Last fall, I had the chance to meet Kate Upton, a fast-rising young model, who was about to become a name among sports fans. Upton was tabbed to become one of the prestigious few to pose in Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Issue.
Since the issue came out in February, in which she appeared in a small photo on the cover (a rarity for a rookie model), Upton has tugged at the heart strings of men across the country.
I recently caught up with her as the world continued to talk about not only her good looks, but also about her bubbly personality.
Darren: You came out of nowhere to be as on fire as you are now. How did you get into modeling, who discovered you, and tell us where you appeared before SI?
Kate: I always wanted to try modeling and was scouted at the age of 12, but I was very involved in the American Paint Horse Association horse circuit at that time. My parents really wanted me to wait a few years. At the age of 15, I drove down to Miami (I lived in Melbourne, Fla., at that time) with hopes of finding an agency. I met with an agency at open call and they were interested and signed me that day. I worked in Miami for lots of international companies and traveled back and forth from Europe constantly.
Darren: How did Sports Illustrated notice you?
Kate: After I signed with IMG they sent pictures over to SI to see if they would meet with me and they said they would. They set up an appointment with me, and I was so excited to find out later that day that they wanted me to shoot for the issue.
Darren: You are a so called "rookie" but you appeared — in a small image — on the cover. Did you notice your fame skyrocket after the issue? If so, how could you tell?
Kate: I did notice a difference and, even though I had been the face of Guess, that is what makes Sports Illustrated such a special client. It puts a name with the face and allows people to know who you are. Sports Illustrated also likes to bring the models' personalities into the issue by making the photos about the girls and not about the actual product.
Darren: What are all the companies you are currently working for? Has anyone else called you since SI?
Kate: I am the face of Guess. I work for numerous bathing suit and lingerie lines, and I have worked with Victoria's Secret. Hopefully, I will be in 2012 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue.
Darren: You have one of the most impressive model websites we've ever seen. Whose idea was that and who works on it?
Kate: I met Jerome Duran through a friend down in Miami while on a shoot there. He does a lot of websites for people, and I loved some of the other sites he has done so I was excited for him to do one for me. My intro video was done by Yu Tsai while shooting my Guess lingerie campaign.
Darren: We know your sister works for the Jets. How much of a sports fan are you? Can you, did you, play any sports?
Kate: I love going to sporting events. They have so much energy and are always fun. Before modeling, I was a competitive equestrian and I showed at a national level for the American Paint Horse Association. I won five world titles and was number three in the nation.
Darren: Wow. So you go to a Clippers game with fellow model Damaris Lewis and Arash Markazi of ESPN.com. What happens next?
Kate: I always wanted to learn how to "Dougie" because it is one of my favorite songs to work out to. Damaris agreed to teach me the night before. We were explaining the learning process to Arash when the song came on at the game. So he pulled out his videophone.
Darren: So Arash posts it on Twitter and all of a sudden everyone is looking at it. When Arash and I talked about it, it was at 17,000 views. The next thing I knew it was at 350,000 views. Why do you think this got so big?
Kate: I am not actually sure why it went so big. Must be my amazing "Dougie" skills!
Darren: If you knew that 350,000 people would be watching, that this would make you trend on Twitter, that you would be atop Google Trends, would you have acted more reserved?
Kate: Probably not...I have never been very good at being "reserved." We were just having a great time at the game.
Darren: Have the Clippers invited you back?
Kate: Actually, I was a guest of the Thunder. Maybe the Clippers will invite me next time.
Darren: We know that SI's "shower" video you were in is a smash hit, but does the "Dougie" video success mean you'll being doing your own Twitvid's anytime soon?
Kate: I don't really plan on what I am going to tweet and I think that's what makes my twitter so fun. It is all about the moment, but the Dougie remix might have to come soon!
Darren: What projects do you have between now and the next SI? (I know they keep it a secret, but assume I assume you'll be back.
Kate: I am working on other projects, but unfortunately not only does SI like to keep shoots secret, so do other companies. I'll give you a hint though, I'm wearing lingerie or swimsuits!
Darren: I think when we met, I was the one who gave you the initial push on Twitter. Now you are at over 20,000 followers. Damaris and Chrissy Teigen are also very active. Models never really frequently communicated with their fans. You've wished people happy birthday (I'm sure that has made their dreams come true) and you've let them in on your life. Does the social media world make you more valuable as a model?
Kate: Yes. You were the one that suggested I get on twitterand I am glad you did. I am completely addicted now! I would think it does make me more valuable as a model because I help build the suspense of the up and coming campaigns by behind the scene photos. I also try to show the personality and hard work behind the finished product.
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