Kate Upton has enjoyed meteoric success as a model—that’s her, photographed by Annie Leibovitz, on the cover of *Vanity Fair’*s September issue—and last week in New York City she took top honors at the Style Awards, to be televised on CNN September 14. We asked her mother, Shelley Upton, a former Texas state tennis champion, how she raised a Model of the Year.
Have you been wowed by your daughter’s rise to the top?
“Who would have known? It’s been a very, very busy few years. We came here to New York with her when she was 18 and said, ‘We’ll give it a year.’ And I said, I think in that year’s time, you’ll be able to find out if it’s something that’s meant for you and if you like it.’ And in that year it was amazing what happened.”
Besides her beauty, what do you think has made her take off?
“I think it’s just her energy, her personality. She really is just so enthusiastic about everything. And when she’s excited about something, she gives it her best. I just am so proud about how she has handled all the pressure that goes along with all the successes that are amazing as well. She seems to take it in stride and doesn’t seem to be inhibited at all.”
Was she successful in other areas as a child?
“Yes, [with] horses. She was very successful and competitive. There was some jumping, English, and Western. She likes to do well at whatever she does.”
Does it mean a lot to your family that she is a role model for not being stick-thin and still succeeding?
“It does. That’s always been something that she stood for. She really has been such a vibrant person—she leads a well-balanced life, and she wants to eat healthy. We’ve always eaten healthy as a family growing up. And she’s definitely always known what she wanted.”
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