If confidence is the key to happiness, then Toccara Jones has every reason to be on top of the world. At just 30-years-old, Toccara has created a career that is all about being herself – from her stint on America’s Next Top Model in 2004, to her newest ventures in 2011 as the star of The Ultimate Merger on TVOne, a frequent spokesmodel for BET, a Contributing Style Editor for Essence Magazine, and the face of Lady Hennessy.
Many people watched the feisty model assert herself on VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club in 2008. Toccara let Dr. Ian Smith and the world know that she was ok with being “plus-sized” and that she was entirely comfortable with her curves. Despite her own protests, Toccara did push herself to get in shape, and is currently promoting the fitness video Toccara’s Fabulous Workout as she shows off a svelte new physique.
We recently caught up with this vibrant world-traveler to get some tips for keeping it fresh on the go. While she states that “there’s never really anything new under the sun,” Toccara does have a few key pointers to help out busy ladies everywhere. We also found out a little more about what she’s been serving up on the “Hennessy Remixed” tour, why lack of confidence confuses her, and what she expects to get out of her romantic adventures on The Ultimate Merger! Read on…
What are your most important tips for staying beautiful when you travel?
Toccara: 1. Drink plenty of water. It’s amazing! Planes will dry your skin out. I am traveling at least three times a week, and I can tell when I don’t drink enough water because my skin will get dry.
2. Wash your face, and take care of your skin. I love Neutrogena makeup wipes. It makes your skin feel good, and other brands don’t really take your makeup off as well. I also try to steam my face whenever I can, even in my hotel rooms.
3. Wear lashes. I love me some lashes! Even if you don’t have time to do your whole face, ladies, learn how to put those strips on! That glue can be dangerous for your eyes, so I prefer to put on the strip. Brows make the face too. I mostly keep a natural face when I travel though.
4. Keep hairpins on you. You never know when you’ll need to pin your hair up. They’ll come in handy, you can use them as paper clips, or to keep your shirt closed… It has multiple uses! [laughs]You’ll be MacGyver with those.
5. Wear brighter lipsticks. It makes your teeth look whiter. I’m a Chapstick girl [for moisturizing], and I’m so into my lipstick. It’s grown and sexy. Gloss can be messy when you’re meeting and greeting people, cheek kisses and all that.
6. Keep your nails natural. Fingernails are very time consuming, so I think the smart thing to do would be to go more natural when you’re on the move. If I could, I would keep my natural nails and file them instead of wearing nail tips and dealing with fillings. They can crack, and I have to deal with getting them done every two weeks.
7. Wear a good foundation under your clothing. Proper undergarments, slips and so on make anyone of any size look fabulous no matter what you wear.
How has it been for you to go from being a reality television star to being a celebrity in your own right?
Toccara: It’s amazing! I was a model before I was on America’s Next Top Model, and I was signed to Wilhelmina in New York as a plus-sized model. Through the whole time, I’ve been able to be Toccara, and I’ve done great shows. Now I’m doing the dating show [Ultimate Merger], I’m a Contributing Editor for Essence Magazine, I’m a spokesperson for Hennessy.
Though all of this, I just get to be Toccara – I’m not an actress, I’m not a comedian, I don’t sing… I’m a model, and I get to be myself and make a living doing it?? It’s awesome!
There was a time in your career when you were comfortable being a plus-size model, and okay with your body type. Ultimately you did lose weight, so at what point did you decide to make that change?
Toccara: I didn’t make any conscious decision. I went on Celebrity Fit Club just to get fit and fabulous, to tone it up. I was ok with my body shape before that. I did shed some pounds, but I don’t look at the numbers. I understand that people see a difference, but I don’t think about it. I do look at pictures and I see I lost weight, but I feel the same. I can honestly say there is no preference. I eat what I want to eat, and I live my life.
You have become a role model for women of all ages who aspire to do the things that you do. Do you feel that there is a lack of self worth in women? Do you wish more people could be as self confident as you are?
Toccara: I definitely do. It’s kind of hard for me to understand [lack of confidence], because it’s so natural for me to be comfortable in my skin, I get a little uncomfortable when people ask me how I can be so comfortable. I find it hard to relate sometimes to women who aren’t comfortable with themselves.
It’s not just about my body or what I can see physically. It starts with the person – how I view the world, how I treat and interact with people – just the way I look at life. Sometimes I forget that I’m an attractive girl, because I’m so ok with being in my sweats and my baseball cap going through the airport.
Tell us a little about the current ventures you’re involved in.
Toccara: I’m the Contributing Editor at Essence for the “Curvy Girl” page. I give fashion tips each month, and we do different stories. I also do fashion pictures with various lines. I’m doing The Ultimate Merger. It’ll be me and 12 bachelors, and hopefully I’ll find love out there. I am so ready! I feel like a lady already! [laughs]
And with Lady Hennessy, I’m their face for 2011, and we’re trying to educate the world about how mixable the drinks are. We recently did a tour and showed how versatile Hennessy is. We have Citrus, Apple, Berry and Ginger flavors. [Click here for some Lady Hennessy recipes on Swa-Rai.com]
The Ultimate Merger Season 2 debuts August 4, 2011 on TVOne. Click here for more info on the show and health tips from Toccara at TVOneOnline.com