Here's What Camille Kostek Did to Land Her Sports Illustrated Cover

By Katie Jackson | August 30, 2019 | People

From Mansfield to Monroe, the USA is pretty good at bombshells. Let's all welcome Camille Kostek, with her sparkling eyes and pinup curves, to the bomb squad.

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On Kostek: Denise star tee, $180, by Acne Studio at Saks Fifth Avenue; triangle brief bikini bottom, $29, at Guess, guess.com.

It stands to reason that if Camille Kostek submitted an audition tape to be President of the United States of America, we would have our first female in the White House come 2020. Yes the blue-eyed blonde from Killingworth, Connecticut, might just be that persuasive. And good on film.

The 27-year-old's audition tape for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue (recorded on the fly with her best friend) landed her “Rookie of the Year” status and then, to her surprise, the 2019 cover. When a whim to appear in a movie hit, her tape was accepted by director Shawn Levy and she’ll appear in next summer’s Free Guy. So, no, the former New England Patriots cheerleader has no political aspirations. (But if she did—can we all take a moment to imagine Kostek’s boyfriend Rob Gronkowski as first gentleman?)

However, Kostek does have a cause—or a campaign, if you will—that's very important to her. She’s on a mission to change the way young women and men view their bodies.

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On Kostek: Kyla sequin stripe minidress, $485, by RIXO London at Saks Fifth Avenue; red pumps, $395, at Alice + Olivia, Design District.

Tell us about Camille before you became Camille Kostek, Ocean Drive cover girl.
CAMILLE KOSTEK: I grew up in a really small town in Connecticut. It was so small that my high school was combined with three towns surrounding it. And we were still a small high school.

Like, cows crossing the street, one stoplight, one mom-and-pop place. There was an uproar when they put Dunkin Donuts in town! We had the biggest backyard in the neighborhood, so that’s where all the kids came over to play. And I really feel fortunate to have grown up in an age where there wasn’t so much social media.

When did you start dancing?
CK: I started at 3 years old and then danced competitively at 7. Dance nationals became our family vacations. But my goal was to be an NFL cheerleader. I wanted to be in a large environment and perform for a big crowd, and the ultimate stage was the Super Bowl. I joined the dance team in college at Eastern Connecticut State University, and when I was a junior, I made the NFL cheerleading team. I was going to school full time studying journalism and marketing while cheering for the Patriots. I had to commute from Connecticut to Massachusetts every day. But when you’re passionate about something, you make it work.

How did you transition from NFL cheerleader to swimsuit model?
CK: Growing up, it was hard to associate with some of the women who were being portrayed in the media. I was a girl with freckles and grew into a young woman a little bit more quickly, with hips and thighs. It wasn’t until I picked up an issue of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit at 15 where I was like, ‘Whoa! If I were ever to be a model, this is what I would want to do.’ Looking at the women, I was like, ‘She’s got freckles, she’s got hips, she’s got thighs. Her boobs look natural.’ That always stuck with me. When I finished school, I started going to open calls in New York. But I was getting the same response every time: ‘Get your measurements down.’ ‘Take X inches off your thighs and your hips.’

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Star appliqué minidress, $4,390, by Saint Laurent at The Webster South Beach; Ruby Sun sunglasses, $265, at Etnia Barcelona, etniabarcelona.com; earrings, price upon request, at MaryJane Claverol, maryjaneclaverol.com.

A sadly familiar story in the modeling world.
CK:
In February of 2017, I was still not represented by a major agency. But an agency in L.A. asked me how I would feel about gaining weight because the plus size initiative was flourishing. It felt like defeat. But I am a firm believer in the law of attraction and manifesting. That March, I was on Instagram and SI posted about their first-ever open casting call. It said, ‘Are you the next Chrissy Teigen? The next Kate Upton? Then submit a 60-second video telling us why.’ I was like, ‘Screw the agencies, I’m doing this myself!’

What did you include in your audition tape?
CK: I called up a friend of mine from my small town in Connecticut to help me shoot the video. I reserved a house in Malibu on Airbnb so that we could have our SI Swimsuit moments. It was getting to the end of the day and I was like, ‘I’ll sit in front of a white wall and tell you about why I want to do this.’ He said, ‘That’s not you.’ He threw the camera over his shoulder and said, ‘Why do you want to do this?’ I was like, ‘You know why I want to do this!’ And I passionately told him why and that we needed to go back to the house, now. He said, ‘It’s all set, I got that on tape.’ We submitted it and four days later I got a DM from Sports Illustrated Swimsuit with a blue check mark: ‘Congratulations, you’ve been selected as a finalist.’

And then—boom—you’re the cover star.
CK: When the cover was announced, I called my mom. I didn’t call an agency to say thank you for getting me here. Throughout the entire process, my body never really changed, but my outlook on my life and my body changed. My relationship with myself, my colleagues, my boyfriend... everything got better.

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Baroque and logo-print crop tee, $225, and leggings, $225, both by Versace Jeans Couture at Saks Fifth Avenue.

You and Rob Gronkowski are total #couplegoals.
CK:
We both admire each other. I always get asked what’s it like dating an NFL player, and for as much as I love watching him play football, and that’s what he’s best known for, I see what goes on behind the scenes—going back to his hometown and getting to know his family and being by his side through injuries and everything else. I’m a firm believer of ‘work in silence, let your success speak.’ And he does the same thing.

What’s next for you?
CK: I’m just getting started! I feel like it’s my duty to share my experiences with self-acceptance. I don’t want to bore people and talk about myself, but the biggest struggle for me was my body. I’m an advocate for self-acceptance and I want to share what I’ve found and what might help others. I started with women’s panels and extended to universities. I want to reach out to everyone. Men, women, the LGBTQ community. And another big goal of mine is to have my own talk show!

What would you call it?
CK: ‘Camille’s Backyard.’ I love barbecuing and playing cornhole or wiffleball. That’s also something that’s special about my relationship with Rob—he grew up playing backyard sports and we both love it.

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Sequin moto jumpsuit, $1,380, by Carolina Ritzler at Saks Fifth Avenue; 1972 Ferrari 246 GTS Dino, price upon request, We Are Curated, 2100 NE Second Ave., wearecurated.com.

Do you get competitive with each other?
CK:
This past week we were playing a game and I was not done playing until I beat him out for one game. And then we were done playing games.

What can you tell us about the film you did with Ryan Reynolds and director Shawn Levy?
CK:
Their passion for their work and energy on set made the experience one I’ll never forget. I am so excited for this film to hit theaters next summer.

Now that you’re a Miami regular, where can we find you when you’re in town?
CK:
Rob and I love going to Maham Yoga. We also grab bikes and ride around South Beach. We love sunset rides. Jet Skis are my favorite thing to do in the water down here. I’m just such an active, ‘go’ girl.

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Coat, price upon request, by Christian Dior at The Webster South Beach; crystal-embellished bodysuit, $2,875, by Alexandre Vaulthier at The Webster South Beach; patent leather pumps, $695, at Christian Louboutin, Design District.



Photography by: Photography by Riocam; Styled by Danny Santiago; Makeup by Daniela Gozlan using CHANEL Les Beiges; Hair by Pablo Rivera