Rising star Danielle Herrington is living her dream
Remember this name: Danielle Herrington. For those already in the know, the model is having a seriously impressive moment. Not only did she grace the cover of Sports Illustrated‘s swimsuit edition this year, she was (again!) hand-chosen by fashion legend Carine Roitfeld for a coveted spot in the 2019 CR Women calendar. We’re predicting even bigger things to come from this one. Here, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley dials Danielle for a model-to-model catchup on beauty, the business, and what’s next.
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley: Hi, Danielle, it’s Rosie. How are you?
Danielle Herrington: I’m good!
RHW: Just where in the world are you?
DH: I’m in New York, but I’m packing because I go to Costa Rica on Saturday.
RHW: Are you going to Costa Rica for Christmas?
DH: No, it’s for a shoot. So I’ll be there for three days. Then I’ll be flying to Manchester after that.
RHW: Manchester, UK? Well, that’ll be very different from Costa Rica.
DH: Oh, completely. It’s kind of weird packing for two different climates, but I do what I do.
RHW: Story of my life. I’m always four suitcases deep with three different climates. But anyway, let’s get started—I’ll keep this quick! In one year, you went from being a Sports Illustrated rookie to landing the cover. To a lot of people, that would probably appear like an overnight success, but I’ve found behind most overnight successes there’s usually years of hard work. So what’s been the driving force in your career?
DH: It’s been a long time coming. It did feel like it happened overnight, ’cause it was just so fast in that one year. But I started modeling when I was 13, and this year made it all worth it. Tyra [Banks] was one of my biggest inspirations when I started out, and someone who I looked up to. I saw her modeling for Victoria’s Secret and that’s how I found out about Sports Illustrated.
RHW: You have probably spent a bit of time with Tyra, so I’m interested to know, what’s the best career advice that you’ve received—from Tyra or anyone else?
DH: Tyra told me, “Make sure you have a great accountant.” Basically, get all of my money in order and invest. Modeling is not forever, so figure out what you wanna do—and also, have fun with it.
RHW: Smart. So would you describe yourself as a glass half-empty or a glass half-full kind of girl?
DH: I try to be half-full, but some days are not so full. I always try to think of the positive things, but sometimes you have those days when it’s just like, “Ugh. Nothing’s going right. Everything is a mess.” I try to take it day to day. But generally, I’m half-full.
RHW: Good, I’m glad to hear that. And so on those days when you’re half-empty, how do you make your glass half-full again?
DH: If I have the time, I’ll try to get a massage or work out or something. But also, I remind myself of how far I’ve come and where I’m at in life now. Things could be worse. I’m literally living my dream. So on days that I do feel a little down, I try to think of that, because this what I’ve always wanted and I’m actually living my dream. Honestly, that makes me happy. And I’ll call my mom. She makes me happy all the time.
Tyra told me, "Make sure you have a great accountant."
RHW: Having a good mom that you can speak to does make all the difference. And you’re originally from LA, but you’re living in Brooklyn now, right?
DH: Yeah, from Compton.
RHW: How has living in New York affected your personal style? ‘Cause it’s quite different from LA.
DH: It is. I like the urban street style, and that’s in LA. But I feel like in New York, they take it up a notch. I mean, just walking down the street, they are dressed. Just looking around influences me—how fast the city is and how everybody is living their life. It’s just so much more expressive out here, I feel.
RHW: I totally agree.
DH: So it makes me want to do more. I always wore so much black in LA, but in New York, I’m like, “I’m gonna wear this. I’m gonna wear more color.”
RHW: I always feel like when you’re in LA, on your upper half, you could be really dressed up, but on the bottom half you could just be in sweatpants. Because you’re in a car all the time.
RHW: That’s the street style of LA. One of my favorite things of living in or spending time in New York and in London is just being on the street. Watching people come and go and being inspired by what they’re wearing. I always feel that if I’m out on the streets in New York, I have to be ready to bump into anyone. Whereas in LA, you just get in your car and you go to wherever your destination is. You could definitely be a little lazier in LA, I find.
DH: Oh, absolutely. Especially, I’m home with family, so I’m just like, “Oh, hey.” Just not even thinking about what I’m wearing. But in New York, I’m always prepared to see anyone.
RHW: So I want to shift gears a little bit and ask you some of my favorite beauty questions. To start, who would you say is your personal beauty icon or inspiration?
DH: Halle Berry. She’s so beautiful and timeless. She has looked the same since I’ve ever seen her.
RHW: She really is stunning. Just a classic beauty. That skin—I’m so jealous! Talking of skin, I’ve seen so many beautiful pictures of you, and you always look radiant. Walk me through your skincare routine. What products do you swear by?
DH: Okay, so to be honest, I don’t have the most problematic skin.
RHW: Lucky you.
DH: I try to keep it as simple as possible. So in the morning, I like my SK-II facial cleanser. I moisturize with the Drunk Elephant Protini polypeptide cream. That’s basically what I do. If my skin is feeling a little dull or not as radiant, I like to use the Dr. Dennis Gross daily peel.
RHW: I do them, too. They’re incredible.
DH: Yes, I love that. It’s like a two-minute step. So I do that. And on a weekly basis, I do the Drunk Elephant Babyfacial, which I love. If I’m having a big shoot or something, I’ll do the SK-II facial treatment mask. But that’s about it. I try to keep it pretty simple. As my mom always says, less is more.
"As my mom always says, less is more."
RHW: And what about your makeup? When you’re not working, what’s in your kit?
DH: I love the Fenty Beauty Match Stix in Truffle. I also like Tarte bronzer in Hotel Heiress and Glossier Skin Tint, because I don’t like to use too much foundation and it makes you glowy. I wear MAC concealer on a daily basis because I have dark circles.
RHW: Do you wear makeup every day?
DH: I wear makeup when I have to. Almost every day.
RHW: And what about your hair and scalp care? How do you take care of them in between shoots?
DH: Well, I have extensions, so I go to Amoy to get my hair done. I go there maybe two or three times a month to get a deep conditioning and a deep treatment for my scalp—it’s always dry, and so is my hair. I like to use Olaplex when I’m at home. I have a lot of heat damage, and Olaplex really helps.
Rosie: And what about beauty indulgences? Spas? Treatments? You said you go for massages. I always want to know about good spas or good facialists in New York.
Danielle: Have you been to Aire Ancient Baths?
Rosie: I haven’t.
DH: Oh, it’s so nice. They have all these different baths, and then you can pick your massage from a long list of massages.
RHW: Aire. I might check that out.
DH: It’s nice. I love it.
RHW: Well, I want to wrap things up with a couple of big-picture questions. First, I always like to ask women this. When do you feel at your most confident?
DH: Most confident? Good question. I would say when I’m with my family. I’m not worried about what they’re thinking of me, or overthinking things, or stuff like that. I just let loose, drop my shoulders, relax, and just…be.
RHW: Yeah. That’s really true. And then, Danielle, 2018 has been what I would probably consider your breakthrough year. What do you think is on the horizon for you in 2019?
DH: Well, the sky’s the limit, basically.
RHW: I like that.
DH: I definitely want to get into acting a little bit more. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. I’m a little nervous about it, but I’m down for the challenge.
Rosie: That’s a great plan and a good goal to have. Well, thank you, Danielle. Those are all my questions! I told you it’d be short and sweet.
Danielle: It was. Thank you so much. It was so nice talking to you.
Rosie: You, too. I hope to see you in person soon. Bye, Danielle. Take care, honey.
Photographed in Los Angeles by Ford.