Jewell Negin: Becoming the First Persian-American Maxim Model

Jewell was born and raised in Tehran, Iran in 1989. As a member of a highly educated and secular family,  from an early age she questioned the restrictions imposed by Islamic dogma on women in Iran. Her natural curiosity and a desire to live in a free society, eventually led her to leave Iran. Cognizant of the fact that sacrifices need to be made to fulfill a destiny, she said goodbye to her beloved family and embarked on her life journey at the age of 19. Her next chapter began when she moved to Los Angeles and obtained her B.A. at the Otis Parsons College of Art and Design. Negin is currently employed at a Law firm and is considering obtaining a Law Degree so she can better serve her cause. Negin is fluent in English and Persian and has a working proficiency in Arabic and French. Jewell Negin is the title holder of Miss Iran 2017 and Ms. Bel Air 2017. She hopes to be the first Persian-American Maxim model.

Ever since I was little girl, I dreamed of becoming a super-model and actress. Growing up in the Islamic dogma of Iran, I didn’t have the privilege to train and work as a model due to the strict Islamic rules and regulations concerning hijab.

In Iran, women are not allowed to expose their body and hair, and can even get arrested if they are photographed without their hijab. These rules could also apply to any Iranian woman living abroad. My main concern as in Iranian model was having to risk living in exile due to neglecting the Islamic rules.

In early 2012, with the emergence of social media conglomerates such as Facebook and Instagram, I was contacted by multiple brands and photographers who asked me to model for them. I did a couple of photo-shoots,  but I was too worried to of public exposure and risking my chance of being able to return to Iran.

It wasn’t until 2015 when I decided that I had to take the risk and follow my calling. I had my very first professional photo-shoot with Teresa Koehler, a highly accredited photographer based in Los Angeles. The experience itself was so incredible that I knew I had to risk it all for my passion.

Since then, I have modeled for many clothing brands such as Noell Clothing, Sherri Hill, Terani Couture, Avnah Collection, Vauje Jewelry and La Maison de Fashion.I have also been featured in music videos with well known rappers such as Snoop Dog and the famous Russian Pop singer Nyusha. I have also worked on TV shows such as The Mindy Project and The Mick.

In 2017 I decided to expand my modeling career by competing in Beauty Pageants in order to create a platform to empower women and promote human rights. I won my very first pageant with Samira’s Network, Royal International Beauty Pageant as Miss Iran 2017. A couple months later, I was crowned Ms. Bel Air 2017 with Toay’s Production. I will be competing in October 2017 for the title of Ms. California.

My journey has been wonderful ride with many ups and downs. My advice to anyone who is just starting out is to stay consistent and strong. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that success is not achievable. Don’t let any negative comments stop you in your path. When I started out, I was told I was too fat, too short and too old to model and act. Those are hateful comments and lies, and they serve as no positive purpose. There is a market for everyone with their unique features in this industry. Stay persistent and positive, and focus on your goal… I promise you will achieve it, as this was my mantra through my most challenging times.

Inspired by great Iranian woman activists and artists like Shirin Ebadi, Shohreh Aghdashloo and Shirin Neshat, I decided to use my art in order to provoke change in Islamic rules when it comes to women. Using an arsenal of artistic modus operandi, I paint, dance, model, write and shoot photos to promote my cause. My work has been featured on VVV Magazine, Remark Magazine, Volition Magazine and I have designed couture clothing for a runway show with Juan Juan Salon in Beverly Hills, California. I have also volunteered for a number of art galleries with a primary focus on Ben Maltz Gallery and LACE. I continue to dedicate my life to pave the way for Iranian women, in hopes of creating a nation in which women are treated as equal to their male counterparts. My hope is to be the voice of Muslim women around the world and to bring awareness to women of all ages, religions and nationalities, to inspire men and women to stand up for their beliefs and to strive to create a better future for all.

Being featured in Maxim has definitely the highlight of my career so far. It’s such an iconic magazine and being a part of it is a major milestone for me. I hope to be voted as Maxim’s Finest, as it would send a strong signal of empowerment to women around the world, who come from a similar background as me. My mission is to inspire women no matter where they are born to break out of their chains of oppression, pursue their dreams and realize their full potential as 21st century women.

My future goals include supporting non-profits organizations that empower women, such as the United Nations and Malala Fund. I would love to start my own nonprofit campaign to help women seeking for a chance at a new life and spread the message that it can be done! My mission is to encourage women that they no longer need to be a victim of circumstances and can become masters of their own destiny.