By Jessica Markowski
Growing up in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, in the 90s, was very different than it is today. It was a neighborhood of Polish immigrants all working blue collar jobs, barely speaking English. Every neighbor, restaurant, deli, 99 cents store was Polish. Even though I was born in America, my first language was Polish. I learned how to speak English in Pre-school. Today, Greenpoint, Brooklyn is now gentrified and popular to many.
My first moments of breaking out of the insular community was when I got into middle school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. It was where I was shown how others lived. It exposed me to unfamiliar territory. It was a time in my life where I did not know if I was Polish or if I was American. I did not know where I belonged.
High-school opened my eyes up to a different world. It was the moment I was recruited by a modeling agency on the streets of Manhattan. As models come from all over the world to NYC, I finally felt as though I belonged. I felt comfortable with people of different cultures like myself. And that is how my career started. During my lunch breaks in Chelsea, I would run around the city to make it to castings.
I would do castings, auditions, bookings whenever I could. I would model a lot for magazines, beauty campaigns and print jobs. Slowly after, I was steadily working in commercials, film and TV. I felt very content and happy for the decisions I have made and the path I have taken.
And THEN came social media. With the introduction of Facebook and Instagram, I would always document my jobs for my friends and family to see that I was a working model and actor. Social media at the time was for me to just show everyone that I have made a name for myself. At that time, companies would reach out to me in exchange of posting. I realized this would be a moment for me to start a THIRD business. I would partner with brands to produce content for social media. Instagram became my baby. I would negotiate, pitch, develop her as much as I could.
All in all, I would say I am living my Polish-American dream story. My parents came here with very little to create better lives for themselves and for their children. I always wanted to prove to my parents that I did not have to be a doctor or lawyer. I proved to them that I can work in the entertainment industry and be very content. A large portion of my push, passion and drive stems from my parents hard work.