From TSA to Project Runway… Meet Plus Model Jazzmine Carthon
Get to Know Jazzmine Carthon…
We hear a lot of talk about models being discovered in malls or just walking into an agency and being signed on the spot but for some models, the road to a modeling career is not that simple. For our cover model Jazzmine Carthon it took great courage and confidence to follow her journey.
We are so honored to feature Jazzmine as she shares her story…
From working TSA to being a model… we are going to have to get into this! Please share with us when you KNEW you would leave your home and career and pursue what would become your new career.
Honestly, I always knew TSA would be a stepping stone career for me! Now, did I know that I’d be using my job doing pat-downs at the airport to put me on NYFW runways? Not quite, lol! But I always understood that I would use my day job to fund my dream job and after winning a modeling contest to be apart of the first Good American campaign by Khloe Kardashian and Emma Grede and getting signed to my agency, IPM Models, I realized that my dreams were finally about to turn into my reality.
I started working as a model regularly as soon as I signed with IPM and it was probably one of the most stressful times of my life. Here I was juggling a full-time job at LAX (where I had recently been promoted to a position in Behavior Detection), risking a guaranteed paycheck, great benefits, and all of the perks of working for the federal government to fly back and forth to NYC for castings and photo shoots. I called off of work, gave away shifts, and eventually, I was working so much in New York that it made more sense for me to move. I submitted a request at work to transfer me from LAX to JFK and a month later, I was apartment hunting in NYC.
Coming to New York just felt right to me. NYC was the only city I had visited that never made me feel like I was a tourist and crazy as this city is, I felt a sense of peace here. It definitely helped having a solid support system of family and friends who trusted my passion for this industry and an awesome agent who saw my potential very early in my career. My agent, Fallon, pushed me out of my comfort zone in LA to living my dreams in NY!
Leaving everything you know for the UNKNOWN is a serious decision. For those thinking about taking this step, do you have any words of wisdom?
First of all, JUMP! I seriously believe in taking leaps of faith, speaking things into existence, and trusting that things will always work out. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t decide that I’d rather tell insane stories of how I risked everything I had to have everything I love than to tell sad stories of a dream deferred.
Also, do not be ashamed of having a day job. I worked for TSA until my modeling schedule became so demanding that I had no choice but to quit. Even after TSA, I worked as a bartender for a while because the schedule was flexible enough for me to maintain my modeling career while making extra money. Remember, your day job is your stepping stone. Use it to fund your dreams and do not allow the salary they pay you to be enough for you to forget your dreams!
Modeling looks super-glam but those of us who know about the industry, we know there is a lot of work that happens behind the scenes. What do you think are the most popular misconceptions about working as a model?
The most popular misconception is that it’s easy! As glamorous as being a working model is, it is equally unpredictable, stressful, political, and strictly business. We go to castings that we may not book, spend hours on flights before working a full 8-10 hour days on set, and rarely get to see our loved ones.
As a Black plus model with dark brown skin, my position in this industry is extremely political. I’m in an industry that did not always hold space for women who look like me so when I show up on set, I am not just there for me, I am showing up so that the next generation of Black girls can see themselves represented in a way that I never saw growing up.
Models also have to be very business-oriented. On top of the photoshoots and castings, networking and branding is a must! This is just as much about money as it is about passion so keep in mind that we are booked because a client believes that who we are and what we represent can sell their product!
We also have to study our craft the same way any other artist would. I submerged myself in the 90s runway to perfect my walk and practice posing in the mirror in different types of clothing so that I understand how my body will look once I’m in front of the camera. Complacency and success are not synonymous so I never stop practicing and I never allow myself to become too comfortable.
Also, save your money, do your taxes, and invest in a financial advisor.
You’ve had an incredible few years… tell us about Project Runway. I remember thinking wow, I can’t even imagine modeling the Project Runway runway! What did you take away from this experience?
Being on Project Runway was one of the best experiences of my life. I booked the show about a month after I moved to New York and I felt like it was confirmation that leaving everything I knew and loved in LA was the right decision.
What I took away from being on Project Runway was a diverse group of model friends that became family, amazing mentorship from Tim Gunn, Heidi Klum, Zac Posen, and Nina Garcia, and a better understanding of how clothes are made and how it isn’t that hard for these designers to make clothing for different body types. If the Project Runway designers can create ball gowns out of recyclable car parts within a few hours then these brands can definitely extend their sizes to be a lot more inclusive!
The best part about being on Project Runway was having my runway moment during NYFW and getting a standing ovation by the entire crowd! Margarita Alvarez designed a show-stopping look for me and trusted me to show out on that runway in a way that would be so memorable that it still gives me chills when I think about it. I am so appreciative of the show not only for solidifying me in history as the being of one the first plus models to compete on the show but also being one of the first plus models to win the model portion of the show!
You have also worked with several notable names, Cacique/Lane Bryant, Good American, Sports Illustrated, Chromat and many more. Most of these, if not all, have been campaigns with a message. And while admittedly you are not on the larger side of the plus-size size range, I personally appreciate the models who embrace all bodies in our industry and represent the plus-size industry proudly.
Can you tell us your feelings about where we are and how you feel we could all contribute to true acceptance in the plus-size community?
As a size 14 model, I know that while my size is currently more accepted in the fashion industry than larger sizes, it is my duty to hold open the door for every size at every opportunity possible. Representation and inclusion means that we ALL get to turn on our TVs and flip through magazines without feeling left out. Even though I am on the smaller side of the plus-size spectrum, I still wear my curves proudly and belong in this industry just as much as a size 2 and a size 22!
I think if we want to continue to make strides, we have to understand that EVERY BODY is different and we can’t expect to fully be accepted if we ourselves don’t accept everybody. We need to consider body types that are different than ours as allies and catalyst between the plus-size world and “mainstream” fashion if we ever want to make inclusivity more than just a trend or a buzzword! We all deserve a seat at the table and I’m going to keep added chairs until we all fit.
5 Things You Did Not Know About Jazzmine Carthon…
1) I’m such a social butterfly and I’m usually the life of the party! I have fun by making sure everyone around me is having just as great a time as I am!
2) I’m an expert thrift shopper. I love thrifting because you can find the most unique vintage pieces that probably have a really cool back-story attached to them.
3) I come from a huge blended family. I have 6 siblings, parents, step-parents, and a bunch of nieces and nephews that I love dearly.
4) I have serious puppy fever! I grew up in Compton, CA and always had pit bulls but now that I’m living in NY and working so much, I don’t really have time for a dog (as much as I really want one).
5) More than modeling, my passion is to help young Black and Brown girls understand how limitless they are. I’ve always been able to connect with the youth and really aspire to develop my own mentorship program in the near future. That is the next step for me!