When I met Taylor Hill last year, we were disembarking a plane that Victoria's Secret had chartered to bring 40 models and a handful of journalists (myself included) to the lingerie brand's annual fashion show, which was taking place in London for the first time. My editor pals and I couldn't help but notice a particularly beautiful girl — one of the 10 rookies in the 2014 show — standing quietly in the customs line. Although none of us knew her name at the time, we all had a hunch that would quickly change.
Flash forward one year, and Hill, a bubbly 19-year-old who hails from Colorado, has experienced an unprecedented rise through the industry ranks. Not only did she make the jump from being a VS Fashion Show first-timer walking in the Pink section (what Hill affectionately calls the "kids' section") to a full-fledged Angel in just six months, she also racked up an impressive roster of high-fashion runway appearances, walking for brands like Chanel, Balmain, Versace and Givenchy. And perhaps most importantly in the year of the "social supermodel," Hill surpassed the big 1 million follower milestone on Instagram — the modern Holy Grail of modeling achievements, at least when it comes to getting the top bookings.
Hill's second turn on the Victoria's Secret runway airs tonight at 10 p.m. on CBS, and before the nerves officially kicked in, I chatted with Hill at the brand's Soho store about how drastically her life has changed since we last spoke, the most surreal moments she's experienced since becoming an Angel and how much pressure she really feels to be Insta-famous.
Last year you debuted in the Pink segment and now you're a full-time Angel. How has your life changed over the past 12 months?
It's like night and day. I work for Victoria's Secret all the time now — I do campaigns and fragrances and PR days and the show... whoa! It's a lot, but it's so exciting and I feel so blessed that it happened to me.
What's the most surreal thing that's happened since you've become an Angel?
I've always looked up to Selena Gomez and have been a fan of hers since the Disney days. And [at this year's show] I met her for the first time and walked down the runway while she was performing. It's been a dream of mine to meet her, and we got to have a moment! I was such a nerd — she told me I was cute, and I was like, "No, you're cute! Stop it!" It was really fun.
Has it been a challenge to balance your packed high-fashion schedule with your work as an Angel?
It's very difficult because now I have more Victoria's Secret days and I always do Fashion Week, which is a struggle [to schedule], but I love what I do so it doesn't feel like work. I don't mind the travel. Actually, VS helps a lot with the high-fashion stuff, because now I get to pick — I can say, "Hey, I'd really like to do these shows," and then my agent takes it from there. I get to have more of a say, whereas before, you kind of have to pay your dues and do what [your agents] say; you have to do certain shows to get casting directors to like you and put you in the bigger ones. I did all of that, and now I'm here — it gives you more power in a way.
This year you hit 1 million followers on Instagram — do you feel a lot of pressure to be plugged into social media all of the time?
If you put pressure on yourself and feel like that, it starts to become unnatural and then your job's not fun anymore. I try not to think about it too much — I'm not active every single day even though people tell me I should be. But people like it when I come out and show them my life. "Here's glimpse of what I've [been up to] while I haven't posted in a week." It's more natural to me, and I try to [separate it] from being part of my job. Social media's there for your personal life as well and it makes models more approachable and personable, which is why we're able to have such great fans. I definitely keep that in mind when I post.
What's it been like to come up with the largest class of new Angels ever?
It's awesome, I love it so much. Sara [Sampaio] is one of my best friends — she's like my sister, I love her — she's so squeezable! We're all going through the same thing; we all share advice, like, "Did you do this? What happened here? What should I do there?" I have two sisters already but I feel like [this year] I got nine more.