Fearless: Gigi Hadid by Serena Williams
The unstoppable Gigi Hadid leads the charge for a fearless generation.
The unstoppable Gigi Hadid leads the charge for a fearless generation.
This interview appears on the cover and in the pages of V114 Fearless Gigi Hadid Issue on newsstands July 12. Pre-order your copy at shop.vmagazine.com.
Gigi Hadid and Serena Williams are a generation apart and dominate different fields—Hadid as today’s reigning supermodel and Williams as tennis’s GOAT. But besides success, the two have more in common than you think—so much so that Williams’s first post-pregnancy outing was to present Hadid’s Glamour Women of the Year award. Hadid has defined herself professionally through modeling, but she has serious athletic chops, too: a hardcore athlete circa high school, Hadid’s passion for sports propels her fiercely competitive streak and impressive work ethic. She is a force to be reckoned with, now more than ever before. Here, the two MVPs reunite to talk perfectionism, sister-sister dynamics, and how to inspire future generations of powerful women. SAMUEL ANDERSON
SERENA WILLIAMS We’ve known each other for a long time. What do you remember about how we met?
GIGI HADID When I jog my memory, I can remember a lot of fun times from early in our friendship but I can’t actually remember how we met... it’s been a long time now! But, I’ve seen you play all over the world and we always have so much fun together.
SW How do you think you’ve grown and matured over the past few years?
GH I think I’ve learned a lot about myself, and every day I learn more about how to navigate this life. There’s no handbook for being in the public eye, so a lot of the learning about what your personal needs are, in such a bizarre way of life, is through trial and error. I think it’s good to have compassion for yourself too, which is hard because I’m a perfectionist. But I have patience for the rhythm of life and I take the lows with the highs. I feel lucky to feel, which I’ve been thinking a lot about. I enjoy learning during every part of the roller coaster.
SW Do you have a favorite memory of us together?
GH I love seeing you win. I think every woman feels like they win when they watch you play, or at least that’s how I feel. One of the best nights we’ve ever had was out in NYC after you won the U.S. Open one year, if I remember correctly...I won’t go into too much detail! [Laughs.]
SW We both have close relationships with our sisters. How does it feel to have a successful sister in the same field? What is that dynamic like for you?
GH I absolutely love it. It’s very rare to have what Bella and I have in fashion, what you and Venus have in tennis. I feel very lucky to be able to have a piece of home in my work environment. We are each other’s biggest fans. It has been a huge joy of my life to watch my little sister flourish, and to help when I can!
SW What is some advice you gave Bella when she first started?
GH I personally really loved the challenge of learning a lot of the fashion ropes on my own when I started working in New York, so I didn’t want to take that experience away from Bella when she started. I was always there whenever she had a question about a specific client or situation, but I tried not to be too protective, which comes naturally to me with her. We’re always FaceTiming to keep each other company on work trips.
SW You were really serious about volleyball and went to the Junior Olympics qualifier in high school. Do you ever think about what your life would be like now if you’d followed that path?
GH I think about it all the time, but I am really grateful for the time I spent playing in high school and still use so many tools I learned as an athlete in my work life today. The work ethic, dedication, and drive you develop as an athlete is hard to unwire. I go back and surprise my old coach’s teams at practices whenever I get a chance. I love playing with the kids and feeling the unequivocal energy of a team on a court, but they do make me feel old at 23! [Laughs.]
SW You and Bella were also really serious about equestrian sports. What do you think it’d be like now if you’d both pursued that professionally?
GH We both would have definitely been very happy going that route as well, but I think fashion opens a lot of doors to different and unique experiences and opportunities. I get to work with horses a lot for shoots and that always makes my day. Bella and I recently got horses again and ride at our farm whenever we aren’t working. Having that as a getaway is such a blessing. I would love to compete again one day when I have more time!
SW Competitiveness is such a key aspect of sports. Is competition still a driver of your success?
GH It’s interesting because I think most of my competitive nature comes from my mental competition with myself. I’m competitive with my personal best; I won’t stop if I know I can do better. In volleyball I was on a team, and I took that responsibility very seriously, just as I feel about my relationship with a horse I compete on. I want to be the best, but it’s about knowing I worked hard to perfect something more than it will ever be about beating someone else. That goes for volleyball, horseback riding, and modeling.
SW What’s one thing you and Bella get really competitive about, personally or professionally?
GH I would say that out of everything, Bella and I are the least competitive about our careers. We are more competitive about holiday cooking.
SW I’ve read that you love crime TV. What’s your favorite show and why?
GH I’ve watched pretty much all the crime shows and movies. I love Elementary because I find the human condition and relationships just as interesting as the crimes themselves. I guess that’s why I studied criminal psychology in college rather than forensics, which is what I originally wanted to study as a kid. I also love documentaries, that’s what I’m usually watching, both crime and others. I like to think I can recommend anyone a documentary that they’d love.
SW What else motivates you to be fearless and ambitious?
GH I feel very blessed to do what I do and be where I am. I think that a lot of what is meaningful nowadays takes a lot of courage. It’s sometimes scary to speak your mind with today’s media climate, but kids that do it so fearlessly give me the courage to do what feels right in my heart. The love and support I receive from fans motivates me every day to keep getting better all-around and speaking up for what I believe in.
SW I presented you with a Glamour Women of the Year Award in November. What was that experience like?
GH It was a huge honor to be included, and really sank in and became emotional for me when I got to hear all the women speak that night. I was really nervous to give my speech, and I almost couldn’t speak because I really felt that honored and touched. On top of it, you flew in to present my award just after giving birth to Olympia! I felt so lucky and grateful.
SW How do you feel about all the young ladies that look up to you?
GH I have so much love for them and always want them to know that I’m not perfect. I am figuring life out every day just like them. I hope to inspire them to find everything they are passionate about and not let anyone tell them they have to feel defined by anything singular.
SW How do you hope your work can impact or have an effect on the world?
GH I’m really proud of the dozens of schools that will be built in Ghana, Guatemala, and Laos through my Stuart Weitzman collaborations with Pencils of Promise. It makes me so happy to think that the schools will hopefully give many generations of kids the opportunity to get the education they deserve. I want to keep connecting with organizations surrounding world issues I’m passionate about, and to use my platform and time to give back however I can. Besides any tangible charity work, I hope to always spread the message of compassion, for yourself and others. You don’t have to wake up feeling 100 percent ever day, but finding something that inspires you on a daily basis, whether it be something small and creative or big and philanthropic, it’s important to let your light shine for yourself and therefore on the world. Learning from others, challenging myself to perfect new trades, getting informed about what I’m passionate about, and helping others have brought me so much joy, and I hope to inspire others to embrace all that life has to offer.