Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Albany Daily News. Posted by Ryan Frost
Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Ryan Frost
Keeping Up with the Kardashians
Currently Known For:
Model and Television Personality
November 3, 1995
Keeping Up with the Kardashians
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“It’s almost, like, trendy, to hate on my family. It’s not so much that people actually believe that we suck, but it became a thing: If you hate on us, it’s cool or something.” Rising to fame alongside her family at only 12 years old, Kendall Jenner is best known for her part on the E! Network reality series Keeping Up with the Kardashians that featured her parents—Caitlyn (formerly Bruce) Jenner and Kris Kardashian Jenner—as well as her long list of siblings—Kylie, Kourtney, Kim, Khloë, Rob, Brandon, and Brody. Along the way, she transformed from an acne-battling and angsty teen to a stunning beauty as she’s now earned her place as an “InstaGirl” as one of the most followed celebrities on Instagram and the highest paid model in the world! So, what’s it like growing up in the Kardashian-Jenner home and how has Kendall paved her own path to stardom among the likes of her famous family?
Growing Up Famous
Kendall Nicole Jenner was born on November 3, 1995 in Los Angeles, California to Kris and Caitlyn (formerly Bruce) Jenner. At the time, Bruce was a well-known retired Olympic decathlete champion who earned much of his fortune through endorsement deals and various business ventures by cashing in on his Olympic fame as “an all-American hero” and the “world’s greatest athlete.” Meanwhile, Kris had ended her 13-year marriage to well-known defense attorney Robert Kardashian in 1991 only to see their marriage and their four children (Kourtney, Kim, Khloë, and Rob) end up back in the media’s crosshairs shortly after Kendall’s birth when her longtime friend, Nicole Simpson, was found murdered at her Brentwood, Los Angeles home. The prime suspect: Nicole’s ex-husband and former NFL star, O. J. Simpson. While Kris honored Nicole’s legacy by naming her daughter Kendall Nicole, Kris’s ex-husband stepped up to defend their friend, O. J., in what quickly became known as “The Trial of the Century.”
The trial only temporarily put the Jenner and Kardashian family back in the spotlight, but they wouldn’t stay out of the news for long as Kris pitched a new reality series—Keeping Up with the Kardashians—about her family to Ryan Seacrest. “Like, there’s the little girls, and there’s the older girls, and then there’s my son…” Jenner told Seacrest. “Everybody thinks that they could create a bunch of drama in their lives, but it’s something that I felt I didn’t even have to think about. It would be natural.”
In October 2007, the Kardashian-Jenner family made their debut on the reality series with Kendall only making minor appearances on the show as she focused more on her education at the Sierra Canyon School. Coincidentally, fans didn’t mind as the series concentrated on Kendall’s older sister, Kim, who was caught in the crosshairs of a media scandal after a sex tape she made with her ex-boyfriend, rapper Ray J, was leaked. The drama was only just beginning!
While Kim’s drama unfolded, Kendall proved to be different from her sisters as she struggled to make friends at school and even suffered from severe acne. “I was a huge tomboy,” she recently admitted. “I’ve always been the different one. I mean, I’m a girl and I like being a girl, but I’ve just never been into it like they have. I think I get that from my dad. I’d say I’m more of a Jenner than a Kardashian… I even had a phase where I wore boys’ clothes. I was always hanging out with guys. I’ve always connected with guys more.”
As Kendall appeared in spinoffs like Khloe & Lamar, Kourtney & Khloe Take Miami, and Kourtney & Kim Take New York, she gained more and more confidence. In 2009, she signed a modeling contract with Wilhelmina Models and started modeling in campaigns for Forever 21’s “Rocker Babes with a Twist” in addition to snagging snapshots in Teen Vogue as well as covers of American Cheerleader, Lovecat, Teen Prom, Flavour Magazine, and Looks. “She’s a good girl. She has a good heart. She’s definitely getting the most out of every day,” Kris said of her daughter’s blossoming career. “Her life with her friends makes me smile because in high school she had a few friends, but then she was homeschooled because we were filming Keeping Up with the Kardashians. It was just her and her sisters. So, when she started modeling, she made all these great new friends, and I think it’s so cool that she has this wonderful life now.”
From Reality Star to Model and InstaGirl
Kendall’s modeling career gained more and more momentum as she landed on the cover of big-name publications and traveled around the world for Fashion Weeks modeling luxury brands like Marc Jacobs, Givenchy, Chanel, Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana, Donna Karan and dozens of others. In the meantime, she cashed in on her growing success and used Instagram to further build her brand as she became one of the top 15 most followed celebrities on Instagram and among the most Googled models in the world. Because of this, she’s often praised for attracting the millennial audience and has helped designers achieve similar success by positioning their brands as attractive options for younger audiences. “Her social media reach is just incredible,” former Calvin Klein Women’s Creative Director Francisco Costa said.
That social media presence and her growing success on the catwalk are exactly what inspired Kendall to look into other business ventures and endorsement deals. In 2012, she teamed up with Kylie to create two signature nail lacquers for the Nicole by OPI Kardashian Kolors line. Shortly after, the sisters were named Creative Directors of the Gillette Venus Gets Ready with Kendall & Kylie Jenner web series before they developed their own PacSun collection. Adding in a few other makeup products including eyeshadows and lipsticks, Kendall also launched a paid subscription mobile app and published her first work as a photographer in 2016 after styling and photographing Kaia Gerber, daughter of supermodel Cindy Crawford, for the 16th anniversary issue of LOVE. In 2017, Kendall and Kylie teamed up again to launch a vintage t-shirt line, but the biggest news came in 2018 when Kendall made a cameo in the popular heist film franchise, Ocean’s 8.
Life Today: Her Father’s Transformation and Learning to Slow Down
Kendall found herself in an even harsher spotlight in 2015 when her father, Bruce, came out as transgender and publicly announced his transition from Bruce to Caitlyn. Although the news wasn’t exactly shocking to Kendall and the rest of the family, it was enough to jolt Kendall into a new reality especially since she and her sisters thought their dad was cheating with another woman after finding a wig, nail polish, and other feminine products around the house. “It was like an investigation for a really long time,” Kendall said. “We would find little things and think, ‘This isn’t normal.’ For a minute, we were like, ‘Okay, is he cheating?’ And then we’d say, ‘I don’t think so.’”
About a year after Kendall accidentally walked in on her father dressed as a woman in the middle of the night, Bruce finally came out to the family. “When she told us, and told us that it was going to be a real thing, it was an emotional couple of months,” Kendall says. “And if I would talk about it, I would just cry, just because you’re mourning someone… losing someone. The person is still there, of course, but physically you’re losing someone. It was my dad who I grew up with my whole life and who raised me. It’s an adjustment, for sure. But honestly, you start to realize that this person is still alive. This person is still here. They are still a blessing. They are still awesome. I realized that I should just be thankful that I still have my dad. It starts to just become normal. You’re just like, ‘Okay, cool.’”
While her relationship with her dad soon leveled off, the onslaught of publicity and Kendall’s demanding schedule did little for her physical and emotional well-being, which is why the 22-year-old television personality and model has made a huge effort to slow down. “I made it a point to consciously slow down, take more time for myself, be more selective, and not just do whatever my agents tell me to do,” Kendall says. That decision has positively impacted her life—not only is she the top earning model in the world, she’s in a committed and private relationship, and has recently returned to one of her favorite passions—horseback riding. Although she refuses to talk about her private life saying, “I think it’s something sacred, something between two people,” Kendall hints that she’d like to compete with her favorite horse, Dyl. “I’m still learning her, it’s going to take a couple months,” she says. “It’s like with any person. You fall in love and then you feel each other out.”