All-American beauty. Sunny disposition. And that famous bosom. Kate Upton has managed to stake her claim in an industry where full-bodied curves aren’t the norm. Never mind the fact that Sophia Neophitou, Casting Director for Victoria’s Secret fashion show, once claimed that Upton will never appear on the programme. Upton proved naysayers wrong when she became 2014’s most Googled model, edging out the lingerie extravaganza’s famous league of Angels.
Born in Melbourne, Florida, with an ambitious personality to boot, Upton didn’t need wings to fly. From the moment she was scouted at a horse show at the age of 12, she was destined for superstardom. “I feel like I’ve lived very different lives,” Upton says of her journey so far. “I sometimes don’t recognise the girl who used to show horses, but I’m still that person. I ride horses, I go to the barn and laugh out loud [over silly things]…I enjoy just being myself.”
In this candid conversation with photographer Yu Tsai, Upton talks about the love of her life, changing perspectives in fashion, and the importance of a smile.
YT: Your journey and career is in the public eye all the time. How do you feel about social media chasing and echoing your every move?
KU: It can be invasive and it does take up a lot of your time. I try to find that perfect balance between letting my fans live vicariously through my Instagram and protecting my privacy. Yesterday, I walked out of a CVS pharmacy store and the paparazzi had a camera in my face.
YT: What’s the first thing that makes you smile in the morning?
KU: My dog, Harley. He’s is a Boxer and the love of my life. He has the cutest face.
YT: I remember telling you that you were going to be a star. Did you believe it then?
KU: To be honest, I didn’t know what being a star entailed at that time. I had faith that I would be successful, but I didn’t know what being successful in this industry actually meant. At times, I have tunnel vision of a goal; I don’t see anything else. When you said that to me, I thought it meant I was going to make it to the end and achieve my goals. I didn’t know there was so much more to come.
YT: Do you always have a smile on your face when you walk on to a set?
KU: My mom told me from a very young age to always walk into a room smiling. It puts everyone at ease and it shows confidence. Confidence is happiness and happiness is priceless. Whenever you’re enjoying life with family, friends and doing the things you love, that is also happiness right there.
YT: They say to know happiness, you have to know sadness. What makes you sad?
KU: Like everyone else, sometimes I get moody; sometimes I am tired. Sometimes I travel too much. I am an emotional person, too.
YT: And where is home for Kate Upton?
KU: [Pauses] Home is wherever Harley is.
Photographed by Yu Tsai
STyled by Martina Nilsson
Makeup: Rachel Goodwin/ Starworks Artists using Chanel
Hair: John Ruggiero/Starworks Artists
Manicure: Christina Aviles/Opus Beauty
Producer: Trever Swearingen/88 Phases
Digital technician: Luis James/88 Phases
Photography assistants: Graham Dalton, Robiee Ziegler