Interview with Jessica Thomas

Institute: What made you take the career path of a model?

Trial and Error! I went to college and earned a few degrees in things that didn’t turn out to be right for me. I spent some years figuring out who I was, what my passions were, and was led to modeling. I have never looked back.

Institute: Who influenced you in your early years, how about now?

When I was growing up, I thought my mother was the most beautiful woman in the world. She had this sense of strength and confidence. She was always smiling, laughing, and making the best of everything. As I got older, I saw her become human, with flaws, but never less sure of herself. She and I took different paths (she retired as an elementary school teacher and I left public education). This pushed me to look at myself, and ignore the insecurity and fear that I felt when I was first starting out modeling and acting. In a huge way, even without knowing, she gave me an immense amount of courage to step out and chase down what my heart wanted regardless of what seemed a sensible path. Not many great stories come from sensible paths anyway, do they? *laugh

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Institute: What has been your proudest moment since becoming a model?

It was once said to me that what presents itself to you, is what you are ready for. I remember shooting with almost anyone just to get experience and a portfolio built. I look back at that early work, and cringe (just kidding). Really though, I look at that work and think about the baby I was taking those first wobbly steps into something I knew absolutely nothing about. These days, photographers approach me and I have the luxury of choosing my shoots. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way at the pinnacle of success, but it does make me proud to see the evolution of my skills and camera presence. Being published is amazing, but personal growth is a feeling that lingers happily.

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Institute: How hard do you push yourself?

Harder than your average bear, lol. Look, I have a whole messy life. I have kids, I own two businesses, I have a household and a husband and modeling and it’s a ridiculous balancing act. I love it all, and I’m highly OCD. I don’t want to do something and not succeed at it. Especially something I love as much as modeling. I work out six days a week, I diet, I shoot often to stay fresh in front of the camera. I have learned to prioritize and I always look ahead, so there really isn’t much rest.

Institute: Do you have an all-time favorite model?

Who doesn’t?! I think my favorite models are the ones who I can identify with…the models who have overcome some sort of industry obstacle and proven to be a success. Ashely Graham started a plus size movement across the globe. Alessandra Ambrosia had multiple babies, and a seventeen-year career with Victorias Secret. Kate Moss is short by industry standards and one of the most successful runway models of all time. Chrissy Teigen is building an empire outside the industry altogether! The common thread here is that these women changed the dichotomy of what being a model means. They are constantly evolving. That’s what I want too.

Institute: What are some of the greatest fears you think models face?

Rejection and insecurity. I know that’s counter-intuitive. Models aren’t supposed to fear those things. Say you’re a model in a room full of women and see what happens. You won’t have a friend in the room…unless its a room full of other models. LOL. Working on set with experienced teams can really be nerve-racking. Expectations are high and you want to please. It’s scary, but it teaches you to control and you learn. Heaven forbid you to leave the house without makeup! I recently showed an acquaintance a shot of myself from a publication. She asked who it was. Ugggggggg. People can make you feel small. But I think as long as your working for yourself, to grow, and create, that’s what you have to keep coming back to…comparison really is the killer of happiness.

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Institute: How do you keep yourself occupied in-between projects?

My life does that for me! I own a custom wedding cake bakery and work as a wedding planner when I’m not shooting or on a project. It keeps my creative juices flowing and gives me another outlet. I’m a good cook! I give my little girls cooking lessons once a week, I play Super Mario with my son (he’s six and beats me every time), I love to travel with my husband. We just enjoy a normal life!

Institute: How do you stay healthy?

The age-old diet and exercise motto. I do yoga, piyo, cardio, weight train, and play golf! Not all at once, of course. ;) I live on fruits and veggies mostly, but I do love the carbs, so I have to keep myself in check at the doughnut shop. hehe.

Institute: What are you working on at the moment?

Right now I have a (very lofty) personal goal to shift the modeling industry standards to be more inclusive to models who are over, let’s say, 27 years old. A few paragraphs ago, I gave you my MVP list. I would actually like to be on that list too! Lots of models “retire” in their mid 30’s. Why???? They are still young, beautiful, and have an unbelievable skill set. Globally, we are marketing to a smaller and smaller percentage of women. That is NOT the makeup of our society. We are making small strides with plus size, and petit, but I feel its super important to not forget the beauty and worth of women who fall in the sweet spot of life (after college age, and before retirement…real retirement that is)! So that’s what I’m working on. An evolution. I may be a small ripple in a big pond, but it’s my heart’s calling. And who can ignore that?