In December, up-and-coming model Grace Elizabeth made her debut on the Victoria’s Secret Runway Show in Paris -- with a giant, bow-adorned pair of wings strapped to her back, no less. Now, the 19-year-old Florida-native has been named the new face of PINK, the lingerie-giant’s younger, more spirited sister brand, which counts Behati Prinsloo, Alessandra Ambrosio and Elsa Hosk, all of whom held the coveted title before going on to be named official Angels, as alumni. Needless to say, it's only the beginning for Elizabeth. Here, the rising star talks about what it was like to work with her idols, how a makeshift broom and ankle weights apparatus helped her land her dream job, and her surprising love of bowling.
Congratulations! When did you first find out that you were officially the new face of PINK?
I knew it was being talked about, and right before the Victoria’s Secret Runway Show, I signed. It couldn’t have been a better time. It was a total whirlwind. My agent called and said, “I’m sorry, but… it looks like the Pink contract is going to confirm.” He was being very sarcastic, and I was just screaming and crying. I Facetimed my mom and we were both jumping around.
When was your first time working with Victoria’s Secret?
I’d been going on castings for them since shortly after I moved to New York, and started off doing test shoots and smaller things. I didn’t hear anything for a little while, and the next time they called, I was on set working. And that was actually my first time shooting lingerie, so I was really, really nervous, but the crew was super sweet and talked me through it. It’s a fun brand. It embodies the collegiate girl; I’m nineteen, so it fit me perfectly. It was the perfect introduction to this side of the industry.
How long has it been since you moved to New York full time?
The 29th of this month will be a year -- I’m going to buy a slice of Junior’s Cheesecake and celebrate. I was miserable when I first got here because I’m from Florida and it was so cold. This was also the first time I’d moved away from home. I hadn’t even stayed alone in my house for a night. I was just kind of thrown out here, but as the week went on and I walked around SoHo and went shopping and eating at restaurants. I started to find things that made me see the beautiful side of New York.
What are your favorite things to do in the New York?
I go bowling pretty much every day. I really bowl a lot. Back in Florida, all we have is the bowling alley and movie theater. I’m accustomed to it. I live really close to Chelsea Piers, so I go to Lucky Strike or Bowlmor. I’ve twisted a few arms to come with me, but everybody likes to bowl every once and awhile. Sometimes I go by myself. Is that strange?
How did you find out you'd been cast in the Victoria’s Secret fashion show?
I was actually working for Pink that day. One of the art directors was hinting it, but then I got the e-mail and pretty much dropped everything that I was doing. I just kind of sat on the couch and stared at the wall to let it sink in. Leading up to the show, I walked with a broom and some weights to train. When I went to the fitting and found out what I was wearing, it was heavier than I anticipated, so to practice I tied a broom to my back with a scarf, put my ankle weights at the end of the broom and walked around my apartment. I do not have roommates, thank goodness.
What was it like being on the Victoria's Secret plane to Paris?
I sat next to Zuri Tibby, another Pink spokesperson, so she was my plane buddy. It was insane. The music was going and everybody was super pumped. Adriana [Lima] was screaming, “Let’s go, ladies!” and running up and down the plane. It was an amazing experience to be with all of those girls.
Which Angel made you the most starstruck?
Adriana Lima. She is the queen of VS. When I met her, I was just kind of staring at her from afar, and she noticed, so she came over to me and introduced herself and just started talking about her children and telling me to enjoy the moment. She gave me tips on how to walk, how to be confident - she’s so down to earth and amazing. I mean, I hit her with my wings during rehearsal! She was sitting down and I just whacked her in the head. She peeked out from underneath and said, ‘Watch it!’ I have a photo of it, which my mom printed out and it’s sitting in our living room.
You got your first start with Guess just like Gigi Hadid, who also walked in the show. Did she give you any advice beforehand?
Oh yeah, she did! I didn’t even think to mention it! I guess now I don’t have to stare at her from afar, I can actually talk to her.
What’s been the biggest ‘pinch me’ moment so far?
When I was in Florence with my dad, we were in a Guess store and that was the first time I’d seen a picture of me in a store, so I took a picture with it. The lady at the store asked me to leave! She said, ‘No pictures, no pictures.’ As I walked away to leave, she realized it was me in the pictures. She was like, ‘You look so much different without makeup!’
Have you seen the giant storefront picture of you in the Soho store yet?
I haven’t, but I’m off this weekend and plan to take plenty of selfies with myself.
Watch Gigi Hadid reveal the secret to her runway walk: