Jillian Mercado who was born and raised in New York, started her modelling career in 2014. Born with Muscular Dystrophy she is one of the small amount professional models with a disability therefore making her unique in the industry. As a wheelchair user she is an inspiration to all those who suffer from disabilities as it shows it doesn’t stop you from achieving your dreams. Her love of fashion came from her parents who were a dress maker and a shoe salesman, so it is an industry she grew up close to. As she grew older she became a fashion student at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology and interned with Veranda and Allure magazine which were great opportunities for her. After this she continued to attend fashion week as a volunteer to create more contacts within the industry and created the opportunity for her to cover society events for a photographer at PMc magazine.
In 2014 Diesel were the first to use Jillian in one of their campaign which then led her to gain a modelling contract with IMG Models in 2015 who also have contracts with models such as Gigi Hadid, Miranda Kerr and Kate Moss. She has also done a few pieces of work with Nordstrom who own a chain of luxury department stores as well as being part of the CR fashion book.
2016 took an even bigger turn for her as she was announced as one of the three models to appear on a campaign for Beyoncé’s own website promoting merchandise featuring lyrics from her formation album and her 2016 Formation tour. This being one of her biggest pieces of work yet it then later that year landed her editorial features with Glamour and Cosmopolitan magazine and again early this year in February 2017 she appeared in Glamour.
Jillian has been set on creating more diversity in modelling since the beginning of her career as a disability activist. She has teamed up with Instagram and other models who want to see more diversity in the industry recently to create moving pictures for Instagram showing its ok to have different looks in the industry. The modelling industry was never something she had planned to get into as she didn’t believe it was something she would be accepted into but as she met more photographer friends who she modelled for as a bit of fun she considered it as a possibility. Looking how far she has come in the past 3 years is incredible showing her determination to get her name out there. Throughout her career she has worked alongside many models with unconventional looks including Ashley Graham and Winnie Harlow who you can find information about in previous blog posts. She wants people to know her as a model and not be seen as a ‘disabled model’ in the future as she believes at some point people won’t label people just because they aren’t all the same.