Going the Distance with Actress and Model Jessica Michel

Aida Toro

March 3, 2022

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: JANA SCHUESSLER | STYLED BY: ORETTA CORBELLI | HAIR BY: JENN LAGRON

MAKEUP BY: NOVA KAPLAN | PRODUCED BY: GREAT SOCIAL CLUB

Nowadays, the accessibility of being a creative is on a spectrum never seen before: ranging from actors, models, painters, writers, photographers and more. Why? Simply because their everyday life experiences, surroundings, and travels inspire them to create and polish their crafts with little inhibition. Actress and model Jessica Michel, is an avid traveler who gathers her wanderlusting along with life experiences to cultivate her path day after day. Michel is currently a mother, was a contestant on cycle 14 of America’s Next Top Model (ANTM), starred on Amazon’s featured film with Ludacris “The Ride”, as well as in other short films. 

Michel took the time to answer questions about her life, career, and future projects, where the model and actress provides us with an exclusive snapshot of her persona. 

Jessica, tell us about yourself. Where are you originally from, what did you do prior to what you do now, and more.

I grew up in the South between Texas and Arkansas. I was homeschooled and the oldest of four siblings. Prior to getting into the entertainment business, I was a CEO of sorts. A real entrepreneur. When I was nine, I tried to dig my way to China until I got about a foot deep into the dirt and realized this was going to require a bit too much effort. I figured I’d put my time and energy elsewhere. The businesswoman in me decided to sift through my sister’s belongings in preparation to sell a thing or ten on the side of the road to make a few extra coins in my pocket. She wasn’t too happy about this. Luckily, no one stopped off at my side of the road sales. It was at this point that I realized I needed to move into the lemonade business, where I made a living on a golf course and everything was quite profitable. I resigned from my position as CEO of the Green Acres lemonade stand and started taking pretty pictures… professionally. The rest is history and here we are. 

 How did you get into modeling and what do you love about it? 

I started modeling around 14 for the only company that shot in Arkansas, Dillards. When I turned 18, I auditioned for America’s Next Top Model and that’s when I moved to Los Angeles.

Tell us about your experience on America’s Next Top Model

I couldn’t have been on a more fun reality show! Having 14 girls in a house was chaotic, but I lived for the competition and it was easy for me to lighten up any mood when tensions rose. Tyra was fun and easy to connect with behind the scenes. 

I also see you are an actress. What do you like about acting and how did you get into acting? 

I started writing short scripts for the neighborhood kids to perform when I was 12. I always had a passion for it and that was the real reason I moved to Los Angeles. It just took me a while to get centered and focused because there were so many damn cute boys in the town. 

What can you say has been your favorite acting project thus far and why?

I loved being on the set of The Ride. We were a bunch of kids playing at the skate park everyday. Chris Bridges was great to work with, and getting to know him outside of Ludacris.  Shane Graham took dedication to another level. We rarely saw him at dinners after the set.  He was always extremely focused. I learned a thing or two from him. The whole cast and crew were on another level of fun.  

Tell us about motherhood. How do you balance being a mother and a model and how do you encourage models who want to have children to continue in the field?

My son is now 13, which makes all the difference in the world. It’s finally getting easy!! He is with me full time, but he’s a very independent child. Great kid. I’m like, I DID THAT. He never complains when I have to fly and shoot somewhere. Thankfully, my sister lives close by and is a tremendous hand when I’m gone. But hats off to all mothers out there raising children.  Even if you have a partner who helps, it’s hard to balance your time and not feel selfish for wanting well deserved “me time”.  This is a full time job in itself.  You are their physical and emotional support system. It’s always a learning experience. But I will say I’ve now gotten to the point where things are coming easier. IT DOES GET EASIER PEOPLE.  

What are some challenges you’ve faced in life and in your career and how did you tackle them?

Having a child while I was still a child was not exactly a walk in the park. Having no money sure didn’t help. Battling with his father in the public eye was horrible. It was my biggest nightmare and brought on many years of anxiety and a panic attack or even 10.  I never spoke nasty about my son’s father during the time he had our son. I didn’t feel it was honorable or progressive. I took the brunt of what he said to the media, but the truth always comes out in the end. God blessed me and I finally won my son full time. Doing this with the media covering our personal life was something I never expected, and you can’t prepare a person for it. This is why so many celebrities lose themselves, take pills, shave their head, and go crazy!  Humans are delicate and our psyche isn’t trained for that kind of level of public speculation and ridicule. The media lies and it’s damaging to not only one’s reputation but their psychological being. Fighting in silence and coming out on top through love was my greatest challenge ever tackled. 

I see you are quite the traveler. What do you love about travel and what is your favorite destination thus far and why?

You’ll never understand people fully if you don’t experience other cultures. It expands your perspective. It helps open your mind. You realize that there isn’t one way to live life. You can’t imagine how different life is in another place until you see for yourself. By being exposed to new places, people, and other cultures, you’ll develop a wider world view. That will make you a better-rounded global citizen. I have traveled enough for many lifetimes, however, enough is never really enough.

Any upcoming projects? If so, would you be able to provide us with some details?

I am going to start writing my first book at the end of March, with the intention to turn it into a TV series. This will be my most precious work to date…my baby. 

It’s safe to say, Michel will continue to offer invaluable positivity through her work. Keep a lookout for more updates on Michel, her upcoming book, and more by following her on Instagram over @jessicamichel