Iowa Alumni Magazine | December 2008 | People

Model Behavior

By Tina Owen

For the record, Jenna Sauers is partial to ice cream sundaes, Zankou chicken, Cuban pork sandwiches, and caramel flan. So much for stereotypes.

Sauers, 07BA, is a model—but not the weight-obsessed kind. "So many people are willing to assume that all models must exist on caffeine and Marlboro Lights with a side of cocaine," she says. "I wouldn't be in this industry if I had to be on starvation rations."

Sauers first modeled as a child and teen in her native New Zealand, but her big break came when she moved to Iowa to study English and French at the UI. While working for the Daily Iowan, she followed up a story about a casting call being held at Coral Ridge Mall by modeling scouts who had set former UI student Ashton Kutcher on the road to stardom. A few months later, Sauers had her first modeling gig in Paris.

Since then, she's posed for Cosmopolitan, Glamour, and Teen Vogue, strutted down international catwalks, and struck elegant poses in all kinds of exotic locales. She's modeled swimsuits on a freezing cold Miami beach, sported neon-hued eye makeup, and—in a bizarre shoot for a surfing magazine—posed as a good-looking corpse in a body bag.

It may sound glamorous, but modeling isn't all pretty clothes and fake tans. Jobs can be scarce, the pay paltry, and the hours long. "Clients sometimes treat you like a mannequin as opposed to a real person," says Sauers. "Dressers will manhandle you to get clothing on and off, and you have to strip to a nude thong backstage at a show in full view of photographers and assistants."

Still, Sauers relishes the opportunity to travel the globe, immerse herself in new cultures, and work as part of a creative team. Eventually, she hopes to work in publishing or pursue an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing. For now, she lives out of two suitcases and writes an entertaining blog about her far-flung adventures in an industry she calls "wonderfully unpredictable."