An Inside Look at the Life of a Model, Starring Jessica Morrow
INTERVIEW + IMAGES COURTESY OF RUBY LAW/SPACE CACTUS
When we think of the life of a model, we imagine glamorous world travels and flashing bulbs capturing beautiful, artful clothing. Really though, modeling is long hours, jet lag, little security, and insane pressure to maintain the ever-evolving industry standards of beauty. While some of the industry’s top talent prefers to maintain that glitzy image of the fashion industry, Jessica Morrow is willing to keep it real. One of our favorite photographers, Ruby Law, showcased why Jessica is one of the best and talked to her about a true day-in-the-life of a professional poser.
Did you always want to be a model?
Never in my wildest dreams, I wanted to be a Radio City Rockette and then a soccer Mom, but without the van.
How did you get your start in modeling?
I was working at Bliss Boutique, my girlfriend there made me a Model Mayhem account (she also took the photos posted on the account). I met Mikel Roberts, he introduced me to Wilhelmina, I flew to shoot Seventeen Magazine the next day. Things changed overnight.
What is a typical day for you working as a model during castings?
Wake up, cuddle the cat, go back to sleep–this is the most essential part of my morning. Wake up again, shower, take a coffee, sneak in a morning walk or go to dance class. Before I leave, I pack an ice chest complete with Kombucha, La Croix, Ice Tea, and Penta water…sometimes a green juice. I love having an assortment of beverages. I brave through traffic via the sweet sounds of Jason Bentley on KCRW, a slew of podcasts (How I Built This or anything from Hardcore History, or Spotify playlists, my “puss” playlist is my go to). Living by the beach leaves me with an average 45 minute commute–it sucks, but it’s worth it.
Castings themselves can vary, sometimes it is just me, sometimes it is every girl I’ve ever met modeling, aka cattle calls–these can be taxing. However I always bring a book and sometimes I get lucky and I run into a girlfriend or two and we get some girl time in.
A typical casting is: you sign in, wait your turn, hand over your ipad and pray no embarrassing texts roll in.
What is a typical day for you on set?
Arrive with Canyon Coffee in hand, say “hi” to everyone, make another coffee, grab some breakfast. It varies depending on the catering and where I am, in Europe, ham and cheese croissants are my Achilles heel, but in America I go for a green juice. I ABHOR EGGS, I just can’t do it.
Then I hit the hair and make up chair. Hair and make up artists are generally hilarious and full of spunk, while also being great listeners. Time in the chair can vary, sometimes it is a group therapy session, sometimes it is a laugh fest.
After I’m all done up, I gallivant around set, try out my latest jokes, and show off my newest dance moves. Sometimes, just sometimes, I have to stay still.
My internal speed is about 150 bpm naturally. Sometimes people think I’m on drugs. But I’m not, I just a bursting ball of energy. There, now that I’ve addressed the drug question. After lunch if people are feeling tired, I bring them back to life with animal impersonations and other sorcery. Before I know it, the day is over. And I’m BACK IN THE CAR, usually with some leftover lunch to eat on the way home…thank you catering friends!
Why do you think people underestimate the hard work that it takes to be a model?
Good question. I think it varies, a general reason could be due to the fact that photos, whether it be an advertisement in a magazine or a selfie, suggest anything but an arduous, conflict-ridden life. Advertising at large is a form of escapism, and models are effective vehicles to carry this message. People, in general, don’t want to hear or think about reality while scrolling Instagram or flipping through a magazine, whether it be their reality or a model’s reality. Finding out that “model life” could in fact be something that is ineffably difficult, is a lot like finding out Santa Claus isn’t real… only worse.
What is the best part of your job?
Having the opportunity to work with creative people day-in-and-day-out. This makes all sacrifice worth it. Working with creative talented folks allows me to grow a ton as a person. Oh, and the locations are freaking awesome too. Also, I am a sucker for a killer outfit–I love clothes. I really like my job.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Not losing my marbles, and remembering how fortunate I actually am. Also, jetlag really kicks my ass unless I get one of those lay down beds…you know what I’m talkin’ about…
What has been your favorite job that you’ve worked on?
Pffff, I enjoy every job, even the boring as shit ones. Once, I was fortunate enough to get to explore Costa Rica like Mowgli. Jumping off waterfalls, talking to all the animals, swimming with go pros, and chasing my favorite photographer Ali Mitton around. On the same job my boyfriend and I got to drive around a 4×4 Land Cruiser with our adopted mountain pups. That job was a dream.
What are the key components to being successful in the modeling industry?
In short, taking care of your mind body and soul while maintaining a tireless work ethic. And always, always make sure the client is happy, because whatever your opinion is, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter.
I’ve been lucky enough to book a couple music video and commercials, and love being on camera. Video is my favorite medium. And the idea of “living truthfully under imaginary circumstances” (to quote the late Sanford Meisner) sounds pretty freaking awesome to me! I also love cooking and gardening, so there is that. My biggest goal is to get invited to be on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and beat everyone at the games. I think that’d be okay.