Jasmyn Wilkins: “Don’t lose yourself or your morals while trying to chase your dreams”

My mom was diagnosed with a rare chronic inflammatory liver disease called primary sclerosing cholangitis which required her to have 2 back to back liver transplants . One was a living donor from my uncle and the other was a donation from a family whose daughter had passed away and was an organ donor. Without organ […]

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My mom was diagnosed with a rare chronic inflammatory liver disease called primary sclerosing cholangitis which required her to have 2 back to back liver transplants . One was a living donor from my uncle and the other was a donation from a family whose daughter had passed away and was an organ donor. Without organ and tissue donation my mother would not be alive today.

As a part of our series about stars who are making an important social impact, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Jasmyn Wilkins.

Jasmyn Wilkins is an American fashion model, social media personality and actress. She comes from a long line of professional athletes who all had monumental careers in the NBA. After winning the Miss Georgia USA competition in 2012, she went on to place 4th runner up at Miss USA in Las Vegas.

Following the pageant Jasmyn attended both Clemson University and Georgia State University where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in Sociology. She then immediately went on to become a full time fashion model Jasmyn is currently signed with Next Model Management in Miami as well as ONE.1 in New York City, LA Models, Select Chicago and MGM Germany. During her long career she has modeled for several well known beauty, fitness and fashion brands such as Nike, LOREAL, Maybelline, Savage x Fenty, Adore Me, House of CB, and BITE Beauty.

Wilkins also landed a coveted spot as a rookie in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue in 2018 where she shot in Nevis with the likes of Ashley Graham and Kate Bock. Jasmyn has been dedicated in using her growing platform to not only show her success in the fashion industry and love of all things health and beauty, but to also bring light and awareness to many social issues such as mental health de-stigmatization, racial injustices, and organ donation. Jasmyn splits her time between Los Angeles and New York City and she currently resides in Atlanta, GA.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share with us the “backstory” that led you to this career path?

I had wanted to get into modeling and acting since I was a kid. I was always in school plays and jumping around posing and dancing in my room. That love of the entertainment industry carried over into my teens and 20s. I signed my first modeling contract with Ford Models when I was 17. I was living in Atlanta and still finishing highschool and couldn’t go to many bookings because of that. I put modeling on the backburner but always wanted to go back to it one day and really pursue it. I went on to attend Clemson University and while there, my roommates and I were watching the Miss USA pageant one night which inspired me to get into pageants as a segway to modeling. I had never done any pageants before but I decided to give it a try and ended up winning. I placed 4th runner up at Miss USA in 2012 and from there I finished college and immediately jumped into modeling upon graduation. I started working for brands like Kohls and Sears in Chicago and then I went on to work in bigger markets like NYC and LA. I’ve now been modeling for 7 years full time .

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career? What was the lesson or take away that you took out of that story?

I have a ton of crazy stories and occurrences from jobs i’ve done but the one that sticks out the most happened early in my career when I was working in Miami. I was there for swim week and on one of my off days from the runway shows, I was booked on a music video for a Venezualan pop group. It was my first music video and the set was amazing. Dancers, lamborghinis, wind machines and all. At the time I didn’t know what my role was going to be in the video and they ended up putting a massive fake afro and luchador outfit on me. I looked straight out of a movie. I then had an outfit change where they dressed me up as a popsicle and in post production they made the popsicle melt. It was a very odd shoot but one I will never forget.

What would you advise a young person who wants to emulate your success?

Don’t lose yourself or your morals while trying to chase your dreams. There is a lot of pressure in this industry and it can be easy to cave into doing something that you are uncomfortable with if there is a crucial job on the line. Just know that what’s meant for you will come to you and you won’t have to change who you are to get it.

Is there a person that made a profound impact on your life? Can you share a story?

I remember working in Charlotte for a day and getting an uber to go back to the airport after the shoot. My uber driver and I ended up striking up a conversation and we spoke the entire way during rush hour traffic. He was in his late 70s and he had just started driving for rideshares. I asked him what led him to getting into this field and he told me that his wife of 40+ years and son had recently just passed away and he missed having social interaction as they were his best friends (wife passed from suicide and his son had an illness). He genuinely loved just speaking to his passengers and learning their stories. I was so inspired by his strength and joy throughout such a difficult time in his life. He was one of the kindest souls and told me to live my life in a way that would leave a lasting impact on others. We still keep in touch to this day through Facebook.

How are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting causes you are working on right now?

Right now I’m hoping to work more closely with the American Transplant Association as well as the Georgia Transplant Association. Right now I donate a percentage of my salary each month and keep in touch with the founders about how to raise awareness. As the physical restrictions slow down I would like to have more hands on involvement such as starting a local fundraiser or drive.

Can you share with us the story behind why you chose to take up this particular cause?

My mom was diagnosed with a rare chronic inflammatory liver disease called primary sclerosing cholangitis which required her to have 2 back to back liver transplants . One was a living donor from my uncle and the other was a donation from a family whose daughter had passed away and was an organ donor. Without organ and tissue donation my mother would not be alive today.

Are there three things that individuals, society or the government can do to support you in this effort?

  • Start a website or an eCampaign through Donate Life
  • Volunteer to be an ambassador in your community and educate people and about organ and tissue donation through community events such as drives and DMV popups when people are registering their licenses.
  • Keep up with the local news as many updates and changes to organ donation fly under the radar and they change from state to state. Make sure to write to your local legislature about any changes that you would like to see.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or an example for each.

  • Being away from family is harder than you think- Ive always been on the road since I was a little kid traveling around with my dad during his NBA career. The difference back then was that I was with my family not on my own. I am a very independent person so I do love my alone time but I’m very close to my family so being away the majority of the year is hard. I’ve made up for it by having a homebase in Atlanta (where my family is from) while i travel mainly back and forth between NYC and LA.
  • Order the dessert — If you want ice cream after dinner, get the ice cream! Don’t restrict yourself so much with food because of your career. It’s meant to be enjoyed so enjoy it!
  • Stay close to people who help you grow- Throughout life you will cross paths and create relationships with so many people. Some who only stay for a season and some who will stay for a lifetime. I have hundreds of acquaintances but when I really need someone in my corner, I go to my select few people that I know will have my back throughout the good, bad and indifferent. This year has taught me that not everyone in your life is going to be around to stay. So keep the good ones close.
  • Enjoy the little things- I love traveling but sometimes I get so used to working around the globe that I forget to take in what’s around me. I used to get off the plane, head straight to my hotel and then right to set. Now I try to always go see what the place i’m in has to offer whether it is a museum tour, a popular restaurant or reconnecting with a friend in that city.
  • Have a Plan B- Although I fully believe in chasing after your dreams with full force, I also think it’s important in this industry to have a backup plan as it is very unpredictable. This season in life has really taught me that. Once the COVID crisis hit my work slowed down pretty significantly during April- May. Even though this was a once in a lifetime thing that happened, it reminded me that it is key to have other hobbies and interests aside from your career.

You are a person of enormous 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. 🙂

I would love to start a movement to help those experiencing homelessness especially when it is tied to mental health issues. My own family has had to deal with the difficulty of caring for a member with a severe mental illness . Luckily we had the resources to help keep a roof over their head but many aren’t afforded that luxury during a mental crisis. According to an assessment by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, “564,708 people were homeless on a given night in the United States. At a minimum, 140,000 or 25 percent of these people were seriously mentally ill, and 250,000 or 45 percent had any mental illness”. There is definitely a connection between homelessness and mental health and much of it comes from not being able to attain or afford the resources needed to get help and many times this can lead to run ins with the law and a slew of other issues. My dream movement would be to create a national program that would provide long term stable housing and mental health care/ rehabilitation for anyone who needs it.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you explain how that was relevant in your life?

“If there’s a single lesson that life teaches us, it’s that wishing doesn’t make it so.” ― Lev Grossman. It’s easy to get complacent and just hope that if you think about something enough it will manifest, but without action and a game plan you just keep dreaming and wishing. It’s happened to me many times throughout my career. I find that when I actually write my goals down, pray on it and set a clear plan I have a much better chance of making them come to fruition.

We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I would love to have lunch with congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I love that as a young woman in a male run field she isn’t afraid to challenge the status quo. Even when her ideas are shot down and she’s critiqued she keeps persevering. I’m inspired by how committed she is to helping and serving the underserved communities, and advocating for racial, economic and social justice.

Thank you so much for these amazing insights. This was so inspiring, and we wish you continued success!

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