Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Albany Daily News. Posted by Lexi Schwartz
Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Lexi Schwartz
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“Having the strength to tune out negativity and remain focused on what I want gives me the will and confidence to achieve my goals.” Since launching her career in the late 1990s, Gisele Bündchen has become one of the highest paid models in the world with a net worth of over $400 million. The Brazilian supermodel earned international acclaim on the runway as one of the Victoria’s Secret Angels from 2000 to 2007 in addition to venturing into acting with roles in Taxi (2004) and The Devil Wears Prada (2006). Also married to NFL superstar Tom Brady, let’s take a look at Bündchen’s career and how she manages it all both in and out of the spotlight!
1980s to Stardom
Gisele Caroline Bündchen and her fraternal twin, Patricia, came into this world on July 20, 1980, in Tres de Malo, Rio Grande do Sul, Southern Brazil. Bündchen was raised alongside her five sisters and spent her childhood dreaming of one day becoming a professional volleyball player. However, those dreams changed in 1993 when her mother enrolled her and her sisters, Patricia and Gabriela, in a modeling class. A year later, Bündchen was discovered at the local shopping mall in Sao Paulo by a talent scout with Elite Models.
Bündchen honed her talents as a model with Elite Models over the next few years before she moved to Sao Paulo to launch her career at the age of 14. She caught another big break in 1996 at New York City’s Fashion Week. A year later, she traveled to London and auditioned for nearly 50 shows before she was chosen to model for Alexander McQueen’s 1998 spring lineup. This opportunity put her on the map as she posed for leading brands like Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino, and Ralph Lauren. She graced the cover of French Vogue magazine, was praised as a Brazilian bombshell, and credited with ending the heroin chic era of modeling by bringing back the sexy, curvaceous model.
Named “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” by Rolling Stone, Bündchen appeared on the covers of leading fashion magazines like Elle, Allure, and W as well as other popular publications like GQ, Esquire, Marie Claire, TIME, Vanity Fair, Forbes, and Newsweek. She built her reputation in the industry and made headlines in 2000 when she wore the most expensive Victoria’s Secret Fantasy bra of all time, the “Red Hot Fantasy Bra” worth $15 million. The following year, she appeared in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and wowed the world when she locked lips with American actor Leonardo DiCaprio, whom she dated from 2000 to 2005.
Amid her high profile romance and blossoming modeling career, Bündchen ventured into acting in 2004 when she joined Queen Latifah and Jimmy Fallon in Taxi (2004). During this time, Bündchen suffered quietly behind the scenes and broke things off with DiCaprio in 2005. Overwhelmed with anxiety from her fame, Bündchen quit all of her vices to focus on herself and her future. “No longer numbing myself with smoking, drinking, and too much work, I was becoming more and more aware of things that I’d chosen not to look at,” she recalled. “Was I alone in wanting to some serious soul-searching while he stayed the same? In the end, unfortunately, the answer was yes.”
Bündchen briefly dated American surfer Kelly Slater in 2006 just as she returned to the silver screen in The Devil Wears Prada (2006). By then, her anxiety was crippling as she recalled, “It was like I was trapped, and I couldn’t breathe, and even outside of my own balcony. And from that moment on, you know, I realized that my life needed to change.” One thing that panicked her was her growing discomfort at being photographed in barely anything.
“For the first five years, I felt comfortable modeling in lingerie, but as time went on, I felt less and less at ease being photographed walking the runway wearing just a bikini or a thong. Give me a tail, a cape, wings—please, anything to cover me up a little,” she said. “I was always a person who asked, ‘Can I please cover my butt?’ In the studio I don’t mind, it’s very controlled. But if you’re on a runway, god knows. So, you’ll notice, I usually had a little skirt or cape to wear. They were always very kind and accommodating when I said I did not feel comfortable.”
Settling into Stardom
Despite her growing discomfort, Bündchen settled into her fame as a Victoria’s Secret Angel (2000-2007). Learning to manage her anxiety and finding a balance between her personal life and career, Bündchen found love in 2006 when she was set up on a blind date with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Three years later, the couple exchanged vows on February 26, 2009, in a small private ceremony in Santa Monica, California where their friends and family, including Brady’s son with Bridget Moynahan, celebrated the union. In April 2009, the couple renewed their vows in Costa Rica just as Bündchen confirmed she was pregnant with the couple’s first child, a son they welcomed into the world later in the year.
“When I became a mother, it really became my priority,” Bündchen said of motherhood and how it changed her again in 2012 when she welcomed her daughter into the world. “I just wanted to be with my kids. I couldn’t see anything more important than being there for them… and to be there for my husband too… I was actually living what I love so much, which is being a mom, and a nurturer, and taking care of my family. It was just very different than what I was used to. So, it took some time to adjust.”
Bündchen easily adjusted to her new role as a mother and settled down with Brady and their children in Brookline, Massachusetts and New York City. Her career, of course, has continued to flourish over the last several years. She was the spokeswoman for Chanel No. 5 in 2014 and made history as the top earning model in the world in the 2015 Guinness World Record book. She walked the runway at the opening of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and has since focused on her passion for environmentalism after joining the Years of Living Dangerously documentary as a celebrity correspondent. What’s next for the 39-year-old supermodel? Modeling, motherhood, philanthropy, and more!