Name: Jordan Emanuel
Claim to Fame: Emanuel is the former Miss Black America New York, and the fourth ever Black Playmate of The Year. She has been featured in major campaigns by Cover Girl, Rimmel London, American Express, and more.
The birth of Christ is a pretty tough act to follow. Jordan Emanuel had known a lifetime of December 25th birthdays and at 24 years and 11 months she was determined not to be overshadowed.
The former pageant queen and mental health advocate took to social media to stake out her claim with a series of spec photography shoots leading us to her lavish party. “I’m a Christmas baby. So I was having 25 days of Jordan,” Emanuel told Hello Beautiful.
What started as a fun way to celebrate herself turned into a flourishing career.
“I did 25 images for the countdown and an agent saw that. And so I went into the office and met with him. And then from there I started working, I was freelance modeling,” she said.
The transition from playful novice to powerful newcomer came quickly. “So from December when I did the shoot and when I got signed and when I left, my job was March, so two months,” she said.
“Before this, I was in architecture and real estate and it was never what I wanted to do, but it was what was making me money. And the second I stepped out of that I actually stepped into what I feel is my best,” she continued.
“Well, truthfully, I didn’t really have a choice. It’s ironic because I remember writing my resignation letter, it was mid February andI going to give it March 1st and I actually got called into my boss’s office and was laid off that day. So it worked out better because obviously. I got my severance, I got my unemployment, and it kind of forced me to really jump into it.”
Jumping into things was Emanuel’s style.
“Well, firstly, I’m a Capricorn. So you know, we are very assertive when it comes to our ambition and aspirations. And for me it was like I wanted something and I wasn’t going to stop without knowing that it’s done. And I continue to do everything in my power that I can. And to me, when you work hard and you have a work ethic and you believe in what it is that you’re trying to achieve, things will align the way they need to. And that’s not to say that everything was just handed to me and it was great and it was easy. It wasn’t.”
She used tools that she acquired in boarding school, and at the University of Miami where she studied Broadcast Journalism, to make it on time to go-sees and present an air of professionalism.
“You know you’re forced to grow up a lot faster and that independence, and being on your own and being efficient on your own, I definitely picked up from school.”
The journey was made easier by Emanuel to connect to the work she was doing on a personal level. She could really enter the mindset of the easy, breezy, beautiful Covergirl or the modish waif lined in Rimmel. “I think once I stepped into my purpose of entertainment and philanthropy, I stood out,” she said.
When she was told to lose herself on set to nail a certain mood or expression on set she was able to without extensive coaching. She actually found comfort in the process.
“Even when I was really young, I’ve been involved with helping others and interacting with charities. I think entertainment though, I always wanted to write and story tell. When my mom passed when I was 17, entertainment and shows and binge watching was really what got me through some of my darkest days. It kind of allowed me to escape into a different realm almost.”
When it comes to dealing with reality Emanuel makes it a priority to take care of herself so that she can give her all to the non-profit she co-founded Women With Voices, which focuses on Mental Health Awareness, a subject near to her heart as someone who has suffered with anxiety.
“I am my biggest critic. So anything that anybody says to me, can’t compare to what I say about myself and what I’ve learned is the power of words and even the power of non spoken words that you’re just thinking. And so for me, it’s about catching myself when I’m saying something negative saying something that is opposite of what I want to actually happen, if that makes sense. So I read this book called The Magic. It’s the same woman who wrote The Secret and that book changed everything,” she said.
“My mental wellness meditation and mantra have helped a lot. And just speaking to myself, like I would talk to my friends and how I would comfort them and apply that to myself and inner talk has been crucial,” she continued.
She credits managing her inner voice and other wellness methods with working through the most disorienting time of her career.
“I actually have alopecia,” she said. She fought the condition by “making my own little hair potions with castor oil, peppermint, coconut oil.” She also went back to the teachings of The Magic. “In the book she describes how much power, um, words have, and that if you focus so much on something that don’t necessarily want to happen, something that you’re worried about, something that you’re stressed about, you’re only manifesting that quicker than what you actually want. So having to speak positively about myself and my hair or what it is I’m ever feeling in that moment, it needs to be something encouraging,” she said.
“It’s ironic because when I was announced as a Playmate in 2018, that’s when it was like the peak of my outbreak. So it was this weird juxtaposition of being highlighted as this beautiful, confident woman. And on the other side, I was going bald essentially.”
Women With Voices also focuses on promoting Sexual Education & Liberation, something Emanuel is extremely passionate about. While some wonder about the place of cultural signifiers like Playmates in the era of the Digital Sexual Revolution Emanuel is convinced that there’s room for everyone.
“I think it’s awesome. Honestly,” she said about sites like Only Fans that democratize the avenues women can take to monetize their appearance.
“I think any time that people in general can monetize whatever it is they want to monetize as long, as it’s not hurting anyone, as long as they’re not hurting themselves I think personally you’re not gonna find me on only fans, but I know I have plenty of friends who are on it, love their content!”
Emanuel has empowered herself by being willing to become her own hair and makeup artist on at-home shoots during the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent spot featuring her in a steamy set by Savage Fenty was self-shot.
“I’ve learned skills and, and learned things about myself that I probably wouldn’t have,” she said.
“The first month I had done an ad shoot where I was sent, like the whole drop the rug, lighting and everything, and I had to do the Savage Fenty by Rihanna Shoot. They’re doing a summer campaign right now. So that was just, um, released last week. So I’ve been doing stuff like that. I had another FaceTime shoot with some photographers and Playboy.”
The experience of being a one woman glam squad has made her want to advocate for other creatives. “I think that the artists behind traditional shoots, makeup hair, the photographers are artists in their own right for a reason. And although we’re perfectly capable of snapping a couple of dope photos on our own, I don’t compare to the professional photographers. You know what I mean? My lighting game is not that seasoned,” she joked.
The swift changes appearing in the industry have Emanuel thinking about her future.
“I think the great thing about modeling is that you really can do it forever. There’s always somebody that needs to be marketed to. That’s relatable to you. I would definitely love to do it for as long as, as I can. However, I do want to switch my focus to television. That’s what I went to school for was broadcast journalism and music, business, and art history.”
Faithful to her Christmas baby ways she has started planning for how to move forward. “As a true Capricorn. I have a weekend to do list for my three day weekend. And that is on the top of my weekend to-do list.”