Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, there’s a good chance you know who Gigi Hadid is. The gorgeous California girl came seemingly out of nowhere, and soon was followed by paparazzi everywhere as she jetted around town with her famous, beautiful friends looking impossibly, effortlessly gorgeous. While she was raised in Beverly Hills – you’ll even be able to spot her in a few episodes of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, on which her mother, Yolanda Hadid (formerly Foster), is a cast member – she’s been making waves in New York, Paris, and more as a successful model recently.
Her unique look is captivating audiences around the world, and her fun personality is earning her fair share of social media followers – and things are just getting started for her! Hadid is entering the entertainment industry at a time when the Kylie and Kendalls of the world are making social media stardom a thing – and while Hadid has done her fair share of high fashion modelling, most of her fans follow her social media accounts to see what the gorgeous blonde is up to on an everyday basis.
Want to get to know more about Gigi Hadid, the modelling world’s newest rising star? Here are 15 things you may not have known about her.
15 Her real name isn’t Gigi – it’s Jelena
Many celebrities decide to change their name before pursuing a career in the entertainment industry, whether it’s because they have a common name that a current star already has, because their name is tough to pronounce, or simply because they prefer to go with a different name that they think sounds better in lights. However, given that Gigi Hadid also has a sister, Bella Hadid, who is well-known, you might assume that the Hadid sisters are rocking their real names in Hollywood – and you’d be wrong in Gigi’s case. Her actual name is Jelena Noura Hadid. Apparently, Gigi’s mother Yolanda Foster came up with the nickname Gigi when Hadid was young, as she was called that by her own mother, and called her that around the house. Then, when there was a girl named Helena in Gigi’s class and the Jelena/Helena confusion got a bit much, Gigi started going by her nickname in school. The rest, as they say, is history.
14 She started modelling at a very young age
Given her quick rise to fame, it’s easy to assume that Gigi Hadid just decided to take up modelling one day and lucked out by almost immediately booking campaigns with some of the biggest designer brands in the world. However, despite her young age, Hadid is actually a veteran in the modelling game. She may have only signed with IMG Models when she was a bit older, (17 years old), but she actually made her debut in front of the camera when she was just a toddler. Paul Marciano of Guess spotted a young Gigi and recruited her to appear in front of the camera for Baby Guess, and then eventually she did a few gigs for Guess Kids, and since signing with IMG has participated in a few campaigns for the brand as an adult. That Paul Marciano certainly has an eye – who would have thought the adorable baby he spotted to showcase his kids’ line would grow up into one of the most promising young models?
13 She’s quite the athlete
When you think of models, you don’t necessarily think of them as athletes. Sure, they’re slim, but most models who walk the high fashion catwalks tend to be very slim, with minimal muscle. However, Gigi Hadid breaks that mold. When she was a teenager, when other aspiring models were doubling their efforts to get noticed, Hadid took a step back from the modelling world and instead pursued her athletic goals. She was a competitive horseback rider and played volleyball at a club level – even going to the Junior Olympic qualifiers for volleyball! According to Hadid, “I just wanted to have a normal childhood and go to high school.” Nowadays, Hadid is too busy with her growing career to focus on pursuing athletics at a professional level, but given that little sis Bella is apparently training for the 2016 Olympics as an equestrian, perhaps Gigi will return to one of her former sports one day.
12 She studies criminal psychology
Like most celebrities, Gigi Hadid certainly doesn’t need to go to school in order to earn a degree to find a great job she loves – she’s doing just fine on her current path. However, Hadid apparently loves the classroom environment and loves learning, so she decided to return to school and hit the books in between successful modeling campaigns. In fall of 2013, Hadid enrolled at the New School in New York City and started studying criminal psychology. Who would have guessed? Who knows, if she ever gets tired of the whole entertainment industry, she could set up practice as one of the most gorgeous criminal psychologists in the world. It’s an interesting and slightly unusual discipline for her to select, and we’re hoping she manages to stick it out and actually graduate, rather than dropping out partway through like many celebrities tend to do when their careers start to take off even more.
11 She uses inexpensive cosmetics from CVS
There are a lot of celebrities who score multi-million dollar deals with drugstore cosmetics brands, despite likely never actually using the products – but not Gigi. While we’re betting her make-up artist and styling teams use countless luxurious, incredibly expensive products when creating her gorgeous look; when Gigi’s on her own, she has absolutely no issue with filling her bag with more inexpensive drugstore alternatives. Hadid recently snagged a deal with Maybelline, and has been forthright about the fact that she’s loved Maybelline products ever since she was a teenager first experimenting with make-up, and that there are some she continues to use to this day. Many celebrities try to appear down to earth by stating that they shop in more inexpensive stores or opt for more inexpensive products from time to time, but in Gigi Hadid’s case, we actually believe it – and it’s cool to think that you can get her glamorous look without having to drop hundreds and hundreds on a well-stocked make-up kit from Sephora.
10 She loves black leggings
Given that Hadid has walked in so many fashion shows, and has access to a super-sized bank account, you might assume that she’s constantly shopping for new designer pieces and never wearing the same outfit twice. However, when she’s dressing herself for everyday life rather than getting all dolled up for a red carpet event, she likes to keep things fairly simple, and has one wardrobe staple that many girls will recognize – black leggings. Whether you pair them with a nicer top and a leather jacket for a casual outfit, or with your favourite worn tee for a hike or trip to the gym, black leggings are one of the most versatile clothing pieces you can own – and Hadid agrees, saying that she absolutely loves her black leggings and wears them about 75% of the time. I mean, if you had legs like hers, you’d want to show them off all the time too.
9 She’s not afraid of junk food
Let’s face it – though some models claim they eat constantly, the majority of models eat very, very healthful diets and are super conscious about their food intake. After all, their entire job revolves around their bodies – if they can’t fit into those sample sizes, the designers will simply pick another model. However, Gigi Hadid definitely isn’t limiting herself to only eating salads and drinking green juices. When she first moved to New York City from Los Angeles, she embraced the NYC food scene by eating a different burger every single week in a personal quest to find the best burger in the city – not exactly the kind of quest you think a model will undertake! She’s also shared stories about hitting up McDonalds after a fancy dinner because she and her date were still hungry, and weren’t really digging the strange food being served up at the fancy restaurant. She’s just a down-to-earth, junk-food loving American girl – and we love her for it.
8 Her father is a real estate tycoon
Before Gigi and Bella Hadid became celebrities in their own right and started banking their own impressive paychecks, they were already living in total luxury. How, you ask? Well, their father, Mohamed Hadid, is the owner of Hadid Development – and he’s kind of a real estate boss. He’s a self-made man who immigrated with his family from Palestine when he was young, and went on to build his own development company that handles unique properties in Aspen, Mexico, Beverly Hills and more. Before you really know who the Hadid sisters were, you likely spotted them in their crazy Beverly Hills mansion on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills – the Hadid sisters weren’t rooming with a bunch of other aspiring models in a teeny shoebox apartment like many other young models do. Papa Hadid allegedly has a net worth of about $100 million, so even if the whole modelling thing doesn’t work out for Gigi Hadid, girl’s going to be alright.
7 She has a bit of a thing for singers
Though it seems like she’s been around forever, Gigi Hadid is still very young, and a relatively new addition to the Hollywood scene – so she doesn’t exactly have a huge list of past celebrity relationships like many A-Listers in their 30s or 40s have. However, the few relationships she’s had have been highly publicized – and they seem to indicate that Hadid definitely has a certain type. No, we’re not talking about blondes vs. brunettes – we’re talking about guys who can serenade you. Hadid dated Aussie singer Cody Simpson for about two years, from 2013 to 2015, and then was spotted on a few dates with Joe Jonas, before finally entering into a very public relationship with former One Direction cutie Zayn Malik. I mean, who could forget that killer Vogue spread? Malik and Hadid have parted ways since, and we’re dying to know which sexy singer Gigi will set her sights on next.
6 She’s all about the sister love
There are a surprising amount of celebrity siblings in Hollywood – we guess it’s something that runs in the genes. However, not all celebrity siblings are spotted together as often as Gigi and Bella Hadid. The Hadid sisters love spending time together, and are in each other’s squad because they enjoy one another’s company. And, don’t ever let Gigi hear you say anything bad about her little sister, or heaven forbid you do something disrespectful towards Bella. Gigi shared a story about hanging out with her sister backstage at a Paris fashion show, where a photographer was taking pictures of all the models while they were changing — including her baby sister. As Gigi says, “I was just like, “If you don’t put that camera away and stop shooting my sister I’m gonna come over there, I’m gonna take that camera, and throw it on the floor.” Gigi’s not afraid to throw down when it comes to someone stepping to her sister!
5 She has ties to the Jenner family
No, we’re not talking about the fact that she’s frequently spotted hanging out with Kendall and Kylie Jenner, snapping selfies and just basically looking flawless. It turns out Gigi Hadid is connected to certain members of the first family of reality television in a more intimate way. It’s a whole big, twisted family tree – basically, Hadid’s ex-stepfather, David Foster, was once married to Linda Thompson, who was once married to Caitlyn Jenner. Wait, how about we let Gigi explain it for herself. As she’s said, “my mom married David, who was married to Linda Jenner [now Thompson], who was Caitlyn Jenner’s ex-wife…we’re related through divorced marriages.” Confused? It doesn’t matter – the point is that, through their crazy interwoven families, Gigi and Kendall are more than just besties — they’re sort of sisters! And you thought the Kardashian family was complicated – this introduces a whole new level of confusion into the web.
4 She’s a bit of a homebody
Considering that the public often sees Gigi Hadid when she’s out on the town with her girlfriends, or attending a high fashion event, or strutting her stuff on the runway, it can be easy to assume that she’s constantly buzzing around glitzy parties and socializing. And, while Hadid definitely does incorporate that into her schedule, the truth is her perfect night doesn’t involve bottle service and thumping bass. As Hadid says, “I’m kind of a grandma, so my ideal night out is like, a dinner. I love Nobu. I’m very into places where you can hear each other talk – a cool space where my friends can hang out and actually catch up. Then I’m usually asleep by 11.” Hear that? If you’re looking to capture Gigi’s heart, don’t try to take her to a star-studded club where you have to shout over the music to be heard – she just wants a nice dinner and to be home at a reasonable hour. If you’ve ever had FOMO, this revelation is for you.
3 She moved across the country to pursue her dream
When it comes to celebrities, there are really two cities where they’re clustered. Sure, many A-list celebrities have multiple properties, and snag quiet, luxurious properties in places like upstate New York, the Midwest, or the south. Everyone has their own ideal home. However, the majority of celebrities also have a residence in either California or New York – that’s where the majority of the entertainment industry headquarters are located. While many aspiring actresses pack their bags and move to Los Angeles to become a star, Gigi Hadid went in the opposite direction – she left her luxurious Beverly Hills mansion to set herself up in New York City in the hopes of becoming a model. And, given the amount of catwalks she’s appeared on and campaigns she’s appeared in, it’s safe to say that Gigi Hadid’s gamble paid off big time – she’s well on her way to superstardom, and she's only 21 years old.
2 She’s Dutch and Palestinian
There’s no doubting that Gigi Hadid has a very unique look – it’s part of what has made her so well-known so quickly, and what makes her stand out from the crowd of gorgeous models. There are plenty of typical blonde California bombshells trying to make it in the entertainment industry – Gigi stands out because her features are a bit more exotic. As you may have guessed from her last name, Hadid, Gigi is Palestinian on her father’s side. On her mother’s side, she has some Dutch ancestry. While both her father and mother are reasonably attractive, no one could have predicted what a mix those genes would cook up – an incredible gorgeous one, to be specific. Despite her parents’ ancestry, Hadid essentially identifies as an American, but who knows – maybe down the line she’ll get in touch with her roots and delve deeper into either the Dutch or Palestinian cultures.
1 She still gets stage fright
While they’re essentially performers in front of the camera, just as actresses are, models have more in common with theatrical performers than actresses who do the bulk of their work in film or television. When you’re performing in something that’s being filmed, you know you have several takes to get things right. When you’re performing live, whether it’s on stage for a Broadway play or strutting your stuff down the catwalk during a fashion show, there is no way to re-do something if you mess it up. You have one chance to get things right. Considering that, it makes sense that Hadid finds herself a little bit apprehensive before she steps out into the blinding lights of the catwalk. As she told Status Magazine, “I’m always nervous for every show I walk.” Well, we’d be nervous stepping out on the catwalk in front of tons of important fashion industry insiders and celebrities as well!