In this murky pool of models in Bakersfield, Jin N Tonic successfully manages to set herself a part from the typical “cookie-cutter” model. Jin N Tonic (Jin for short) is a model with such a unique look & attitude, that you can’t help but fall in love with her work. How does she manage to be such a pro? Well we sat down with Jin to figure that out!
How did you get the name “Jin N Tonic”?
“I got the nickname ‘Jin’ while dating a guy with the nickname ‘Juice.’ The ‘N Tonic’ was added as a fake last name so people couldn’t look me up on Facebook. Ironic really, that now I spend 99% trying to get people to do just that!”
Where are you from?
“I was born in Bakersfield, CA, but grew up in Nampa, Idaho and went to college in Boise (for 6 friggin’ years) before moving back to Bakersfield. Funny how life likes to come full circle…”
How old were you when you realized you wanted to be a model and/or actress?
“I’ve always wanted to be in front of the camera! When I was 12 or 13 I made my little sister photograph my first ‘photoshoot’. When I was younger I would fantasize about being on set with Brendan Fraser (who didn’t find George of the Jungle sexy?? And don’t forget The Mummy)?”
How long have you been modeling and acting?
“I did some theater in high school, but besides the improv stuff it wasn’t really my thing. I wanted to be in front of the camera! Plus theater people are on a whole ‘nother level. My first photoshoot was six years ago, but an unsavory photographer left a bad taste in my mouth and to be honest I spent a lot of years ‘finding myself.’ It wasn’t until a chance photoshoot 2 years ago that I remembered what it is that I love to do!! Good timing too because after I graduated college, I was in need of starting a whole new career path that had no need for a college degree..”
What was it that made you decide that you wanted to do be a “Traveling Model”?
“I’ve always been determined to travel the world. Being a “Traveling Model” just kind of happened. I was in Boise and a photog in SLC said, ‘Hey, if you’re out here, let’s shoot!’ and I said “how’s next week?” and it all went from there. Plus this last year I have spent half my time back in Boise for family stuff and the other half in Bakersfield. All the traveling in between has allowed for many stops along the way. Plus, one opportunity leads to another. When I got sponsored on the Select Models Group Shoot/Cruise to Mexico, I met a photographer there who later flew me out to NYC for New Year’s.”
How long did you model “exclusively” from your home town until you started to travel consistently?
“Hmmm… honestly it was only a couple months that I started really shooting in Boise before I moved to Bakersfield. I got side-tracked for a few months with a stressful and time consuming job (silly things, jobs) but once I got my head back together a year ago I remembered, ‘Oh yeah Jin, you moved to Cali for a reason!’ and I haven’t stopped since. (No plans to stop anytime soon either).”
Name some places where you’ve traveled for modeling/acting jobs.
“Between August and December of 2012 I had photoshoots in 9 different states; Idaho, California, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Colorado, Nevada, New Jersey, New York; plus the Mexico cruise.”
So far, what is your favorite place you have modeled/acted?
“I absolutely fell in LOVE with NYC!! It was completely worth the two week East Coast Plague I came back with.”
What was it that you did while you where there? (theme of the shoot, sightseeing, etc..)
“NYC is HUGE on fashion and even HUGER on fetish stuff! I only do ‘implied nudity’ and typically don’t like strangers tying me up and hitting me with shit, so I stayed away from the fetish (although I love the genre). I did reunite with my cruise sponsor/photographer for a naughty snow bunny shoot, and was part of a Hillary Flowers Masquerade/Lingerie Fashion Show at Gotham Hall on New Year’s Eve… and yes, there was plenty of sight-seeing, and lots of clubs, and lots of bottle service.”
How is it that you are able to consistently book modeling/acting gigs that keep you traveling?
“I am always on my computer. I put out casting calls, I respond to casting calls, and I promote myself shamelessly no matter where I go. I’m annoying as fuck I’m sure, but it keeps me going!”
Do you have a certain modeling style? (example pin-up model, lingerie, fashion, etc..)
“I do it all! Sometimes I wish I had a ‘style’ though, as my portfolio is all over the friggin’ place! My versatility really sets me apart though.”
What is your favorite type of modeling to do?
“I don’t have a favorite, although Pin Up is by far the funnest!! It’s just so cute. Fashion has a BIG place in my life. I’ve always wanted to be more in fashion, but never did my homework because I’m a shorty. I’m changing that now…”
How many tattoo’s do you have?
“Depends on who you’re talking to, haha! The way I count ’em though, I have 11. Unless I’m forgetting some (which I sometimes do… I’m serious).”
What about piercings, how many do you have?
“I have 10 in my ears, one in my nose, two in my bottom lip, and two in my belly button. So that’s what… 15ish.”
Do you have any regrets in regards to your tattoos and piercings? Do they ever hold you back from bigger or more profitable gigs?
“My first tattoo is a bittersweet memory. I got it when I was 18 and I remember having the thought about it affecting future gigs I would get, but I told myself, ‘Oh well, I’m never going to really be a model anyway.’ So it’s almost like a permanent symbol of me giving up on my dreams! Since then I’ve gotten more, and if I could go back I wouldn’t have gotten any. They are definitely limiting in the kind of commercial (i.e. PAID) work you can get. Sure, you can Photoshop that shit out, but why would a photog take on the extra shop hours when there’s literally hundreds of girls in line behind me with ‘virgin skin’? I’m also sort of limbo with the amount of ink I have. Too much for commercial work, but not enough to lump myself in with the true ‘alternative’ and ‘ink’d’ type models. So it’s like now that I’ve started, I almost have to keep adding on. I have no desire to go spend thousands on a sleeve (or laser removal!) just to fit into a genre though. I’m basically just going to have to go out there and keep breaking all the rules! My advice to any girl with serious modeling goals though, would be to NOT get tattoos. Especially if you are 5’7″+ and want to do runway. That being said though, I definitely know plenty of models that do have tattoos and are very successful.”
How about shoots… Any regrets out there?
“I don’t regret anything, but I have made a lot of mistakes that led to unfortunate instances in my past. Nearly all of these were a result of me being less than smart in who I was shooting with. I had no guide in becoming a model, and went against my better judgement a couple of times. I’m lucky that I am ok, but some gals aren’t! It’s a risky business, and the number one goal should always be your personal safety first – no matter who the shoot is with. I hope though that from my mistakes others can learn too. There’s a lot of bullshit in this industry that a lot of girls convince themselves is ‘part of the biz’ when really it’s not. That’s the unprofessional world: it’s full of sharks and you never go anywhere from there.”
I have seen a few drawings and I believe a painting or two from you… Why do you paint and/or draw?
“I’ve always liked being artistic. Art was the only class I ever enjoyed in school because people left me the fuck alone and I just got to sit and make something maybe kinda sorta neat. What I really do more than anything though is doodle. Anytime I was in class I would have to doodle in order to pay attention, otherwise I’d fall asleep! I think it’s my brain’s need for more stimulation than what the education system ever had to offer.”
Is the rush of finishing an art piece as satisfying as seeing a “post photo” from a shoot you have done?
“Haha, I’m not sure! With the exception of art class assignments, I almost never actually ‘finish’ anything. One day I think I’ll have a gallery showing – “The Unfinished Works of JNT” It is really neat though when I DO finish something and a friend wants to keep it. I have a few friends that have what I call “fridge art” in their homes. It’s not quite art, but it’s good enough for the fridge. There’s a couple of things I’ve made on some actual walls too, which is just a sign of how sweet and supportive my friends really are.”
Is there an Actress or Model that you look up to?
“The first ‘alternative’ model I ever found was Apnea. I remember being soooo excited to find a model that wasn’t your cookie cutter, fashion type. If she could do it, I realized that I could too! That was in high school though, and I haven’t seen much from her in recent years. Right now I’m totally obsessed with Ulorin Vex, Kato, and Mosh. I think they are all gorgeous and incredibly successful. They’re all very talented, and Ulorin’s illustrations are mind-blowing, and Kato is the creature of Steampunk Couture. As far as actors… wow, a shit ton of names just came to mind. I admire anyone who can be diverse in the characters they play, and I admire any woman who can be funny AND intelligent (go Tina Fey! Way to set the bar high!).”
Who are some of your favorite photographers and/or videographers you have worked with?
“Haha, you?? ;D I couldn’t begin to choose, I have worked with dozens of amazing individuals, and the list keeps growing every week!”
What would you say is your biggest accomplishment so far as a model/actress?
“I would say that finding a sponsor for that cruise was a huge deal to me. I was in Idaho at the time and had a ‘fundraiser’ selling prints to friends to raise gas money to get me down to Long Beach. It really opened a lot of doors. There’s also my first magazine spread in January’s edition of Ladies of Steampunk. My first time in print and a month later that’s already quadrupled. Plus Ladies of Steampunk has already asked me to come back for more! (I can’t divulge too many details there though)”
What are your long-term and short-term goals in the industry?
“Short term is to take advantage of all the talent hidden here in Bakersfield and save up some money. I hope to be moved to Portland by the fall, and then the 3 year goal is to be in LA. From there, who knows! I want to have a successful blog following, be involved in fashion, join a cabaret group, become a yoga master, work in comedy, make and star in hundreds of music videos, and travel the world! All in front of a camera of course.”
Anything else you want to say or add?
“Yeah! Please come stay in touch at www.JinNTonic.com! I’ve just started a blog, a newsletter, a monthly print, and am getting myself set up as a stylist too. I’m just starting out in my career, but in these last two years I’ve already accomplished so much! It’s a snowball effect really, and I have no intention of slowing down anytime soon.”
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Photos By: Robert Bejil Photography