On a hot Thursday afternoon in late July, I headed to Pier 59 studios on the west side of Manhattan, where the photographer Steven Klein was on set shooting Bella Hadid and Xiao Wen Ju — not for an editorial in W or Interview, but for Samsung's fall lookbook, a decidedly fashionable take on the South Korean tech giant's latest devices. (Those, techies, would be the Galaxy S6 edge+ and the Galaxy Note5.)
After signing an NDA and taking a look at the many wigs the models had worn over the course of the two-day shoot, I followed Samsung's press team to a sunny room where Hadid was filming some video material. When she got a break, the up-and-coming model — who is, let it be known, unassuming and very polite — took a few minutes to answer some questions about her recent campaign work.
How has the shoot gone? It's been a full two days, right?
Yeah, it was two days. I mean, it's been amazing shooting with Steven Klein. And I've never really had a chance to fully look into a Samsung phone before... I've just been taking so many pictures and so many selfies, it's ridiculous. The camera's insane.
You worked with Steven Klein before on a joint cover with your sister, Gigi, for V. What were you trying to convey with that one, and what was the process like?
I think the whole [thing] that they were trying to conceptualize was the fact that we are very different. We were both wearing wigs; hers was blonde and mine was brunette. We both had bangs. And everything was very dark — Steven shoots a lot of very dark photos. It was very cool shooting with her, because I've never shot with her before. I mean, I've shot with her at home, but nothing so big as a V cover.
What was your sister dynamic like on set?
It's actually funny — she'd never seen me work before, and I'd never seen her work before, so we would just look at each other and be like, "This is so weird." It's cool to work with her and see how she creates an environment for herself. She's a hard worker.
And how about the Balmain campaign you guys are in together? You're putting lipstick on her, and it looks like some sort of power play. What was the narrative there?
There wasn't really a story. We were at a church next to a cemetery, actually. It was underground, and they built this insane fountain. We were sitting on really, really hard cement, and Balmain's clothes are super tight. [Creative Director Olivier Rousteing] makes such beautiful clothing, but it's very hard to move in. So my leg is sticking out, and Gigi had this pose [that] was really hurting her. I had to tower over her and push her down. She was like, "If you don't get off of me right now, I will literally hit you." Nobody else heard that, she was just whispering in my ear.
You live in New York now. What are you favorite spots around the city?
I'm obsessed with food. I've never been to any pizza places in Brooklyn, and it makes me really sad because it seems like everyone's always having really great pizza there.
I just did that last night.
I ate a whole pizza last night. I'm not exaggerating. Have you had Gemma's pizzas? It's next to The Bowery. I ate it all myself; I was starving. I love pizza. Also Bar Pitti. I'm working a lot, so I don't really go anywhere. The Bowery is close to my place, so I just walk there and get a good meal.
How far in advance do you know your shooting schedule?
My schedule's really hard right now. My agent's good about telling me things more in advance, but sometimes things come up a couple days before. Or I'll be on option for something for a month, and then two days before the shoot they'll tell me that I'm doing [it]. Right now I know my schedule until the end of August — most of it. But then I can still book jobs in the middle. It's kind of stressful, but it's fun.
What does being on option mean?
You and I could be on option for a job, and they pick you over me, so you do the job. But being on option is always cool because it means they have you in mind for something. They're thinking about you.
What would you tell yourself about modeling seven months ago, when you first started out?
I wish I would've known how to do interviews. When I still started doing them I was literally the worst. I would re-read [interviews] and be like, "You're such an idiot."
Everyone thinks they sound bad in interviews.
It's awkward because we're in an interview right now. Like how I just talked about pizza for 20 minutes. Did I even answer your question?
I have my sister, so I've known [the ins and outs of modeling] for a while — not exactly what to do, because I still make a lot of mistakes — but the guidelines, sort of. I guess it's okay to make mistakes. A while ago I would have gotten mad at myself if I was on option, or taken it personally. But it's not really a personal thing. They just wanted a different look, and, like I said, they thought about me. And sometimes I'm happy because I get to sleep in.
Reasonable. So, exercise...?
If you have to.
I tried Pilates once...
Yeah? How was that?
I don't know, but I really want to start kickboxing. Really badly. My sister's been into it for so long, and my best friend's done it since she was 14. I think it would be fun to do. Any frustration [you've got] — just punch a bag. But also I have a gym in my apartment, so [I can work out] on the treadmill. That's usually what I do. It's an independent activity.
Do you have any specific goals for your modeling career?
I have goals, but I don't like talking about it because I feel like it makes it not happen or something. This Samsung thing is one of the bigger things I've done, just because it's with Steven and it's Samsung. I like things to just happen. I don't really like to think, "I want to do this and this and this and this." If I get the job, I get it, and if I don't, I don't, but I think everything just falls into place the way it should be.
How often do people tell you you look like Jennifer Lawrence?
Multiple times a day. Probably today it's already happened like five times.
Do people think you're actually her, though?
No, but they'll be like, "Oh my god, you know who you look like?" I'll be like, "Jennifer Lawrence." They'll be like, "How did you know?" Like, "Just a weird thought I had..."
Have you ever met her?
I met her at the Met Ball. I don't even know if she knows that. I swear we made eye contact. I had to shake her hand while we walked in, and I was like, "This is so weird." I don't know if she did a double take or whatever, but it happened.
Homepage photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images