Interview with B.T. Urruela-Model, Athlete and Personal Trainer
TRC: Hi BT and welcome to The Reading Café. Congratulations on the recent cover of Lexi Buchanan’s SINFUL.
BT: THANK YOU!
TRC: We would like to start with some background information. Would you please tell us something about yourself?
Click HERE for B.T’s complete story.
B.T: I am of Sicilian and Cuban descent. I was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri before joining the Army at 18 and shipping off to infantry basic training in Fort Benning, Georgia. From there, I went to my next duty station in Baumholder, Germany, then to Kuwait, and eventually to Iraq. October 22nd, 2006, just two and half weeks before my 21st birthday, my vehicle was hit by two improvised explosive devices and would eventually be sent to Walter Reed Army Medical Center to rehabilitate from my injuries.
TRC: Aside from the obvious, how has your life changed upon reentry into civilian life?
B.T: I had a really tough two years transitioning due to lack of support and dealing with the side effects of PTSD. Team sports and helping others is the only thing the pulled me out.
TRC: What do you do when the stress becomes overwhelming?
B.T: My dogs relieve a lot of stress and the gym is my go to!
TRC: Do you believe enough is being done to help returning and injured soldiers reintegrate back into society or get the help that they need?
B.T: I believe we have a tremendous amount of work to do. The VA is inundated with patients and many health care providers in the system could care less about the patients they are treating. The VA needs a major overhaul. Much of the burden is put unto the shoulders of non-profits. Without Veteran Service Organizations around to help, it would be so much worse.
TRC: Would you please tell us about VETSports. How many VETS have benefited from your work?
Click HERE for the VETSports website
B.T: I co-founded VETSports in 2012 with two other combat wounded vets. It was our goal to assist in the transition of veterans back into civilian life through team sports and community involvement. We have served over 2,000 veterans in six states and that number continues to rise.
TRC: What were your dreams and aspirations growing up?
B.T: I always wanted to be an “army man”, musician, professional athlete, or cop/firefighter.
TRC: You were first brought to our attention through the amazing photography of Michael Stokes. How has the exposure through these images affected your personal and private life?
B.T: Michael is a wonderful man doing amazing things for veterans. He has allowed me to share my story on a much larger scale, and the love and respect I’ve felt from the public has changed my life drastically in the most positive of ways.
TRC: What first sparked your interest in modeling? Is there a defining moment where you knew that modeling was something you were interested in pursuing?
B.T: Seeing Michael’s photos of Alex Minsky first sparked my interest. I was impressed by his ability to bear his scars with class and bravery. He made me want to do the same. It took a year to do it, but I owe him a lot for instilling in me the desire to reach for the stars despite my disabilities.
TRC: When not modeling or doing person training, what are your other interests?
B.T: I love team sports. I play flag football once a week and softball twice a week. I’ve also gotten into acting and really enjoy it. I like to read too and writing is truly a part of who I am.
TRC: Have you ever had a photo shoot that went completely wrong?
B.T: Never! All three of my shoots have been absolutely amazing experiences!
TRC: Nudity in modeling or acting can be controversial. Some pictures can cross the line between sensuality to pornography. What would you tell young models/actors /body builders just entering the business about nude modeling and photography?
B.T: I think you’re exactly right. There is a very fine line between art and just being blatant for the sake of exposure. I personally think things should be left a bit to the imagination. I’ve seen some recently with exposed pubic hair and the obvious, and intentional, outline of the penis. I don’t hold anything against those that model or shoot those kinds of shots, I just believe it’s crossing that fine line. It’s not something I would ever do.
TRC: In the past, there has been a ‘stigma’ surrounding the male model and the romance-cover industry but the popularity of the romance storyline has skyrocketed in the last few years especially with the erotic and sensual cover images. What is your opinion about the recent popularity and the very busy industry of the ‘romance cover model’?
B.T: I think EL James did SO much for the industry, and more specifically, for the independent authors within it. Pornography is rampant in our society and consumed by the masses, yet there is a stigma surrounding the romance/erotic novel industry. Sex is a part of our everyday lives. I like novels that are real and true to life. Why cut sex out of the equation? I respect the authors and models in this industry and I wish for nothing but the best for everyone moving forward. It’s refreshing that it is finally getting the respect and notice that it deserves.
TRC: Did you ever, in your wildest dreams, expect to be on the cover of an erotic romance storyline?
B.T: NEVER! But it is thrilling, humbling, mind blowing, amazing, and absolutely awesome all rolled into one! I never saw myself here, and having gone through what I have, it makes this very long road so worth the travel!
TRC: Do you know the number of novel covers that your image has appeared?
B.T: Right now it sits at three. I am booked for three more including my own novel that I’m co-writing coming out this fall and I truly hope to continue this work moving forward!
TRC: Do you have a favorite cover-romance image or otherwise? (e.g. magazines, ads, Michael Stokes, etc)
B.T: Aw, you know I can’t do that 🙂 I love all of my photographers and they have all taken photos that are near and dear to my heart! Michael Stokes was my first, so obviously those shots hold a special significance, but I feel as if I fall in love with each new image that comes out. I have been so blessed to have worked with each of my photographers!
TRC: Would you please tell us what you do to relax?
B.T: I love to put a good comedy on Netflix and relax in bed with my pups.
TRC: What three things would you like to accomplish in the next five years?
B.T: I would like to see my name with KL Grayson’s on the cover of our novel, A Lover’s Lament, I would like to act in a movie or television series, and I would like to have 30+ clients who I get to help reach their fitness goals every single day.
TRC: What is something that few, if anybody, knows about you?
B.T: I don’t speak to my mother and I haven’t in three years. My brother and I had a very trying and traumatic childhood due to her and my stepfather’s actions and lack of love and, though it has made me a stronger person today, it will never be forgotten.
TRC: On what on your currently working?
B.T: A Lover’s Lament with KL Grayson, future covers with Harper Sloan and Kristen Proby, motivational speaking, and building my client base as a personal trainer with Tampa Sports Academy.
TRC: Would you like to add anything else?
B.T: A big fat THANK YOU to everyone for their unconditional love, respect and support. I am overwhelmed by you all each and everyday, and it means the absolute world to me! I am so insanely blessed!
** VOTE BT Urruela for the MEN’S HEALTH Guy Search cover HERE
Italian, Pizza and Sushi
Ice Cream Cookie or Brownie Sundae
Independence Day, Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down, The Way, Way Back, and
Silver Linings Playlist…but there are soooo many more!
Favorite TV Show
The Office, It’s Always Sunny, King of Queens, Seinfeld, Friends, and Parks and
Last Movie that you saw
The Interview and St Vincent
Secret Celebrity Crush
Dark or Milk Chocolate
Milk or White Chocolate
Last Vacation Destination
St Louis… I don’t do many real vacations unfortunately. Once things settle though!
TRC: Thank you Brian for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations on all of your success and THANK YOU for your service to your country!