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Star beauty: Interview with Clea Saldania-Rountree

Written By | Mar 21, 2014

HONOLULU, March 20, 2014 – One of the most beautiful models in today’s fashion industry is Clea Saldania-Rountree, a woman whose image has graced some of the world’s most distinguished fashion labels including KENZO Paris, DKNY, Emporio Armani, Guess by Marciano, Salvatore Ferragamo and countless others. Modeling since early childhood, Clea’s glowing personality and stunning, star looks won her several beauty pageant titles and even landed her silver screen roles, including the hit romantic comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

As a fashion expert and a world traveler, Clea shared in an exclusive interview with CDN her thoughts about modern style, top trends and the complicated direction the world is going today.

Dr. Danny de Gracia: Clea, tell our readers a little bit about yourself, what it was like growing up and how you got started in fashion and entertainment.

Clea Saldania-Rountree: I was born and raised in Kahala on the island of Oahu. I’m of Filipino, Irish, English, Scottish, Polish, Russian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese and Native American descent. A homecoming queen, I graduated from Saint Francis School and Kapiolani Community College with a degree in hotel operations and management.

Fashion and entertainment started with my mother Gina Saldania, an international model and actress. When I was a baby, many of her photographer friends and people in the industry kept telling her that I should model. She kept resisting them thinking I was too young. One day, she went to J.C. Penney to pick up my baby portraits. The regional manager happened to fly in from the mainland and approached my mother if they could use my portraits in a national campaign in all their stores. To her that was a sign that maybe I should start modeling.

After I was signed to an agency at the age of three, immediately I landed local, national and international modeling jobs. At the same time, I won the regional finals for the Wilhelmina modeling agency in New York. By age five, I started acting and landed a couple of roles on the TV series Jake and the Fatman which led to many TV and movie projects like playing a bride in the feature film Forgetting Sarah Marshall. A former beauty queen, I’ve [also] won a couple of pageants.

DDG: I hear that you’re related to Donna Reed, who was also famous for her role as the stunning Lorene Burke in the 1953 movie From Here To Eternity, one of Hawaii’s most iconic films! Tell us a little bit about that.

CSR: My grandmother is related to her. While living in Beverly Hills, my grandmother modeled in Los Angeles with Marilyn Monroe and both were signed to the same modeling agency.

DDG: What’s it like for you being a model?

CSR: I just feel privileged that a company, brand, designer or magazine will use my image to represent them. I’m so grateful to everyone that I have modeled for. I love meeting the clients, photographers, stylists and make-up artists. It’s a thrill to travel and go to exotic locations for photo shoots. I’m so honored to have modeled for fashion, print, runway, advertisements, calendars, catalogs, commercials and magazine covers.

DDG: How would you describe your personal taste in fashion, when you’re not in front of a camera? What do you like to wear?

CSR: I prefer to be simple and comfortable. I like to wear skinny jeans with a pretty flowing blouse or a casual romper and even a maxi dress.

DDG: Do you have a favorite color you like to dress in? Would you say there’s a connection between your personality style and the colors you like to wear?

CSR: I like to wear a lot of color especially teal. But I don’t feel there’s a connection with my personality, I just wear according to what I feel at that moment.

DDG: You’ve traveled quite a bit throughout Europe, are there any places you’d recommend for anyone who hasn’t been there yet?

CSR: I recommend seeing all of Europe if you can. Europe is so beautiful with an old world charm that is well preserved. The architecture is amazing. The classic cities you should see are London, Paris and Rome. Greece and its surrounding islands like Corfu are a gem.

My two favorites are Croatia and the city of Venice, Italy. Croatia was breathtaking, especially the old city of Dubrovnik and its [beaches] and ocean. I could really live in Venice because I could just walk everywhere and not drive. There are no cars, just water taxis, bridges and gondolas. I don’t like to drive.

DDG: What kind of music do you like? Do you have a favorite artist?

CSR: I like classical, hip hop, R&B, reggae, jazz, 80s and 90s. At the moment, my favorite artist is Pharrell Williams.

DDG: What would you say is your all-time, favorite song?

CSR: “Stronger” by Kanye West. This song gives me fond memories of being in Europe.

DDG: There’s a lot of exciting movies coming out this year. Next month the highly anticipated Captain America sequel comes out and then during the summer the new Transformers: Age of Extinction movie will be showing in theaters. Are there any upcoming films you’re looking forward to watching this year?

CSR: I’m not really sure because I hardly have time to see movies. However, I do love to watch comedies and if my mom or I have acted in a movie, we make sure we go and see it.

DDG: Let’s talk a little bit about relationships and life. One of the things that’s concerning policymakers is that more and more Americans are suffering from depression, living alone and feeling more isolated than ever before in U.S. history.

In 1960, the average age most Americans got married was age 20. Today, the average age for a first marriage is closer to 30 and researchers expect that age to keep increasing over the next few years. The number of people getting married is also at historic lows. That’s pretty shocking. What do you think about this trend?

CSR: I think it’s really sad and accurate. The reason is people are so swept up into themselves and their career that they forget that there are other meaningful things to life like having someone to love, making a commitment and making a family of their own.

DDG: Do you think that people nowadays are getting too superficial, shallow or even materialistic in their approach to modern relationships? Do you think that might be one of the reasons why finding “true love” is so difficult these days?

CSR: [People] today have a long list of expectations of what they want in a person, if it’s not up to their standards, they just give up and not stick around and work at it. I feel it’s the disposable society.

DDG: I notice these days that a lot of people tend to be “takers” rather than “givers” and compassion seems to be a rare trait to find at times. Would you agree?

CSR: Yes I agree, I’m finding people are more cold and not willing to give. Their always looking for a hand out or using others to get what they want. It seems like respect and appreciation goes right out the window.

DDG: What’s the number one thing in life that you would like to have or achieve?

CSR: I feel I accomplished most of my goals and success in life already. If more is to come my way, I will truly embrace it. However, if I’m able to I would like to be like Angelina Jolie and not only have my own child but to adopt a baby from Africa and China.

DDG: Is there anything you’d like to say to our readers?

CSR: I know this sounds cliché, but I would just want world peace. I don’t know why we all can’t get along and love and accept each other. There’s too much negativity, hate, discrimination, narcissism and racism. Haven’t we learned from our past forefathers and all the past wars that it’s a waste of lives and destruction stemming from pure ignorance? Like the Olympics, I love to see all the countries of competitors under one roof getting along. Can’t everyone see that we are all one and equal.


We greatly appreciate the opportunity to interview Ms. Saldania-Rountree. She is featured in both the 2015 Beautiful Girls of Las Vegas and Girls of the Hawaiian Islands calendars, available through ABC Stores. Find out more about Clea by visiting her official Facebook fan page here.

Danny de Gracia

Dr. Danny de Gracia is a political scientist and a former senior adviser to the Human Services and International Affairs standing committees as well as a former minority caucus research analyst at the Hawaii State Legislature. From 2011-2013 he served as an elected municipal board member in Waipahu. As an expert in international relations theory, military policy, political psychology and economics, he has advised numerous policymakers and elected officials and his opinions have been featured worldwide. He has two doctorates in theology and ministry, a postgraduate in strategic marketing, a master's in political science and a bachelor's in political science and public administration. Writing on comparative politics, modern culture, fashion and more, Danny is also the author of the new novel "American Kiss" available now from