Why This Supermodel Felt "Empty" At The Height Of Her Career

Photo: Michael Stewart/ FilmMagic/ Getty Images.
When said out loud, "Fashion Week" has a double meaning — and for anyone who's ever been a part of all the action, feeling weak is not only par for the course, it's often the reason we love fashion to begin with. So in honor of the moments of chaos, beauty, and excitement that made us feel weak, we present My Fashion Week-ness: a compilation of accounts from some of the industry's biggest players. They're spilling their most memorable stories from Fashion Weeks gone by, and the ones that keep them coming back for more.

At the age of 36, Jaime King has already lived two lifetimes. Nowadays, she's best-known as an actress, having appeared in Pearl Harbor, White Chicks, and most recently, Hart of Dixie. But years before she hit the silver screen, she was making a living as a successful supermodel during the golden era of fashion, when models still danced on tables and you could still smoke inside. She went by "James" (because there was already a Jaime at her agency) and was living in Paris by the time she was 16. But when she reached top-model status, she decided to give it all up. We caught up with King at Target's event celebrating its WhoWhatWear collaboration where she gave us a big hug and told us why.

"When I was 18 years old and at the height of my career as a supermodel — this is when there were true supermodels — I felt empty. I had just done [my] first Victoria's Secret fashion show [in 1999]. I was making obscene amounts of money because it was pre-recession. I mean, I had everything you could ask for and more. And yet, I felt so empty.

"And what I realized was that I wasn't learning anything anymore. I was so blessed to be able to start young and I worked with all of the masters. I wanted to be in fashion because my mother was a seamstress. And I wanted to be in fashion because it moved me, because I'm an artist. But when it stopped moving me, I remember just weeping. I was like, Why is it that I have all of this success, but I'm so sad?

"Then, I realized it was time for me to move on to something else. And at that time, no one had moved from modeling to acting. That was unheard of. And when I said that's what I was going to do and that I was going to quit, they were like, 'Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. What are you doing?' There was a revolt. I was at the top of my game, but they just didn't get it.

"For me, if I'm not learning something, I can't live with a lie. I think my blessing and my curse is my authenticity. And my authenticity is my ability to see that which is unjust in the world, that which is not right or true. And I cannot deny that within myself or to others. And I try to relay that in the most loving way possible. I can't stand seeing people not being able to live their lives in a very full way. And I wasn't feeling like I was living my life in the fullest way. But I believed in myself. I knew people hadn't done it before, but I knew that I was going to go in there with enough studying and preparation and it was going to happen. So I went to some auditions and boom — I started booking TV and movies immediately. And it was amazing. And one thing that I can say is, no matter what, if you follow the truth of your heart, you'll never be wrong."

For all things Fashion Week around the world — including street style snaps, designer news, and the trends you'd actually wear — head over to Refinery29's Fashion Month hub.

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