Fronting editorials for Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle and L’Officiel – as well as walking the runway for the likes of Dolce & Gabbana, Elie Saab, Polo Ralph Lauren, Tory Burch, and Victoria’s Secret – Gizele Oliveira has had a model career that the majority could only ever dream of. But life wasn’t always so easy.
Growing up in Espirito Santo, Brazil, Gizele moved to Miami in 2013 to pursue modelling with no money, no English language, and no family. The first few years proved that the road to the top isn’t always paved in gold.
But it wasn’t too long before she was gaining a whole lot of attention on the international modelling scene, moving to New York and signing with IMG. And it wasn’t just those involved in the modelling scene that had discovered her appeal – with Gizele amassing over 1.3 million followers on Instagram piqued by her work and travels.
With Gizele currently in quarantine in Connecticut, we decided to use the time to find out a little bit more about her life behind the feed. Here, she opens up exclusively to Husskie about her childhood, first getting into modelling, and major life decisions.
Where did you grow up? How would you describe your childhood?
I grew up in Vila Velha, the state of Espírito Santo in Brazil. My childhood was very chill, I stayed home most of the time playing Barbie.
What made you decide to get into modelling/influencing?
Since I was 5 years old, I had always been tall and super skinny – everyone kept telling me I should model. So that got into my head, and since I always loved fashion, one thing led to the other and here I am!
What does your life look like away from the cameras and phones?
I actually stay in my home a lot, watch lots of series, and talk to my friends – since they are all in different parts of the world. We send memes to each other the whole day, haha.
When you’re not stuck in quarantine, how do you spend your favourite evenings and weekends?
I love staying home or going to the movies, doing something different. I love arcade games or going to the park or beach.
What have been some of your career highlights? Why?
Some of my career highlights were the covers I’ve done because I’ve always wanted to be on covers. And of course the two Victoria’s Secret shows I’ve walked – because that’s a childhood dream!
What have been some of your career lowlights? Why?
I would say the first 3 years, because I was working a lot and not making any money. I came from Brazil with zero money. My agency paid for everything upfront, so I had to pay back the visa, flights, model apartment and everything else. It was very tough.
What has been your best life decision?
The best decision of my life was getting my dog Bieber. At first it was very tough because I was traveling a lot for work, but he’s the best. He’s the love of my life, he makes everything so much better and happier.
What has been the toughest life decision you’ve ever had to make?
To leave everything behind and try modelling in America.
What has been your life highlight?
I came from a poor family, poor neighbourhood and made a whole career and name worldwide.
And the hardest thing you’ve ever had to go through?
I think it’s being away from everyone I know and love.
What would be your number one piece of advice to your 15 year-old self?
Believe in yourself and don’t listen to others putting you down. Always follow your dreams and don’t stop chasing what makes you happy.