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Conversations with Jessica Graie

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jessica Graie.

Hi Jessica, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I am one of six girls from Cleveland, Ohio. The running joke is I was the boy my dad never had because I was an athlete and he had all girls. I played basketball, tennis, track and soccer. I was raised in a very strict household; blame that for my perceived conservativeness. My career started in Theatre and modeling and has evolved to include music and film. I have always been hardworking. I was my High school National Honor Society President and captain on the basketball team. I went on to college being on the dean’s list and many academic awards. I think the tools I learned in leadership and teamwork really help me in my career choices today. While filming the movie “Banger” in Cleveland actor Clifton Powell said “You present yourself as such a seasoned actor. You should get out of here.” So that’s what I did. I left my six sisters and 17 nieces and nephews and decided to move to LA. I had been in film, billboards, catalogs, and it was time to make a change. When I arrived in Los Angeles, let’s just say my 60-year-old Trump-supporting roommate was not quite how I thought I’d experience the city. I refused to let these bad experiences jade me so I continued to do work for my dream.

Previously while visiting LA, I walked into an open call at LA Models. As soon as I walked in the lights went out. How ironic? Well, one of their amazing agents (can’t say the name) said “No, I’ll see her” The people at the desk were amazed and said she never does that. She walked up front looked at my pictures asked me to walk and said: “you’re from where?” She said when you move here come back and see me. So of course on returning to actually live in the city, I went back and was signed at LA Models but first direct. At this point, I felt like everything was falling in place. I had worked with Tyra Banks, Zendaya, Janelle Monae, Lebron James, and the list goes on. You could click on Direct Tv or Prime and see a movie I was starring in. Plus, you could listen to my music (JGRAIE) on Apple, Tidal, Spotify, etc. and now I was signed to an amazing agency. What was next? I felt like I was just running on a wheel. Everyone knows that these jobs are a grind and I needed to establish some stability. I decided to divert my attention to something more legacy building and community outreach. I released my first Children’s story. “My Hair Makes Me..Me. It’s a book and animated character soon to be series about Graylee her big brother, and her best friend Lili. Two underrepresented; pre-teen black boys and a Filipino character. They learn lessons that can’t be taught in school. It’s more than ABC and 123’s. I wanted to be someone I needed when I was little and my hair had always been an issue. Now little boys and girls across the country are learning to love themselves starting at their crowns.

Until recently, I co-owned an amazing and growing greeting card company with over 100,000 Instagram followers. and every day we aimed to make people smile and share in so many touching memories. Yes, my entertainment career has been important but what I am truly understanding is that money and materialism just don’t make me happy. I want to change the world, one smile at a time. I want to help kids see that anything is possible. I want other women to connect with me and see we can build together. I want the community to be proud and uplift each other. My thing is legacy. What will you leave behind? Have you helped anyone? How did you make people feel? My brand is positive, hardworking, uplifting, and quality. Everything I do leads back to those four things. In the future, I see myself writing and directing my own films. Now that I am adding fight choreography to my repertoire, I can’t wait to see what I can create. I may even sing my own soundtrack. I am manifesting that Forbes cover. I am creating generational wealth and I am helping to create experiences for my community. Los Angeles has just seen a sneak peek of what I have to offer. I’m working hard and I look forward to where the future is headed.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It has not been a smooth road. The beginning was rough. I found myself lonely and broke more times than I could count. My first living situation was rough with the Trump supporter she used to walk around in a sparkly trump sweatshirt. She went on to tell me I couldn’t use the kitchen so I became a chef on a small grill in my room. I remember a job with Tyra Banks and all the girls were so glamorous and I was just me. Feeling out of place happens often, Now as a business owner, issues have come from COVID affect supplies to employees to understanding the proper things to do to create a successful business.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Not only am I an actress-singer model. I am the author of My Hair Makes Me… Me a character and soon be animated children’s series.

I think what sets me apart is my hard-working and determined spirit. I wake up every morning with the decision to be happy and add more to this world. I truly enjoy the creative process and I hope to influence others to just go for it as well.

We all have a different way of looking at and defining success. How do you define success?
I define success by how you make people feel and what you leave behind. Anybody who has come in contact with me knows I’m genuine and I work hard. My smile is infectious and I just love to see people happy. As an author, the feeling I receive when I get a video of a kid sounding out the words or telling us how much he or she loves their hair is indescribable. In music, do you know how incredible it feels for people to actually sing your lyrics and relate to them? That’s a success, touching people’s lives.

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Image Credits:

Photographer Judy Lin Mua Iris Esmerelda

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