Bikini by Seafolly, similar styles at Atlanta Beach and Nordstrom
Twenty-seven miles north of Philadelphia sits a borough of Pennsylvania called Doylestown, with a population of less than 8,000—most of whom would probably be shocked to find one of their own splashed on a billboard or gracing the glossy pages of a magazine. But that’s reality, thanks to 24-year-old model Samantha Hoopes.
At just 14 years old, the aspiring model and self-professed tomboy moved to New York City, but found the fast-paced metropolis daunting. After resigning herself to a small-town life that included a two-year stint at Pennsylvania State University, where she studied kinesiology and business, the freckled bombshell got the call from a modeling agency in California that changed everything. From there, it was a flurry of ad campaigns, photo shoots and lots (we mean lots) of bikinis.
Though the sex-symbol status suits this smoldering stunner well, it’s her sunny demeanor and goofy personality (think: Instagram selfies of her mouth stuffed with fast-food French fries) that have her hundreds of thousands of fans and social media followers hooked. JEZEBEL sat down with Hoopes to talk booming success, what she looks for in a guy, that covetable bod and where we’ll see her next.
What kind of kid were you growing up?
I lived in a small town and spent a lot of time outdoors. I have four sisters, and we always spent our days outside, racing cars and having fun. I was totally a tomboy. I was always the one getting my hands dirty and playing outside with the boys. I did field hockey and so many other sports—I actually went to Penn State to study kinesiology because I thought I was going to be a P.E. teacher.
And now you’re based in L.A.?
Yes—I’ve been here for a little less than two years. I just got an apartment in Hollywood.
How did you get your start in the industry?
It was something I was always interested in since I was 14. My parents have always been super supportive—my mom moved out to New York with me when I was 14, and we tried out the modeling thing for a bit, but the hustle just got to me. I was really young and it didn’t really stick, so I went back to Pennsylvania to live the small-town life and be a P.E. teacher. I didn’t think anything else would ever really happen, and I thought I’d stay there forever.
Tell us about your big break.
I had submitted my photos to Elite [Model Management] in L.A., and they called me up and were interested. I met with them, they signed me and it’s been amazing since then. The opportunity just presented itself, and I thought: Let’s just do it. I moved out here, and two months later I was on the GUESS campaign.
That’s a huge campaign!
From what I’ve been told, it’s unheard of! I had just started, and I was very fresh in the modeling world. To have my face on billboards in L.A. for GUESS was so insane. It’s something I never thought would happen to me. Then came Sports Illustrated and Maxim—it’s all been a blessing.
When it comes to the modeling world, what aspect of the business was most surprising to you?
I definitely didn’t expect to travel so much. I didn’t really have anyone else around me growing up who’s done this, and a big part of the job is flying to random places for shoots and interviews. Sometimes you have to have your game face on right off the plane, and I’m not used to that.
What’s your mindset when going into a photo shoot?
On any set, the most important thing for me is to have fun and have a good energy from everyone involved. It’s especially important when the photographer is engaging with and respectful to me because I’m here for a job. When location and clothes and energy are good, the pictures usually turn out amazing.
Since this is our Best Bodies Issue, you’ve got to tell us how you keep that killer physique.
I like to switch it up a lot: I love doing outdoor stuff, taking hikes in L.A., and of course I’ll take the occasional cycling or boxing class, but I don’t really like to do anything too routine. I’m not that girl in the gym doing 30 sets of this or a mile on the treadmill. I don’t have a personal trainer right now, so I just try to stay active. I try to do at least one active thing each day. My schedule gets crazy, so I may not have an hour to go to the gym or go on a run, so the best thing to do is just to keep active any way I can. I do have a mini Yorkie named Mila, and she keeps me active because I’m always chasing her.
How does your diet factor into that? From social media, it seems like you enjoy a good burger every now and then!
To be honest, I should be a lot stricter on myself because I’m the girl who is all about the burgers and fries and guacamole. My diet is not very strict at all, and everyone in L.A. is all about gluten-free, fat-free and juicing, but that’s not how I grew up. It’s kind of strange for me, but I might need to go that route soon, since I’m a model and all. [Laughs] My favorite burger place is In-N-Out [Burger].
Let’s talk about getting glam.What’s your beauty routine?
When I’m running errands, I’m usually in workout clothes with no makeup and my hair up. But as a model, when I’m going to an event, it’s superfun to get dressed up with cute, tight dresses and high heels. I’m definitely more of a tomboy in everyday life. As far as products go, the only one I really stick with is ChapStick.
You’ve been romantically linked to people—like Seattle Seahawk Russell Wilson—in the past. Are you currently dating someone?
I am 100 percent single.
Is it harder to date someone when you have this sex-symbol status?
Yes and no. Of course, half the people who contact me wouldn’t know I existed had it not been for this position I’m in. It is a little weird because you never know what they’re into: Are they into my Instagram followers, my Sports Illustrated spread, or are they superchill and like me for me? Right now, I’m good with being single and focusing on my career. Boys are nice to look at, but I’m good.
What do you look for in a guy?
I look for a sense of humor right off the bat. I’m so goofy normally, so it’s important for someone to make me laugh. As far as looks go, I’ve been across the board, but I’m attracted to someone who takes care of himself. The hottest thing is when a guy is comfortable in his body and takes care of it.
You seem like a pretty open book. What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I can rap! It just kind of came around recently, but I have something in the works—a song I’m working on. You can maybe expect a single to drop soon.
How do you unwind when you’re not working?
I love playing with my dog—she’s a 24-hour bundle of entertainment. She’s so tiny that I have to take her everywhere with me, and I freak out if I leave her home alone. Other than that, I like going out on hikes, working out, finding cool food places around L.A., and I really like to watch [Showtime series] Shameless. It’s so good.
How does being considered a sex symbol make you feel?
It’s superempowering. I’m totally comfortable with my body, and I feel sexy when I’m comfortable and confident in myself. It’s cool to be able to take photos in cool places like St. Lucia for Sports Illustrated—not many people can say they go to work in a bikini in a tropical place, and then I have those photos forever as memories. It’s amazing.
When do you feel sexiest?
When I’m on a shoot, I love when my hair and makeup are done and I’m just on a beach in a bikini. In my everyday life, I feel most confident and sexy when I’m at home in my undies watching TV on my bed.
It seems like supermodels, like Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid and Karlie Kloss, are having a big moment right now, the kind that we haven’t seen since the days of Kate Moss and Tyra Banks. Do you agree?
For sure. It’s great because, for a while, it was a lot about the actors and who’s on TV or in movies, and we kind of lost the whole ‘model as an icon’ thing. But now it’s coming back to more models being listened to, and they’re branching out to other aspects of the entertainment industry through acting or music, and they’re making a comeback.
You’re still very young and you’ve already had a lot of success. What are your ultimate career goals?
I want to ride this wave of modeling as long as I can, but I’m definitely interested in branching out into acting and movies and things like that. At this point, I don’t know what I’d do if I wasn’t in the entertainment industry.
What’s your ideal acting role?
I’d love to do an action movie where I get to do a bunch of stunts and dress like a badass in a full black suit and fight crime. I want to do a comedy too.
What does your dream gig look like?
My dream would be to do a job in Santorini, one of the most beautiful places ever. That would be sick. It would also be a dream come true to become a Victoria’s Secret Angel.
What do you think has been the secret to your success?
Honestly, I think it’s staying true to who I am and not letting the industry change me. I’ve been the same girl my entire life, and I’ve always been comfortable in my own skin. I take every day as it passes, and I try not to put too much stress on things. If something didn’t go my way, I try to focus on other things because another thing will go my way. I just like to be superpositive because none of us knows what the future holds. The best thing you can do is be happy in the moment and grateful for wherever you are in life.
So, what’s next for you?
I have some things in the works that people aren’t going to expect from me. I’m also working on some collaborations for some things on TV, in the realm of [MTV’s] Guy Code, so people are going to be seeing a lot more of me.
Hair by Guy Romeo with Grid Agency
Makeup by Anthony Merante with Celestine Agency