Model Kyra Santoro is the quintessential California girl … the brunette beauty always embraced the beauty of the West Coast’s ultimate outdoor lifestyle. Her childhood was spent surfing, dirt biking, snowboarding, and skateboarding. Not exactly modelesque, but it was truly the making of a supermodel. BELLA sat down with Santora, who recently graced the pages of Maxim and Sports Illustrated — and now, BELLA LA — to find out how her life has led her to the place she is now and where she sees herself down the road.
It’s so exciting to have you as the launch cover of BELLA LA! How did your modeling career start?
My first unpaid job was for a student at a photography school who asked me to work on her project. I was 17. When I got the pictures, I posted them on Facebook and all my friends went crazy. The biggest comment was that I was so natural in front of the camera. Everyone said I had to at least try modeling and see what happened. Up until then, my plan was to go to college. I took the photos from that project and got the round of rejections from modeling agencies, but I had a manager who helped. My first paid job was for some small e-commerce company in downtown LA. It was half a day, and I couldn’t believe I was getting paid. I thought it was crazy that I was actually professionally modeling.
Describe a day in the life of your job; the BELLA crew said working with you was a dream.
A lot goes into being a model that people don’t see. But my job is to show up and be ready every day. What you bring to the table shows how much you respect the job. That means my hair, my skin, my body, and my manicure are all in good shape. When I walk into the room to work, I want people to see what I bring and to feel confident that we’ll get the job done. Modeling is hard because you can’t slack. Of course, wearing uncomfortable clothes and uncomfortable shoes, and standing for hours while most other people are sitting is tough, but the most important thing is bringing your best self to every job.
Tell us about Sports Illustrated.
Being in the Sports Illustrated was my dream job — the one big goal I wanted to accomplish before I stopped modeling. When my agent called to tell me they had put me on hold, I freaked out… really freaked out! I was so excited I couldn’t stand it. And that was just for the hold, it did not guarantee a booking. My agent told me to calm down, everyone knows that holds can “go away.” When I got the call from my New York agent that I had booked the job, I was in an Apple store returning something. I started hysterically crying and turned my face against the wall and started sobbing uncontrollably. My roommate was with me and she knew instantly I had booked the job. It was one of the best days I’ve experienced as a model. My poor mom was out of the country and I sent her 27 texts and phone calls to get back to me. She thought someone had died!
Do you think being from L.A. gives you an advantage in your work?
Yes — a thousand percent, yes! Being from here has huge advantages. You see and learn the difference between real and fake. There is a lot of superficiality here and you learn to spot it. It’s like being from New York City, you get street smart in so many ways. I’m not fazed by anything, I feel like L.A. has taught me so much. Also, I’m really lucky I didn’t have to leave my family to pursue my career; my whole family is here. So many young girls come here to get started and they are miles away from their families and their support systems when they really aren’t ready to be.
Do you have plans outside of modeling?
I have a five- and a 10-year plan. I’m always thinking of the next step. I’m very aware of the shelf life of a modeling career and it’s funny because I talk to so many girls who never think of it when it’s all I think about. I’m working on building a platform so when the time is right I can launch a swimwear or fitness line. Right now, I think a workout line makes more sense because the swimwear market is pretty saturated. I work out all the time so it would be perfect. I’d like to have something where I could work from home; I want a family and kids, so it’s my dream to be able to do that.
What’s the best thing about life in LA?
I love that I can be at the beach from anywhere in town in about an hour. Even though the beach has become such a work place for me, I still love it. The easy access to the mountains, the beaches, and all the great parts of the city makes LA special.
Contributed by Michele DiNardo