Jaida King remembers the time she had to hurry backstage at Portland Fashion Week and prepare for her turn on the runway as a model. People in the audience lit up when she stepped on to the runway. The 17-year-old Grant High School junior has spent a chunk of her life modeling. It has her walking a fine line between her life as a student and her life as a model.
“You’re a kid in an adult industry,” she says. “I like to think of myself as a professional person. But you definitely can’t mess around in modeling like you do in school.”
King worked as a model since she appeared in a Fred Meyer ad at 8 months old. She signed with Option Model and Media at age 6 and modeled for print ads through elementary school.
“I actually got Jaida into modeling because I thought she was the cutest baby I’d ever seen,” says her mother, Kelley Jordan.
These days, it’s common for her to miss school to go on shoots. She stays on task at school to keep her grades up (she has a 3.3 GPA and says she has plans to go to college).
“I see myself a lot harsher,” she says. “It’s such a shallow industry and when you’re modeling, it doesn’t really matter how smart you are. It can be a lot about body image.”
She’s modeled for Reebok and Nike, along with participating in multiple runway shows. She’s even been on the cover of Portland Monthly magazine.She’s careful how she juggles time with her friends and school. She plays on Grant’s basketball team, but had to quit soccer this year to devote more time to her modeling. But for King, it’s worth it. “It’s something I am able to do, so why not do it?” she says. ◊