Not all singers have musical parents, and actors aren’t necessarily the progeny of good pretenders, but it’s a safe bet that most models have attractive parents. In the case of Gigi and Bella Hadid, their mother, Yolanda Foster, was a model herself. Foster is best known today as cast member on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, but she was discovered by Eileen Ford and signed to the Ford Modeling Agency when she was 16. When each of her daughters turned 17, she brought them to New York City so they could begin modeling. At a dinner for the opening of the New York City Topshop/Topman flagship store this week, I spoke to Foster and her daughter Bella (above) about the business of raising a model.
How were you discovered?
Yolanda Foster:“When I was discovered, I was washing dishes in a Chinese restaurant outside of Rotterdam. I went to a hair show with a girlfriend of mine, and there was a scout there, and that’s how it all started.”
What parameters did you establish with your daughters about modeling?
Foster:“That they were not allowed to work until they were 17, until they knew who they are. I was 16 when I got started, but I needed to work. It is a different situation for them. I took each of them on their seventeenth birthday and found them an agency that was right for them. It ended up being the same agent for both, IMG. And I told them to work hard.”
What did your mother teach you about modeling?
Bella Hadid:“Especially moving to the city for the first time on my own, it was a lot of just make sure you don’t let people bring you down. There is a lot of negativity in the industry, but you can turn it to positive—take it as constructive criticism.”
Foster: “It can be tough being judged about how you look for your whole life.”
Hadid:“She wanted us to develop as human beings, rather than to be afraid of being judged by only the exterior.”
Were you surprised when Gigi was an instant success?
Foster:“Yes, I was shocked. That was my five-year plan for her; it wasn’t my first-12-months plan. Personally, I was also lucky. It was just being in the right place at the right time. And that’s what I always tell my girls. They might be looking for a blonde all-American—well, Bella, that’s not the time for you. But if this is what they are looking for right now, you’ll hit it out of the park. And so she is.”
And what has been the most fun about the new career?
Hadid:“Geez, it has been a lot of fun, a really intense last couple of months. But I just shot for Teen Vogue. There was a great crew, a lot of fun people. I’ve been able to shoot with some awesome photographers. I’m majoring in photography in school right now, so learning by just getting to shoot with them is amazing.”
For more about Foster and the Hadids, check out:
• Gigi Hadid Reveals the Role She’d Love to Play
• How Much Are Celebrities Willing to Reveal? We Found Out.
• View From the Red Carpet: The Real Housewives Reveal How They Changed Themselves for TV