Maybe you recognize Jamillette Gaxiola from Maxim. Or maybe you’ve seen the stunning 27-year-old staring down at you from a Tao Beach billboard. Maybe it’s from Instagram, where the Mexican-Cuban model has more than 150,000 followers, or maybe it’s from the UFC, where she’s worked the Octagon as a ring girl for the last two and a half years.

It took more than five auditions for Gaxiola to land the gig with UFC. “Every time they were like, ‘No, too tall, too skinny.’ But they keep calling me back to come again.” When they summoned her a sixth time, Gaxiola almost didn’t go. “It was too depressing,” she said. But finally her contract was ready.

Today, the UFC and her modeling takes Gaxiola all over the world, from Paris to Cuba. “I was in Cuba in May, and it was just amazing,” said the 14-year Las Vegas resident, who won the Miss Grand Cuba pageant in 2013. “My mom’s Cuban, so I’ve always been super interested to know more about where she grew up.”

Her Instagram feed captures glimpses of the island’s magic: taking a dip inside a cave in Matanzas, trying a puro in Viñales tobacco country, posing outside the famed Bodeguita del Medio.

Next on the agenda is India, where Gaxiola will head in November with her fiancé for the first of two weddings. She says he often acts as photographer on the road. “I’m his worst nightmare when we’re traveling,” she laughed. “I’m like, ‘No, no, this angle.’”

Though Gaxiola spends much of her life in front of the camera, Instagram is where she tells her own story. “I believe a picture says so many things, if it’s captured right. It’s my version of my magazine.” It’s also a place she can connect with young women considering a career in the limelight. “There are so many messages, especially from girls that are trying to start modeling and they don’t know where to start,” Gaxiola says. “It makes me happy to be able to help, because I know how hard it can be sometimes.”

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