Alexis Jones is the founder and creative mind behind the I AM THAT GIRL (IATG) and ProtectHer® initiatives. As an internationally recognized speaker, author, media personality and activist, Alexis uses her voice to empower youth across America. Before she was inspiring young men and women, Alexis was dabbling in the entertainment industry, working at Fox Sports and ESPN, participating as a contestant on the CBS hit show “Survivor” and a coach on an episode of MTV’s “Made.” She leveraged that entertainment background to incite change, quickly establishing herself as a thought leader for her generation. This Austin, Texas, native, with hair as big as her heart, recently transitioned into empowering young women through the empowerment of young men — working to broaden the narrow definition of “manhood” and instill the importance of respecting the women in their lives. Alexis’s book I AM THAT GIRL was published in February 2014, and today, we’re excited to welcome Alexis Jones as today’s FACE of the South!
You are an internationally recognized speaker, media personality, activist, author and thought leader. How did you end up where you are today?
A series of three steps forward, one step back. Living and learning from my experiences and doing my very best to make good decisions.
Who is Alexis Jones, and what are three words that describe you and your brand?
I’m a perfectly flawed girl. Passionate, resilient and authentic.
What is the mission of I AM THAT GIRL?
To inspire a supportive community for girls to feel [like] ENOUGH exactly as they are!
You’re on a mission to re-ignite the women’s movement for the 21st century. What are some of the key issues or concerns you want to address?
I’m particularly passionate about girls having each other’s backs and supporting one another. At a certain point we are convinced to be threatened by each other, and I think rather than be competitive, we can do exponentially more together than we ever could alone. If we could remind women that we are, in fact, on the same team, I think we could take over the entire world.
How is being a young girl different now than it was 20 years ago?
In the past we certainly had airbrushed images in magazines that we compared ourselves to, but with social media now, we’re able to airbrush our lives, and I think that is entirely more dangerous. Not to mention that girls today consume over 10 hours of media a day and over 3,000 brand images while battling a $40 billion beauty industry that profits off their insecurities. I think they are so inundated with pressure to fit an impossible definition of beauty, and their self worth gets incredibly beat up in the process.
You’ve also brought men into the conversation with ProtectHer: Redefining Manhood. Tell us about that program.
I have obviously worked in girl empowerment for years, but prior to that, I had hosted a TV show on the red carpet and then transitioned into working at Fox Sports and ESPN. Growing up with four older brothers and in Texas, where football is a religion, it was a dream to get paid to talk about sports. That being said, when I graduated from graduate school at USC, I launched IATG and left the locker rooms. It wasn’t until one of my best friends (Yogi Roth) asked me to give a talk on the importance of respecting girls to the top 18 quarterbacks in the country for an elite QB boot camp called Elite 11 that I realized that in order to truly shift girl culture and create a safe place for women, we couldn’t speak to only half the sky, we had to include men. When the show aired on ESPNU, I was hired overnight by Division I locker rooms all over the country to give my ProtectHer talk.
How has ProtectHer changed the dynamic of the conversation?
ProtectHer takes a very positive approach to inspiring young men to join the conversation. We teach guys that they aren’t just the problem, they are also the cure.
Tell us about your book, I Am That Girl. Specifically, how in the world did you find the time to write it?
Great question. My co-founder kept telling me that we needed the IATG book, the manifesto for the organization. After procrastinating, she basically shipped me to Napa to write the first draft, while she stepped in and ran the IATG ship. Had she not done that, I’d probably still be day dreaming about writing it one of these days.
Who are your mentors, and what advice do you treasure?
My family really are my biggest heroes, and they basically serve as the board members of my life, especially my mom and my incredible husband. I always say I’m a billionaire in love, and it’s true. They have all encouraged me to believe in the power of my dreams and to fight like hell to make them a reality.
What do you challenge our readers to do to help spread your message and empower women in their everyday lives?
I always say that the best way anyone can support the tenets of I AM THAT GIRL is to love themselves first! Most women need permission to make themselves a priority, and we can’t love anyone else if we don’t start with ourselves. So I always ask women to be more gentle with themselves, then to inspire and encourage that in others.
What’s the most important thing you want young women and men to take away from all you are doing?
If I could sit down with anyone, I’d hug them tight and then stare in their eyes and say, “You are enough, you do enough, you have enough.” Because I think when we start from that place, of feeling ENOUGH, we are capable of anything.
Give us a peek at your agenda. What’s a typical day or week like for you?
Oh my goodness. Where would I even begin? Whatever city I wake up in, I start with my prayer/meditation time, work out and eat yummy food! Then meetings, conference calls, appearances and speaking engagements follow depending on the day.
Are you a night owl or early bird, and what do you do during that quiet time?
I’m a total early bird! I’m seriously a grandma. I LOVE my sleep, and I love going to bed early. Curling up with my hubby watching our favorite shows on Netflix is heaven. I also love reading. I’m a serious bookworm.
Do you have any good book recommendations?
What are three of your favorite things right now, aside from faith, family and friends?
My new baby nephew Branden, “Stranger Things” on Netflix and High Brew coffee.
Thank you, Alexis! Learn more about I AM THAT GIRL at iamthatgirl.com
Thank you Aisha Seay of Bold Photography for the fabulous photos of Alexis shot in Austin, Texas.