MODEL AND SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCER-TURNED-RADIO HOST CAS JEROME ON HER IMPRESSIVE RISE AND NEW TALK SHOW by ASJAD NAZIR The recently launched Rukus Avenue Radio has been broadcasting globally with talented hosts who have their finger very much on the pulse as they present diverse shows. One of these popular presenters is social media influencer, model, beauty guru and outspoken rebel Cas Jerome, who hosts the interestingly-titled show Pretty Good For A Girl With No Talent. The American host mixes up discussions on diverse topics ranging from make-up to mental health. Eastern Eye caught up with the vivacious host to talk about her radio show, being a social media influencer, fashion and modelling. Your radio show is called Pretty Good For A Girl With No Talent. Don’t you think you are being harsh on yourself? The name of the show is very tongue in cheek. Social media influencers commonly get heckled for being pretty with no substance, which has been my own experience. Generally, people don’t look at my career as an online influencer and think that it doesn’t take any intelligence to obtain or maintain. When in reality, it takes so much brainpower and character to market your brand. You’re selling yourself to the world, which takes more talent than anyone is willing to give me credit for. What led you towards a career in modelling? I came out of the womb wanting to be famous. For literally anything. But if you told me a few years ago I would be a model now, I would’ve laughed and laid in bed all night drowning in my own self-pity. Growing up, I just felt so ugly, but in high school, my Instagram started gaining traction because for some reason people found me ‘attractive’ and ‘interesting looking’. I don’t really know why, but I embraced it and here I am. It really excited me because there aren’t really any mainstream Indian models and I would love to change that. What has been your memorable moment as a model? It has got to be modelling for Dr Martens. Growing up, I tried to only ask my parents for things that I really needed. I used to see girls at my school wearing Docs all the time, but I didn’t want to ask for $150 shoes, so settled for the off-brand ones. So when I was getting shoes every month for shoots from Docs, it was a very full circle moment. You have become popular on Instagram; what led you towards that? I think Instagram popularity is something that you don’t even choose sometimes. I never set out to be popular on Instagram, I just posted good enough content consistently that it gained attention. Once I saw my own potential, then I started organising shoots and planning more. Tell us, what is the secret of becoming a social media influencer? The real secret is consistency. It took me five years to reach 100,000 followers. I had to rethink my brand, content and how I presented myself. So many variables go into growing and evolving with the public. It’s so important to be versatile. I say yes to every serious opportunity I’m given. Which social media influencers do you admire? I admire one of my really good friends Alysha Nett. She’s taught me so much about how to market and advocate for myself; her work ethic is unmatched. It’s so exciting to see someone working fully for themselves, making their own rules and thriving. Meeting her definitely has changed my life. Seeing someone so close to me live the life I want is so motivating. What is the secret of getting noticed on Instagram? I personally don’t even believe in trying to get people’s attention on Instagram. I live by the mentality that if you get noticed by someone it was just meant to happen. I don’t want to say DM-ing people constantly because that’s something that annoys me a lot. But genuine comments are very many times met with genuine responses. If I see that someone has taken the time to write to me, I almost always will respond. What has been your strangest experience on social media? I think the strangest thing ever probably was when someone wrote me into a novel. I wish I could remember what it was called, but they basically took me, all my characteristics and opinions, and put me into a book. It was super weird to hear about but also kinda cool. You also touch on topics such as depression, self-esteem and anxiety; what led to that? I feel like being as transparent as you can is good if you’re a public figure. I’m not there to be some unreachable face people scroll past. I want to make a difference and the easiest way I can do that is share about what I’m doing for myself. I know so many people struggle with the same things that I do, and I also know that people find it hard to believe that my life can even be a little bad – so I like to remind people that they aren’t alone. I feel better knowing that I’m not. Don’t you think social media on some level puts unrealistic beauty expectations of everyday girls? I think it depends on what you decide to consume. I think there are ‘Instagram girls’ out there for everyone depicting all kinds of beauty. People get so caught up in mainstream media, traditional models and their dimensions that they forget there are real people sharing themselves as they are. But I do think if you don’t know where to look it’s easy to get wrapped up in wanting to change everything about yourself by just looking at what you see online. What message would you give women and girls? I wish every woman would know and understand that there is nothing stronger than a woman with a plan. If you have a dream, you can achieve it. All you need is motivation and consistency. Traditional jobs are great, but working for yourself and creating a career can’t be beaten. What led you towards your Rukus Avenue Radio show? I wasn’t much of a looker growing up and for a very long time, relied mostly on my humour to make friends. So I would say I’m pretty funny. At that point, I thought that maybe my mouth would carry me so I would literally pretend to be a talk show host in the shower. That was my way of training for the real world. I have wanted to do a show where I just get to hang out with interesting people and ask them about what’s important to them. The world of having followers or fans is so strange and someone needs to dive into it. Tell us about the radio show? The show is basically a look into the personalities you see on Instagram and YouTube. Everyone has a gimmick, but you don’t often get to hear people explain what they do in so many words, and that’s why I strived to make the show. It is a talk show, but who would you love to interview and what would you ask? This is super random, but my friends joke about having Malia Obama on the show because I feel like her parents get a lot of attention, but she seems so cool. I would love to pick her brain about literally anything. How does being on radio compare to other stuff you have done? Radio is completely different for me. I’ve mostly kind of relied on my ‘looks’ to get attention online, so it’s cool to only be a voice on the radio. It makes me so happy when people think I’m funny and smart because that’s not something that’s emphasised a lot as an influencer. What inspires you? The future. I’ve had so many dreams growing up and seeing them solidify is so exciting. What are your biggest fashion influences? I don’t have anyone specifically that I look up to, but fashion-wise, I take a lot of inspiration from what I see online from multiple people. Fashion has been becoming so bold and colourful, I feel like my fashion sense has evolved non-stop since I was in high school. I used to only wear what my mom bought me from Old Navy like four years ago; it’s crazy to see how much has changed. You are a beauty influencer. Tell us about what is in your makeup bag? Well, I’ll give you the abridged version. I think the most important things that should be in a makeup bag are foundation, blush and mascara. Without these things, every look is a flop. I’ve been into putting blush all over my face these days, so my makeup bag has like over five blushes at all times. Tell us something about you not many people know? I am a giant nerd. Which is what everyone says, but I really am. I have a giant Pokemon card collection, which I add to constantly – it’s awful. I also collect Disneyland pins and pop figures. What is the master plan going forward? Wow, great question! I’ve been working towards building my brand bigger and growing more and more. I have a few exciting modelling projects, but I’m truly going in with an open mind for anything. Why should we tune into your radio show? Everyone needs a good laugh every once in a while and Pretty Good For A Girl With No Talent will definitely give you that. Catch Cas Jerome on Mondays at 8 pm PST / Tuesdays at 4 pm GMT and 8:30 pm IST. www.rukusavenueradio.com, and Instagram & Twitter: @casxvii