There’s no slowing down rising model and internet star Samia Hampstead. Born, raised, and still based in New Jersey, Hampstead was getting ready to head to New York City for another day of hustling while chatting with me on the phone. But if she was to have the day off, she’d ideally spend much of it participating in one of her favorite activities: sleeping. She loves stay-in-bed days, she tells me. She also loves heading below 14th Street to hit up her favorite mochi and/or bubble tea spots. In other words, the 23-year-old is so damn relatable—that is, if your definition of relatable involves kicking it with J. Cole in a beautifully melancholic music video. NBD! (We’re specifically talking about the video for 6LACK’s “Pretty Little Fears.”)
Other OMFG-highlights for Hampstead thus far: A Fenty x Puma ad, and, most recently, she was featured alongside a super diverse cast of influential women in Aerie’s ongoing, body positive, retouching-free #AerieREAL campaign that quickly went viral. It’s all about the unaffected excitement in Hampstead’s voice that contagiously erupts when she talks more about these experiences that’ll make you relate to her, a.k.a. love her—like how she felt when she met the “very nice” Rihanna on set, or when she saw herself on an Aerie billboard in Times Square for the first time. Her personality, determination, and realness attributes to the intrigue for Hampstead. (She’s also really funny, which you know if you’ve checked out her Twitter.) Below, she tells us about her style (and the identity of her K-pop style icon), how she feels about the word “influencer,” and why you’ll never see sponsored Flat Tummy Tea posts on her Instagram feed.
When did you notice your Instagram following blowing up?
“In 2016, I feel like I had 800 followers. Then it went on a steep incline over the next two years because I became very active on social media and I was meeting a lot of people that were “cool” on Instagram. My sister took this picture of me actually that went semi-viral on Tumblr, and those followers just leaked into my Instagram. I had my following there first.”
What’s your relationship like with your followers?
“I feel like most of my following is between the ages of like 15-20, and I’m 23. I feel like I take on somewhat of a big sister role; I have two younger sisters of my own.”
Do you feel a responsibility to be a role model for your young followers?
“In a way. I always want to be a good role model for my sisters. I don’t do anything I wouldn’t want them doing on my Instagram. It’s pretty PG. I also use my platform to talk about things that I care about and bring awareness to subjects that I feel need to be looked at.”
How did it feel seeing your face on an Aerie billboard in Times Square?
“Oh my gosh, I’ve been modeling for like three years now, and that was my first time up in Times Square! Working for Aerie was really great because I talk about my body and media representation a lot, and they’re a brand that’s all about that.”
You hang out with some incredibly inspiring women (Yara Shahidi, Brie Larson, et al). What does being a good friend mean to you?
“I really try and put effort into each of my friendships. I feel like being a good friend requires a few things: communication, inspiration, and togetherness. I feel blessed to have a solid group of friends who I believe in and also believe in me. We are all growing and reaching new heights together with no weighing down of each other.”
You’ve done a bunch of awesome, high-profile campaigns. How was the shoot for Fenty x Puma?!
“It was pretty much the most excited I’ve ever been on a shoot before. Rihanna was there! She was so nice. Not that I didn’t think she would be, but she was very nice.”
You’ve worked with a lot of brands that are all about spreading some sort of positive message. How do you turn down offers from brands whose mission isn’t a fit?
“I always want to work with brands that have a voice and are trying to get a message across. That’s ideal. For brands that have messages I wouldn’t want on my social media, I’ll ignore or decline.”
How do you feel about the word “influencer?”
“I’m not a big fan of it, only because I feel like it boxes people in. I’m not offended by being called an influencer, I just prefer not to be. Even though I feel like partially that is what I do…”
You’re not someone who’s all about selfies and sponsored posts, though.
“I think influencers are people who are constantly promoting brands on their Instagram. I don’t want to do that. But I’ll get called an influencer and then I’ll get hit up by Fashion Nova and stuff.”
Meanwhile, if I see one more Flat Tummy Tea post from an “influencer!” They must be hitting you up all of the time.
“Oh! Flat Tummy Tea is relentless, let me tell you! It’s laxative tea! That’s the thing about me being a ‘role model.’ Why would I promote that to my teenage followers? That’s just insane to me!”
What advice would you give your younger self?
“I’d say ‘GIRL, FOCUS ON YOU!’ I really wish I engaged in self-confidence-building activities and worked on my self-discipline. It takes so much effort to get myself to the gym and eat right. One day I’ll get the hang of it!”
What are your chilling-out and taking-care-of-yourself activities?
“Well, I’m trying to become more self-disciplined. I do not like working out, but I like the occasional yoga or pilates Right now, my immediate reaction to stress is to just pass out, go to sleep. And I need to fix that. When I’m really stressed, I could sleep all day, and that’s just not the greatest thing! I definitely want to channel my stress into different things: working out, taking a dance class… As soon as I get my next paycheck, that’s what I’m putting it toward.”
Where do you want to be in five years?
“I definitely want to venture into acting. I wanted to be an actress my whole life, but I was told I was too tall and all of these other things, so I kind of gave up on it for a while. But now I’m like, I wanna make this happen. I also want to model for high-fashion brands. I want a Miu Miu campaign so bad. My heart would scream!”
Do you have a style icon whose closet you’d love to raid?
“You know who I love? K-pop star Hyuna. If I could raid her closet, I would. It wouldn’t fit me; I know that for a fact, because I’m tall and thick. But if I could get all of her clothes in my size, definitely!”
So, what are some of your favorite fashion brands? Where do you shop?
“I’m actually a huge fan of Urban Outfitters: When I need an outfit really quickly and I don’t have enough time to ask a brand to send me something, I go to Urban Outfitters and I get clothes that are exactly how I like to dress. Jeans, cute tops, cute sneakers. I’m very comfy. My style is very mid-‘90s. Other than that, I love Orseund Iris. I just got a cute top from them. And Daisy.”
Let’s talk about your skincare routine and favorite brands, please!
“I use the Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Daily cleanser, particularly when my skin is feeling kind of dry. I recently have fallen in love with MALIN+GOETZ. I use the grapefruit cleanser; it’s really mild and great for sensitive skin. I have a lot of hyperpigmentation so I use turmeric powder; I make face masks with it. I like the First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair BarriAIR Cream. And I have the Drunk Elephant Retinol Cream. I splurged on it and I’m using it very slowly.”
What does a perfect day-off-from-work in NYC look like for you?
“I love sleeping in…but I do have spots in the East Village. I have an obsession with mochi and bubble tea. There’s this place called Snowdays in the East Village that’s amazing. I also walk to Union Square and get the mochi at Whole Foods. My favorite bubble tea is from Kung Fu Tea on Saint Mark’s. On a great day, I have both of those items! Oh, and I love getting facials. It’s one of my favorite things to do.”