Jenna Marie

New York City-based model is one of the latest "James Girls"

Jenna MarieJenna Marie has been modeling for 17 years, but she has just recently joined a class of models known as the “James Girls,” an elite group of ladies who have posed before esteemed, and very selective, pinup photographer Mike James’ lens.

Even though being a James Girl is a prominent title to hold in the modeling industry (and being one puts you in some very good company), Jenna stands on her own merits outside being a member of that elite group.

Jenna has built up quite an impressive resume since she was “discovered” by a photographer in Boston 17 years ago, as she inadvertently, and literally, walked right into a photo shoot. The photographer for that shoot knew talent when he saw it and asked Jenna if she’s be interested in modeling. She declined, but the photographer’s persistence paid off. So, a few month later, Jenna did her first professional shoot and the rest is history.

Despite having a full plate as a model, traveling to different cities and locations for shoots, Jenna also manages to hold down a full time job outside of the modeling industry. Learn more about Jenna in this exclusive interview she did for Idol Features. All photos courtesy of Mike James. The above is entitled “Window Angel.”

Jenna Marie
“Bedroom Burlesque”
CHRIS CHARLES: As you know, I’ve done interviews with several ladies who have worked with Mike James. How did you first become acquainted with Mike?
JENNA MARIE: I believe that Mike saw me via another photographer, who asked me if I’d like to connect. I checked out Mike’s work and really loved his style, so I was happy to oblige! I wasn’t familiar with Mike’s work before our mutual connection directed me to his site, but I’ve always loved pin up. I love the art of it, and I’m also kind of a history nerd, so the fashion history; clothes, hair, makeup, is really fun for me, too! I’m also fascinated by people who have that artistic talent, so it was a no-brainer to make the connection!
CHRIS: Did you have you own ideas and concepts for your shoot you discussed with Mike beforehand?
JENNA: Well, I always bring some clothing items that I know fit me well, since my curves can sometimes take me out of the “standard” model wardrobe. I really like the “theme-y” concepts, such as holiday shots; Christmas elf, Halloween witch, Easter Bunny …those are really fun for me!
CHRIS: Did you wear any of your own wardrobe?
JENNA: Yes! I always pack a bag for my shoots with a lot of options. I know Mike and I have used some of my bikinis, some dresses, and shoes, but Mike also has an incredibly extensive collection that is really fun to go through!
CHRIS: I understand, in addition to your modeling and traveling to different locations for shoots, you hold down a regular full-time “day job”?
JENNA: Yes, I’ve modeled full time from time to time, probably eight to nine months being the longest, but I also have a full time career that I pursue. I find that I’m happiest with both. Getting to use both sides of my brain!
Jenna Marie
“Flower Girl”
CHRIS: Did you pursue modeling or sort of “fall into it”?
JENNA: When I was a kid, I wanted to model, but my family was against it. I think they were afraid that I would never get anywhere, and lose the momentum that I had already made with my studies. I always did well in school. After graduating college with my BA, I accidentally walked through someone else’s shoot in Boston ….a band from Berklee taking shots for their album cover. The band and photographer were so far apart, that I traipsed right through the middle, running errands. The photographer asked if I’d ever thought of modeling, and I politely declined. I usually say “no” to things on the sidewalk (laughs). On the way back, he convinced me to give him my e-mail and I declined again. I thought maybe this was a scam! Three months later, I heard from him again, trying one last time, and I had since moved from Boston back home to Philadelphia, but had a trip coming up for a friend’s wedding. I told him that I would give it a go, but couldn’t change my travel schedule. So, he cleared his schedule, and I did my first shoot at Revere Beach in Boston, on a chilly September morning about 17 years ago. We are still friends, and work together still, both as a model, and as a consultant for his business dealings. We just spoke last night!
CHRIS: What have been some of your most memorable photo shoots, for good or bad reasons?
JENNA: Well, being flown out to location is always nice …especially leaving New York City in the winter to head out to California or Florida beaches! I often try to schedule it that way (laughs). I’ve done some cool location shoots: on old trains, in an abandoned theater that still had the velvet curtains up, in a castle as a Medival maiden ….and I LOVE to be on a boat! I’ve been lucky to not have a lot of bad experiences, mainly because I’m careful about what work I take to start! but I’m a favorite of mosquitos, and there have been times shooting out in nature that it’s hard to keep a smile when you’re being eaten alive!
Jenna Marie
“Bikini Flirt”
CHRIS: What would you say have been your favorite and least favorite shoot locations?
JENNA: Favorite would probably be Block Island in Rhode Island. It’s a really lovely beach, and not crowded. I have a little collection of rocks and shells in my New York City apartment that I add to each time I go there. Least favorite; that’s probably weather-based. Sometimes in the fall and winter, there’s no heat where we are, and even though the photos may come out lovely, my teeth are chattering and I can’t wait to put sweatpants on and get inside!
CHRIS: Besides Mike James, who have been some of your favorite photographers to work with?
JENNA: Oh, 17 years ….that’s a tough question! I have a lot of regulars that I’ve been working with for a long time, and I wouldn’t want to start a list and forget anyone. But I will say, that for many, it’s not just a shoot day, but a chance to catch up and check in, it’s a lovely day, and we get great images at the end. I’m very grateful for the friends I’ve met along the way! I think that the work gets better each time.
CHRIS: I won’t ask for names, but have you worked with any photographers you would never work with again?
JENNA: Yes, although most of that does not come to fruition in the first place. I’m very careful in the planning phase to ensure that we are both aware of my boundaries, and in agreement about the end-product. Same thing on if there is any rudeness or pushiness. I don’t only do this as a job, to get paid, but I want to enjoy the day, so if I don’t think that I’m going to, I’m very comfortable saying no to the booking and doing something else with my time instead! I’ve also worked with photographers that insist on bringing up controversial topics where it’s clear we disagree, when I’m at a shoot, I’m there to do my job, not to get into political debates that are unpleasant! So in those instances, I haven’t gone back.
Jenna Marie
“Trick or Treat”
CHRIS: I’ve seen several shots of you on motorcycles. Do you ride a motorcycle?
JENNA: I’ve never driven a motorcycle myself, but you’re right, I’m often put on a bike! (laughs) I did ride them quite often though during my time in the Peace Corps. I served in the Dominican Republic from 2008-2010 doing environmental work alone in a small interior village. No relying on electricity, running water, and no cell service! In a lot of other countries, especially in mountainous terrain, that’s the easiest, and most affordable, way to get around! I think it’s really fun! They have rental motor scooters in New York City, and I’m thinking of getting a subscription!
CHRIS: Are you into cosplay or have you ever done any shoots dressed as a particular character?
JENNA: So I love the idea of cosplay, but I just don’t have all the costumes. I would love for someone to dress me up as different characters though. I was Black Widow for Halloween once, and once did a shoot as Velma from Scooby Doo. Doing something from Avatar would be SO cool!
CHRIS: Do you have any plans to branch out to acting or any other avenues of show biz?
JENNA: Acting has never really been for me. I’ve done a handful of things, but that’s mostly because the project has been for a friend. I’m usually asking if I have to study lines! I’ve always enjoyed choreography with a group. I was a cheerleader for a long time and I do promo work, as well. But modeling, for me, feels like less of a performance, and more of a creative expression. Akin to painting, maybe, or setting an image like a sculptor. Although I’ve been told that the way I pose is very dance-like, when I get in the groove and flow through.
Jenna Marie
“Stuck Inside”
CHRIS: Unless you have something small, in an inconspicuous place that I haven’t seen, you don’t have any tattoos. In today’s seemingly tattoo-obsessed modeling industry, where many ladies have something somewhere, why have you chosen to remain ink free?
JENNA: Well, my eyebrows are tattooed, because they’re pretty blonde otherwise! (laughs). I don’t have any actual tattoos though – for a long time, it’s been easier for me to get work without them, and I also never felt a strong need for anything in particular, so I took that as a sign. But I do have a birthday coming up at the end of the year (Scorpio!), and I’ve been toying with getting something that a bikini would cover. Something floral or botanical, light and pretty. We’ll see.
CHRIS: Do you have any hobbies or skills that only those close to you would know about?
JENNA: Hmm, well, I can make it through the entire day walking Manhattan from one end to the other in heels – some say that’s a talent! I’m an avid reader – I’m always in the midst of a book, and right now it’s Our Hideous Progeny by C.E. McGill, It’s a novel about the great-niece of Victor Frankenstein, trying to make her way as a female scientist in the 1850s ….a twisty Gothic adventure. I picked it up on a shoot trip in Virginia in a cute independent bookstore in Alexandria three weeks ago. Otherwise, you’ll probably find me in the gym!
CHRIS: With that, I’ll thank you again for doing this, Jenna. In closing, any shout-outs to anyone?
JENNA: A thank you to Mike for the connection, and all our lovely shoots and conversations. I’m looking forward to this summer’s meet-up!

Jenna Marie
“Relaxing Rock”
Jenna Marie

Thank you to Mike James of Azimuth Designs.

About the author

Editor-in-Chief at // More articles

Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Chris flirted with the music business there and in Nashville before joining the U.S. Army and serving in South Korea. He remained in Asia for several years afterwards, teaching English, traveling, and covering the regional entertainment scenes. Currently in a mindset between Seoul and San Francisco, besides Idol Features, you can also catch his writings in the print edition of the monthly magazine, Effective.

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