For our debut digital issue, we connected with rising star Jordyn Woods about her humble upbringing, her rise to fame, the journey to accept her body and how the death of her father inspired her to live.
It’s almost noon in LA, in the canicular days of late August, and sweltering heat consumes the Hollywood Hills. Jordyn Woods is lounging at her dining room table clad in a tank top and sweats – exactly the sporty ensemble you’d expect the stylish social media influencer to be wearing. Purring to her left is Pumpkin – a black and orange feline with its own Instagram page. The soft-spoken model, who makes her debut in the forthcoming BET film Trigger, scans the room and takes in the picturesque view of the mountains. Her chest inflates with pride. Her home is her fortress from the clamorous Internet; a sanctuary built on the very foundation from which she often seeks refuge.
Flying over those peaks is an eagle, or a hawk, perhaps a condor or maybe a Falcon. At least once a day, some sort of big bird swoops past her window and reminds her of her late father John Woods — a former sound engineer who worked behind the scenes on the set of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
Despite her proximity to wealth, Jordyn experienced a modest working class upbringing with three siblings — a younger sister Jodie Woods and two brothers John Woods and John Woods III — in LA. She didn’t bequeath a fortune. Her mother was no socialite. She did, however, inherit her father’s work ethic with an addendum — she would play even harder.
At 22-years-old, Jordyn is the breadwinner of her family. Managed by her vivacious mother, Elizabeth a.k.a “Lizzie,” Jordyn has parlayed her social media fame and Hollywood connections into a lucrative brand.
Jordyn Woods is allergic to cats. Our candid conversation via Zoom begins with her mother recalling the moment she discovered Pumpkin at an animal shelter in Agoura when times were more normal prior to the COVID 19 pandemic. She swooped in ahead of 25 hopeful customers who had their eye on making the puss their new fluffy friend and declared the kitty a new member of the Woods family.
“I never in a million years imagined myself having a cat,” says Jordyn with a laugh. “I had a cat when I was in kindergarten, but besides that, I just never imagined in my own adult life having a cat. But now I can’t imagine not coming home to seeing what Pumpkin has done to the house.”
Symbolically, cats represent independence and rebirth. And who are we kidding? They’re so damn cute. The real star of that story, however, is her ebullient and witty mother from whom Jordyn clearly gets her charm and beauty. Like most MOMagers, Elizabeth is protective of her daughter and the empire they’ve built together.
Two days prior to our chat, Jordyn made headlines after she posted a mom-approved clip from her lymphatic drainage massage to social media. The video garnered thousands of views and spawned countless reactions from male fans who described her curves as “thicker than gorilla exhibit glass.”
Jordyn has a rigorous workout regimen, to which her mother quickly attests.
“Do you not understand how hard my girl goes in the gym?” mama Woods proudly interjects. “I think it’s hilarious when we go out to Nobu and then a headline is ‘Jordyn Woods and her mom debut their matching new butt implants.’”
“If you look at my grandma, if you look at my aunt, this ass is genetic,” Jordyn adds.
With her buxom body on display, I imagine her DMs look like a scene out of the bachelorette.
“I don’t want to call anyone specifically out. But I will say I have been seeing so many blue checkmarks in my DM’s,” she gleefully admits. “But I didn’t answer anyone. It was going pretty crazy. Even the tweets — it’s very flattering. I just don’t feed into it.”
She’s flattered but unphased, to say the least.
“I think that unfortunately for these guys, there’s something new every single week. Of course, when you see a video like that you’re going to be interested. But I don’t think they are really interested in me. They’re just interested in the video. The clout of it or the hype. And just to say that they did it. And I’m not going to give that to you.”
Our dialogue shifts onto the current social climate as racial tensions flare during the COVID 19 pandemic.
“Black women are the most disrespected and the most overlooked and it’s obvious. The Breonna Taylor situation— that’s a prime example. And it’s just something that you deal with as life comes to you. And you make sure you stand your ground and you don’t let anyone tell you that you’re crazy or your ideas are too much. That you can’t do anything.
“I love the skin I’m in. It’s so powerful. It’s so beautiful. And I wish that we could embrace that more.
“People want to just try to bring you down every day. Just based off your appearance. And they don’t understand that even though we might be the most disregarded and disrespected, we are just as powerful. And even now seeing—which I haven’t fully dove into it–but seeing Kamala Harris being potentially in the office, that says a lot for the way that culture is headed towards viewing Black women.”
With 11.6 million followers on Instagram, the Trigger actress is no stranger to criticism and developed thick skin over the years. “I’ve had people comment on my body since I was ten years old,” she avows nonchalantly. “You can’t help but sometimes let certain comments get to you, and we are all human so, of course, some days are better than others but I mean, it is what it is. You have to realize that God made you this way for a reason.”
“You’re given this body and your individuality is your superpower, your gift.”
Jordyn has long been working on building her self-esteem. With such a large following, she faces constant scrutiny over every aspect of her life.
“It’s crazy how behind the Internet, people can be so loud but they would never say that to your face.”
How does she cope with the unwanted opinions of Internet trolls? “It took me understanding what I said before about my individuality to really gain my confidence. And it’s still something I work on every single day. But if you’re happy with you, it doesn’t really matter what anyone else says. For me, fitness became a therapy for me after losing my dad.”
John Woods worked with Will Smith for many years, which would lead to Jordyn forming a friendship with the entire Smith family. Mr. Woods passed away in 2017 just two weeks after being diagnosed with cancer.
Jordyn posted a tribute to her father on social media, captioning a photo of the Harley Davidson lover, “Last night heaven Got Another angel. My Daddy. Just two short weeks ago he was diagnosed with cancer and by that time it was too late. I appreciate everyone’s kind words and it means the world to me. It still doesn’t feel real. Forever and Always.”
“My dad loved to ride motorcycles and Harley Davidson was his thing and their logo and what symbolizes them are big eagle birds and so any time—being on top of a hill you always see big birds flying in the air, looking for whatever they’re trying to get. So anytime I see that, which is, you know, at least probably once a day, it reminds me of him,” she softly reminisced.
Elizabeth has witnessed both her husband and her daughter’s sacrifice. “With her father not being here now—every time I go [to her house], I tell her, ‘Your dad is so proud right now.’”
While Jordyn admires her father for working tirelessly to provide for his family, his untimely death was a reminder to live life more abundantly.
“The sad reality of it is my dad worked so hard every day, just to die essentially. And I know it sounds harsh. I fully believe in saving, and I fully believe in having a retirement plan but also there’s a lot of time where people don’t get to see that. And that also taught me to live life to the fullest and if you want it just do it. Don’t worry too much about trying to save too much or being scared. Just go and live, tomorrow is not promised. When you lose someone in the way that I did, it puts a lot of things into perspective.”
In Jordyn’s opinion, one of the biggest misconceptions about her is that she hasn’t earned her fame. “A lot of people are like, ‘What does she even do? She doesn’t even do anything.’” And for me, I don’t have to justify what I do to anyone. Nor do I have to prove anything. But I work my ass off every day and I do a lot—just because I don’t advertise every time I’m working or doing something doesn’t mean that I’m not doing it.”
Jordyn most recently announced her foray into acting and music after being unmasked as the kangaroo on the popular singing competition The Masked Singer and landing a leading role in BET’s upcoming TV movie Trigger (Among other business ventures with FrstPlace, Easilocks, Eylure, BooHoo, and SECNDNTURE to name a few).
“Every job that you take is a learning experience. And it was awesome working with such vets on a movie, like Wesley, and Flex. Every director, every production has their own style, and with Trigger, it felt like a boot camp–the hours we were working, the way we were shooting, trying to get everything done. I really just look at it as one big learning experience. We all kind of became a family on set, and it was a lot of fun. But people get deceived on how much work acting really is.”
As for playtime, Jordyn takes every opportunity she can to flex her competitive spirit. “Every single day, the way I live I just wake and say ‘what can I do today,’ especially if I’m not working. I‘m very competitive. I love learning new things and I’m actually a lot more athletic than people think. So, I’m always trying a new sport or new game or trying something like tennis or golf–anything that I can do in Covid.
“The other day I just learned. I took a course on guns. I wanted to educate myself on the laws that existed in my state, and I wanted to see how easy or difficult it was to be registered to own a gun. So I took the course, I took the test. I actually passed so I am now legally authorized. Don’t fuck with me. That’s all.”
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Talent: Jordyn Woods (@JordynWoods)
Senior Content Director, Women’s Division: Brande Victorian (@Be_Vic)
Deputy Editor: Shamika Sanders (@Shamika_Sanders)
Cover Story: Shamika SandersPhoto: Antwon Maxwell (@antwonmaxwellphotography)
Hair: Mariama Dashiell (@beautybymariama)
MUA: Alexander Echeverri (@mua.alexander)
Styling: Shatora Adrell (@shatora.adrell)
Creative Direction & Production: Handz Dirty PR (@handzdirtypr)
Location: Zevarra Lofts (@zevarralofts)
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***Cover Story*** Jordyn Woods: Working Hard And Playing Harder was originally published on hellobeautiful.com