Married to arguably one of the best emcees still living, model Michelle Trotter is the mom to 11-year-old daughter Saaliha and 21-month-old son Tarik. Check out why she's a 'Mom We Love' below.
Name: Michelle Trotter
Social Media Handles: @ItsMichelleTrotter
I am from…Colorado and Northern California. I currently live in…New Jersey.
PR Mommy: What was the first big modeling job you landed and what are some of the brands you've worked with and magazines that you've been featured in? What was your largest campaign?
Michelle Trotter: My first "big" job was at the age of 14. I booked a print ad with a local department store in Colorado. I later won a modeling contest that was sponsored by the same department store and the Ford agency. That win gave me the opportunity to go to NYC and truly begin my career as a working model. I think my largest campaigns were for Pantene and also Olay, formerly known as Oil of Olay. Those campaigns ran over the course of 4 years and afforded me the opportunity to buy my parents a home. I've worked with everybody from Talbots to Nordstrom, Lane Bryant and Saks, but working with both Pantene and Olay were definitely some of my proudest moments. I've been featured in glossy magazines like Glamour, O Magazine and Essence as well as international mags.
PRM: The fashion industry is known for being tough and cut throat. What advice would you give to a young woman just starting out in the industry?
MT: You must remain true to yourself, and that goes for whatever industry you're in. I remember having some amazing opportunities. I had options with the likes of Vogue. My agent at the time suggested that I "throw up and do whatever I needed to do" to land these jobs. I wasn't with that agent for much longer. I’ve always been a big girl, and growing up in the Midwest, I was raised to love myself and I simply wasn’t down for being bulimic just to be thin enough for the likes Vogue, so I didn’t. Integrity over everything!
PRM: Have you ever crossed over into acting? If so, what television shows and movies have you been featured in?
MT: Yes, I did a bit of acting for awhile and I was featured in films Boomerang, Big Fat Liar, Something New, Madeas Family Reunion and more. Small parts, but I was working. In terms of TV, I appeared on Sex and The City (as Mr. Big's love interest), and Girlfriends. I also produced a play by Pearl Cleage, Blues for an Alabama Sky that was nominated for 9 NAACP awards.
PRM: What advice would you give to your younger self? MT: The same advice that I would give myself today; be easy on yourself and it’s okay to make mistakes because you learn from them and they shape who you are. You are perfectly imperfect!
PRM: As moms, we all struggle with leaving our child for the first time to get back to work. What was your first experience like leaving Saaliha to resume work? What advice would you give new moms struggling with the same dilemma?
MT: I remember that I just had my daughter Saaliha and was booked for a job in Hamburg, Germany. It was the first time I had to leave her for a week and while I was gone she came down with a fever. I would break down in tears while on set and felt such guilt for leaving her. Here I was in a different country and my infant daughter is back in the States with a fever. Thank God my mother and husband were with her during that time, but it can be really hard to leave your kids.
Some women are super professional and still married to their work once they have children, and I think that’s okay. I wasn't that way. Every mother is different. You just need to carve out your custom version of work/life balance. I wish I had better advice, but it's not easy.
PRM: What was it like transitioning from working full time for over 20 years to becoming a stay at home mom? What personal sacrifices have you made? Any regrets?
MT: I think that because I had worked most of my life, I was ready to be a full time mom. But it was a slow transition. When Saaliha was first born, I missed a couple of bookings that my manager got for me. Once the three-month mark hit, my husband said to me "You know, you don’t have to go back if you don’t want to." I did eventually. I mean, modeling is the only work I’ve ever known. After my son, I thought I was retired from the world of modeling. But now, I am considering dipping my toes back into the work force. I am fortunate to be able to take a nice chunk of time off to be with my kids. Sometimes it’s really hard and might be easier just to go out and work, but then you come home and feel guilty for that. On the flip side, stay at home moms don't get the respect that working moms do, but it can be challenging and a bit draining, you know? Some days I’m amazing at it and I’m rockstar mama, and other days it's Groundhog Day, and I’m dragging just to get dinner made...but I wouldn’t change a thing.
PRM: Exactly, so many people don't realize that being a stay at home mom is still like having a full-time job. What's your go-to outfit for drop off/pick up at school and running errands?
MT: I drop off my daughter at school and go to boxing, weight training, barre or yoga four days out of the week. So I’m in my workout clothes. I'm not proud of this but most days, I stay in my workout clothes because I have big plans of going downstairs to my home gym to get some extra cardio in. But, that usually never happens. Mostly, my go-to is jeans, t-shirt or sweatshirt, and some fly slip on sneakers. Things that are easy, but something I could walk around in and still feel cute and not so "suburban" in.
PRM: Your home is beautiful! Is home design one of your passions? Any advice for other moms of toddlers on how to keep your home from not looking like a tornado of toys blew through it all the time?
MT: Thank you. Yes! Fixing up our home is something I enjoy. In the past I would pour over every beautiful interior magazine or book. Now, Instagram makes it really easy to get inspired with the many interior designers that post. Being on sets, and shooting in beautiful homes and locations for 25 years has helped shaped my eye. I also have my best friend who has a great eye and is wildly talented. He is a huge help. The way my home looks and feels is the one of the only things I can control. That's been a big life lesson for me. I'm in control of my thoughts and the way I feel, and that's reflected in my home. I like beautiful things.
We (Tarik and I) love things that are aesthetically pleasing. Realistically, we have to work with where we are, we have a toddler, and it is what it is.. Tarik is the almost two year old tornado, and so I've worked his play area into the design of our home. That way he can play and do his thing. I have a drum set in the family room where he plays drums, but I also have two containers that are pleasing to the eye but hide his toys so that at the end of the day they can go away.
PRM: Where do you get your inspiration from? MT: I am inspired by my close friends, family, and my loving husband. I am surrounded by creative, inspiring and loving people.
PRM: How was your experience working with O, Magazine on your weight loss story? How were you and women globally empowered? MT: It was amazing, but it also came with its challenges. Some women met their goals, while others didn’t for various reasons. In comparison to other women, I was dealing with the stress of caring for a newborn and the return of Lyme disease. I was focused on losing the weight but it was difficult.
I personally got a lot of encouraging feedback from the O, Magazine story from women who were inspired to create their own fitness goals and could also relate to some of the struggles I had on my journey. We reached all different women with completely different circumstances.
PRM: You touched a little bit on self-care. What are your top 3 self-care experiences? (i.e. massage, manicure, new shoes etc).
MT: Self-care is very important. With Saaliha, I would try to be the “supermom” and I stopped taking care of myself. But with Tarik, I aim to work out every day or at least 3-4 days out of the week. I get a manicure and pedicure weekly and I try to do a massage. I take time for me.
I treat myself and I try to take good care of myself. We all should. If Mommy is depleted and out of balance, the family suffers.
PRM: What’s your favorite quote?
"Life is short; buy the shoes, have the dessert, have the drink. You gotta’ live, enjoy your life, and have fun.”
PRM: Who is your style inspiration?
MT: I love Tracie Ellis Ross and some of my girlfriends (Joelle and Leslie.) I love Tracie’s style right now; her wardrobe has been really classic yet edgy.
PRM: Who’s your mom crush? MT: My cousin (Michelle) and my girlfriends (DeeDee, Leslie, and Mary) to name a few. They are all great moms who are patient, fun, loving, and kind and they still manage to take time out to take care of themselves. They still make themselves a priority despite life’s responsibilities as a mother and partner.
PRM: What are you currently up to? MT: I am the CEO of the Trotter family (LOL). While being a stay-at-home mom, I’m currently exploring my next ventures. My agent for most of my career has asked me to come back to work. I am allowing myself to enjoy being a stay at home, spending this time with my kids, and seeing what’s new for this next chapter of my life.
PRM: What advice would you give to other mommy bosses?
MT: Take care of yourself. Love on yourself. Be easy on yourself. Be supportive of other moms and women in your life. Women can be hard on other women. Don't do that, that's whack.
PRM: As a mom of a toddler and tween, what are the 3 items that are always in your bag?
MT: Diapers, and wipes, for my little guy. Lotion and lip balm for my tween.