Jessica Minhas. Manhattan, NY. Strong.
She's the kind of person who asks you how you are doing because she really really wants to know how you are doing. She wants a glimpse into your world whether you just met five minutes ago, or have been friends for years.
Jessica believes in the power of story. She believes that her story and your story matter deeply, and if told has power --as lofty as this sounds--to change the world.
A few years ago our paths crossed through a mutual friend. We worked on a project together, but I was in LA and she was in NYC so never actually got to meet her in person. However, the little I knew of this woman made me want to get to know her more.
Jessica is a NYC based actor, model, humanitarian, public speaker, and helps run the anti-human trafficking organization The Blind Project. If you have never heard of who they are and what they are doing, please learn more about their story HERE. I feel so honored that an amazing woman like Jessica would spend the day with me in Manhattan sharing her story and letting me take her picture.
Jessica your life has big things coming, and I am so privileged to see it unfold!
Q: Who is Jessica Minhas, and what do you do?
A: I am a humanitarian and activist. My passion is fighting against injustice, and giving a voice to the voiceless. I do this by inspiring and informing my audiences, whether on-camera or as a public speaker or producer.
Q: As an activist how do you stay inspired to do what you do?
A: From my work in missions and with the Blind Project, I have seen first hand many of the young faces behind humanitarian injustices. I think it’s important to keep a connection with the real people who are being impacted by issues like abuse, trafficking and sexual exploitation. I’ve also seen how lives can be transformed by social enterprise—especially when awareness groups partner with those providing services on the ground. Seeing lives changed; hope that was once lost now found, ignites me and pushes me onward.
Q: Was there a catalyst in your life that made you want to pursue your dreams of activism?
A: I grew up in an alcoholic and abusive household with just my grandfather. He did his best with me but had no additional family help in raising me. When I was 15, he had a paralyzing stroke and suddenly our care giving roles completely reversed, and I took care of him until his death when I was just barely 18. Without any family to speak of, I set out to visit India and try and find them. Instead I found out about child sex-trafficking and came back changed, and committed to making a difference in the lives affected by such an atrocity.
Q: Who are 5 people in your life that influence you most?
A: Jesus; Mary Ann O’Rielly who is my best friend, Jill’s, mother and really stepped into my life when I needed a mom around; my college journalism professor, Bruce Dunn who has become like a father; Jennifer Haron, my best friend from middle school and truly like a sister to me and Somaly Mam, a sex-trafficking survivor and freedom fighter in Southeast Asia.
Q: When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: When I was little I wanted to help people. I thought I wanted to be a doctor; then I thought I’d be an actor; then I thought, why not play a doctor on TV, and wa-la! A few times over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to do that, and it always makes me laugh. I also wanted to inspire young people and I’m so thankful my career affords me that privilege.
Q: What is your guilty pleasure? (Food, Bieber, cheese fries, etc.)
A: Cookie dough, puppies and 90’s R&B music (now this is a girl after my own heart!)
Q: Right now, who are the bands/artists that you're listening to?
A: It varies, but Christy Nockels, Anthony Hamilton, Starfield, Phil Wickham, Drake, Dave Barnes, Hillsong, and a little bit of Keith Urban.
Q: Why do you do human trafficking/humanitarian work?
A: I've really followed my passions and I know at the end of the day that fighting to replace injustice with hope is worth the fight. There’s so much goodness and joy in life, I want others to experience full lives, myself included.
Q: Lastly, do you have a life mission statement? If so, what is it?
A: Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice to those being crushed. – Proverbs 31:8
**And thank you thank you thank you to Miss Rachel Burney of Remba Productions for doing an amazing job on Jessica's Hair and make-up. You are a gem, and I am so thankful for you!