UNDER THE IN­FLU­ENCE

More than just a pretty face, model Olivia Culpo breaks through the dig­i­tal ceil­ing, lend­ing glam­our, celebrity, and suc­cess to the term “in­flu­encer.”

Vegas Magazine - - Contents - By JARED SHAPIRO photography by MIKE ROSEN­THAL

More than just a pretty face, model Olivia Culpo breaks through the dig­i­tal ceil­ing, lend­ing glam­our, celebrity, and suc­cess to the term “in­flu­encer.”

“What do you do?” It’s a ques­tion many get asked, though prob­a­bly not as of­ten as for­mer Miss Rhode Is­land, Miss USA, and Miss Uni­verse Olivia Culpo. But for Culpo, it comes more in the form of, “What does she even do?” In an in­creas­ingly dig­i­tal world where suc­cess is mea­sured by likes and clicks, it’s hard to quan­tify the ef­fect an “in­flu­encer” can have not only on a brand but on the pub­lic as well. In fact, dare have 1.5 mil­lion In­sta­gram fol­low­ers gawk as you pose in the lat­est trends and you could get la­beled as “fa­mous for be­ing fa­mous.” But when lux­ury brand Ki­pling taps you to be the face of its hol­i­day cam­paign, while Ram­page Jeans, ghd hair tools, and L’oréal all count you as one of their faces, and on top of that, Moët & Chan­don hires you to go to the Golden Globes and cre­ate this year’s spe­cialty cock­tail, it’s safe to say the suc­cess is not only quan­ti­fied, but also mon­e­tized. There’s a liv­ing to be made do­ing this, and Culpo is the ge­nius who’s fig­ured out what so many com­pa­nies and brands seem­ingly can’t—how to make social me­dia work for them.

Add in fre­quent ap­pear­ances in Las Ve­gas and brand ap­pear­ances at Art Basel, a Bali trip with Re­volve, two up­com­ing films— Amer­i­can Satan and Tired Lungs— Paris Fash­ion Week, re­cent ap­pear­ances on Project Run­way and The Kitchen as well as the cover of Sev­en­teen Latin Amer­ica, and this model/ac­tress is a far cry from the self-de­scribed “dork in band camp.” Es­pe­cially when you con­sider she’s dat­ing New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots wide re­ceiver Danny Amen­dola.

You grew up in a small town in Rhode Is­land, hardly des­tined to be­come a glob­ally rec­og­nized face… I was the typ­i­cal mid­dle child of five sib­lings, al­ways feel­ing like I was get­ting the short end of the stick. I al­ways felt like my par­ents were too busy to pay at­ten­tion to me. Plus, I played the cello all through school and went to band camp. I was never re­ally seen as beau­ti­ful; I never thought that I would be able to model. I spent a lot of time go­ing from or­ches­tra to band camp, and I had to prac­tice a lot—my par­ents were pretty strict. How does a band camp girl who didn’t think she was beau­ti­ful end up in beauty pageants? As a lit­tle girl, I was re­ally chubby. I don’t think kids know any­thing about diet, so I’m sure I was eat­ing what­ever I wanted to. And on top of that I was not ath­letic. I was def­i­nitely more into the arts, and I was a late bloomer. All of a sud­den, I got re­ally tall and lean. Af­ter my crazy growth spurt, I looked like a com­pletely dif­fer­ent per­son. As the years went on, I went to Bos­ton Uni­ver­sity and stud­ied com­mu­ni­ca­tions and act­ing. A lot of the peo­ple that I looked up to were ac­tu­ally, sur­pris­ingly enough, women who had

“I WAS NEVER RE­ALLY SEEN AS BEAU­TI­FUL; I NEVER THOUGHT I WOULD BE ABLE TO MODEL.”

“MANY PEO­PLE IN MY AGE GROUP FALL INTO DRAMA. I HAVE A LOT OF PEO­PLE AROUND ME WHO SUP­PORT ME, SO I DON’T FEEL LIKE I HAVE TO GO OUT AND REBEL.”

got­ten their start in pageants, like Halle Berry and Gi­u­liana Ran­cic or Maria Me­nounos.

Back to the band camp thing…

All of my sib­lings played dif­fer­ent in­stru­ments, and we would drive an hour out of state to go to the best or­ches­tras. In high school, the cool girls didn’t un­der­stand why I would al­ways play my cello be­cause they thought it was dorky. I re­mem­ber want­ing to hang out with my friends af­ter school and my cello wouldn’t fit in their car, so I could never go home with them. And walk­ing up the street with my cello and hav­ing to put it on the bus, and ev­ery­one yelling at me be­cause they couldn’t get through the aisle and it was a safety hazard... There was a lot that set me apart. But as I grew older, I be­gan to love that be­cause it is such a unique tal­ent to have, and I do re­spect my par­ents for push­ing it on me. [Though] at the time, I thought it made me the big­gest loser on the planet.

What was it like try­ing out for a beauty pageant for the first time?

My first pageant was when I got to col­lege. I was 18 years old and that’s when I be­gan mod­el­ing. I had to go to the agency and ba­si­cally beg them to take me. They told me I needed to give them a check for $30, and I had no money, so I had to steal a check from my par­ents. My agency told me not to do the pageant; they thought it was tacky. My par­ents felt the same way. They thought it was vain.

At what point did you re­al­ize this could be a ca­reer?

My par­ents were never about makeup or hair. My mom to this day still wears ab­so­lutely no makeup; she doesn’t even have face cream! So grow­ing up in that en­vi­ron­ment didn’t ex­actly pro­mote any sort of putting on makeup or wear­ing re­veal­ing clothes, show­ing off your fea­tures and your beauty. It wasn’t un­til I branched out of my home life that I re­al­ized I could model for a liv­ing. When I got to col­lege, friends would tell me I should model.

Do you worry about some of the things that have hap­pened to Kim Kar­dashian or on­line bul­ly­ing?

You def­i­nitely have to be cau­tious on social me­dia. In terms of bul­ly­ing, I try not to let it get to me. I gen­uinely be­lieve that peo­ple who are putting them­selves out there to make other peo­ple feel bad are in a worse-off place than you are. I try to just think of it as not even be­ing real. Be­cause a lot of times, th­ese peo­ple are just kids be­hind a com­puter screen or just re­ally sad, suf­fer­ing peo­ple, and I don’t want to judge them. Their opin­ion doesn’t have much merit any­way.

You are also good at stay­ing out of drama.

Many peo­ple in my age group fall into drama or have late-night tweet­ing episodes. I have a lot of peo­ple around me who sup­port me, so I don’t feel like I have to go out and rebel or do things with­out think­ing them through. That’s what it comes down to, think­ing about the con­se­quences of your ac­tions. Ab­so­lutely, some­times I wanted to do or say things and have my mind heard, but it’s not al­ways what’s best.

To what do you at­tribute your rise to suc­cess?

Au­then­tic­ity is very im­por­tant in brand­ing your­self and know­ing what you want. It’s re­ally dif­fi­cult not to just hop on the band­wagon and do what ev­ery per­son is do­ing. I found that main­tain­ing your brand and stick­ing to it makes all the dif­fer­ence. It sets you apart, and th­ese days that’s what peo­ple want—some­thing dif­fer­ent.

Does be­ing a self-de­scribed “chubby lit­tle girl” play into your diet now?

I just want to do what makes me feel best. And I don’t think it means you have to be any par­tic­u­lar size. It’s dif­fer­ent for ev­ery per­son. I am not su­per strict, but if I have some­thing com­ing up and I know I need to be in bikini shape, then I will amp up the diet and the ex­er­cise. Nat­u­rally, I pre­fer to eat pretty healthy, but I am not the type of per­son who will count calo­ries. I also drink about a gal­lon of wa­ter ev­ery day.

What are your thoughts on plas­tic surgery?

No mat­ter how much surgery you have, whether you are the most sought-af­ter beauty in the world or you aren’t, it’s hard to al­ways be happy in your own skin. If peo­ple have surgery to be hap­pier, it’s some­thing that they should be able to do with­out be­ing ashamed.

Is it im­por­tant to keep your love life pri­vate?

It’s ab­so­lutely a learn­ing curve to de­cide what to keep pri­vate and what to let peo­ple see. And it is hard. Some­times you are so ex­cited about some­thing and you want ev­ery­one to know, or you are re­ally an­gry about some­thing, but there is no right or wrong an­swer.

Are marriage and kids in your fu­ture?

Ab­so­lutely. Some of the peo­ple I ad­mire the most are the women who can do it all, like Jes­sica Alba or Rachel Zoe. Just women who are ab­so­lutely killing it in their busi­nesses and in their brand, but also have time to have a hus­band and chil­dren and main­tain that pri­vacy. Grow­ing up in a big family has made family very im­por­tant to me, and I def­i­nitely want that some­day. Not right now, though.

You were crowned Miss Uni­verse in Las Ve­gas in 2012. What are your mem­o­ries of that whirl­wind time?

The first time I ever went to Ve­gas was when I was com­peted in Miss USA. Ev­ery time I think of Las Ve­gas I think of those amaz­ing mem­o­ries from that time. Ve­gas is the place where my life changed. I went from be­ing a Bos­ton Uni­ver­sity col­lege stu­dent to be­ing whisked away to New York City for a long year as Miss USA and then even­tu­ally Miss Uni­verse. I’ll never for­get get­ting off the plane with my mom and head­ing over to Cae­sars Palace. They had up­graded us to a fancy suite and I re­mem­ber think­ing it was so beau­ti­ful—i couldn’t be­lieve it! Now, ev­ery time I walk into a Ve­gas ho­tel I am im­me­di­ately brought back to the mo­ment I won Miss USA and Miss Uni­verse. The smell of the build­ings alone brings back so many mem­o­ries. I know that sounds strange but it’s the truth!

You’re in Ve­gas a lot! What do you love best?

When I’m in Ve­gas I al­ways have to go to the spa for some R&R. The ho­tels have the most lux­u­ri­ous spas. An­other thing I al­ways love to do is see a show. I re­ally like all the Cirque du Soleil shows and of course some of the iconic mu­si­cal per­for­mances like Sha­nia Twain, Brit­ney Spears and J Lo. My fa­vorite ho­tels are Wynn and the Bel­la­gio be­cause they have every­thing. One minute you can gam­ble and drink cock­tails and the next mo­ment you can be look­ing at price­less works of art. The restau­rants in Ve­gas are al­ways great, too. The last time I was there we had this multi-course meal at Bazaar Meat by José An­drés. It was def­i­nitely over the top, but that’s what Ve­gas does best! Other restau­rants I love in the area are by some of the most suc­cess­ful chefs I re­ally ad­mire like Gi­ada, Bobby Flay, Emeril, and Gor­don Ram­say.

In fact, you’re adding “restau­ra­teur” to your own job de­scrip­tion.

I’m from a big Ital­ian family; my dad has owned restau­rants my en­tire life. It’s some­thing I have al­ways dreamed of do­ing. We are open­ing this restau­rant with my cousin in North Kingstown, Rhode Is­land, called The Back 40. It’s been fun to dive into the food space. (In Fe­bru­ary, Culpo show­cased Su­per­bowl recipes on Food Net­work’s The Kitchen.)

Are you a die-hard Pa­tri­ots fan?

Ev­ery­body in Rhode Is­land clings to the Pa­tri­ots. It’s the one thing that we have go­ing for our tiny state. So ev­ery­one in Rhode Is­land is a Pa­tri­ots fan, and I am one of them. Die-hard.

Culpo serves as a spokesper­son for HIV/AIDS aware­ness and an am­bas­sador for Free the Chil­dren and We Day, and has trav­eled the world work­ing with var­i­ous char­i­ties in un­der­de­vel­oped coun­tries.

74 Flo­ral dress, ($2,995). Dolce & Gab­bana The Shops at Crys­tals, 702- 431- 6614; dol­cegab­bana.com

Gown, Roberto Cavalli ($10,195). The Shops at Crys­tals, 702-736-7300; rober­to­cav­alli.com

Bodice ($1,850) and skirt ($1,600), Zim­mer­mann. Bar­neys New York, Grand Canal Shoppes at Vene­tian and Palazzo, 702- 629- 4200; bar­neys.com op­po­site page: Slip dress, Diane von Fursten­berg ($898). The Fo­rum Shops at Cae­sars, 702- 879-2692; dvf.com

Robe coat ($4,950), dress ($1,750), neck­lace ($2,100), brooch ($550), and metal belt ($1,300), Chanel. Wynn Las Ve­gas, 702-7703532; chanel.com Styling by Ja­son Bolden Hair by Jus­tine Mar­jan at Some­thing Artists us­ing GHD and Tre­semme Makeup by Liz Cas­tel

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