Josephine Skriver has what it takes to be a Victoria's Secret Angel in her DNA — not just because she's incredibly gorgeous, but also because there is probably an honest-to-god invisible halo resting above her head. After spending just under a half hour with her, you get the impression she's never said anything mean or egotistical in her life. A real-life Angel! But if you ask Skriver what it's like to don those wings — an honor she nabbed a year ago — she can't quite believe it's happening to her. "Still, somehow, every day it's like, 'There's no way it's real!' she says. "You have to keep reminding yourself, you're doing this! You're earning your spot here, you worked so hard."
From just about anyone else, this might read as false modesty, but coming from Skriver, it's completely genuine. Despite the fact that she had been doing back-to-back interviews at Victoria's Secret's Fifth Avenue flagship on a blustery winter day, her infectious smile and charm never wavered. It's no wonder the Danish supermodel has a growing and dedicated fanbase, self-dubbed her "Subskrivers," who follow her every move on social media and look to her for advice. "Honestly, it's such an honor. The fact that people look at me as a role model, it pushes me to be constantly better and constantly be positive," she says. "I'm creating this little Subskriver army who's spreading my message now, and it's really cool having my fanbase because I always try to keep it positive, and they become really positive, too."
Skriver genuinely loves her fans, and like other Angels, she's using her platform to promote messages that are important to her. She started the hashtag #ImBeautiful, which her Subskrivers can use to send selfies and photos of themselves to promote body positivity. The cause closest to her heart, however, is fighting for LGBQT equality. Skriver was raised by two sets of gay parents, something she didn't realize made her different until she started to travel and moved to the U.S. She clearly feels passionately about the deeply personal topic. "I just thought if I told my story, people would be aware that it's just as simple as having a split up family with a mom and dad," she explains. "It's very rare you meet that family that has a mom, a dad, two kids, a white picket fence and a dog anymore."
"I think I wanted to challenge the concept of families," she continues. "I hope that by telling my story, there will be more openness to something, because I do believe if people knew better, they would do better, and I think there would be a different acceptance."
By talking about her family, she hopes her fans will understand that kids who come from non-nuclear families aren't actually that different at all. "Family is love, and family are who you choose in your heart to be," she says. "I look at my family and it's like one big collage stuck up on a wall, and we all created a heart together, because I love them and I choose to love them."
Of course, last year she added 13 sisters to that family collage. The best part of becoming a member of the Victoria's Secret team was getting to be a part of that camaraderie, a feeling shared by so many Angels before her. They work out together, they borrow each other's clothes, they travel together, and they get to walk the biggest runway of their lives together each year at the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. Skriver was no rookie for this year's catwalk in Paris, but it was her first time donning wings and opening a segment, which is a big honor. "I've always had fun but this really hit me, it was like living my dream," she says. "I started crying after I came out! It was like, 'Jo keep yourself together!'"
Being a Victoria's Secret Angel has been Skriver's dream since seeing fellow Danish beauty Helena Christensen model lingerie on a cloud in a '90s ad for the brand. Despite the criticism the brand receives, Skriver believes that being a part of that legacy is empowering to herself and to women everywhere. "I never thought they were selling to men, I always felt it was one of those underwear companies that was selling to us. I wanted to sell it and I wanted to be a part of it because they were emphasizing this strong, powerful and sexy woman," she says. "I've been such a feminist my whole life, so it's been cool to be like, 'Yeah, a girl's body is a girl's body!' It doesn't have to be something you guys make it into."
Getting the call obviously changed her life. "That was exactly like Oprah pointing at me like, you became an Angel!" she says laughing. It's even impacted her high-fashion career. Skriver used to hit the runway circuit pretty hard, but had seen callbacks slow. It's funny how becoming an Angel — and growing that massive social media following that often comes with it — can bring them all running back. "All of a sudden, they want you back because you're coming back as you with a name and not just a hanger on a rack," she says. "You're a person, you get to be you, you're not just selling a brand, but you're selling you with their brand, which is really cool. You become a brand yourself, which is such a crazy feeling."
Now, Skriver appears in campaigns and walks runways for the likes of Balmain, Fendi and Oscar de la Renta, in addition to covering international magazines. If she doesn't want to walk, she can sit front row at the shows with other celebrities. And it's only been a year. "You wake up, and one day they call you a supermodel. You're like, 'Wait, what just happened? I'm still tiny me!'" she says. "But you get the wings on, and it puts you in such a next level, and it's been going quickly ever since."
Homepage photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images