There is power in vulnerability. I struggle with sharing my personal struggles in an in depth way so I internalize much of what goes on with me.
When I had the worst Alopecia outbreak I’d ever had I was devastated and embarrassed, but finally I decided to let it be known what I was dealing with. Not only did it make me feel so much better to be open about it but the overwhelming response of positivity was incredible. So many people were struggling with the same hair loss issues and from there we were able to help each other with solutions or suggestions of what we have tried. It also allowed my followers to get a chance to see what goes on off of Instagram and in my real life so they related to me in a different way.
As a part of our series about stars who are making an important social impact, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Jordan Emanuel.
After completing her degrees in Broadcast Journalism, Music Business and Art History from the University of Miami, Jordan has gone on to contribute to numerous outlets under media powerhouses Cox Media Group and Moguldom Media Group. In addition, Jordan has starred in campaigns for top brands such as Cover Girl, Rimmel London and American Express and is also known in the entertainment space as a famed DJ, having hosted top industry events.
Jordan has a philanthropic spirit and uplifting energy, both leading to her position as Co-Founder of Women’s Non-Profit Organization, Women With Voices. Within this organization Jordan focuses on two main initiatives — Mental Health Awareness and Sexual Education & Liberation. As a woman who has first hand experience with depression and anxiety, Jordan is passionate about bringing attention to and creating mental health programs geared to assist those with their struggles. In addition, she serves as an advocate for the multi-dimensional woman who can be comfortable in their sexuality while simultaneously being a business woman.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share with us the “backstory” that led you to this career path?
The goal has always been to be a talk show host and create video content, but once I graduated from college the traditional route of going to a small market and reporting hard news wasn’t the road I wanted to take. So instead I moved to NYC and began working in a completely unrelated field, real estate development, after realizing I was still passionate about content creation and television I decided to pursue modeling as a way to open the door to TV down the line. As far as philanthropy, that’s something I’ve been doing since I was 10 years old and it just felt natural to then be a part of starting organizations of my own.
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?
When I met the founder of Women with Voices, Cloe Luv, she had emailed me in the most bizarre manner… as if we had already been having a conversation… and she was asking me about a meeting time. And I don’t know why, but my gut told me to go so I went along with it and met up with her and we just hit it off and spoke for hours. At the end of our meeting she mentioned that I looked so different in person than in my photos. A few months later we had Women with Voices in full swing when Cloe received an email from Jasmine, the girl she had been corresponding with prior to accidentally sending me that follow up email. It’s so funny to think about how one accident turns out to be such a major moment of your life. For me it taught me to trust my gut and take chances.
What would you advise a young person who wants to emulate your success?
I would say be fearless and strong willed in your stance of what it is you want. In this business you have more rejections than a swipe left on Tinder and without the courage and conviction in your goal it can be crushing. I would tell someone who wants to emulate my path to try and not take the rejection personally, trust that the right opportunity for you will in fact present itself when it’s time.
Is there a person that made a profound impact on your life? Can you share a story?
Collectively, my family has impacted me the most, each of them has taught me valuable lessons about myself and the world. I don’t know that there’s any particular story that stands out other than losing them being a lesson of valuing people and relationships in an entirely different way.
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?
I think being born on Christmas I have this innate need and joy to give and share so I’m constantly thinking of ways I can improve the lives of others or how to make things easier for the next person. So right now I’m working on developing a new foundation with a focus on art and its benefits for those suffering from mental health struggles. In addition, I’m still working to develop programs for my initiatives at Women with Voices which are sexual education and liberation and mental health awareness.
Can you share with us the story behind why you chose to take up this particular cause?
Both causes are extremely personal to me having been a teen peer educator with HiTOPS/Teen Pep we would go around teaching teens sex Ed so I had a first hand look at how important that was. That experience also helped so much when making the decision about nudity in Playboy and having the tools to combat any negativity that came from that. As far as mental health it’s something I continue to work through so being able to share those outlets I’ve found for myself with other people dealing with similar struggles is very rewarding.
Can you share with us a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?
I think the biggest impact for numerous people has been the opportunity to engage with people they wouldn’t engage with normally and be pleasantly surprised to see how much they had in common and what an organic bond they can have in unexpected circumstances.
Are there three things that individuals, society or the government can do to support you in this effort?
Absolutely! Hands and funds are always needed when trying to change things for the better. The ability to have more people on deck to get programs launched and executed would expedite all of my efforts, as would having the funds to create spaces and elevate the programs.
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.
1. That it pays to be shameless. The general notion of self promotion is extremely hard for me as someone who has a hard time patting myself on the back so it took me a long time to feel even remotely comfortable promoting myself, I certainly haven’t come to the point where I post everything I’m featured in or done even now. But had I known sooner I would have started much earlier
2. Follow up is crucial. For example, not everyone sees your email the first time, not everyone answers in a timely manner, but if I’ve learned anything is that follow up is essential to getting things done because not only will you get a concrete answer on what you are seeking you will also be reminding people about you and who you are, that persistence often leaves a lasting impression on people. I used to be embarrassed or felt that I would be too pushy to keep following up, but it’s not.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. I got caught up in settling for things I shouldn’t have because I was too afraid to vocalize the compensation I wanted. If you never ask the question, you can’t get anywhere it’s that simple. So I would absolutely have benefited from people telling me to know my value and demand that it be met fairly.
4. Don’t give up. I know it’s cliche, but persistence is everything. I’ve always been someone who hates hearing the word no, but never did I hear it so much as when I entered this business. Rejection is never fun, but when you truly have passion and love something keep pushing it forward until you get that yes. In 2016 I submitted myself to Playboy and never heard back, two years later I found myself in their casting to work as a bunny (waitress in the nyc club) and at that very casting was when the playmate manager noticed me and later asked me to be a playmate where I then became the last Playmate of the Year.
5. There is power in vulnerability. I struggle with sharing my personal struggles in an in depth way so I internalize much of what goes on with me. When I had the worst Alopecia outbreak I’d ever had I was devastated and embarrassed, but finally I decided to let it be known what I was dealing with, not only did it make me feel so much better to be open about it but the overwhelming response of positivity was incredible. So many people were struggling with the same hair loss issues and from there we were able to help each other with solutions or suggestions of what we have tried. It also allowed my followers to get a chance to see what goes on off of Instagram and in my real life so they related to me in a different way.
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. 🙂
There are so many movements I have on my radar. I would say my next venture in the philanthropic world would be art related, I’ve always loved so many mediums of art and it serves as a universal language that everyone speaks in one way or the other. My hope would be to start programming mental health outlets and coping mechanisms through the arts. That is likely my next move.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you explain how that was relevant in your life?
A friend of mine and amazing writer, Alicia Cook, once said to me that ‘ You’re always going to cause traffic when creating a new lane” that resonated with me because too often I hear well someone is already doing that so you should do something else. That’s bs, there is always a space to create what you want, even if that means having to pave the lane for yourself. No one is going to do the exact same thing, the exact same way you’re going to do it so there is always, always room to do what you want, even if that means getting a few judgey people mad.
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 🙂
This is so tough! I have a few people I would love to chat with, but it would have to be a tie between Taraji P. Henson and Stevie Nicks. Taraji because I find her to be such an inspiration for women overall, but for me especially as another black woman, I think her advocacy for mental health and persistence in this business are also such important messages she speaks on. As for Stevie, she is my spirit animal.
Thank you so much for these amazing insights. This was so inspiring, and we wish you continued success!