HAPPY IN HER SKIN

Small-town girl de­fies mod­el­ing con­ven­tions, lands Sports Il­lus­trated’s cov­eted swim­suit is­sue

The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT) - - FRONT PAGE - By Cas­san­dra Day

KILLINGWORTH — It has been a whirl­wind seven months for 2010 Had­dam-Killingworth High School grad and for­mer New Eng­lands Pa­tri­ots cheer­leader Camille Kostek, 25.

Kostek, a for­mer dancer and lacrosse team cap­tain, landed her dream job last month af­ter com­pet­ing against 8,000 other young women vy­ing for a spot in the next Sports Il­lus­trated swim­suit is­sue — among such lu­mi­nar­ies as Kate Upton.

“I couldn’t even cry be­cause I couldn’t even be­lieve it,” Kostek said when she learned the news on the set of a talk show in­ter­view last week in New York at the Time & Life building, where SI is head­quar­tered.

Kostek was in Man­hat­tan on Oct 4. — she thought — for a ca­sual con­ver­sa­tion talk­ing about her ex­pe­ri­ences as an NFL foot­ball cheer­leader, the Pa­tri­ots’ sea­son, the Su­per Bowl and the sports she plays. She was make-up less, wear­ing a white T-shirt knot­ted at the waist, black jeans and boots when the in­ter­viewer asked her to go on cam­era, un­der the premise of see­ing how Kostek was on film.

The in­ter­view was in­ter­rupted, she said, by a man dressed as “this big, pink twerking telegram that they or­dered.” That’s when she learned she was among the six women cho­sen to be in SI’s

Fe­bru­ary 2018 is­sue.

Her jour­ney has taken her from small town Con­necti­cut to one of the big­gest mod­el­ing plat­forms in the world.

Kostek said she has wanted one thing since she was 15: to be in the SI swim­suit edi­tion. At a curvy 5-feet, 8-inches tall, she is far from the “typ­i­cal su­per­model” look, she said. “I’ve al­ways been told ‘you’re never go­ing to do run­way’ be­cause run­way is high fash­ion, or typ­i­cally 5 feet 10 inches tall.

“I know what weight I am when I’m happy, and there’s al­ways room for im­prove­ment,” said Kostek, who grad­u­ated from East­ern Con­necti­cut State Univer­sity in 2014 with a de­gree in com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

She re­mem­bers the first time she opened an SI mag­a­zine in her teens and saw one of the women pos­ing. “‘Oh my gosh, she doesn’t look like your typ­i­cal su­per­model. That’s kind of how I look in a swim­suit,’” Kostek said at the time. “Ev­ery­thing wasn’t pin-straight, just so.”

That be­came her big­gest goal. “If I were to do mod­el­ing, how could I get into the Sports Il­lus­trated swim­suit is­sue?”

But this self-pro­claimed chat­ter­box is prac­ti­cal at heart. “Real­is­ti­cally, look­ing at my body, even grow­ing up as a young woman, I didn’t see my­self tak­ing that ca­reer path, so I con­tin­ued to be a dancer and a stu­dent,” said Kostek, who has al­ways been a health­ful eater and prefers ex­er­cis­ing to di­et­ing.

Kostek is the old­est of four chil­dren, three girls and a boy, born to Alan and Christina Kostek, of Killingworth. While still in col­lege, she was hired as a Pa­tri­ots cheer­leader and was with the team from 2013 to 2015. Her last game was Su­per Bowl XLIX against the Seat­tle Seahawks.

In April, Kostek saw the SI swim­suit model search on In­sta­gram and knew right away she was go­ing to en­ter the video con­test. “It was an open cast­ing call. They said post a video and tell us why you wanted to be in it,” Kostek said.

“I’m a mo­ti­vated per­son, but I’ve never moved so quickly. I was ner­vous if I even sat any longer to think about it, (the con­test) would be over,” Kostek said.

She said she thought, “I have to make this video stand out,” so she called up her old class­mate, H-K 2008 grad Thijs Stoop, 27, a West­brook videog­ra­pher. The two had re­con­nected about eight months prior to the In­sta­gram video, and had spent time shoot­ing videos around New York City to­gether, Stoop said.

Kostek con­tacted him and two days later Stoop got on a plane and met her in Mal­ibu.

“We were there three or four days, shoot­ing for the first two, edit­ing the sec­ond two, and prob­a­bly didn’t sleep that en­tire time,” he said. “She’s nerdy, she’s funny, she’s su­per gen­uine and I think that’s what got her past all this — her per­son­al­ity. She’s very nat­u­ral on cam­era.

The two have formed a fast friend­ship, said Stoop, who is de­lighted to show­case her goofy side.

“The whole time she car­ried around the Sports Il­lus­trated cover with Kate Upton on it, but with a pic­ture of her posted on it. She does to­tally funny lit­tle things like that that no­body knows,” he said.

In the video, Kostek is so down-to-earth and com­fort­able on film, even Stoop mar­vels at how lit­tle he had to do. “I just filmed it,” he said. “Some­times I have to di­rect, but Camille wanted this so badly. Ev­ery­thing that she said was done in one take.

“She has been think­ing about this her en­tire life, so when it came time to do it, she didn’t need to think twice about it,” Stoop said.

Kostek started mod­el­ing in 2015 when she signed to Mag­gie Inc. in Bos­ton. Liv­ing in Con­necti­cut made it easy to hop on the train to New York or Bos­ton. She’d do the rounds, meet­ing with agency staff who loved her look but had one caveat.

“There was a cer­tain time limit. They’d want me to lose a cer­tain

“It was an open cast­ing call. They said post a video and tell us why you wanted to be in it . ... I’m a mo­ti­vated per­son, but I’ve never moved so quickly. I was ner­vous if I even sat any longer to think about it, (the con­test) would be over.” Camille Kostek

amount of weight in three weeks or so to be booked a job. I was a dancer, I felt good about my­self, but they told me I need to take 1¼ inches off my thighs in three weeks,” Kostek said.

That went against her prin­ci­ples, she said. “I knew it’s not im­pos­si­ble to get your mea­sure­ments down. I just knew I didn’t want to do that. It kind of pro­longed my break­out mo­ment for mod­el­ing be­cause I didn’t want to con­form to those stan­dards,” Kostek said.

In Fe­bru­ary, Kostek moved to Los Angeles, hop­ing to round out her port­fo­lio there, where the mar­ket, home to com­pa­nies like Ree­bok, Puma, New Bal­ance and Con­verse, is plumb for her ath­letic build.

“I be­came so in love with it be­cause ev­ery time I would go into a fit­ting, the clothes would fit me,” Kostek said. “That’s what fit for my body type.”

In mid-May, Kostek woke up in LA, the “best day of my life,” to learn that she was among the semi­fi­nal­ists. She flew to Brook­lyn on May 19 for a cast­ing call with 35 women from all over world — the ma­jor­ity of whom had never mod­eled be­fore.

At the end of July, Kostek found out she was in the top 15 — and would walk at Miami Swim Week. “There were curvy women, plus-size women. That was life-chang­ing in the mod­el­ing in­dus­try — to have women of all dif­fer­ent sizes and col­ors walk­ing the run­way,” Kostek said from home in Killingworth on Thurs­day, while pack­ing for her flight back to LA.

It’s a far cry from Kostek’s early days of mod­el­ing, when she would ex­plain to peo­ple in the mod­el­ing in­dus­try her big dreams for the fu­ture.

“I re­mem­bered meet­ing with them with ripped-out pic­tures of Sports Il­lus­trated mod­els and I was so happy, say­ing, ‘I want to look like this. I want to be seen in this light,’” she said.

In Jan­uary, Kostek will be the face on the glossy mag­a­zine page torn out of the Sports Il­lus­trated swim­suit is­sue, in­spir­ing a whole new gen­er­a­tion of young women her­self.

Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia file photo

Dur­ing this May 2010 match, Had­dam-Killingworth High school lacrosse cap­tain Camille Kostek wins pos­ses­sion of a loose ball against Mor­gan High School’s Macken­zie Tay­lor dur­ing a home game.

From In­sta­gram

Pa­tri­ots cheer­leader’s Brit­tany Dickie, left, and Camille Kostek, right, an H-K grad of 2010.

Cour­tesy Camille Kostek

Camille Kostek, 25, of Killingworth, is among the mod­els in the Fe­bru­ary 2018 Sports Il­lus­trated Swim­suit is­sue.

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