Nina Agdal Talks Modeling, Breakups & Miami
by julia ford-carther
It’s hardly your typical photoshoot direction, but “Open wide” is the cue that made Nina Agdal famous. While most models wouldn’t touch fast food, she dove right in.
After fast-food chain Carl’s Jr. ran a prime-time Super Bowl ad this past February featuring her strolling a tropical island in a barely there bikini and biting into one of its sandwiches with beautiful gusto, Agdal has been in high demand. “I just got back from LA, actually,” she tells Ocean Drive, of her latest campaign with mega-retailer Bebe. “And I’m leaving for the Hamptons tonight.”
In her short career, Agdal has been spotted on the pages of Victoria’s Secret catalogs and Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue. Despite her soaring success, the 21-year-old Dane seems refreshingly down-to-earth. “In this business, there are tons of beautiful girls,” she acknowledges. “So if you’re not bringing anything else to the table other than a pretty face, you’re not going anywhere.” But she is.
As the now-New Yorker watches her celebrity rise, Agdal never forgets where her Stateside career was launched: Miami. “I think it was time for me to just try something else, but I still go back to Miami,” she says. “I still consider it my American home.”
What was your first modeling experience?
I was very young. My very first job was for a magazine where I had to do fitness exercises. I had no clue what I was doing.
You then moved to Miami when you were 18. Why Miami?
The first place I went in America was Boca Raton, and I thought it was awesome. It was spring break, and there were tons of young people and cute Americans in Speedos. Then I went to Miami to meet Elite Model Management, and they convinced me and my parents that I should [move].
Did you like living here?
I loved it immediately. For the first month I was in Miami, I was chilling. I was on the beach. I had four amazing roommates. We stayed in South Beach on Third and Euclid Avenue. All I did was go to the beach and go on boats with promoters. I had the best time of my life there.
Any favorite restaurants in Miami?
Oh, there are so many. For lunch, Pollo Tropical and Jimmy’z Kitchen. For dinner, Cecconi’s at the Soho Beach House. That’s my favorite restaurant in Miami now.
You booked your first major job while living here. How did it feel to land that?
I did something that made Victoria’s Secret Pink see me. Back then I didn’t even know that Victoria’s Secret was that big of a deal. I never saw myself as a person actually making it. I always saw all these other models and I was like, “They’re so beautiful, I’m never going to be like that.” And now I’m doing a bunch of stuff that I looked up to. So Victoria’s Secret put me on the map. And then Sports Illustrated from there.
Yes, last year you were voted Sports Illustrated’s Rookie of the Year 2012. This year, you had major success with the Carl’s Jr. Super Bowl ad.
I’m getting recognized from that commercial. People come up to me and say, “Oh, you’re that burger girl.” People ask if my mouth was Photoshopped, and it’s not. My mouth actually is that big. That’s what I’m known for now, “the burger girl.” But I like it. It was so fun to shoot it, and I think it came out really well. I’m the burger girl.
What is it about you that people respond to?
I feel like people see me as this girl next door, and that comes across in my photos. I want girls to be able to relate to me, and I think that’s why a lot of commercial clients like me, because I’m just like everyone else.
In your career, were you ever pressured about your weight?
There have been times when people have told me to lose weight or tone up certain areas. There is a difference between toning up and losing weight. You shouldn’t tell skinny girls to lose weight because it hurts. It hurts no matter who you are and how skinny you are or how big you are. If somebody tells you to lose weight, it is like a punch in the face.
What’s your take on plastic surgery?
If something is bothering you and it’s not going to completely destroy your face and look like you have massive wind hitting you, then it’s fine. If you’ve had kids and you want your boobs lifted a little bit, of course you should get them lifted. When you get older, if it makes you feel better, I’m totally for it.
All in moderation, which is not often the case in our city. Miami fashion can also be over the top. Does it suit you?
When I go to Miami, I like putting on more colors and shorter dresses and higher heels and more bling. It is just the feeling Miami gives you. And I love that.
How would you describe your off-duty style?
Very casual and comfortable. Today I wore this Forever 21 T-shirt, an H&M sweater, Nike Air Max sneakers, and a Michael Kors bag. And Ray-Bans. I am really good at saving my money. I think that’s important. I want, like, 100 kids, so I’m going to have to save a lot of money for that.
One hundred kids! Are you dating anybody?
No, I am not.
You went through a very public breakup [with Maroon 5’s Adam Levine, who is now engaged]. Did it teach you anything about love?
No, it didn’t. I am 21 years old, and I don’t think anyone who is 21 knows what love is about yet. I think love just happens. It happened to them and I’m happy for them. I am not even worried about anything like that. If something is meant to be, then it will be. I feel like so many young girls have this idea of a relationship or marriage or love and [they] don’t even know. We are 21 years old, okay? Go out, have a tequila, and stop worrying about it.
photography by gavin bond, Styling by Jennifer Hitzges; Hair by Kevin Woon at Woon Salon/Jed Root Inc.; Makeup by Matin, color consultant for Laura Mercier; Shot on location at 263 Surfside Drive, Bridgehampton, NY
Cover shoot: Behind the scenes with Pitbull for the October 2014 issue of Ocean Drive magazine.