“I May Be My Most Rewarding Project So Far”, Our Interview with Actionist Jess Weiner

“I May Be My Most Rewarding Project So Far”, Our Interview with Actionist Jess Weiner

by Suzette Banzo

The difference between those that spend their lives dreaming and those inspired by those dreams to better the world was found in one word, activist. Now it can be found in one more word, “actionist”. Mahatma Gandhi infamous quote “be the change you want to see in the world” defines the work and character of Jess Weiner, who proudly refers to herself as an “Actionist”, a word she has coined to promote self-esteem for women of all ages.

Jess Weiner is a self made entrepreneur with a quest to enhance the life of women by not only empowering them through self worth and self acceptance, but by also networking and building a global community to connect individuals with organizations that make a difference. Jess, Dove’s Global Ambassador for Self Esteem, believes in social storytelling as a way to promote change, shedding light on just how important it is to look beyond the weight in pounds and focus on the weight in worth.

Suzette:  Jess, what is your professional background? How did you get started? What kind of jobs did you do previously?

Jess: By nature I am an entrepreneur and always have started my own businesses. Thankfully, I’ve been able to turn my passions into a career.

For me, my career began in college when I helped form a student social issue theater company that performed plays on campus. My passion was ignited for using theater to make change during this time. Then while I was still in college I had the rare opportunity to work with MTV on a show called “Unfiltered” – it was a you shoot it/ we air it news show for teens. I covered a sexual harassment event on campus. It got a lot of response and it led me to be featured in other media outlets like CNN. Then I graduated and moved to Indiana and started Act Out Ensemble in 1995. It was loosely based on the structure of what I created in college. We ran for six seasons and traveled all over the nation together performing social, health, and educational plays for students.

Now, I am a best selling author, self-esteem expert and founder of the Actionist Network® an online community of like-minded leaders who care about confident women and girls. I also serve as Dove’s Global Self-Esteem Ambassador and am a contributing editor to Seventeen Magazine.

Suzette: Tell us about the Actionist® Network.

Jess: It is global online community that recognizes and connects individuals and organizations who are making a difference in the lives of others. The Actionist® Network is a community of people who don’t settle for status quo, who challenge cultural stereotypes, and who take risks to follow their passion.

Suzette: What type of workshops do you offer as a self-esteem expert?

Jess: I offer workshops, seminars, and consulting services to large and small companies, non-profits, entrepreneurs, and new businesses. Some of the areas we cover include corporate and workplace dynamics, personal relationships and overcoming obstacles, as well as leadership and life skills.

Suzette: Do you offer tips for young girls that differ from those for older women?

Jess: My advice for all girls and women is really rooted in creating authentic and whole confidence by focusing on the full and complete picture of your life. It’s not just about your body or your achievements – it is about your voice, mind, spirit, vision, and heart, too.

Suzette: A few years ago, we became enamored with the brand Dove® and the diversity they showed in their ads.  How did you get involved with Dove®?  What exactly does a Global Ambassador do? How can PLUS Model magazine readers get involved?

Jess: As someone who’s been a part of the Confidence Community™ for over 15 years, I am so proud to serve as the Global Ambassador for the Dove Self-Esteem Fund and help them spread the message about the Dove Movement for Self-Esteem – a global movement to help girls realize their full potential and discover that their beauty really can be a source of confidence and not anxiety.

Anyone can join the movement and begin using the amazing tools and suggested exercises we have on our site at All it takes is spending at least one hour with a girl in your life – those 60 minutes can be 60 moments that change a girl’s life.

Suzette: The title of one of your books, “Life Doesn’t Begin 5 Pounds from Now” struck a cord within me because I often hear models say things like, “I need new pictures, but I have to lose at least 10 pounds first”.

Jess: There is such a thing as a healthy goal and for some that could entail losing weight but for many women it isn’t just about a healthy goal – it’s about a way of thinking that interrupts the flow of their life. It stops them from seizing moments and opportunities and it becomes a roadblock for their success.

Suzette: What goes through your mind when you hear women say they are going to go on the master cleanse, or are considering lap band surgery, or colonics?

Jess: I don’t judge whatever anyone feels they want to do to take care of themselves; some women have great success with these things. It is again about the bigger intention behind these choices. All of our choices are fueled with authenticity or reaction to social pressures or some combination of both. It’s up to us to be clear on why we want to do something.

Suzette: How does someone get to that point where they can look in the mirror and say “I accept myself, I’m more”

Jess: It’s a process and it takes time and practice. Loving yourself is an aggregate of all your experiences not just one mantra you say every morning before breakfast.

Suzette: Perception is deceiving…someone can be overweight and healthy, just the same as skinny with many health issues, including diabetes.  What can we do to help change this perception that being fat is synonymous with being unhealthy?

Jess: I think we have to have more honest and less defensive conversations about health – not so much trying to instill one universal size or quality that defines health but a spectrum of experiences that define health. That being said, I also think women have to get real about their true numbers – not just their weight – but their cholesterol, their blood pressure and their sugar levels – those are the true indicators of health and you can’t always see those by looking at the outside of a person.

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