In her interview, Jessi tells us how to succeed as a model, how she got started as a model, and what keeps her motivated to advance in this brutally competitive industry. Read and share her success story to inspire others.
AVIVA: What inspired you to become a model and how did you get started?
JESSI JUNE: Well, it was always my dream to be honest. When I first started, I was another naive girl who thought "I wanna be a fashion model at 5'5 with big boobs and curves!" Well, that notion quickly dissipated into reality, but for the better, because I came to realize that I loved doing glamour model so much more than fashion anyways! As for getting started, your looking at it! I didn't take senior pictures for high school because I graduated in 3 years, so I promised my mom we would go to glamour shots (I know, stop shuddering, I'm sorry! It's the truth though...). In the mean time, I was trying to figure out how the hell girls became models, and found all these wonderful online sites. So we went, we took some shots, and when I got them back, I posted them! I worked hard at trying to get shoots, and finally, a photographer named Gil Purcil in Miami gave me a shot! It was a swimwear shoot, my mom came (It was a week before I was 18, so she had to, calm it down escort forum posters), and it went amazing! After that, I was hooked! I've been working my ass off ever since to make sure I made this happen!
JJ: This was always supposedly a pipe dream. "Theres no money in it!", "You're not pretty enough", "Do you know how much weight you'd have to lose??", and "Hahahaha, you?? Please!!" were just some of the responses I got when I told people. Granted, I was overweight at the time and not really going anywhere, but man, did that light a fire under my ass! If I wasn't a model, I don't know what I would have done to be honest, because I never gave myself an option. During my "Senior Year" which was spent at a community college full time, I spent my time modeling and working part time at a pet store and a night club to make money to get my 1992 AC-less 250,000 mile corolla to shoots. I'd have to fix it while there half the time to get it home. Photographers from Miami can verify this!
Above: Photo by Rich Cutrone
JJ: Well, that's rough because I've met everyone on my old list of people I would love to meet. My first person would probably be Jenna Jameson, because I would love to discuss how the transition from being in front of the camera to CEO and best selling author went, and how hard it was for her to do. My second one would be Michael Jordan, because he may be one of the best self-branders to ever live, coming from basketball player and building a retail monster, that really, no other sport star has been able to match. The third would have to be one of the famous chefs off the Food Network; Anthony Bourdain, Bobby Flay, Emeril, etc. I love food, and I would love to be able to get down and cook one day with one of those guys, because I think just the talking shop be worth it, ignoring how great the food would be!
AVIVA: What career achievement are you most proud of? (name publications, etc)
JJ: The fact that I can call it a "career". I mean, I've been in numerous magazines, and every time it's still cool to see it, but the fact that I'm here, that I've been a model full time for almost 3 years, has to be what I'm most proud of. That I proved the naysayers wrong. Penthouse is cool to be in, I work for Maxim and am in that monthly now (international) and I worked for playboy in Miami, and those were all cool experiences, but I still think above all, the fact that I'm a "Professional Glamour model", Chubby, ugly, little Jessi from 5 years ago who had no future, is just awesome, and I'll never take that for granted. It still motivates me every day.
Above: Photo by TH Taylor
AVIVA: What do you believe has been the key to your success as a model in such a short period of time?
JJ: Honestly?? This is going to sound kind of bad, but the fact that I take everything personally. I know, "crazy bitch!", but hear me out! So back when I was starting, I had a shoot with a photographer which was gonna be my best to date. Well, he didn't like how the shots came out, even though I did, and it was because of me. Well, that hit me hard! I didn't have thick skin back then, and it got to me! I swore I would work so hard that I would never have to hear that again! So I did! And still to this day, when I have a shoot, which is almost once a day, that when I see a photographer not use the shots, it still bothers me, and motivates me to do better! I know it's kind of silly, but I don't want to lie either. Everytime I get passed up, told I'm too young, or anything else, it just adds fuel to the fire! I'm vindictive, but not in an egotistical way, it's more like I just say "Told you so" in my head! I thank some of the Miami photographers everyday who treated me like I was nothing because I was a newbie down there, for keeping me motivated for these exact reasons.
AVIVA: What do you look for in photographers that you would do trade with?
JJ: A photographer who can add to my port. By now in my career, I've done a lot, and I've been so lucky to work with some of the best MM has to offer. I never look down on anyone who tries to offer me a TF shoot, because hell, I was that person at one point messaging people begging for a TF opportunity to improve myself, but I am more selective these days. I try to make sure that not only do they produce great photos, but that they are photos that sell me. See, there are so many amazing photographers on Model Mayhem that create amazing pictures, but sometimes, the shots they make, though great pieces of art, just don't sell the model, and therefore, it's not really something I can add to my port. A few photographers have gotten offended when I responded that I couldn't trade for shots because people automatically think, "Oh, so you think your better then me", but that's just not the case. So if I'm going to do a trade shoot, it would have to be something I know I could use to book more work, so it ultimately does make me the money that wasn't involved in the shoot, and if it doesn't sell the model, then it won't serve that purpose.
AVIVA: When you are not doing shoots/booking work, what can people expect to find you doing? (ie. other hobbies/interests)
JJ: Wait a minute, there's a time when people aren't doing that?? What is this madness you speak of?!? Honestly, I would say on any given day, I work about 12 hours a day, minimum. I plan my schedule 3-6 months ahead, so I'm constantly negotiating and booking in shoots since I travel full time (ie no taking a break to go home). In addition to that, I'm planning a huge workshop for December with the best models on MM, I've got a business I'm starting to help people with their pinterest followings (pinleague.com), I run 3 different companies social networking efforts, so that takes time, not including blogging to my 2,000,000 followers on google plus and networking myself around the web. TL;DR: I don't really do much else. I enjoy movies, so I occasionally hit up one of those, and I love food, so you can find me at good restaurants, but if it's not a movie or a burger, I'm sitting at the Macbook typing my brains out.
AVIVA: What is your favorite skincare/beauty tip?
JJ: You know, I'm no expert on cosmetics and if I knew more about skincare, I wouldn't still get pimples every few weeks, but I do have a Beauty tip for people. This industry is rough, especially on ones self confidence. No matter what you choose to do, be it natural or through surgery, do it for you, and you alone. Don't get fake boobs JUST because you think it will get you more work, because you know what, there are just as many people who like small natural boobs as big fake ones. Don't get lip injections or nose jobs because you think it will pay off. Do whatever you're going to do, but do it because it will make YOU feel better, not for the job. Cosmetic surgery, diets, etc. have been some of the best things to happen to some of my friends, and some of the worst to happen to others, and it all comes back to their reasonings.
AVIVA: What other endeavors/goals would you like to pursue in the next 5 years? (ie. where do you see yourself in 5 years)
JJ: Well, hopefully this workshop goes over well in December, and I'll still be running those. I'm hoping a few of my side businesses take off before then, but I guess my main goal will be to be more established as a business woman and a CEO than as a model. I love modeling, with all my heart, and I'll never stop until it tells me to... but this life ends one day. When the cuteness fades and the lights stop flashing, I want to make sure I used this time wisely to not only create a life for myself outside the lens, but to make it's a sustainable one for my loved ones. Whenever I look back on my early high school years, I'm full of regret for not being smarter about it, as it was so easy to just get good grades and I could have been in an Ivy-League school or something. I promised myself I would never feel that way again, so I work myself to the bone every day to make sure when I look back on this crazy life of mine, and all that's come with it, I'll be able to smile and know, successful or not, that I left it all out there!
AVIVA: Do you have any additional comments?
JJ: Just to thank you guys for asking me to do this, and all the AH Life & Style followers and readers who took time out of their day to read it! I really appreciate it!
I would like to thank Jessi for her interview. I wish her continued success in her career.
If you want to see more of Jessi's work, check out her FACEBOOK page, Twitter, and WEBSITE, and Model Mayhem.