Receiving an e-mail recently about an opportunity to interview Latino models/handymen on the Style Network, who could logically say No? Beautiful Latino hombres that work on homes in tanktops? Sign me up. Starring in a new show on Style airing on Monday nights, “Built” follows a crew of models from a construction company called “Hott and Handy” that redo spaces in clients’ homes like a mix of HGTV meets America’s Next Top Model. Each episode highlights the flirty fun and frustration that comes with each renovation. Connecting with Hott and Handy owner Panamanian born Shane Duffy and Queens native foreman Sandy Dias, preconceived images of “Blue Steel” posing, ridiculously good-looking “Zoolanders” soon evaporated and funny guys that combine brains AND beauty soon emerged.
Check out the video and excerpts from our interview below where we discuss the show, food, familia, Sandy’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering, Shane’s time in Afghanistan and more! To hear the full interview, click on the Full Interview link below. Follow Shane, @ShaneRDuffy and Sandy, @SandyDiasModel on Twitter for more info on “Built” and their modeling careers!
How did “Hott and Handy” first come about?
Shane: I was actually living in Los Angeles and was doing handyman work for part-time work because in this industry, you’re not booking jobs every day. And if you are, you’re a supermodel, good for you.…One time a client came up to me and one of my friends while we were hanging up Christmas lights and she said, “Wow. You guys look like hot handymen” and that was my light bulb moment. I thought “Wow, I could actually start a business..this could actually be a business concept of male models who are handy doing construction work”. I ended up starting the business in 2010 and have been in the modeling industry for almost 12 years and contacted all my friends and asked what their skill level as far as painting, carpentry, electrician work, landscaping. The response was overwhelming…This is it. I have this concept. I have guys who are willing to work and are skilled. Now it’s a business.
I was checking out your Facebook pages and it seems like you guys had a good time at NY Fashion Week recently.
Shane: For me, it epitomizes the modeling and fashion industry. Especially NY is one of the fashion capitals of the world. To be able to be a part of it, it’s always fun…This year, all of us were on the opposite side…. We were all there supporting our friends who were modeling in the shows. We have friends that are designers and we were supporting their designs. So it’s great to sit back. You enjoy it as a model but you don’t really get to actually enjoy it where you can grab a cocktail, mingle around. When you’re a model, you’re backstage, you do your show and then you’re off to the next show. So it was awesome.
Sandy: We made a point to support another Latino designer, Hernan (Lander), who happens to be a friend of Shane’s and he’s Dominican. It’s amazing to see people of color actually coming up. Part of the Mercedes Benz show and it’s the biggest event when it comes to fashion and we were a part of it and it was really uplifting.
In terms of your beginnings, Sandy, you’re a Queens, NY native and Shane, you were born in Panama? How were your upbringings? How did you guys grow up?
Sandy: Literally I’m talking to you and I’m in Queens right now. Queens is the melting pot. John Leguizamo is from here, Marc Anthony grew up not far from I live. These are people who went to schools that we went to…Growing up; of course, my parents were tough. I never grew up with a silver spoon in my mouth. I know what it is to work hard….I had to keep down three jobs when I went to school. Thank God modeling took off. It afforded me a lifestyle when I didn’t need to have three jobs and I could just work on that. Thankfully Hott and Handy came along which definitely marries well with the modeling so I have the best of both worlds.
Shane: I was born in the Republic of Panama. My mother is full Panamanian. My father is American Irish. I grew up in Texas which is close to Mexico so that Latin and Spanish influence is all around. My upbringing from Sandy’s upbringing was totally different. I lived in a town that had 2,000 people and lived on 20 acres of land. It was more small town living, wasn’t a big city lifestyle. ..It was good, it was a humbling experience.
Speaking of clients, have you had a client thus far that made you want to say “peace out”?
Sandy: Well, you have demanding clients and they come in all shapes and sizes so they’ve all got their specific demands. You know what, at the end of the day, they’re our clients and they pay us really well to do the job and we always want to prove to them that we can do the job, no matter how hard. We’ve thought about saying “peace out” but we don’t usually.
Shane: No comment..haha…..I get it because it’s an investment for them. Especially if we take down a wall or we’re changing a room that they’ve lived in. If they’ve lived in the house or apartment for like 5 years and they’ve never done anything to it…. It’s client management, dealing with different types of clients. I’ve never wanted to walk out on a client. I get frustrated and they get frustrated but in the end, each client has their own personality and we try our best to come to a solution and as you can see on the show, nothing’s perfect. The show portrays really what happens when you work on a construction job. The client’s not happy. You adapt and overcome and make the client happy. That’s what it’s about. That’s why we all wanted to be a part of this show because it gives the insight on what this business is about….Of course, the client is always right.
What would someone be surprised to know about each of you?
Shane: Normally, my response to that is that I was in the military because in this industry, most clients are like “Wait. You were an officer? When did you do that?” so now that everybody knows, that’s kind of a hard question.
Sandy: For me, people are really surprised to know I have a degree in Aeronautical Technology cause especially as a model, that’s the last thing on their minds. They’re like, “are you kidding me? You’re Zoolander. You don’t know this” and then when they actually find out about me, that’s shocking..Now people are starting to know things about us.
What’s your favorite Spanish dish? Not like you guys have it a lot because you guys look like you work out several hours a day.
Shane: Growing up, my mom cooked rice, beans and chicken…Every time I come home, my mom knows what to cook for me. She makes it for me with plantains on the side. In Texas, I love spicy Mexican food.
Sandy: My favorite dish by far is Vaca Frita. I just love this Cuban restaurant in Jackson Heights in Queens. I’m going to go there, maybe today. Every time I talk about it, I want to go eat it. I love the ceviche. It’s so delicious. Those are my two favorite things.
By Being Latino Contributor, Carlita, Born and raised in The Bronx and currently in Los Angeles, Carlita is new to the Being Latino familia but looks forward to what the future holds.