True Story: I’m A Supermodel

This is one of many True Story interviews in which we talk to people who have experienced interesting/challenging/amazing things. This is the story of Emily Sandberg, who’s the older sister of an old friend. She’s modeled for the likes of Versace, DKNY, Fendi and Gap! 


Tell us a bit about yourself! 
Let’s start with the stats: I’m from Rochester, MN. I never tell anyone my age but it’s pretty easy to find online. For fun I blog, for work I model.
I love life. I love adventure. I love taking risks above all else. I have no problem dropping everything, cashing in all my chips and investing in me. I’m confident and know that my momma raised me right.
I’m also generous with my time and with my earnings. I believe in the people in my life. I keep a circle of advisors around me at all times. These are people I’m not invested with financially. And I take all their advice into consideration before making any huge moves.
How did you get into modeling? 
When I was a senior in high school I opted to leave private school and go to public. The reason I did this was because the state of MN was offering to pay tuition for college if you qualified. I come from a very large family and knew I’d be paying for college on my own so I saw the opportunity and took it.
After graduating, I decided to take a year and work to save money. During this time a postcard for a modeling school came to my mother’s attention. She and my grandmother encouraged me to go try out for the school. Of course they accepted my money, I mean me, and I cashed in my bank account to go.
I did this because it meant that every weekend I’d be traveling to Minneapolis and perhaps would be able to find work there so I could attend the University of MN. Instead I ended up graduating from modeling school with an agent and lined up work for a local televised home shopping channel.
Once I discovered that I could make more money if I moved to New York, I again cashed in all my savings and bought a one-way ticket. The rest all happened so fast, I hardly caught my breath for the next 5 years.
What surprised you most about modeling?
I was shocked at the amount of money you can make modeling. But then I realized the amount of work that goes daily into becoming a top fashion model and the amount of work that goes into a shoot. It became apparent that this is not easy money and being beautiful is the least of a model’s concerns.
I was also surprised to find out how many intelligent women model. The ones I met that were incredibly successful were some of the brightest women I’ve ever encountered. It’s impressive to see and experience what it actually takes to be a model and work at the level I work at.
What are the biggest misconceptions about models and modeling?
I suppose the biggest misconception people have is that models only need to look beautiful to work. Many people assume that if their daughter or friend is gorgeous they’ll waltz into a career modeling and walk away with a lot of money. Unfortunately, this is not true!
What does an average day look like for a model?
An average day consists of starving, working out and getting paid tens of thousands of dollars to stand around in designer clothes. (sarcasm!)
Actually, if I’m not on set shooting, I wake up and have a normal morning. I’ll drink coffee and water and eat some fruit and yogurt.
Then I’ll go to work. I’ll speak with agents. Email clients. Organize photos. I’ll blog about something that happened and share tips and industry insights. I like to spend an hour a day responding to and mentoring girls in the business. I’ll go to the gym or workout at home or hike. I eat correctly. I’ll meet with clients. I’ll also do financial administrative work. I run my own business.
How hard do you work to maintain your appearance?
The past year and a half I took a break while being pregnant to just enjoy the pregnancy and the new life that was unfolding. My genes kicked in and I gained 70 pounds!?! It’s taken a good year to knock off 50 of them and now I’m a normal weight and size. I did this by following a maintenance portion of a diet I created while modeling.
I normally follow the stricter version of the diet I created that works for me and keeps me healthy and slim for work. I’ll be going back on that version this year to get the last 20 pounds off.
I drink a lot of water. I don’t drink alcohol but I do enjoy caffeine.
I also take care of my skin by keeping it clean and moisturized. And I sleep as many hours as I can get away with. Sleep is very important for me.
If you weren’t a model, what do you think you’d be doing? Do you anticipate modeling for the rest of your life? 
If I wasn’t modeling, I probably would have ended up going to college and graduating with a degree in psychology. I had ambitions of becoming a children’s developmental psychologist. As well, I would like to have furthered my education to attain a law degree and would have built a practice with my father.
Can you tell us about some of the more amazing things that have happened to you because of modeling?
I’ve been fortunate enough to fly the concord and also fly in private jets. I must say, as luxurious as they are, you’re still flying and it’s just an airplane at the end of the day.
I’ve met quite a few celebrities but have yet to find any I’d befriend. That’s fancy isn’t it?
Honestly, there is an incredibly luxurious side to modeling and I appreciated every moment of luxury that happens because I work extremely hard for it. The best thing that happened to me as a result of modeling is I met my husband. And what a treasure he’s turned out to be!
What are the biggest challenges that come with being a model?
The biggest challenge for me is the amount of time spent alone. I’m very relational and relationships are important to me.
Often, I’m surrounded by many “best friends” and I like these people. But when I go back to my hotel room after a shoot or travel to the airport and sit on a plane for eight hours, I am alone again, in another strange city or country. I’m so grateful for the internet and it’s ability to keep me connected with my friends in different time zones. Wherever I am, someone is awake.
What advice would you give to someone who’s interested in becoming a model?
Join the Model Wire Network.- it’s the newest social site for all things fashion. It’s a great way to get connected to and share information with other people in fashion.
Also, the best advice I could give would be to send digitals to all your top agency choices. No makeup. Just bare bones. They can tell by your bone structure if you’ve got it for modeling.
Also, keep a list of rejections and supporters. I use this list for inspiration when I’m feeling low. I look at it and know that I must prove all these people wrong because there’s an entire list of supporters cheering me on and I must rise to the occasion.
Have any of you ever modeled? Would you want to? Any questions for Emily?

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  1. Chelle Lynn

    It's interesting, my dad and other friends in our small town always pushed me to try modeling because they thought I was beautiful. However, like you said, being beautiful does not make a model, and I was always too insecure to try it. Now that I've spent some time in front of a camera for my blog (nothing serious, just outfit posts taken by myself or my husband), I find that I like it, but don't feel that it could be viable option for me to start at the age of 26 (plus, I've got a really weird nose). Thought I have no real regrets, modeling is my "coulda, shoulda, woulda" career.

    Thank you, Emily, for sharing! Modeling is a career that people rarely get honest insights to, it's great to know more about it. 🙂

  2. Anonymous

    I usually love the true story features, but this one disappointed me. Emily does not do models fighting stereotypes any favors.

  3. Danny

    Okay, interesting stuff. Emily makes some good points for those looking to get into modelling. However, at least a hint of the humble might have been a tad more endearing to the general readership

    • Secret Squirrel

      Danny, why does she need to be humble? Where does Emily sound arrogant?

      I enjoyed this, thank you Emily.

  4. women models

    I was inspired by this article.thanks for sharing.keep it up.regards.

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