Formerly incarcerated model Jeremy Meeks might be known around the world as the ‘Hot Felon’, but he doesn’t relate to the nickname anymore.
Meeks, 35, was at the centre of a social media frenzy when his mugshot went viral in 2014. With his striking eyes and chiselled features, he quickly earned the nickname ‘Hot Felon’ from the media.
However, despite being flattered by all the attention, he now feels distant from the latter term.
“In many ways, I was humbled and grateful that people found me attractive. However, the word ‘felon’ is not a label that I am proud of or remotely reflective of how I see myself today,” Meeks said, in an exclusive interview with Gulf News tabloid!.
“I am not ashamed, because my past was a part of my journey, but [I’m] certainly not proud of that label. Labels in general imply that people cannot change, and I definitely have,” said the growing model.
The Tacoma native was serving a 27-month sentence at the time of his mugshot whirlwind, charged with possession of a firearm and grand theft.
But by 2017, a year after his release from prison, Meeks had made his runway debut at New York Fashion Week and walked for German fashion designer Philipp Plein at Milan Fashion Week.
His modelling career was taking off.
“It allowed me to find my true passion. It gave me a better sense of self-worth by finding something I was really good at that I could also monetise. I love travelling, meeting new people and getting better behind each lens. That experience has been priceless,” said Meeks.
He noticed a change in his personal aesthetic, too.
“[As] I personally matured, so did my sense of style. My growth mindset transcended to my appearance. I acquired my own personal fashion pallet, which marries a commitment to quality, a nice fit and my own natural edge,” he added.
But even though Meeks knows what works for him now, he’s not so quick to point out the styles he can’t get behind.
“I think fashion has a lot to do with confidence, so there is not a fashion trend that I necessary dislike, except brands not being sensitive to cultures or people in general,” he said.
Meeks and Romanian model Andreea Sasu made a stop at Dubai’s Cavalli Club on February 19 to walk the runway for Extremedy, a newly-launched Dubai-based urban fashion brand.
The collaboration was born out of a “very genuine connection with the brand” who are “like-minded in many ways,” according to Meeks, who smouldered in several edgy outfits, including a pair of low-slung, chain-decked jeans and a padded, fur-lined black jacket, which revealed his tattooed chest.
“The clothes make me feel next level,” said Meeks.
The model also enjoyed some downtime in the city. Ahead of his work obligations, he posted an Instagram snap with his beau, Topshop heiress Chloe Green, at the Dubai Mall.
“I love to look at the architectural genius of this place [Dubai]. It is magical and inspiring. I like the dessert safaris and would love to sky dive here,” he said.
Meeks and Green, daughter of British billionaire and chairman of Arcadia Group Philip Green, welcomed a baby boy together last year. Jayden Meeks-Green is their first child together, and Meek’s second child overall.
‘POWER IN REDEMPTION’
Going forward, Meeks wants to send a message to the haters. He also wants to leave behind a legacy of redemption and resilience.
“I want others to know that no matter what your past consists of, there is power in redemption. I want my legacy to inspire teens around the world with the message of, if you fall, you MUST get back up. You can grow, evolve, inspire and become all of the things that haters said you could not,” he said.
As for his own personal agenda, the model is ready for a total takeover. According to him, his face will be known to everyone by the end of the year.
“2019 — sky is the limit, I can promise you this. You will see me in your homes whether you like it or not. Turn on your televisions, open your magazines and I will appear,” said Meeks.