Jourdan Dunn Talks Overcoming Life’s Biggest Obstacles

Model Jourdan Dunn, 25, is no stranger to strength: She became a mom at 19 to son Riley (now 6), who battles with sickle cell anemia; she was the first African-American model to land on Forbes' Highest Earning Models list; and she's candidly spoken out against the lack of diversity within the fashion industry. For her latest endeavor, Dunn has partnered with #ActuallySheCan (Allergan's female-empowerment campaign) as the face of its inspirational and motivational tanks. Available on for $32, a majority of the proceeds from the sale of the items will go to Academy Women.
Photo: Courtesy of ActuallySheCan.
"It's all about empowering women to go out and achieve their goals, big or small," Dunn said of her affinity for the #ActuallySheCan movement. "And I'm all for that; I'm all for a movement that inspires women to get out there and do what they want to do. I feel like we always have an excuse to not do things." Often, that's easier said than done. Below, Dunn proves that it is possible to "turn the negative into positive and embrace change, take that leap, and make things happen."

Tell me about the most difficult life obstacles you've had to overcome.
"The first one would probably be — it may sound so simple — just being happy and loving yourself; that took a while. Growing up, I was very self-conscious of the way I looked and really didn't like what I saw in the mirror. But it's all about reprogramming the negative thoughts you have about yourself and looking at the positives. "The second would probably be when I found out I was pregnant with my son, and hearing people being negative about that — that discourages you. [Since having him,] I learned to have patience; you have to have patience when you're dealing with kids, and that helps with my job. There's so much madness going on on set, and now I'm patient with all of that. All the small stuff that we normally stress and worry about doesn't even compare to the bigger picture. And for me, the bigger picture is my son. All the little things I used to stress about when I was younger within my career — like 'Oh I didn't get that show,' or, 'This casting director doesn't like me,' or, 'Why didn't I get this or that?' — I realized now are really nothing."
Photo: Courtesy of ActuallySheCan.
These shirts featuring empowering message. Do you have one motto you tell yourself?
"The shirt that says, 'Less drama, more karma.' I feel like I live by that. We overthink things and make a big deal about things — be we need to just take a breather, chill out, and realize it's going to be all good." Are there any women you look up to as inspiration?
"Growing up, I never really looked up to a celebrity. It was always the women in my family: my mom, my great-grandmother, my mother. I saw them working different jobs and not complaining and just getting it done. I was like, 'I can only hope and wish to be half the women that they are.' "Now, [I look up to] people like Victoria Beckham — I love that she's a mother and a businesswoman — and obviously Beyoncé. I love everything she stands by. Even my friends, Cara [Delevingne] and Karlie [Kloss]. Every time I'm with Karlie, she inspires me. She's so young and she's achieved so much. She's just an amazing person."

On the flip side, what is it like to be a role model to young girls?
"It's kind of scary. I try not to think about it, because at the end of the day, I'm still human and I'm still trying to figure out my life. But I know girls look up to me. I just want them to learn to love themselves, that it's okay to make mistakes, that it's okay if something doesn't work out. You just have to go over those little bumps in the road to get where you want to go."

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