April 23, 2013

Meet the Model: Jennifer Duran

A good friend of mine just finished her new hosting reel (see below), and I'd love to take this opportunity to introduce you to her. I met Jennifer Duran while modeling in Sacramento years ago, and I have pretty much latched onto her and never let go! In such a crazy industry she has been my number one confidant. Whenever there is something going on that I just can't tell anyone I call Jennifer anyways! She is intelligent, talented, hilarious, and the best friend a girl could ask for. She has faced many of the same hardships we all do in this industry, and has also persevered through a more personal problem as well which she is discussing here for the first time. I'm so grateful for her taking the time to interview with me for this blog, and for her candid responses. I have learned so much from her and I know she would be an amazing role model for so many young people just starting out in the entertainment industry. She has taught me that while none of us are perfect, a passion for what we do can turn our perceived "flaws" into relatable and like-able (AKA bookable) individuals. Jennifer is currently working splitting her time between San Francisco and Los Angeles, and is without question the hardest working person I know. Here she is... ;)

You are a model, actress, host, and ex-Raiderette. Oh my! Can you give us a little background on where you started and how your career has developed?

I started performing at the age of 3 or 4. Believe it or not I was a super shy little girl, so it was suggested to my mom by a doctor that I be put in dance classes. I started out in tap and ballet and then later started gymnastics too. I eventually also did musical theater and had my first big part at age 8 as Dorothy in the Wiz. I loved it! As an adult I tried out for the Raiderettes. I didn't think I would make it - there were over 600 girls trying out that year. But I made the team! Getting to cheer for an NFL team was pretty amazing, and donning the uniform was a real trip! Going to the Super Bowl that year was a cherry topper! When I was on the squad I was finishing up school at SFSU where I got my degree in Broadcast Journalism. Then a photographer on Myspace (I just dated myself!) found me online and asked if I wanted to do a TFP shoot. I had no idea what that was! It sounded dirty to me! Haha. But I googled what it meant and started modeling from that point on! Since then I've been doing hosting, acting, and modeling... it's been an amazing ride!

What would be your dream job?

That's so hard to answer. I feel like as you grow as a person this answer changes along with it. For hosting... it would be a travel show based around amazing locations and food! But I'm starting to love the idea of acting on a sitcom or something to that affect. We shall see! My answer a year from now may change!

You are one of the few models who commutes back and forth from San Francisco to LA, working both markets. I'm sure models tell you quite often that they would like to do the same. What do you say to them?

My first reaction is to usually laugh! Working in 2 markets is extremely hard on you mentally and physically. I'm never in one place very long. When you are called by your agency you have to be able to leave at the drop of a hat to go travel 5 1/2 hours to go to an audition. It's absolutely nuts. I also let models know that getting representation in more than one market can be difficult. You need to have a real place of residence. San Francisco agencies are not going to sign you if you are based in LA and vice versa. It's important that you make it very clear to your agent that you are willing and able to make 90% of the auditions. And they will really hold you to that. I value both markets very much, and that's why it's been a success for me.

You and I have talked about the ins and outs of LA quite a bit. Any survival tips? What pitfalls should girls specifically be careful of when moving to LA?

DON'T START PARTYING YOUR ASS OFF!! That's my number one tip! You're going to meet the wrong people and it's a distraction. Immerse yourself in work. You will meet so many people with the same interests as you if you do this. They will be equally as dedicated to being successful, and if you hang around success I feel like you will inevitably be successful too. Don't forget why you came to LA.

What do you love to do when you're not working?

Honestly... eat and drink! I'm not joking! Haha. I love food. I love cooking and entertaining, and great conversation with friends. I love hot yoga and craft type stuff. I'm addicted to Pinterest! Outside of the home I'm all about traveling. It's the best thing you can do for yourself. It takes you away and drops you into new cultures and experiences. It also gives you a renewed appreciation for what we have here in the US and how easy life is here.

Would you consider yourself a girly girl? Do you love fashion?

Heck yes! I love fashion, beauty, anything girly. There is nothing better than getting a new outfit and feeling like a million bucks in it. But I don't mind doing some boy-ish stuff too. I enjoy welding and making my own metal art when I have the time. Yes... I said welding. Random I know!

Some agencies are good and some suck (not naming names…ahem… haha). What do you expect from an agency you are working with, and how do you know when to cut the cord?

Yes... there are COUNTLESS agencies that are terrible. It's just the way it goes unfortunately. It's pretty simple to know when you are dealing with one that's not great and when it's time to give them the boot.

1. If they don't get you out. Meaning you go out on 1 or less auditions a month, and this goes on for 6 months. You are more than likely not seeing eye to eye on how to market the fabulous person that you are!
2. If they are slow to pay, always have an excuse for why they can't pay you, or are always sending you to the imaginary payroll person... RUN. They are more than likely having difficulty paying a multitude of people, and that's a very bad sign.
3. If you're still not sure google them and check Yelp to see if anyone else is complaining about them. Seriously look at what people are saying and read between the lines. It could save you a lot of heartache.

A good team of agents will send you out, support you, and should be there as a friend and business partner. That's their job!! Don't forget that!

Any advice for models or actors thinking about getting into hosting?

Almost every actor/model I've known has not been very good at making the transition over to hosting. You have to be a good listener - that's what a host is. With acting and modeling it's all about you. Hosting is about making the person NEXT TO YOU seem amazing, witty, and fun to be around! It's the complete opposite of what you have been taught as a model and actor. It's also not very easy to get into nowadays. But if you seriously have a passion for it then take hosting classes. You will learn a ton and be saved a lot of embarrassment from looking like a really crappy host on camera!! Be prepared to be quick witted, listen to peoples answers, and come up with your own content. When working as a host a lot of times there is no script/sides. It's your job to know how to tell a good story. And by the way, a teleprompter is a luxury!

I honestly would have never known without you telling me, because you are so unbelievably beautiful, but you have recently and very bravely come out about having a skin condition. I know this has been something you've struggled with emotionally, largely because we work in an industry of "perfection." What has been your experience, and has your skin condition changed your opinion about the nature of our industry?

Oy vay. OK... first... thank you! My skin condition hasn't really changed my view of the industry, it has just confirmed it. It makes me a little sick to my stomach sometimes but it's what I signed up for. It's an industry that values beauty, perfection, being thin, never having a bad day, shiny hair, and god forbid you don't have a manicure... the list goes on. My "type" that I get cast for is girl next door/hot girl, late 20's to early 30's. Possibly young mom. With that said, the industry expects my "type" to be flawless. I'm not! I have a skin condition called Melasma. It's very dark pigmentation on my face that many women get from birth control (as is my case) or being pregnant. It also has to do with ethnicity and genetics. It causes you to basically be allergic to the sun. For many it goes away over time, but I'm one of the lucky few with the condition where it has only gotten worse. It covers the majority of my face and is very dark. It's tough because sometimes I barely recognize the person in the mirror, however it does not define me. Sadly the industry would disagree. I once walked into my agents office, was taken into another room, and then asked, "A casting director said your makeup was terrible. I'm looking at you right now... what's going on with your face? I can tell there is something wrong with your face." Way to be subtle. I will never forget her words. They were cutting. I wanted to punch her in the face for being so crude. Instead I broke down into tears and told her my problem. She then told me I should go on hormone replacement therapy, which has been known to cause cancer, and was actually the suspected cause of my mother's breast cancer. When I told this to my agent she didn't care and gave me a number for a doctor anyways. Another time I was on a photoshoot and the photographer kept zooming into my face and remarking that my skin didn't look perfect enough for his standards. Other things have happened too. Now what you must be wondering is do I cover this well with makeup?? Actually I do. One day when I'm brave enough I'll make a video to show how to cover this skin disease up properly. It's difficult as your skin lightens and darkens with the seasons. It's kind of a drag, but that's my job. I'm proud of myself for not letting this get in the way of my goals. It would be easy to take to heart what these people have said about how I look, but I am smart enough and I love myself enough to know that I am better than these comments and that I will continue to book work with or without their support. I love what I do and that is what makes me successful.

I know you love to prepare yummy food. What is your favorite healthy snack?

I love veggies and hummus. And I love making smoothies with fresh berries.

And finally, any embarrassing moments you'd like to share?

Lordy gordy. There are so many. Losing my chicken cutlet (fake boob) on the field during a Raider game was mortifying! Awkwardly dancing and grinding for music video auditions as casting looks at you with a bored stare. Being asked what my first sexual experience was during a quaker oats audition (this was YEARS ago by the way). There are so many things that can happen in an audition room. The one thing I'm thankful for is never losing my stools or farting in the room. Thank god for that! I'm also thinking it's bad to end an interview with poop jokes... oh well!! Haha. It's a fun industry. If you can learn to roll with the punches then you'll have a blast no matter what!

Interviewed by Ellen Hancock

1 comment :

  1. Love you endlessly Ellen! You are an amazing model and friend. I'm lucky to have known you and have you in my life all these years! XOXOXO