The scene backstage at the annual Victoria's Secret Fashion Show is always electric with excitement, and as a model-worshipping editor, I'll admit that it's tough not to get distracted by the Angels (Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio, Josephine Skriver) and Instagirls (Kendall Jenner, Joan Smalls, Gigi Hadid) taking selfies, blowing kisses and prancing around in their branded pink robes and undies. I'm not alone in this: The international press and camera crews tend to flock to these world-famous women for interviews before they hit the runway, and the resulting mobs are pretty chaotic.
However, my favorite part of navigating the crush during hair and makeup prep is seeking out the ladies walking the show for the first time — this year, there are a whopping 18 newbies — who are generally bursting with enthusiasm ahead of their debuts. For the 2016 edition of the show, the rookies range from brand new industry faces to high fashion favorites to bona-fide supermodels (Bella Hadid and Irina Shayk, specifically), and while they're all in different phases of their careers, they all agree that being cast in the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show is the holy grail of modeling gigs. Sure, the fact that it airs in 190 countries means incredible exposure, but when asked why a spot on this particular runway is a career goal for so many women starting out in their careers, the newbies' answers tended to focus on using it as a platform to inspire and empower others.
Read on to find out why eight of the show's first-timers consider a spot on the lingerie brand's runway roster to be the ultimate dream job, in their own words, and watch them strut their stuff when the event airs on Monday, Dec. 5 on CBS.
Disclosure: Victoria's Secret provided my travel and accommodations to cover its annual fashion show.