It feels, more than ever, like an important time to celebrate women who inspire. Our Power issue couldn’t come at a better time. In the fashion world, the truest of Supermodels convey strength, confidence, and have an empowering energy surrounding them. Hilary Rhoda is certainly no exception. Whether starring in an international ad campaign, walking runways, or creating art through editorials, she never fails to evoke a powerful message. In fact, she is a force to be reckoned with; not an easy feat when your work relies solely on imagery.

By Megan West
Photographer Greg Swales
Fahion Editor Fritz

At 29 years old, Rhoda has been a fixture on Forbes lists and has remained at the top of her game for over ten years; certainly not typical in a particularly fickle industry. So how has she managed to carve out a lucrative and long-lasting career? Hilary opens up about how she’s grown as a business woman, and shares tips on how to take care of yourself, and how to keep striving for what you want.

Since this is the Power issue, can you tell us what you think makes a powerful womanHaving had so many successes, do you feel like a powerful force in the industry? This profession is always humbling because you can be on top of your game and working all the time and then it can get quiet. There’s always a new hot girl coming in. I think having a good attitude about it and always being up for new things [is important].

I’ve definitely worked with every powerful person in the industry, but I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished everything. There’s always something new and there’s always something that I haven’t done before that I want to do, which is good!
You exude a powerful energy through you work. With so much going on, how do you maintain a balanceI work a lot and I’m travelling a lot. One of the downsides to this job is I can’t really plan anything – like a vacation or a girls weekend – because I find out two days before sometimes that I have to go to Paris or to LA. So that’s kind of tough. To maintain balance I exercise, because that helps me feel good and deal with jet lag. That’s probably the biggest constant in my life.



What is it like being a woman managing her own careerI’ve learned that you have to ask for the things you want to do and make that known. [Earlier in my career] I didn’t do that and I was kind of waiting around for things to happen, but they’re not going to just happen. Agents don’t know you want to do this or that; they can’t read your mind!

What are your ultimate career goals? Is there a trajectory you’ve been following
When I first started I was the only American model – which I know sounds really weird today because there are so many and it’s totally normal. So I had that working against me and I had to fight [perceptions] because people weren’t totally accepting: They thought I wasn’t exotic enough.

I started doing Sports Illustrated when girls who did high fashion did not do Sports Illustrated. I was doing things like that before it was acceptable in the fashion industry. So there was no career mould that I was trying to follow; I was always changing it up and doing things I wanted to do, even if it wasn’t totally cool at the time. But it worked out, so I just follow whatever I feel. Right now I’m taking a lot of acting classes and that’s really the next path I want to go down.

Did being the face of a world-renowned beauty brand, Estee Lauder, change your career
? I got the contract [as brand Ambassador] about a year after I started modelling, so it was pretty early on, but it made me feel a little more comfortable. It gave me that little bit of confidence that I would be around for a while. When I started out it was all about who’s new this season. I didn’t have to worry about that so much. 

You have a great social media presence. From a business perspective, do you think it’s become a necessary part of your jobI think it’s so important. Pretty much every model has their own. There’s a few who don’t and can get away with not having it, but I don’t understand why they wouldn’t. I think it helps to have it!

It’s amazing and really fun for me to do. You can show your personality, and you can also put what want to do out there – and maybe you get a job out of it! So, whatever you want; I think it’s good to have a nice balance of work and personal stuff.

Hilary Rhoda Dress to Kill1

How important do you think it is for women – particularly in an industry where one can be taken advantage of quite easily— to mentor the next generation of models? I think it’s great. I didn’t necessarily have a mentor, but that’s not to say older models didn’t give me advice, or that I didn’t look up to them. Lauren Hutton is so amazing. One time, when I was younger, we were in Paris doing a show and we were having dinner with our [mutual] agent. She told me “stay true to yourself and give time to yourself”. When she was modelling she’d take it to an extreme; she’d go on vacation for like two months! She’d go on safaris and come back and photographers would say she has life back in her eyes!

Through social media, I get a lot of girls who message me and say I’ve inspired them to start working out again. For me it’s really important: To show that you can stay in shape the healthy way. That’s something I try to pass on to younger girls.

What have been the biggest pinch-me or rewarding moments of your career so far?  Being the face of Estee Lauder was obviously amazing and that’s one of the highlights. Also, doing couture shows for John Galliano at Dior; it was really amazing, crazy, theatrical make-up and it felt like a performance. Those were always so much fun!

What is backstage at a fashion show like for you[As a young model] I was doing 60 shows a season – I don’t know how I would do that now! Now I do one or two shows a season and it’s so stressful!  It’s so different now because there’s so many people backstage – It’s crazy.

What is backstage at a fashion show like for you?  I don’t really get nervous for shoots. Shows, definitely! I get nervous right before I go on: The adrenaline is running!

Let’s talk fitness. What do you love most about the Tracy Anderson Method? It’s the best workout for me. I’ve tried lots of other workouts and trainers and nothing really worked. I also dreaded [working out] –  I did not look forward to it. I have a dance background and there’s something about having to learn choreography – dancing as cardio – that just clicked for me. [ Tracy Anderson] was really fun and exciting and my body really started changing! I could see the results, I stuck with it, and I’ve been going there for 8 years.

While clearly effective, Tracy Anderson workouts can be seriously intimidating. Do you have any words of encouragement for anyone wanting to try it out? It is very hard and it does not get easier! (laughs) It is still so hard! But try it! You can go at your own pace. You don’t have to do all the reps, just take it [slow], and work your way up. Everybody has to start somewhere.

What tips do you have for anyone looking to transition into a healthy lifestyle? Find a friend that’s in the same mind-set and has the same ideas in terms of getting healthy. It’s always easier to do it with somebody else. It also gives you a little bit more responsibility. It’s easier to stay in bed and not go when it’s just you. When I got back into working out, it was with my husband. We had just started dating and he was a professional athlete in great shape. In his hockey off-season he was working out every single day, and he would take me to spin class with him. It was a good motivator!

What are your tips for staying healthy in terms of diet and fitness while travelling?  On the plane I try not to eat the food, because it has a lot of sodium. I’ll try and eat fruit to hold me over or bring my own food. I always bring a jump rope and leg weights in my suitcase so I can do any of my workouts in my hotel room. It also helps me feel so much better once I land to sweat and get my circulation going after sitting for so long.

What do you love most about life in Manhattan?  I love New York so much. I love that it’s never dead, there’s always people, there’s always something to do, and restaurants are always going to be open. The convenience of it is so nice and I love being able to walk everywhere. I live downtown and I also ride my bike, so I can get around so easily.

City life can be incredibly exhausting. How do you decompressIt is kind of draining and you don’t realize until you go away and get out of it. Sometimes I can get a little high strung feeling like go go go, and feel like I’m always rushing or late for something. I don’t like to go out that much at night. I’m kind of a homebody.  I like to come home and cook dinner and watch crappy TV like Real Housewives. (laughs)

What’s your ideal night with friendsI love going to dinners – that’s another thing I love about the city! There’s so many great restaurants and you could try a new one every single night. I keep little lists of places I want to try.

Photography Greg Swales.
Assistant Photographer Amanda Yanez, Casey Franklin.
Fashion Editor Fritz.
Model Hilary Rhoda at IMG Models.
Hair Sasha Nesterchuk.
Makeup Victor Henao for ESTÉE LAUDER.
Manicure Angel Williams using CHANEL Le Vernis.
Videography Lavo Clemente.
Hair Sasha Nesterchuk.
Web designer César Ochoa .


About The Author

César Ochoa
Art Director

Cesar Ochoa has a Graphic Design Bachelor’s Degree from University La Salle in Mexico City where he finds a fascination for fashion magazines. He moved to Canada in 2006 and soon he started collaborating for some magazines in Toronto and Montreal as photographer and graphic designer. Huge fan of Dress to kill he started working for the magazine for four years now as art director.

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