Jaylin Carlson’s work as a professional model has taken her from the Midwest to New York City, to Berlin, and now Los Angeles. Sitting on a patio in LA’s Koreatown neighborhood, we had the chance to catch up with the charismatic beauty on all things professional and get a glimpse of her inner world.
BLNCD: Having modeled in both New York and LA, are there discernible differences for you?
JC: Oh 100%. I think New York is, obviously, super fast paced, the level of professionalism, just the level of that everyone’s working at is so much higher and faster. But at the same time, I thought New York would be this place that was extremely free creatively. I honestly feel in LA, people are a little bit happier so they’re just a little bit more free to be themselves. They’re more…
JC: Yeah. More open, more accepting to different body types. You can model here and be short. You can model here and be tall. You can model here and have fake lips. So I kind of like that actually. They’re just totally different.
BLNCD: What are the moments when you love your job?
JC: When everybody comes to work and is excited and passionate about what they do, just working to create the best that they can with a good attitude. That’s what fashion is supposed to be, this fantasy and a fun creative thing.
BLNCD: Photo and video production is so collaborate in general. When people have a great attitude and are excited to be at work, the product is so much better. When it’s so collaborative, that energy is important.
JC: Yeah, when people feel inhibited, it’s not fun. There are those sets where you’re like, “Wow, there’s definitely this overbearing energy that’s making everyone feel shriveled up instead of just expansive and ready to create and try new things even if they don’t work.”
BLNCD: What are some of the ways that you’ve been discovering yourself outside of modeling?
JC: Roller skating is something that I never thought would become such a big part of my life. It’s so fun and it lets me be a child again. So that’s one activity where I’d say I found myself outside of modeling. I’m also working on starting this talk show [on youtube]. Just trying new things and learning.
BLNCD: Are you interested in acting?
JC: Yeah. Well I thought I was. I took some acting classes. I’m not opposed to it, but I think through that experience I discovered that I really enjoy the entertainment industry, but I don’t enjoy being someone else. I’ll be in whatever spotlight as long as I can be me. I am super interested in learning how to facilitate a good vibe on camera through hosting a talk show, an award show, a red carpet, a game show or something. Any of those different realms where you can still be you.
BLNCD: Trying to stay in that authentic space where you feel comfortable. Has this discovery informed your work as a model?
JC: For sure. I once thought the only way to become a model was to break yourself down and become this raw canvas, letting brands choose what you are going to be. I tried it that way. Maybe it works for other people but for me it didn’t work. So now I’m trying to go into this space of like, “I’m a model. This is who I am, this is what I bring to the table. If you feel like your brand’s in line with the way I’m working with over here, then let’s fucking go. But otherwise…”
BLNCD: Advocating for yourself is something that is definitely learned through experience.
JC: So true. It is so learned and it’s not taught enough. We’re kind of beat into submission from the time that we grow up, whether it’s through school or whether it’s through sports. It’s like you forget that you actually had a whole original voice when you came out the womb. I don’t think submission is an inherent thing in us. It’s definitely learned.
BLNCD: Where are you from originally?
BLNCD: Do you feel like there’s still pieces of who you are that are a reflection of your hometown?
JC: When I first moved to New York, I was so passive aggressive and didn’t realize it. In the Midwest, I found that I was assertive, but then in the context of being in New York where everyone’s hyper-assertive, my assertiveness wasn’t shit.
BLNCD: New York definitely teaches that.
JC: And nobody’s going to wait for you to figure it out. Know what you want. I had this belief that it was rude to just be straight forward or to just be like, “I need that.” Why is that rude? But where I came from, I’ve never seen anybody really act like that. Everyone’s very like, “Oh, you know, could you maybe hand me that thing over there?” It’s like, “No, just give me the pen.” It’s not rude. It’s so weird. These social codes and rules that you develop when you grow up. But then there’s some of it that really does serve me. The humbleness of the Midwest and the hardworking mentality is good.
BLNCD: What do you think is the biggest misconception about being a model?
JC: I think there’s a few, but I think the biggest one is that it’s easy, that it’s easy work. Like, yeah, physically, you’re not digging ditches. But I think the mental shit that you go through is really difficult and I don’t think a lot of people realize how much models have to go through. You’re selling your body, you’re selling yourself as a product. You have to deal with what is okay and on your terms and what feels good, because I think it’s very easy to let other people decide for you until you find your voice. So, I think that’s probably the biggest, that it’s just easy La-di-da. You don’t have to put any work in, you just have to be beautiful. It doesn’t work like that.
BLNCD: Now that you have some experience under your belt, what are some of the things that you do to take care of yourself mentally and physically?
JC: I do a lot actually. Probably for like the past four years I’ve been doing these spiritual development courses, just to sort out your belief system and give you the tools to get rid of things you don’t want and hang on to things that suit you.
BLNCD: Do people ever ask you for advice on becoming a model?
JC: All the time.
BLNCD: What do you say?
JC: I just tell them honestly, “Look, anything is possible and you can do it, but you need to just make sure this is what you actually want and you need to do a lot of mental work. It’s all mental.” I don’t think it’s physical. I think it’s mental. Especially in this day and age, there’s so many different body types, different looks that are being brought to the surface. The only difference is that they believe they can do it. Whatever your dream is, decide that and don’t let anybody try to tell you otherwise. I had people telling me, “Your thighs are too muscular for the runway?” Or like, “You’d work really well here. You should go here and you won’t work well here and you shouldn’t go here.” And I was like, “I’m going to go to New York. That’s where I’m going to go. Thank you for your advice. What do I need to do to go to New York?” You have to fight for yourself because there’s going to be people who try to put you in boxes. If that’s your fucking dream, then you got to get creative and you have to fight for it. If you can’t fight for your own dream, how are other people supposed to fight for it for you? I’ve seen the most beautiful girls and they don’t believe in themselves and they don’t go anywhere.
BLNCD: The personality is huge.
JC: Yeah. Charisma.
JC: It’s the charisma.
Portrait Photography by Martha Kirby
Interview by John Mark