By Juliet Izon
Photography by Robert Ascroft | February 1, 2015 | People
Samantha Hoopes, the latest face of Guess and newly minted star of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue, talks about race cars, growing up in Doylestown, and her overnight success in the world of modeling.
Samantha Hoopes has had quite the year. The 23-year-old model not only landed one of the “rookie” spots in the famous Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, but was also named the face of iconic American fashion brand Guess (you may have seen her on sky-high billboards all over the country). Her next gig will also find her in front of a camera: Hoopes will be the newest correspondent for the irreverent MTV show Guy Code this winter. Philadelphia Style sat down with the Pennsylvania native to talk about her love of race cars, her meteoric rise in the industry, and, of course, where she gets her favorite cheesesteak.
Tell us about growing up in Doylestown.
SAMANTHA HOOPES: I had a really good childhood. The best part about growing up in Doylestown would have to be the open land; I got to swim and be outside all the time. I live in LA now, and things there are outdoorsy but [these aren’t] the same activities as on the East Coast. My family is also into dirt car racing, so during the summers, we’d go to the racetrack. We actually have our own race cars.
Dirt car racing?
My mom is obsessed with speed, racing, and cars, and my dad knows someone who builds the engines for the cars. They race them on a dirt track in New Jersey called New Egypt Speedway. So she started investing in this car, and we worked with the mechanic to find us a driver. It was a really cool experience because I got to go in the pits, get all dirty and muddy, and scrape clay off the car. It was fun while it lasted.
Would you say you were a tomboy?
I would say I’m mixed; I like cars and racing , but I also like to be girly and dress up...
After graduating high school [Hoopes attended Central Bucks High School East, in Doylestown], you went to Penn State. How did you decide on that?
I had a boyfriend who already went to Penn State, so that’s originally why I went there. Not the best decision. [Laughs] I got there and we weren’t even together.
You left after two years to pursue modeling full time.
It was always something I was really interested in. I did a little bit when I was younger, 14 or 15, and my mom was taking me to New York all the time. My first gig was doing the circular ad for Boscov’s, the one that was in the paper. And I did the cover of a novel series called Mob Princess. I’ve never read them.
And then you took a break?
I started getting tired of the hustle. Modeling’s really hard to get your feet off the ground and kind of discouraging at times, so I quit for a long time. And then I realized it was such a big part of my life and something I missed doing. My parents supported me and helped me get to California to start pursuing my dream.
How soon after did you book your first job?
I booked my first gig, which was Guess, when I was only out there for two months.
Yeah, everyone was really shocked. Even my agent said it was unheard of to start like that. And then my second job was Sports Illustrated, so I was really a rookie. I had no idea what I was doing or getting myself into. All of my work I have done this past year has really been just trying to figure everything out.
Was shooting for Guess always a goal of yours?
It’s something that I’ve dreamed of since I was young. I remember going shopping with my friends in middle school—that was the cool thing to do, go hang at the mall—and going into a Guess store and saying, “I’m going to be a Guess model one day.” My friends were like, “Sure, Sam, whatever you say,” brushing it off. And then I grew up and went for it, and I got it, and it’s just been so crazy. Shooting for Guess will always be such a memorable experience.
You shot somewhere glamorous for Sports Illustrated.
I got to shoot in St. Lucia; it was gorgeous. The ironic thing is that I’ve always wanted to go to St. Lucia but never dreamed I would get there. And then, voilà.
Has your life changed?
My life has changed pretty drastically. People that I’ve looked up to forever will find me on Twitter, or I’ll have a model try to set me up with another famous person. I was in Vegas not too long ago, walking to my hotel room, and people were stopping me left and right. It’s so weird to me because I’m still not used to it.
What about dating?
I’m a normal person, and I’m really down to earth. It’s been hard because I’m the type of person that’s so open. I really put everything on the table. Half of the people contacting me would have no idea I even existed if it wasn’t for all of this.
It must be nice to get back to your roots in Philly. What are some of your favorite things to do there?
I obviously go for a Philly cheesesteak because LA is all gluten-free and you can’t eat anything. Steve’s is really good. [When I was growing up], my mom always took us to the Wanamaker light show. We would go and watch this magical Christmas show and have lunch, and then I would pick out my Christmas dress.
Did you ever think modeling could be a full-time career?
No, I never thought I could actually become a model and make a living at it. I always thought I would end up being a housewife. I was going to school to be a gym teacher for a little bit. This is just incredible.
Styling by Kyle Edward Blackmon/Artmix Creative. Hair by Jill Crosby/Cloutier Remix Makeup by Allan Avendano at Opus Beauty using Diorshow Photography. assistance by Jared Mechaber and Lucas Ascroft. Digital tech: Luz Gallardo/LG Productions. Video: Chris Cella. Shot on location at the Palihouse Santa Monica. 310-394-1279. BEAUTY: Dior Diorskin Star Foundation in Light Beige ($50), Diorskin Star Concealer in Ivory ($36), Diorskin Forever Compact Powder in Transparent Light ($45), Diorskin Nude Shimmer in Amber ($56), 5 Couleurs Designer Eyeshadow in Amber Design ($60), Dior Addict IT-Lash Mascara in 092 ($26), Diorshow Brow Styler ($29), and Rouge Dior Baume in Milly ($35). Neiman Marcus, King of Prussia Mall, 610-962-6200. Oribe Fiber Groom Elastic Texture Paste ($29). Neiman Marcus, SEE ABOVE. In continuous operation since 1927, Palihouse Santa Monica offers 37 generously appointed guest rooms, as well as studios and one-and two-bedroom suites featuring fully equipped kitchens. Located in a quiet residential neighborhood, the boutique beach lodge is only a few minutes’ walk from some of Santa Monica’s famous attractions, including the Third Street Promenade, Farmers Market, and the Santa Monica Pier.