Gilda Joelle: “You know who’s gonna give you everything? Yourself!”

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this business, you can very quickly become judgmental about your appearance and succumb to unrealistic expectations. I would love to find a way to empower young girls to develop and maintain a positive body image. As part of our series about the 5 things you need to succeed in […]

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this business, you can very quickly become judgmental about your appearance and succumb to unrealistic expectations. I would love to find a way to empower young girls to develop and maintain a positive body image.


As part of our series about the 5 things you need to succeed in the fashion industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Alabama native Gilda Joelle. Gilda is a true-blue southerner who always had her sights on becoming a model. A strong believer in the value of education, she got her degree in psychology at Auburn University and a master’s degree in occupational therapy at The University of Alabama at Birmingham. Soon after, she moved to Miami where she was scouted by her first agency which set the ball rolling on her modeling career. In a short span, she has featured in campaigns for notable brands such as Lilly Pulitzer, Oribe, Rene Furterer, Dooney and Bourke, Dover Sadderly and Fruit of the Loom. She has also partnered with brands such as Bandier, Sakara and Vital Proteins on various launch campaigns.

While she realizes her model dreams, Gilda is also studying health and nutrition at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She is passionate about wellness, nutrition and endeavored to learn about the science behind it. In her spare time, she loves to try different workouts and loves SLT, Barry’s Bootcamp, as well as the different classes at her gym.


Thank you so much for joining us Gilda! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Thank you for taking the time to interview me! I’ve always had the desire to pursue modeling, but it was important for me to finish my education before taking the chance. Long story short, during my final semester of my master’s program for occupational therapy, I did a three-month internship in Miami in 2015. In typical Miami fashion, I got really into exercising and healthy eating, so I decided to set up a few shots to start building my portfolio. I graduated that December, and I moved back to Miami in early 2016, hoping to get signed. After hearing no after no from agencies, I was on the verge of giving up and moving home. I decided to go in one more agency before calling it quits. At that last meeting, nine months after moving to Miami, my first agency offered me a contract on the spot! The rest is history!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started?

I find most every day to be interesting! It’s typically a different group of people that I work with at each job. I love hearing about others’ upbringing, background, and favorite things. I’m definitely a talker on set because I’m always interested to hear about other peoples’ lives!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Well, this isn’t necessarily a mistake, but it’s something that I find pretty funny about some shoots I’ve been on. I find some of the things I’ve been requested to do for a shot pretty funny / not safe at times. For example, I’ve been asked more than once to jump from rock to rock — rocks that are high enough that I had to climb up. Recently, those rocks were slippery because they were covered in moss. I’ve learned to say no if I don’t feel safe doing something for a shot! Also, if you don’t look comfortable doing something, most likely the shot will not turn out as good as it could be.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

  • The biggest tip I would give other models to avoid burnout is to take time for yourself when you feel too much pressure. The modeling world at times can bring you down. Whether you are experiencing a decrease in castings or jobs, or you don’t seem to be catching the interest of clients, it can take a toll on your psyche. There are ebbs and flows in every type of work, but setting aside time for yourself and doing activities that make you feel on top are so important.
  • Another tip I recommend is making friends in the same industry as you. It is so helpful to chat with others when you’re feeling a certain way. A good support system is key!

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I do my very best to be a great role model to younger girls. On social media, I think it’s so important to portray a positive image. I want others to be healthy, confident, and most importantly, an advocate for themselves.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?

“You know who’s gonna give you everything? Yourself.” -Diane Von Furstenberg

I’ve always loved this quote because it’s a great reminder that no one is going to work harder for you than..you! Growing up in the South, I feel like I was raised to be a giver and doer, which is a great trait to have. I will say that many times I put others needs before my own, and I would end up unhappy with where that left me. It’s so important to make yourself a priority!

Do you see any fascinating developments emerging over the next few years in the fashion industry that you are excited about? Can you tell us about that?

In the past year, I discovered Model Alliance, which promotes fair treatment, equal opportunity, and sustainable practices in the fashion industry. It is a nonprofit organization that helps those in the fashion industry understand laws applicable to them and encourages them to have a voice in their work. It makes me so happy that people are no longer afraid to speak up. Up until recently, it seemed as though people kept quiet about personal experiences or concerns. The developments of programs like Model Alliance provide a safe space for discussion and assistance.

What are your “Top 5 Things Needed to Succeed in the Fashion Industry”. Please share a story or example for each.

1. Patience — It takes a lot of patience and perseverance to have a modeling career. Sometimes you’ll hear many no’s before that one yes that helps you break into the industry.

2. Positive relationships — You meet a lot of different people in the modeling world. Casting directors, clients, photographers, hair/makeup artists, other models…being kind and easy to work with goes a long way. You always want to leave a good impression.

3. Flexibility — Most days I find out my schedule the night before, so being flexible with last-minute castings, jobs, etc. is imperative. This was tough for me to get used to, as I am definitely a planner.

4. Confidence — You have to have confidence in yourself and not let others bring you down. The client has a vision of how they want their product represented, so if they don’t choose you, don’t take it personally.

5. Determination — There is so much competition in the modeling world, so you have to have the determination and drive to be successful. There are ups and downs monthly or even weekly, so not losing sight of what you want is key.

Every industry constantly evolves and seeks improvement. How do you think the fashion industry can improve itself? Can you give an example?

I have heard of some brands that no longer photoshop images, and I think that’s a step in the right direction. If more brands would follow suit, that would be amazing!

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this business, you can very quickly become judgmental about your appearance and succumb to unrealistic expectations. I would love to find a way to empower young girls to develop and maintain a positive body image.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can follow me on Instagram @gildajoelle

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