbell. Ironically though, as her fame and fortune grew, so did the feeling of emptiness.
Why was she not happy when she supposedly had everything a girl could ask for?
Tracy started to search for answers, and it soon became obvious that what she was going through was quite normal. She discovered she wasn’t the only one in her industry struggling to find happiness.
Her network of friends suggested extreme solutions, such as using drugs to forget her problems, and even suicide. But the more she searched, the more she began to think about God.
While working in New York, Tracy prayed a prayer, asking God to make Himself known.
“I wanted the real God to reveal Himself to me,” she said, “because I come from a confusing family background of religions. Grandpa was Muslim, Grandma was Christian, my dad’s family was Catholic and at home we did Hindu ceremonies.”
An Answer to Prayer, A New Beginning
God went to work, it seems, because soon after praying, Tracy’s agent sent her to do some work in Paris, where she met a student who invited her to church.
It was a turning point.
“There was something about the Christians in this church that looked so different,” Tracy said. “I saw a glow in their face; a glow of happiness that I’d never seen before. This was the point of attraction.”
Curious to know why they were so happy, Tracy dug deeper in her spiritual search.
What Was Different About Christianity?
Before her encounter with true Christianity, Tracy was of the belief that every religion led to the same God. But once she did some investigating, she realised that what made the Christian faith different was the way God connected to man.
“I’d never heard [before] that God came down to earth to rescue us,” she said. “Every other religion I heard was [about] humans needing to reach out to God, in hoping that God would accept them.”
Knowing this as theory was one thing, but it was what she was going to do with this knowledge that mattered. It became too compelling for her not to believe and she handed her life over to God.
The World of Beauty
As an impressionable young teenager surrounded by elite supermodels, Tracy had found it hard not to be defined by beauty.
“I thought beauty was something you show to the world, to then gain something from it,” she said. “My identity was established by who I was in the sight of society.”
Her view of beauty changed, though, after she became a believer. Now, her identity is centred in her Creator.
“For the first time in my life I don’t have to pretend to be somebody else…Knowing that God loves me and sees me as precious restored my broken identity.”
“I am made in the in image of God. The one who made me died for me on the cross and has a purpose for my life, not only for this world but beyond. Knowing this liberated me and gave me a freedom to be who I am.”
“For the first time in my life I don’t have to pretend to be somebody else…I no longer have to pursue wealth and fame. Knowing that God loves me and sees me as precious restored my broken identity.”
Called to a New Purpose
With Tracy’s newfound faith came a new desire to serve God. In 2006, she gave her testimony at an event, which led to a scholarship to study in Oxford. After her studies, Tracy then was given the opportunity to join Ravi Zacharias International Ministries – an evangelistic organisation that seeks to reach leaders and culture-makers with the gospel message.
By nature Tracy is extremely shy, so moving into public speaking was not a natural transition for her. But God gradually brought the right people into her life, helping her see that all she needed to do was to trust God.
“I learnt that the One who has sent me will equip me,” Tracy said. “I didn’t feel like I had the ability to think and debate and be an amazing apologist, but the calling of everyone at the ministry is to [simply] share the goodness of the gospel. We use apologetics as a tool to help people answer their questions that hinder them in their faith in Christ.”
Tracy now travels around the world speaking about her time as a supermodel and her journey of faith. Her focus is to reach out to people in the media and the arts – a sphere she is familiar with – as well as people of influence, and people who are influenced by the industry.
“I still have access in these [fashion] circles; I want to make sure I can share Christ. I have a heart for young people and hearing about the struggles that hinder them in their faith with Christ and how I can help them.”
Tracy will be touring Australia between August 15 and September 1 giving a series of talks called When the Fashion Model Met the Designer. Her talk in Sydney on August 26 will be held at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Visit the City Bible Forum website for event details.