In the sea of reality TV hopefuls, only a handful really stand out. Santino Rice is one. He started off as a contestant on Project Runway, the Heidi Klum-hosted hit reality TV series where contestants design clothes in the hope of seeing their collection featured at New York Fashion Week. Though he might not have put his best foot forward with his “love-to-hate-me” attitude on the show, he has surely made a name for himself and turned his 15 minutes of fame into a lifetime opportunity. By Puntuchit Peetakanont

Growing up in St. Charles, Missouri, I felt like an outsider, considering I looked different. I was happy to move to Los Angeles at 17. My life and my world opened up to a whole new place.

When you are a kid, being different can make you insecure. However, you are happy to be different when older. Adversity builds character.

In Los Angeles, I started working with an artist named Tony Duquette. He introduced me to Asian culture, from Balinese and Chinese to Japanese. He was a world traveler and known for doing old Hollywood movies. He was a huge influence on me, opened my eyes to the world and who I really am.

Bangkok has always been one of my dream destinations. Thai food, which is really popular in Los Angeles, is my favorite. I want to get the sense of what Bangkok is really all about.

I have been so blown away by the immensity of the shopping structure in Asia. You can find big brand names like Louis Vuitton and Gucci and high-end fabric stores all in one place, which is not common in the US.

Fashion-wise, what I have seen here so far is very international. I want to experience people in sois and markets to get the real essence of cosmopolitan life here, which I have so far only seen out of a window during my cab rides.

The fame and notoriety of the show has been huge. It has opened up a lot of doors for me.

I transmit my stories through fashion.

As a fashion designer, I barely have free time. I am always busy looking and searching for inspiration.

My focus is currently on custom-made pieces. I need the right investors to take to the next level. You are going to see my own label or we will all die trying.

There is a big misconception about me because I was portrayed as an asshole on TV. Some parts were edited out until later on when my real personality showed through, not just soundbites. People who meet me would describe me as well rounded.

In life, I take a lot of risks. However, at the end of the day, if you are a current person and recognize the beauty in the world, you will make out OK, no matter if someone tries to paint you in a negative way.

I believe in being a master of your own destiny.

It is not about winning or losing. It is about the journey—where you go and where you take it.

I love music even when I don’t understand the lyrics. What matters is that I get the feeling of the music.

Reality TV can make things seem unreal. However, being on TV allows people to feel like they know you. When we get to meet in person, it creates an immediate connection. There are no walls.


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