The Evolution of Kate Upton’s Career: From Model to Actress and Beyond

Kate Upton is one of the most well-known models of the 21st century, having appeared on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue multiple times throughout the 2010s. Upton has carved a great career for herself before even turning 30 years old. These days, Upton isn’t modeling as much anymore, but has still been in the public eye in one way or another. Let’s take a look at the evolution of Kate Upton’s career from model to actress and beyond.

Kate Upton was born in the 1990s 

Upton was born on June 10, 1992, in the small upper-middle-class city of St. Joseph, Michigan. For those from the state of Michigan, the last name Upton is a big deal that might not be as well-known outside of the state unless you’re talking about Kate. The Upton family made its mark in Michigan thanks to Frederick Upton, the co-founder of Whirlpool. Kate’s uncle Fred went on to become a congressman from 1987 to 2023.

As for Kate, she didn’t stick around Michigan for very long, and her family moved to Florida when she was just seven years old. Originally, Upton was more interested in riding horses but decided to go to a casting call for Elite Model Management when she was 16. The agency signed her right away and she began her modeling career that quickly took off.

“I started working abroad when I was 15 and my mom and dad would often come,” Upton said of her career beginning. “The thing is with modeling…it just gets lonely. I pretty much had it under control because I traveled so much.”

Career Highs

Upton went from Elite to IMG Models after a couple of years in New York City and became the face of several different brands. At just 18 years old, Upton was selected to be in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in 2011. The following year, Upton landed on the cover for the first time, going on to appear on the cover in both 2013 and 2017, as well.

Companies were throwing money at Upton left and right, attempting to get her to appear in their marketing. This included companies like Victoria’s Secret, Express, and many more landing her services. The mobile game “Game of War: Fire Age” also launched a massive marketing campaign, paying Upton millions to appear in their advertisements.

Getting Into Acting

Because she became a household name in modeling, Hollywood came calling and was offering Upton some small acting roles. At first, Upton had some cameo appearances which included “Tower Heist” and “The Three Stooges”. She became a front-and-center star for 2014’s “The Other Woman” and 2017’s “The Layover”. As for television, she made a few appearances as herself but focused on the big screen until scaling back her acting career after 2017.

“I had been acting for a long time, and thought that modeling would help that shift to film but it definitely did not,” Upton said of her acting career. “There’s not a lot of artistic respect for modeling. I felt like I had to start from the bottom again, which I didn’t mind, and I was thrilled to have done the hard work prior.”

Michigan Legends and the Mom Life

One of the reasons that Upton walked away from acting and modeling for the most part was because she was starting a family. In early 2014, Upton began a relationship with pitcher Justin Verlander while he was a member of the Detroit Tigers. The two got married near the end of 2017, and a year later welcomed their first child, a daughter named Genevieve. 

In the same year that the couple got married, Verlander was traded to the Houston Astros, with the family relocating to Texas. Verlander then joined the New York Mets in 2023, but being in the Big Apple didn’t pull Upton back into the acting or modeling scene. While she still makes public appearances, Upton isn’t interested in the full-time modeling schedule as she raises her daughter.

Despite baseball keeping him on the road for much of the year, Upton wants her husband to keep playing baseball as long as he can bring the heat. “I love watching my husband do what he loves to do,” she said. “It’s such an incredible experience.” Upton added that it’s nice having Verlander at home, but attending games and being together as a family is among her favorite things to do.

“I want to be enjoying my life, enjoying my family, not constantly trying to take the perfect picture,” Upton said. “I think my husband wants me to throw my phone away. We talk about it in the house all the time…We don’t want (our daughter) thinking being on the phone is all that life is.”

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