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the insider: erin heatherton

talking daft punk, snl, and stage fright with the model comedian.

by: steff yotka

July 11 2013

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The model/actor has been a thing since Zoolander, though we haven't found a person so good at both jobs since, well, Derek Zoolander himself. But after a chat with Erin Heatherton, the Victoria's Secret Angel who appears in this weekend's Grown Ups 2, we think we've finally discovered an heir to the Blue Steel throne.

Heatherton's about as down-to-earth as they come, listing Daft Punk as her boy band crush and cooking up new hair care tricks in her kitchen in her free time. (Her latest discovery is that coconut oil is an amazing conditioner.) She also knows every word to "Baby Got Back," and actually chills out by listening to comedy albums on iTunes. Even if she plays it straight as an Angel, she's a true jokester at heart.

Why did you want to be involved with Grown Ups 2 as your first film project?
I grew up watching stand-up comedy, and I've always loved improv. It's always been a dream of mine to work with comedians. This was an amazing opportunity for me to do that. I got to shoot a scene with all the guys from SNL! And I got to meet Adam Sandler, Kevin James, and all the other comedians in that movie who I really respect. It was really just an honor to watch them work and learn from them.

Do you have a favorite comedian that you really look up to?
I love Louis C.K. I love Eddie Murphy. I love Steve Martin. I'm listening right now to Hannibal Buress, who is amazing. He is hysterical, I was just cracking myself up!

Are there any favorite comedy movies or skits from SNL that you know by heart?
For sure. I love "More Cowbell" [from SNL]. Anything with Christopher Walken is the best. I love when Eddie Murphy was on SNL, too. I really like the old stuff a lot. Will Ferrell obviously is someone I grew up idolizing. John Candy, I love. There are too many to name them all!

Was it a nervous transition for you, going from modeling to acting?
There's a lot of acting or performing involved working with Victoria's Secret and being a spokesmodel. Doing acting always made me a little uncomfortable, but I'm definitely the kind of person who likes to do things that kind of make me nervous. That's why I started doing auditions and taking acting classes, because I knew it would help everything that I'm doing with modeling in general. Being on set was no big deal, but it's still definitely more nerve-racking for me than modeling. Back when I started doing runway shows I had stage freight terribly too, I couldn't even remember walking.

How did you get over that stage freight? Was it just doing it over and over again?
Yeah, just doing it so much that it just couldn't be scary anymore. I would always look at the girls backstage, and they would be working the cameras and feeling good, and I was like having a panic attack thinking, "Why is everyone so comfortable with this? I'm not!" I wished I could enjoy people taking my photo and feel like I'm killing it. All the other girls taught me how to feel comfortable.

How do you feel that modeling has changed your outlook as a person, or helped you develop new skills?
Modeling has done so many positive things for me personally. Before I started I didn't know who Kate Moss was; I just was so oblivious to the whole thing. It's exciting because where I come from, in Skokie, creativity is not something that's a really realistic career choice. My dad is a policeman, and my mom is a teacher, so growing up I never really discovered my personal creativity or valued it. Aside from that, I was a tomboy and I never really felt feminine or got to feel beautiful. Not that I questioned [if I was beautiful], but I just never really felt pretty. With modeling, I was able to get comfortable with myself. I think that every girl should be able to feel pretty. Modeling also ultimately made me value inner beauty more because I meet tons of beautiful people, but that just kind of reaffirms that inner beauty is so important.

What would you recommend for someone who wants to feel more beautiful?
I think having gratitude for your body and loving your body is the most powerful way to achieve inner beauty. For me, I love the "bad things" about myself just as much, or more than, the good things because that's what makes me a human being. It makes me normal. I think loving yourself regardless of if you feel in shape or not, or regardless of if your skin is looking good or not is important. I really feel like a woman now that I can feel good about myself no matter what my body's doing.


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