We had the good fortune of connecting with Amanda Jefferies and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Amanda, how do you think about risk?
I think making calculated risks is one of the largest parts of my success and has truly molded how my life and career have unfolded. I’m originally from a small town in South Dakota, most people who grow up there never move out of South Dakota. So me choosing to leave and make a career for myself in Denver is a big risk. I grew up in a low-income family and I was the first person out of my grandparents, aunts & uncles, parent, cousins, and immediate family to get their bachelor’s degree. Being a first-generation college student had many challenges and I worked multiple jobs to put myself through school. There were sometimes when I wasn’t sure if I would have enough money to buy food, pay rent, or buy textbooks. I graduated with honors from Montana State University with my B.S. in Community Health. After graduation, I moved to Denver to pursue a career in Community/Public Health. This June will be my 6th year working for a Non-Profit Community Health Center in the Denver Metro and I am so grateful to work with low-income, homeless, undocumented, and refugee patients. It feels so good to help others and give back to the community. Moving to Denver was also a huge risk. I didn’t have a safety net to fall back on and moving here was really make or break for me.

October will also mark my 6th year of being a professional model and having agency representation. Deciding to pursue a career in modeling was something I never saw myself doing. I have an eating disorder, which I have been in recovery with for several years now, and I struggled with self-worth, confidence, self-love, and body dysmorphia. I was always told “if you could just lose X amount of weight you would be able to model for sure”. No one ever told me I could be a model and look the way I look. I didn’t even know plus-size models existed or that it was something I could pursue. I didn’t grow up seeing girls who looked like me in magazines and was always told I was unworthy because of my size. Once I moved to Denver I decided to put myself out there and submitted to an agency. I told myself the worst thing that could happen is they tell me no, and to my surprise I was signed.

I think life is all about taking risks and putting yourself out there. I have learned over the years the more I step out of my comfort zone and try new things the more new opportunities and doors open for me. I don’t always succeed at everything I try but no one does. It’s all about not being afraid to fail. And not being afraid to dust yourself off and try again when you do fail. Take risks but look before you leap.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Hey everyone! I’m Amanda Jefferies. I’m a Plus Model and Health Programs Manager. I have lived in the Denver Metro since 2014 and absolutely love it here. I was signed with my first agency in 2015 and have been modeling professionally since then. In my other career, I work as a Health Programs Manager for a Non-Profit Community Health Center in the Denver Metro. We work with low-income, homeless, undocumented, and refugee individuals and families and provide them with medical care and access to a bunch of other resources. While I love the work I do for the community it can be emotionally wearing and really challenging. My modeling career is a nice balance that allows me to create and refill my cup.

While I’m incredibly proud of the work I do for the Community Health Center I want to focus on my modeling career. I’m so proud of myself for pursuing this dream of mine and I feel I truly have been successful with it. I have been working in the industry in Denver for a while now and have made so many wonderful connections with brilliant and talented people from all walks of life. I think my favorite part of modeling is that I genuinely feel like I am creating art. I have been so fortunate to create with some incredibly talented photographers. It’s like a dance with the photographer and if we do the right dance we can create magic. And that shit inspires me and fuels my soul. I love getting to try different looks and play with differnet concepts. It’s like I get to step into a whole different persona for a moment in time. One of my favorite things about modeling and photgraphy is that no two photographers capture me the same way. Everyone captures me in such a different persepctive and it allows for me to view myself from their perspective and see myself through someone elses eyes. That has been really helpful for growing more comofrtable in my body and feeling confident about the way I look and the energy I bring to the table. I feel like modeling has allowed me to become the most authantic version of myself and live my truth unapolgetically.

To get to where I am today was a big journey. I always wanted to be a model but never thought I could or would actually do it. I grew up in front of the camera and used to do a bunch of fun photoshoots with my brother. I would be 8 years old standing out in a field with crimped hair at gold hour while my brother snapped my pictures. In high school, I counted down the days until I got to take my senior photos because I was so excited to shoot with a professional photographer. I styled every look and scouted all the locations. In college, I would volunteer to shoot for my photographer friends and used some of those photos to submit to my first agency after college.

I have spent a lot of time shooting but up until a few years ago I hated to look at photos of myself. I have an eating disorder and have been in recovery for several years but I used to hate the way I looked. I was always told I wasn’t thin enough and if I could just lose those last few pounds I could be a “real” model. I was told “I had a really pretty face but my body needed work”. I obsessed about my weight and my body and went to extremes to try and lose weight. I thought the dream was too far-fetched because there was no way I could force my body to lose any more weight than it already had. I was already skipping meals and spending hours exercising. I eventually reached the place where I could no longer sustain these things. My mental health was horrible, I had no self-esteem or confidence, and I kept getting injured from over-exercising. In my last semester of college I came to the realization that I had an eating disorder and started counseling. I started to put in the work to fight against diet-culture and societal norms of what beauty is expected to be. I started sharing my journey on social media and started following and connecting with women who were pursuing body acceptance, body positivity, and body love. This all has helped me to become who I am today.

I am proud of myself for pursuing my dream even when I was told I wasn’t good enough the whole journey. I am proud of myself for having the courage to put myself out there and be judged by the industry and society. I am proud of myself for the career I have made for myself over the last 5 and a half years. Some of my favorite moments have been shooting for Dicks Sporting Goods, Balance Athletica, Rocky Mountain Bride, Jovi, Cherry Creek Lifestyle Magazine and Boulder Lifestyle Magazine. I have only done runway a handful of times but I have loved every show I have gotten to do and look forward to doing more. I’m excited to see where the future takes me and I am ready for the universe to send some new opportunities my way!

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Denver is truly one of my favorite places in the world. I have a big family am whenever my parents, brother, brother-in-law, and 4 nieces and nephews come to town we love to go out and explore. One of our favorite places to go is Elitch Gardens, we love riding the rides and looking at all the city lights from the top of the rides. We love to eat out D Bar is one of our favorites and we love their cake & shake dessert. We also like to explore the Zoo and Nature & Science Museum.

When a friend comes from out of town we will typically go to a game. Depending on the season we will either go to a Nuggets game, Av’s game, or Rockies game. The sports scene here is amazing. I grew up a three-sport athlete and getting to attend pro games on a casual Tuesday night is one of the best parts about living here.

I feel like brunch is something Denver does really well. One of my favorite spots for brunch is The Lobby and there’s nothing like sitting out on their patio on a warm summer day drinking bottomless mimosas.

I live in Aurora and one of the best parts about living here is the food. Aurora is so diverse and so is the food. Cafe Paprika is the ultimate spot for Moroccan food. Yum Yum Cakes & Pastries has some of the best macarons I’ve ever had. Golden Saigon has the most amazing Vietnamese food and their friend chicken dumplings hot and sour soup gives me life.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to shoutout my amazing husband who encourages me to pursue every wild dream I have and supports me every step of the way. This one is for you.

Instagram: @amandajojefferies

Image Credits
Personal Photos: Alisha Light IG: @alightp All other photos: Blake Jackson IG: _blackson_

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