Nothing feels artificial about Jasmine Sanders, except maybe her nickname. Many know the rising model, famous for her bronze skin and flaxen hair, as Golden Barbie. It’s a moniker Jasmine and her sister coined on a whim.
“It kind of stuck with me. It was supposed to just be for Twitter and Instagram, nothing serious,” she tells Maxim. “I had a lot of friends who used to call me a Barbie Doll, and one of my teachers used to always call me Goldilocks because of my curly hair. Somehow [my sister and I] came up with Golden Barbie, and it stuck.”
Jasmine, 28, does indeed have the blue eyes and radiant smile of a Barbie Doll come to life. Her Instagram feed, a confection of Moschino looks and bikini photoshoots with 3.5 million followers, is only missing a Dreamhouse. Still, Jasmine does not speak with the squeaky cheeriness one attributes to her namesake.
Her voice is gravelly, and her tone is easygoing. She tells it like it is. Her jawline is stronger than that of the iconic doll, and her physique is more athletic. She is also biracial, the daughter of a German mother and an African-American father. They raised her in South Carolina, not Malibu. People may see a life-size Barbie at first blush, but Jasmine is no piece of plastic.
“I really wanted people to attach Jasmine Sanders to my name instead of just Golden Barbie,” she says of realizing her Instagram handle’s staying power. “I tried to change it, and everybody still called me Golden Barbie. They got angry, so I changed it back. She will forever be Golden Barbie… I’m proud of it [now]. It’s fine. I’ll take it.”
In any case Mattel should put her on its payroll after the modeling success she has had, including ad campaigns for the likes of Fendi, MCM, Smashbox Cosmetics, Bulgari, Roberto Cavalli and Ralph Lauren; magazine covers including Interview, Lui, and Ocean Drive; and runway shows for Moschino, Byblos, Philipp Plein, DKNY, Miu Miu and Jeremy Scott, among others. More recently she became the face of Vince Camuto’s new Illuminare perfume.
Here she talks to Maxim about her early passion for modeling, counting runway legend Naomi Campbell as a mentor, and her latest triumph.
How does it feel to make the cover of Maxim?
I’ve looked at this magazine for so many years. I started modeling at 13, and it was one of my top goals—on the top of the list. I’m just really excited to be part of all of the other beautiful and powerful women that were able to be on the cover before me.
Are there any past Maxim cover girls that you look up to?
Olivia Culpo is definitely a friend of mine, and I was really excited to see that she got the cover and help her celebrate and everything. The list goes on. In the fashion industry, I love Tyra Banks, Naomi Campbell, Heidi Klum… Candice Swanepoel is just someone that I’m obsessed with. I think she literally does no wrong. The list can go on though.
What do you admire most about them?
They made sure that they made their own lane, and they have a voice for themselves, and they give back to the community and really try to do more than just being the girl on the cover or the girl in the pages of the magazine. It’s just something I really look up to.
Why were you interested in modeling at such a young age?
I’ve just always liked to find some way to be creative. I used to draw a lot and write a lot of poetry. Once my mom allowed me to get my hands into makeup, it was fun to do that. I also saw some of her photos growing up. She used to do a little bit of modeling before having kids. I used to watch the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show back-to-back. Seeing them be able to turn into completely different women in every photo shoot, I thought it was really powerful. I was always fascinated by it.
You're close to Naomi Campbell. How did you meet her?
I met her at the White House. It was definitely a fangirl moment. I was like, “How do I pull it together to tell this lady the impact she has had on my life and career?” I ended up getting her a drink. I was like, “You do not need to get up, you look too gorgeous. I’ll go grab you a drink.” We started talking, and we ended up going on the dance floor and dancing for hours. We had the best time. We exchanged phone numbers, and then she called me and said, “I really wanna help you out in the industry. If there’s anything you ever need, know that you can call me.”
Did you accept her offer?
When I was going through castings for [the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show], she came to a girlfriend’s house of mine in New York. She told us to roll up the carpet and make a path so I could do a runway walk. She recorded me and had my friends involved, getting them to walk past me. She then asked me to throw on some clothes and heels, and we ran to Dave Chappelle’s comedy show.
It was so funny, but maybe every 10 minutes, she’d say, “Let’s go outside.” She’d pull me out into the hallways and have me walk. The next day, she FaceTimed me during my casting, asking, “How do you feel? What number are you in line? Tell me how it goes! You look great! You’re gonna do amazing!” She put the battery in my back for me to walk into that casting. I never thought that somebody I looked up to so much could now be a friend and a mentor and coach me through the industry. It’s honestly insane.
Tell me about your time at the Venice Film Festival.
I just got back last night. I went there for the film festival with [clothing label] Twinset. It was just a really cool experience; I’ve never been before. Well, I’ve been to Venice, but I’ve never been to the film festival. It was just a fun experience, I saw a lot of the girls that I get to work with all the time. I got to hang out, and… yeah. It was just a lot of fun. It was a really quick trip though. I wish I could have stayed a little bit longer. Very hot.
Lastly, how has being biracial shaped your career?
When I started, when I was 13 or 14 years old, the industry definitely had more of a cookie cutter look of what they wanted on the runway or covers of magazines. It’s helped now because the world is changing so much. The world is starting to accept that every relationship is pretty much biracial. Now is a good time for me because I’m able to represent so many other girls out there that have my skin complexion, my hair color, or my story. It’s fun to be able to laugh and really not have taken those “no”s back then. The world is completely mixed and colorful and beautiful. So why not represent it?
For more of Jasmine Sanders' cover shoot, check out Maxim's September/October issue.