As one of Aerie's brand ambassadors, Jillian Mercado can amplify her longtime mission working towards more inclusivity and advocating for the disabled community, especially
Black disabled creatives. The model, activist, and actor joined Aerie for its debut activewear launch, and now she's teamed up with the brand again for its #AerieREAL Kind campaign in partnership with Feeding America.
Kicking off on Friday, Aerie will introduce the Kind Hotline, a phone number (1-844-KIND-365) that you can call and receive customized messages of kindness from Aly Raisman, Iskra Lawrence, and more. Along with Storm Reid, Mercado will greet callers on the Kind Hotline, and what drew her to take on this new project was that, for the first time in her career, she gets to speak in Spanish.
"I've been dying to do something in Spanish because my family's from Dominican Republic. I'm Latinx and Spanish was actually my first language, so when I go back home, it's the language we speak in my house and with my family," Mercado tells NYLON. "I called my mom the other day and I was like, 'Hey mom, I guess what? When this comes out on November 13 until December 25, if you want to hear kind messages or just want to hear my voice — because I can't talk to her every day — you can call this number.'"
To celebrate the launch of Aerie's Kind Hotline, we asked Mercado questions for the
NYLON Nineteen series, where she revealed her favorite meme, her latest internet rabbit hole, her first concert, and more. What's your astrological sign (and do you believe in it)?
I'm a Taurus. Do I believe in it? I still kind of do. I mean, I have the apps CoStar and The Pattern, so in a way I do. When I was younger, I used to really believe that I was a fairy or a witch. I'm also a NASA freak, so stars in general, I love it.
Do you believe in ghosts, (and have you ever seen one)?
Yes and yes. I do believe in it and I don't know if I want to call it "ghosts" necessarily, like how we portray it on television or movies, but definitely energy, for sure. I did have this paranormal experience when I was younger in my old apartment where I grew up ... sometimes I would feel somebody next to me, but nobody was even in the apartment and none of the windows were open. So I'm like, 'Cool, cool, cool. Let me just ignore this weird thing.' I can't imagine that we're the only ones here.
What's your go-to drink order? (And if it's boozy, what's your go-to hangover cure?)
I'm such a New Yorker and also still a teenager, I guess. I love a Jack and Coke. That is my drink. My go-to hangover cure is carbs. Just a bunch of carbs the next day. Even pizza. Just bread and bread and bread. It's always done the trick for me.
Who would be the three headliners of the music festival of your dreams?
This took me a while because I'm such a concert person and I've been to so many festivals in my life so far. I can't wait until we get to go to them again. Michael Jackson, for sure, Björk, and this one Spanish artist called Juan Luis Guerra.
What's the weirdest snack that you make?
I don't make it anymore because because I kind of grew out of it, but I want to say 15 years ago, I used to eat ketchup with bread. Nothing else. No cheese, no lettuce. Just a literal sandwich with ketchup in the middle. Why? I don't know! But it was just really good.
What's a bad habit of yours that you've been meaning to fix?
This has come as an adult: confrontation. That is a bad habit of mine that I avoid confrontation at all times and every chance I can get. It's something that has been a bad thing and a good thing, but mostly a bad thing. So I'm trying to fix that.
What was the last internet rabbit hole you went down? Elsa Majimbo. She does these little, not even 30 seconds, maybe less, videos on Instagram and TikTok. And it's just her just saying these one-liners with her glasses. It's like CSI Miami. If you ever watched CSI Miami, [Horatio Caine] would do that in the intro. And I watched all of them. She has 500 of them posted and I, for an hour, went down those. I'm obsessed with her. Describe your worst date in three words.
Awkward AF, super ableist, and really, really bad BO.
What was the last DM you received?
My best friend who I've known for 15 years now, and she sent me a meme of this white Pomeranian, who, from the midriff of the Pomeranian to their feet,
is covered in mud, so their legs are super skinny. And the meme says, "Are you wearing the...' And then it goes, 'The Chanel boots? Yeah, I am.' If you could be in any music video, what would it be?
I always wanted to be in a Drake music video. And just being the main focus of the video, so he's not even in the video, maybe in the end or something. And I'm just a bad ass kind of character, like a top ring leader or a leader of a mafia or something like that.
What was your first concert, and what are your memories of it?
My first concert was a Fall Out Boy concert. Oh, I was a fan. It had to be Fall Out Boy.
I remember being super nervous. I honestly thought I was going to meet them. Mind you, did I have VIP seating? No. I was just in general admission and I wore my favorite outfit. I really was out here thinking that I was going to meet them; that we're going to be best friends. So I was super nervous going to the concert. I went alone and it was just such a f*cking awesome night. It was just four hours of bliss.
What was your favorite movie as a kid? The Pagemaster What's your favorite meme/internet joke and why?
An animated dog that's sitting by a table drinking coffee, saying, 'I'm fine.' And there's fire in the background. That's my favorite meme of the year because that's kind of how I've been feeling lately. Just destruction in the background and I'm just sipping away my coffee or tea, just like, 'I'm great. Everything's great. Everything is great.' That's my favorite meme. I use it as much as possible.
What is your favorite red carpet look of all time worn by someone else?
That is hard because there are so many good ones, but I would probably have to say
Zendaya's Met Gala outfit when she went as Joan of Arc. Everything about it was amazing. What is one thing everyone should buy that is under $10?
Thayer's Witch Hazel. You can find it literally anywhere. It's toner. I use the rose petal one. My favorite.
What is one question you never want to be asked again?
How do I sleep? That was the question that was asked to me on that date that I described earlier. The guy asked me how I slept. And I was like, 'What do you mean?' I'm thinking pajamas, I'm thinking underwear. No, no, no. Literally how do I get up or not up? He was like, 'Do you put your chair on the bed and turn it over?' I swear to God that was the worst question I've ever gotten in my life. That's not the question I ever want anyone to ask ever. Ever.
What is your go-to sad song?
As of right now, is Ariana Grande's "Almost Is Never Enough."
What is your best beauty tip or trick?
Never sleep with makeup. Never. No matter how drunk you are, don't do it. If you know you're going to drink that day, just do yourself a favor and don't do it, because it's happened to me probably three times, and every time I do it, I regret it for a week because pimples are showing up. If you need to put the makeup wipes next to your bed, do it.
What is your favorite fast food place, and what's your order?
Chipotle. And my Chipotle order is half-and-half white and brown rice. You got to mix it up, because indecisive. Black beans. Sofrito because I'm vegetarian. I go cheese, lettuce, extra sour cream, and guacamole. And then for when you're feeling it and you're really hungry, I order a tortilla on the side.