Check out our interview with Sports Illustrated Swim Search finalist model Gigi Robinson.
Out of the thousands of submissions, Gigi gained the attention of the famed Sports Illustrated editor, MJ Day when she posted her submission via LinkedIn. The Gen Z, patient advocate, scholar, creator, model, and host of the “Everything You Need Is Within” Podcast, Gigi is poised to use her platform to help other suffering from mental health, chronic illness and body image. She has delt body image and mental health, all while suffering from Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, a connective tissue disorder, but has not let this stop her from achieving her dream on being featured in Sports Illustrated Swim!
Hi Gigi, please tell us a little about you?
Thanks again, absolutely! I am a 24-year-old born and raised New Yorker, BFA grad and MS student at USC. Gen Z Chronic Illness advocate, public speaker and digital creator. I spend my time speaking to colleagues, companies, and people around the globe about mental health, chronic illness, and confidence.
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Vivacious, Passionate and Dedicated!
Who is your role model?
There are a lot of people that are my role models, and I am lucky enough to have landed myself in the rooms where they are and often.
How did you get started into the business?
I simply got started by submitting myself to casting calls and shooting as much as I could through UGC brand partnerships that I was already technically “modeling” in.
How has this changed your life?
Having the opportunity to meet and work with so many different people along the way has certainly helped me continue to grow and work with amazing brands daily. It also reminds me that anything is possible.
How and when did you start into modeling?
I began modeling professionally during the pandemic; as beauty standards began to change more companies were willing to include someone outside of a fitting model in campaigns as well as people who have purpose and represent certain communities.
Where or when did you find the love for this?
I found love for modeling through photography and learning how to pose.
What is fun and rewarding about modeling? And what is not?
The most rewarding part is seeing the final product, always! I also LOVE meeting the crew along the way, the only challenging downside is usually long and early work hours!
Can you name a few of the brands you are working or have worked with?
I have loved working with JC Penney and their adaptive line! I have also loved working with Bumble because they put women at the forefront of their marketing, it’s in our hands to make the first move, confidently!
Now tell us about your experience with Sports Illustrated and the feeling of being a Swim Search finalist? That’s amazing. Big congrats
Thanks so much, it was such a fun experience. I entered Swim Search because I wanted to see chronically ill people represented in the magazine and in the media in general. Just because you’re struggling and visibly doesn’t mean that things aren’t hard and that you’re not in pain. I wanted to be a person that can represent that. Also, getting in the 2022 Swim Search was something that I think a lot of people thought was untouchable, but I also think that because I did it makes it possible for other people!!
What did you learn from your biggest failure?
I try not to think of the times that I fail miserably, however about a year ago I started to write my book. I got about 40,000 words into research before I realized that it just wasn’t the right time for me to be writing my book and then I needed to take a break. This was really important for me because it taught me about time management, boundaries and also realizing that there’s going to be another time to write a book and hopefully to land a larger book deal and do it the right way.
The most important thing when you are shooting is?
The most important thing to do when you’re shooting is to always be flexible and work with the crew on set, communicate and be confident! If you’re not feeling confident in and out there or with the makeup, pretend. Your job is to work with the camera and the team on that as best as you can! Also, bring a little bit of your personality and as always have fun.
What’s your advice for the newer models and influencers?
I would give the same advice to anyone trying something new, keep going, practice every day and eventually you will be able to teach others. Also, always be kind and make sure you’re not working whenever you can! And lastly, have fun.
Tell us about your podcast “Everything You Need Is Within?”
“Everything You Need is Within” a show that is by Gen Z and made for Gen Z. This show started as a passion project but now I know it is so much more.
When did you decide to create your own podcast?
I first started “Everything You Need is Within” back in 2020, it’s been a long ride, but I’ve officially been with Spotify Live for a year now.
What is different from your podcast to other podcasts?
My show is actually a live talk show that I create with Spotify Live as a weekly contributor, I manifested this show. The idea for this was conceived back in 2020 when I saw that there was a need for conversations around mental health from influencers. So often we are looked at as the people who are just posting to get attention, the new kind of celebrity culture. I want to create a space where creators could talk about their mental health journey alongside their journey of success. Additionally, everything is from a Gen Z perspective and is created to make the listener feel like they’re adding to the conversation with me and my guests.
How often do you release new content?
We’ve historically released new content live on our show every week and we also released and archived podcast episodes of the show every single week. Long story short, we release content twice a week.
What do you think is the secret to having a successful podcast?
I think the secret to having a successful podcast is a process of trial and error, it’s about figuring out what type of guests work, what topics work, and simply what you like talking about. If you’re doing what you love, people will eventually become invested.
When you started your Social Media accounts, did you expect such success?
When I first started posting on social media, I never was interested in becoming an influencer as my full-time career. I definitely fell into this, and I’m really happy that I did. I found success as I started sharing more and more about my experience with chronic illness and advocating for myself as a student while living with a chronic illness. After that, it was just kind of evidence as I dabbled with talking about confidence on line two.
What do you think is the secret to having a successful site/social media channel?
I think the most successful thing that you can do as a content creator or business owner with social media channels is having a very clear brand mission and understanding your values. It’s not only about what you’re producing, but also about the audience that you’re attracting and the content that you’re consuming which all together are the golden trifecta of having a successful social media.
What mindsets helped make you so successful? What do you think is the secret to having a successful IG account?
Knowing that not everyone is going to love my content was so important because it helped me create content specifically for certain audiences, recent grads and college students, people dealing with chronic illness and body Image issues. Understanding your “why” is imperative to success. Also, not being afraid to have bad days when the algorithm changes, when a new feature is rolled out, when you reveal something new or shocking online, people are always going to change what they’re interested in and sometimes you are on the chopping block, other times you are a brand-new shiny piece of food.
As a popular model and influencer, you are followed by so many people. How do you feel about that pressure of always doing the right thing, and encouraging people to follow their dreams?
There’s a number of ways that this can be interpreted, I don’t think that there is a pressure of always doing the right thing. There is definitely something about having a career on social media that is geared towards always doing the right thing, but we’re human and we make mistakes. So, when you do make a mistake, owning it and apologizing instead of deflecting and doing nothing is the most important thing you can do. I always encourage people to tangibly and intentionally follow their dreams by having a plan in place.
What would you say are the greatest lessons you learned so far?
Some of the greatest lessons are to trade expectations for appreciation. This way you are always appreciative of the good times and of what comes out of any situation instead of expecting it. I have also learned that people are not always the same as their internet personalities and you just have to be okay with that. A lot of times I think it’s better to like somebody in person and then be okay with an ordeal with their internet personality versus enjoying their internet personality and meeting them in person and having it not necessarily be what you expect it to be.
Any advice to entrepreneurs out there?
I would tangibly make sure that I had an action plan for each step of the way, making a business plan, and in that plan having many different goals in mind have a low ball, a target, and the high reaching goal for revenue and delta road map to get there. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help and always think big.
What book should every entrepreneur read?
One of the most recent books that I have enjoyed has been “Breath” by James Nestor. I really enjoyed this book especially because I find it hard to relax and find alone time because I’m always thinking about my business and trying to move it forward. This book forced me to spend time on myself while I read it, but also to be more aware of it in the future.
If you are a book, what would be the title of the book and why?
My book title would be “Do Today What Others Don’t So that Tomorrow, You Can Do What Others Can’t”, it’s my mantra!
What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?
Probably saying no to a lot of things because of my health. With Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, every day is different, and I often push myself too much which ends up resulting in me feeling worse later on. So, as a responsible, 24-year-old woman, I really try my best to limit myself to only 3 days in the city and three days working from home, with one day of rest. I have to set these boundaries for myself so my physical health can be the best it can be since I can only manage my symptoms.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
The most rewarding part of my work is the community that I have built and the people that I have met along the way. I love every single person that I have met because of what they have contributed to my life as well as how I can contribute and be a mentor to them.
What advice would you give to your younger self and why?
I would tell my younger self to continue to work hard at what I love every single day and to be more confident at a younger age. There’s no reason why you should stay shy, you should be able to be authentically yourself which usually is when you’re at your most confident which is also learned over time, so I don’t hold it against myself. Also, be okay relaxing. And it takes a lot of time to do it!
What is your favorite food?
My favorite food would have to be nachos, there’s this amazing vegan Mexican restaurant in New York City called Jajaja and I highly recommend it because they have the best nachos.
How would you explain your fashion style?
My fashion style is very New York, I have a lot of neutral black, white cream and gray in my closet. I also have been really interested in getting into color, so I’ve been doing a lot of statement outfits with just one color.
How would your best friend describe you?
I think that my friends would describe me as quirky, kooky and the life of the party. I definitely always have something fun to do with my friends and rarely does it involve relaxing.
What’s next for Gigi Robinson in 2022?
My dream would be to land a book deal with a major publishing house so that I could help others learn how to advocate for themselves on a global scale. I’m also really interested in doing more hosting or on are opportunities where I am interviewing people live.
What is your own definition of happiness?
Happiness is being around people who help you feel your best.
How is a normal day in your life?
A normal day in my life is typically waking up around or before 8:00 in the morning, making a large iced coffee with almond milk, going for a walk to the park with my dog, coming back and starting to answer emails. Then by noon I typically have to start getting ready to go to an event in the city or record some virtual interviews for podcasts or four journalists and then after that I end up heading to the city to go to an event and grab dinner and then come home and go to bed around midnight.
What is your idea of a perfect Sunday?
The perfect Sunday would be waking up around 8:00 or 9:00, making coffee, going for a walk, and then catching up on my homework so that I don’t have to be stressed out during the week. I really enjoy making sure that I get everything that I need to get done from the week before or the coming week is done on the weekend.
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
I would love to meet Blake Lively or Lizzo. I think that both of these women are incredibly talented and have paved ways for people after that.
Best advice ever given?
The best advice that has ever been given to me would be to keep going. There’s always going to be new things that you can focus on and pour your energy into instead of getting hung up on something not going as planned.
Do you support any charity?
Yes, there are a lot of different causes that I care about but mental health for teenagers is one of the first things that I had an interest in supporting. I’ve worked with the JED foundation and I’m super excited to be a supporter of their cause.
Name 3 things you can’t live without.
3 things I can’t live without, are iced almond milk lattes, breathwork, and my dog!
Where do you see yourself and your career in 5 years from now?
I think in 5 years I would have one or two books written, a TV show or a movie. I definitely want to get into directing and storytelling on a greater level than just social media and public speaking.
Favorite song? Why?
One of my favorite songs is “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by The Rolling Stones. The title speaks for itself, but the lyric goes on to say that “if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need”. Meaning that you don’t always get exactly what you want but if you work for it enough you got exactly what you need which is usually a lesson.
What music do you like?
I really love all music; I’ve been into a lot of indie artists like Rex Orange County and some pop country singers like Kelsea Ballerini. I’ve also been a lover of classic rock forever.
What do you think of Social Media?
I think that social media is a modern way to connect with people who have common interests with you as well as people that may be inspired by you. I think that it is a tremendous business tool, and it should be taught, the same way that you might learn about accounting.
Where can we follow you?
Quote: “Do today what others won’t so that tomorrow you can do what others can’t.”
Favorite Singer/Artist: The Rolling Stones
Movie: The Star Wars Saga
Travel Destination: Cabo
Sports Team: NY Rangers
Tv Show: “Schitt’s Creek” or “New Girl “
Book: 100 Essays that will change the way you think
Photo Credit: Sophie Sahara