With her bed head, nose ring and velvet boho blouse, Jay Wright’s hippie spirit shines through. The all-American stunner attended a local open call in her home state of Iowa and soon found herself on the runways of Marc Jacobs, Gucci, Balenciaga, and in the pages of Teen Vogue and Vogue Italia. In her spare time, Wright makes jewelry and practices reiki. “I know modeling can be more of an image-based job, but I want to get something real out of it,” she said. “I want to be an artist. That’s my true passion. To heal people and spread good vibes.”
Tell me how you got started.
I was in college, and one of my friends was like, “By the way, I think you would be a great model, and you should go to this open call.” I was 20, and at the time, I was working six days a week at a spiritual shop in a hospital, so I was very busy. When I left the casting, Jeff and Mary Clarke of Mother Model Management called me right away to come back. I’d been living on my own at the time, and I took it as a sign that life had something more in store for me.
Growing up, had it ever occurred to you that you might become a model?
I’ve always been awkwardly lanky; I was never the “hot” one. But a part of me was always like, “I’ll show you guys. I know I can do it.” So I guess life gave me an opportunity. I wanted to be a jeweler, and I still want to. I love making jewelry and art. I know how to do reiki, too. And I’m a crazy plant lady. I love nature. I want to do something with energy and plants and healing your soul….But there’s nothing in Iowa to do.
Your very first runway show was Marc Jacobs spring 2016. No big deal.
Yeah, at the Ziegfeld Theatre. Jeff and Mary Clarke were like, “You’re going to New York for fashion week.” I was like, “OK, I don’t know what that is. I’m just going to look sassy and hope that I’m doing it right.” I got lucky. I wore these cowboy boots that weren’t too hard to walk in. I felt such a rush afterward. I remember telling Jeff and Mary — they were there, of course — I said, “Am I dreaming? Is this really real?” It was such a difference from the chill, nature lifestyle I’d been living for two years.
What has modeling taught you about yourself?
Living in a model apartment is teaching me how to live with a lot of different personalities. I definitely need my alone time, my sleep and my food, or my mood gets very cranky. And my social skills have dramatically increased. I used to be a fly on the wall who would just observe everyone. I was a sheltered Iowan — I never went anywhere. The farthest I’d traveled was Mexico, with my dad, to stay in a resort. My family is excited and proud of me. They’re like, “You’re so brave.” They would never just leave and travel the world themselves and trust that something good is gonna happen.
What do you hope to accomplish?
I have a college tuition that I need to pay off. I studied liberal arts for two years and was planning to go into botany or psychology….I always knew that I would never be working the 9-to-5 office job. My personality feels so trapped that way. I love the freedom in this job, that I don’t know what will happen. So I want to pay off my tuition and make a lot of true connections. I think I can find true soul friends and a soul mate somewhere….Maybe a dark, handsome person in Spain.