Photographed by Norman Allen Location: Scrub Island Resort, British Virgin Islands MUA: Akeema Crabbe Stylist: Germain Smith Cover Gown: Jamal Drummond [Admadz Fashion]
Janeisha John is a force to be reckoned with. Janeisha, proudly raised on the beautiful island of St. Croix, has spent her life learning what it means to stand in the limelight. As a model, television host, producer, and most notably the title-holder of Miss U.S Virgin Islands Universe 2010, her beauty is unfathomable, her talents unquestionable, and her positive influence on all of the Caribbean remarkable. Although inspiring, her journey in the entertainment industry has been riddled with highs, lows, and difficult decisions, but despite it all—with the guidance of her core values, the support of her community, and her determination to stay true to herself—she has always come out on top. In a recent ZOOM interview with Janeisha, she humbly sat down with Caribbean POSH magazine to give the inside scoop on her childhood, her career, and the decisions she has made that have shaped her into the success that she is today.
For those that don’t yet know you, how would you describe yourself?
Ultimately, I’m a small island girl with big-city dreams. I am extremely family-oriented and community-driven. Like, I love my home and I love my family. I’m very outspoken, very ambitious, and I’m very loving—although I can also be a little firecracker sometimes. Us island girls have very bold spirits, and I epitomize that. But all-in-all, I’m a very loving, kind person with a bold, fiery personality.
How would you describe your home?
Oh, I love home. Every time I’m flying home, I always try to grab the seat by the window that gives me the best view of the island. And I’m always that person that’s grinning from ear to ear while we’re landing because there’s this spirit that overtakes me when I’m home; it always makes me feel so, so nurtured and safe and free in a way that’s unmatched by any other place I’ve traveled to. St. Croix, and the Virgin Islands, is probably my favorite place on earth. It’s my peace and safe haven—the place where I feel most protected and loved.
Part of your home is your family and their support system. How would you describe them, and what do you love most about them?
What I love most about my parents is that they are very selfless. Growing up, they always took the time to talk to people and engage with people’s stories. And they were always so giving to everyone they encountered. They love the community, they love people, and they’re also successful entrepreneurs—which is something that I also really admire about them. My mother’s bakery—Centerline Bakery—was in business for 32 years, and my father owned one of the first music studios in the Virgin Islands—which really piqued my interest in entertainment. Overall, my parents are really great, hardworking people that have always given back to the community and have always shown love to others. Being around them and seeing their entrepreneurial spirits while seeing how they interacted with people definitely lit a fire within my siblings and I.
My sisters are my built-in best friends. Growing up, my dad always used to make us stick together. It forced us to be best friends, and with the way we protect each other and are always there for each other—I know I will always have built-in friends because of my sisters. My little sister can create a vibe out of anything, anywhere. I think that’s her superpower. I’m the talker—the chatterbox in the group—and my older sister is probably the strongest person that I know. She’s bad-ass, and one of the most resilient people I know. She brings us all together and makes us complete. My older brother and I are also really, really close, and he’s been very influential in my life. But as for my sisters, since we’re all girls, we’re a little more glued to the hip.
What is one of your most vivid memories from childhood?
One of my proudest moments from being a child, and feeling like my parents were superheroes, was during one of my dad’s annual reggae fests. My dad organized a headliner and other artists for the event, and I remember my dad making sure that we were at the front of the stage. We were so young, but they pulled my older sister and I onto the stage and we got to sing the songs along with the headliner, and it lit such a spark for my interest in entertainment. So that was a big moment. Seeing my parents put on a full production and having us be involved at such a young age onstage, it made me really proud of them. I thought to myself, “Hey, my parents are really doing it!”
Since beginning your career in entertainment, in what ways are you a different person today?
Honestly, moving to LA was probably the best decision for my career. I tried living in New York for two years, but I couldn’t do it—the weather was too cold for me. So after some deliberation, I moved to California, and I’ve grown and learned so much about the industry here—about the business side of it all. I’ve definitely become more aware of how this industry works. I understand the importance of relationships, and I understand the importance of being innovating and evolving—because entertainment is always evolving. I’ve learned that you have to be open to growth. My ultimate goal is to take everything that I have learned from the industry to share with others back home and help younger generations navigate the industry as well.
What would you say is your number one passion today?
Lately, I’ve mostly been producing and experiencing how it feels to be behind the scenes. I’m one of the few female execs on a Black-owned network, and I enjoy it; I’m happy. But if I had to pick, I would say modeling. It doesn’t matter what I do, I always find myself doing some sort of modeling. As a dancer, modeling allows me to tap into movement and art like dancing does, and posing and expressing myself in front of the camera reminds me of my passion for dance. I feel like modeling is something that I’ll be doing forever.
How would you define your look? How would you define beauty?
I definitely think that less is more. When you’re in your most natural state, you really shine through. But, you know, there are two sides to my personal style. There is very much the island girl that loves colors and loves flowy materials. That’s where you’ll find the most vibrant side of me, the colors, the playful dresses, and prints. And then there’s another side of me that’s a little more monochromatic and edgy. But a red lip is definitely my signature look. I really love my red lipstick. My friend actually forced me to try red lipstick years ago, because she was obsessed with Sex and the City. We would watch it all of the time, and there would always be these little fashion tidbits that we would take with us from the show. When I cut my hair into this short pixie cut, I decided to try it, and I’ve been wearing it ever since. It definitely takes a really confident woman to wear a red lip, especially with a short haircut like mine, so that’s my thing. And I’m a little curvy too, so I love things that are form-fitting as well. So, that’s just me. You get the fun, flirty colorful side of me, which is very much the island girl, but you also get the chic, bad-ass, red lip, walking-through-a-room-and-commanding side of me. Overall, though, I know it sounds cliché, but I think beauty comes from within. And I think the people who are most comfortable with themselves shine a positive light in the world, and they have no choice to be considered beautiful because it comes from within.
How did you feel the first time you saw yourself in a major ad campaign?
My first national ad campaign was a Malibu Red commercial featuring the artist Ne-Yo. I’d booked it within the first couple of weeks of moving to LA, and it played all around the super bowl! Everyone was blowing up my phone to say, “I saw you! I saw you!” And it was such a big deal. I was like, “Whoa, oh my God!” And it’s crazy because, around the same time, I was featured in a video with Two Chains and Pharrell, and I remember being in the shower, coming out to see a ton of messages on my phone, and freaking out! I was like, “What is going on? Did something happen?” But it was just everyone congratulating me. So between that and the Malibu Red commercial, I felt like, wow, I’m actually out here doing some of the things I said I wanted to do!
Looking back on your career, what is some advice you would give to others wishing to follow in your footsteps in a modeling career?
As for modeling, I would say to build your social media presence to best represent who you are and how you want the world to see you because a lot of agencies require you to have a large social media presence. Do a lot of research, build relationships that are important, and definitely have a strong sense of self, because then nobody can pull the wool over your eyes. There have been times where I have had to choose between a high-paying job and my moral complex, and knowing who you are, where you are coming from, and the people that you are representing helps in situations like that. Always be open to advice—advice that will help you make better decisions—never lose faith, and don’t let negativity or other people’s jaded spirits keep you from pursuing your dreams. At times in Hollywood, I would start to second-guess myself. Like why am I here? I should give up, etc., But being open to advice from instrumental people and not letting negative spirits keep me from pursuing my dreams may have helped me make better decisions then. Another big piece of advice would be to incorporate some form of self-care into your routine. Whether that’s therapy, yoga, or, my personal favorite, tea, find a way to center yourself. And finally, always be open to growth. One of my greatest failures was a point in time where I was in a losing streak of pageants—winning the first runner up three times in a row, but never the crown—and I really had to take a second to humble myself, because I had gotten a little cocky. But taking a second to pay attention to my thoughts and opinions on things helped me have a better sense of purpose and remember what my end goal was. And I can honestly say I have grown so much from that experience. So always stay grounded, be open to growth, and never lose your sense of self.