Exuding confidence from within that radiates and inspires, Jihan Amer is an example of what your life can become when you take a chance on your dreams.
She’s a successful model, Fashion Stylist, and the host of Chai Time with Jihan (on IGTV). These are Jihan Amer’s titles in her career, and she is a force that will not stop pursuing her goals.
How did you get into modeling? At what point did you realize this was the career path for you?
Jihan Amer: My first modeling job was for my mother’s clothing line. From then on, I modeled for friends and a few clients in Vancouver, Canada. I was scouted by my mother agent Tricia Romani at a fashion event. She always said she’s not sure if she saw me or my “fabulous pink pumps” first.
I worked as a fashion stylist and teaching fashion courses at local colleges at that point in my life. I would always get the “you’ve got such a pretty face,” but modeling full-time was never a thought for me.
Tricia loved my look and helped me understand that modeling could be something I could actually make money from and eventually maybe do full-time.
The industry was slowly changing at this point, and opportunities were opening up, so I decided to give it a try. I then signed with my dream agency Wilhelmina LA which made me realize there were more opportunities in America.
The move to Los Angeles made me jump into modeling full-time, and I’m so glad I took that chance.
What surprised you about the modeling/fashion industry that you weren’t aware of at the beginning of your career that has been your biggest lesson?
Jihan Amer: Nothing surprises me anymore. When I first started modeling, there was this one time I broke down at an editorial shoot because the photographer that was hired by the magazine didn’t think I was beautiful and thought my hair was distracting.
I couldn’t believe that he was going out of his way to be so rude to me just because of my looks. I remember running into the bathroom and breaking down into tears.
My mother, who was the client, came in and told me to stop crying, not let anyone ever dim my light, that I was beautiful, and I needed to stand up for myself and every girl who looked like me.
She also reminded me that she was the client, and I needed to toughen up and be the powerful girl she knew me to be and rock the hell out of the shoot, so I wiped my tears and did just that.
At that moment, I learned my biggest lesson, which toughened me up for the industry.
How would you say your modeling career has changed during the pandemic? Tell us about some of the ways you’ve had to make significant adjustments.
Jihan Amer: Two words: Self-tapes!! Castings all moved online. The clients either directly booked you off of your portfolio or asked you to send in a self-tape. Some are easy as submitting your basic information, and some are full-blown workout routines, dancing, or posing sessions.
Step Two is usually a Zoom call with the client. Once the job is booked, fittings and shoot dates are scheduled around a COVID-19 test and all the precautions needed to keep everyone as safe as possible.
Most clients have me do my hair and makeup due to keeping the numbers down on set. Travel, especially international, is not happening anymore either. Work has definitely slowed down, but I’m truly blessed for all of the opportunities that have come my way during this pandemic.
What are some of the ways you express yourself creatively beyond modeling? What motivates you to remain dedicated to these crafts?
Jihan Amer: “Chai Time with Jihan” has been the highlight of my year. It’s my fabulous weekly live show on Instagram where I interview top women leaders in business, fashion, film, arts, and more.
I also love all things fashion, so fashion styling has always been my creative outlet. I love playing with styles and patterns on all body types. I never look at the size, brand, or department the pieces came from. It just has to fit right and feel fabulous.
The Industry is not all glamorous and is filled with rejection from clients, agents, and more. My “Why” is what keeps me going through it all. It’s my biggest motivation. Don’t let anyone stop you from going after your goals. Know your “Why.” There are so many ups and downs, so my advice would be to stay true to who you are and work hard no matter how big or small the job is.
You’ve done a lot of amazing work, not only living out what is fully possible in your modeling career but also giving others a place to speak through your Instagram segments, “Chai Time With Jihan.”
What would you say is your most memorable conversation? What did you take from it that you believe everyone should hear?
Jihan Amer: Every conversation has been heartfelt, real, and unfiltered. It would be really hard for me to choose favorites.
Some of my amazing guests have been Gigi Goldman, the Co-Founder of Kopari Beauty; Madeline Jones, the Co-Owner of Plus Model Magazine; Jigme Love, the President of Infuse Brands.
Other guests include Melissa Chataigne, a TV Style Expert & Speaker, and Candice Cuoco, a Fashion Designer. These women are incredible!!
All of my Instagram Lives are saved on my IGTV @jihanamer, so I would say check them out and let me know your favorite because I love them all. I go live with new guests on Sundays at 4 pm PST.
Tell us about your passion/passion project (education, mentorship, causes you stand for, etc.). How does this connect with your own life? How does this connect to your career and how you show up for yourself and others?
Jihan Amer: I’m passionate about so many things. One is definitely spreading the joy of self-love. My self-love journey has been the best journey I’ve ever been on. It evolves on a daily because my body, my thoughts, and my needs change on a daily.
Two would be doing everything I can to make a change for the future generations. Making my younger self proud and sharing my experiences to make sure no little girl or boy goes through some of the rough times I’ve been through.
I want to use my platform to amplify women’s voices- help create the world we women want and deserve. I show up by doing the best I can; I work on being present, taking time out for me, and taking care of my mind and body.
I have to take care of me so I can take care of the amazing people around me.
What do you imagine for yourself in the future? Please tell us what we should expect to see next.
Jihan Amer: So many big things!! My vision board is filled with clients that I would love to work with and adventures that I can’t wait to experience.
Versace, SavageXFenty, The Blondes, Pattern Beauty, Tarun Tahiliani, Chromat, Prabal Gurung, Sabyasachi, and Christian Siriano are some of my dream clients. I want to design a collection with my mother.
“Chai time with Jihan” is only going to get even bigger and better. Get back to traveling the world once we can safely do so. I’m putting my big list of dreams in God’s hands, and I know he’s got a plan for me.
Rapid Fire Questions
What is the most exciting moment you’ve had in your modeling career?
I’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazing people throughout my career, but I have to say one of my most exciting moments was shooting with Ms. Tracee Ellis Ross for JC Penny. That day was straight off my vision board.
What is one book that changed you?
Inner Engineering by Sadhguru.
My mother. She’s my Queen and my best friend. She’s so giving and has so much love and compassion for everyone in her life.
Dirty Dancing (The Original)
Go-to songs to lift your mood?
- I’m Every Woman – Whitney Houston
- Love On Top – Beyoncé
- Soulmate – Lizzo
- Ye – Burna Boy
- Dakota – Bad Bunny
Best meal you’ve had at a restaurant?
I love a good home-cooked meal. But if I had to choose one, it’s the Vada Pav at Dishoom in London. Vada Pav is a vegetarian Indian fast food dish.
Best advice you have ever received?
Follow your instincts and listen to your gut because it’s always right.
Photographer Liz Dungate @lizdungate
Wardrobe Stylist Jason Pillay @jasonpillay
Makeup Zabrina Matiru @zabrinamakeup using Make Up For Ever & Danessa Myricks
Hair Martin Hillier @martinhillierhair using Electric London
Model Jihan Amer @jihanamer
Model Agencies @leaguemodels @wilhelminamodels (LA) @heffnermanagement