TSL: You attended California State University, Northridge on a basketball scholarship. We had no idea over here that you were such a sports enthusiast. What else might your fans be surprised to know about you?
JS: I wasn’t actually planning on going to college and then I registered late and my dad went down and asked if I could try out for the basketball team because I had been playing basketball my whole life and had done really well. They told me to go down and try out and I did and was made a part of the team. I was on the team, but didn’t get to play for the next four seasons (one year) but it was great because I didn’t have to miss out on a full year that way.
TSL: Your androgynous look was what initially paved the way to your famous introduction to fashion mogul Calvin Klein. How did that come about?
JS: I wasn’t really planning to do that as a career and was definitely caught off-guard. I wasn’t really prepared and didn’t even have a passport or anything! I had to pack up a small bag, go to New York, get a passport, and then the rest is history. The next week I was on a plane to Milan on my way to meeting Gianni Versace.
TSL: I imagine you have many interesting stories under your proverbial belt regarding that time in your life as a young model.
JS: Oh, yeah [laughs]. I have many, many stories. When I look back in hindsight, I can definitely see that I never said “no” and I never turned anything down that scared me. I took the opportunity to do everything. I made myself available for the projects that came along and never let fear get in the way.
Out model Jenny Shimizu was famously discovered while working as a mechanic in California. It's been two decades since she's become a well-known face, and she's taken on major ad campaigns, acting, a judging role on reality TV and a fashion line. Now Shimizu is going behind-the-scenes to become an agent at Women Direct Modeling Agency.
Shimizu recently took the time to answer our questions about her new career path, which she happens to have a lot of experience in already.
AfterEllen: What made you decide to make the jump from talent to agent? Jenny Shimizu: As an agent, I kind of get to bring together the best choices I've made; I have a wealth of information about this business and moved back to New York a year ago and had opportunity to learn how to become an agent. Initially I wasn't sure it was going to be a proper fit; the business is very difficult on both sides. I'm really glad i did it though, because just the fact that I can pass on everything I've ever learned about the fashion business and work with people I have connections with from being a model and now I am getting my girls to work for them.
AE: When do you start at Women Direct? JS: I became an agent as of January, which, it usually takes two to three years before you start booking clients but I was really on the fast track because of my history of being a model so my connections worked out and I was able to move up really quickly; it only took about six months.
Tell me about Women Direct and what made you choose this agency over others. JS: Women Direct is a really great company and very respectable. They are one of the top agencies in New York so I have a lot of ties with this company already; so very familiar. They are also a smaller "boutique" agency, which I really like.