Joan Smalls has been ''refused opportunities'' because of the colour of her skin.

The Victoria's Secret model admits her Puerto Rican heritage has made it tough for her in the fashion industry but she refuses to let it hold her down.

She said: ''Yes, I have been refused opportunities for the colour of my skin and that's unfortunate and very narrow minded. But I never let that hold me down. I've surrounded myself with creative individuals who see beauty for what it is.

''Your race, colour or creed is what's beautiful and being inclusive of all. It is an uphill battle that people do not see behind closed doors, emails and when brands just think of filling a stereotype or using a model as a convenient marketing strategy. It's about pushing through all the negative noise.''

If Joan wasn't a model, she would have followed her dream of becoming a psychologist.

She explained to nine.com.au: ''I would have continued and gotten my doctorates in Psychology. I love getting to know individuals and what drives them. How you can understand the human psyche and aid in helping. Being empathetic and open minded is something not everyone can do, my mother is a social worker and she's inspired me to want to help and give your attention to others, that's the most selfless thing to do.''