“I have a 50-pound hiking backpack and my normal little backpack, and that’s it. That’s everything.” To call Jessica Wall a low–maintenance woman is an understatement. The eldest of six kids (“I’m great at sharing rooms with people,” she says), Jessica can also do a great deal of actual maintenance, thanks in part to her contractor dad. “I grew up working for him. I can paint a straight line with both hands,” she says. “I know how to drywall and mud, all that stuff.” Perhaps that’s why the all-American beauty—whose lush brows and aqua-green gaze bring to mind a young Brooke Shields—has a raw, unfussy appeal. She’s not afraid to get her hands dirty.
Jessica’s passion for paint goes far beyond the hardware store. “I’m in love with oil paints,” she says. “Art is an expression of emotion, and we all have a visceral connection to color. I think my hands covered in paint is one of my favorite things.” Another favorite? Learning. “Do you want to teach me how to box? Rock climb? Cook something? I’m a sponge.” Growing up, Jessica didn’t have big dreams of being a model, but her fifth-grade teacher’s wife was represented by Ford Models and recommended she visit their office. “I’m from the Midwest, so I was like, ‘Ford? The car company?’ I walked in, the agent took a picture of me, and five minutes later I had a contract.”
The nomadic life of a model suits Jessica’s up-for-anything attitude. “I meet people walking down the street, on trains, in Ubers. If you come up to me, my reaction is ‘Tell me your story. Where are you from? Tell me everything.’ I want to connect with other human beings. Let’s enjoy life.”
Perhaps that’s why Jessica has never needed to use a dating app. For her, it’s pretty simple: “Say hi to me. Just start a conversation!” She’ll give anyone a fair shot—as long as you know how to kiss. “Nothing is happening past there. Can you talk? Do you understand hygiene? Can you kiss? Okay, let’s go.”
Phrases like salt of the earth come to mind when describing Jessica, but she doesn’t much concern herself with others’ opinions. “I don’t really gauge myself by what other people think of me. I don’t have time for fake stuff in my life. I’ve seen too much real life.”
Everyone has their own journey. If you run into hard patches in life, it changes you. It’s important to get brushed up by life every once in a while. Those challenges make you a better person, someone who’s able to relate to others. Challenges give your life more color, feeling and emotion than it would otherwise have.
SUBSTANCE OVER STYLE
When it comes to men, I go for personality over looks. Since I got into modeling, I’ve realized looks mean nothing. I want to be with someone I can talk to—someone I can laugh with, share experiences with and be like, “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe we just did that!”
I don’t care if you’re weird. I’m a weirdo too. Weird is good, interesting. Who wants to be normal?
I never know my schedule until the day before, so I roll with what’s happening and say, “You know what? I’m going to make the best of every situation that comes my way.”
I can’t date anyone I’m not comfortable with. I’m already very comfortable in my own skin, so you need to be on the same level. I shouldn’t be second-guessing myself when I’m out with you.
When I was younger, I was -really shy, like stick-my-face-in-a-book, don’t-talk-to-anyone shy. It was hard for me to talk to people and for them to talk to me. So I learned how to listen. It taught me how to walk into a room, see who’s on edge, who’s uncomfortable, and go up to that -person and say, “Hi, how are you? What’s your day like? What’s -happening?” Treating people like -humans and treating them kindly is such a wonderful, simple thing, so why not do it?
ONCE UPON A TIME
Storytellers are amazing. Chatting with the people no one else talks to can lead to the best -conversations. Leaving someone with a smile or leaving them just a -little bit better off than you found them is what everyone should do. It makes life so much more -fulfilling.
I once went rock climbing in hand-me-down shoes. Halfway up the soles came apart. I took them off and threw them down. It was great. Every once in a while you’ve got to get dirty.