Queer Eye season 3 “hero” Jess Guilbeaux found her “Black Girl Magic” with a little help from the Fab 5, and in keeping with the show’s theme song lyrics, all things keep getting better for the Kansas City, Mo.-area resident.
Antoni Porowski, the Fab 5‘s food and wine expert, tells EW he recently connected with Jess, setting her up for a surprise FaceTime thanks to his friend who was having coffee with some of the members of her favorite band Paramore, whose song title “Last Hope” is tattooed on her arm.
“I DM’ed Jess and was like, ‘Hey, I have a question. I need you to trust me, and do you have FaceTime?'” he recalls, sitting down with EW at a recent event for Boursin cheese, for which he is U.S. brand ambassador. “She’s like, ‘yes, yes, yes,’ sends me her number and they FaceTimed each other and they sent me a screenshot. She was over the moon. … I have my bands that I’m really obsessed with, so I understand the passion of getting to speak to one of your idols. She deserves it!”
“I had no idea who was on the other end of the call and it was a wonderful surprise!” Jess tells EW via email, sharing the same photo (below) that captured part of her chat with the band’s Zac Farro (middle).
“I definitely had to use all my strength to keep myself from crying. Zac is one of my idols!! It was just such a lovely surprise to see him and get to talk to him,” she says, adding that the band and lead singer Hayley Williams have tweeted with her. “We just both gushed about how we’re both big fans of each other! It was such a surreal experience for me because I’ve literally been listening to him play in Paramore since I was a little girl.”
When the Fab 5 visited Jess, they found a young woman who was struggling with her identity.
“I honestly have a warped sense of black culture and what it means to be a black woman,” she told the Queer Eye‘s culture expert Karamo Brown during the episode. “In my experience, I feel like I can’t really fit in. I’m not white, but also, all the kids at school that are black think I’m not black enough.”
In the midst of that, she was outed as gay to her adoptive parents, which led to their kicking her out when she was just 16. Eventually finding a place to live with two other roommates — which we see made over on the show — she was pursuing a computer science degree but quit college because of mounting debt. A day after the third season premiered on March 15, a viewer started a GoFundMe campaign to help send Jess back to school. The $100,000 goal was met — and then some — in a matter of a few weeks.
“My next steps are just going back to school now that my loans and everything are paid off,” Jess tells EW. “I also donated a portion of the proceeds to GLAAD to support LGBTQ+ rights. I think along with my education I will continue to be an active voice and advocate in my communities.”