By Sarita Logan
Photography By Dennis Leupold
The actress and model Charlotte McKinney, who is the host of this year’s St. Barth Hamptons event, belongs to a new breed of superstar. Coming of age in the era of social media and reality TV, she is among a generation known for their chameleonic ability to adapt and reinvent to remain relevant and cutting-edge.
The truth is, not many of her ilk have the wherewithal to transform that initial brush with stardom into a sustainable yet flexible career. McKinney is indeed the exception. With a number of TV and film projects about to pop (mum’s the word for now on those, says McKinney), she is on the precipice of mega stardom.
“I really think there are a number of attributes that play into success, and this is a profession that I love and take very seriously,” she says. “It all boils down to keeping yourself healthy, at the top of your game, and understanding which projects are perfect for where you are now, and where you want to be.”
For those not in the know, here’s a quick 411 on the varied career of McKinney. McKinney initially became “Insta-famous” when she adroitly leveraged Instagram to grow a budding modeling career in her late teens, a strategy that worked to her advantage and led to some high-profile gigs for Guess. She is currently signed with One Model Management.
In perhaps her most outrageous project, McKinney was the featured model in Carl’s Jr. All-Natural Burger commercial released during Super Bowl XLIX. The ad, which quickly went viral, shows McKinney seemingly nude, but it eventually reveals McKinney in a bikini eating the All-Natural Burger. The success of the commercial led to McKinney being dubbed “the next Kate Upton,” who also garnered national attention for appearing in a Carl’s Jr. commercial during a Super Bowl. The instant notice led to gigs on Dancing with the Stars and in films such as Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser, Baywatch, and the remake of Flatliners.
While McKinney says that none of those projects are the true definition of success, she looks back on them fondly and recalls that each, in some way, has prepared her for the next chapter of her professional life. Meanwhile, she says, her focus is always on wellness and doing good for herself and others.
As McKinney prepares for a high-profile visit to the Hamptons, Social Life Magazine wanted our readers to know more about what drives and inspires this budding ingénue.
So, Charlotte, you’re a native of Florida and you live in California. Obviously you were born for the beach and summer!
Absolutely, and that’s one of the reasons why I love the Hamptons and Social Life Magazine. The focus on summer health and wellness and, of course, fashion and the beach, are all my favorite things!
Do you have a specific connection to the Hamptons?
Mostly that I simply love it! Obviously, I’m a visitor like so many people, but it’s just a great destination. I love the history, the down-to-earth classiness of it, the nautical aspects. I just love spending time here. Beach days, enjoying wine with friends . . . what’s not to love?
Most of your time is spent in California cultivating your career. Do you spend a lot of time in L.A.?
That’s so easy. I’m not much of a city person, so any time I can drop everything and go to the beach, I am all for it! Even in L.A., I live in Malibu, which is where you can find me hiding out most of the time.
What does a perfect day at the beach look like for you?
A perfect day at the beach obviously starts with good weather. Good friends, a little wine spritzer, some good tunes, lots of sunscreen, and just relaxing.
One of the things you’re known for is your commitment to health and wellness. Tell us more.
Summer is of course difficult, because I am travelling a lot and it can be challenging to maintain a routine that makes sense for me. So what I normally do is opt for fresh fish and lots of veggies and salads — so easy to find in the Hamptons, which is another reason why I love it Out East.
What is your preferred workout?
I love working out! For me it’s physical and mental, and the best way to start my day. I mix up my workouts to keep it interesting. My go-to’s are Barry’s Bootcamp and then yoga and barre classes at Alo Studios. Alo has a few beautiful spaces in LA but also in NY in Soho. It’s perfect for when you want to work out with friends; you can shop (they have the best workout gear I’ve ever worn), plus the best coffee shops, and it’s all in one. Their classes are awesome and I’ve never had a bad instructor!
Any big trips planned for this summer?
I’m actually headed off to London, Positano, and Capri in early August, which I am so thrilled about. Get some work done in London then relax in Italy. I went to Capri for the first time last year and totally fell in love with it.
So, we understand that you have some big projects about to pop. Any chance you’ll give us a little preview?
Well, you know I can’t say much!
We’ll take anything we can get!
I have to play by the rules, but I’ve filmed some cool movies so far this year that I’m excited for. I recently spent some time in Fiji filming the remake of Fantasy Island.
Fair enough — so, this is a big shift in your career. Where do you see yourself as an actress/model in two years?
Right now my main focus is really in the acting space, doing as many auditions as possible that fit my passion, one of which is comedy. I think modeling will always be a part of my life, but acting is much more meaningful and what feeds my soul right now. We live in such a different, kinda crazy world, but I do love the ability to laugh and poke fun at things. Not taking anything too seriously really is the name of the game right now.
So, let’s talk secrets. You’re still young, but what do you think is your fountain of youth?
I’m a big beauty junkie. I love trying all the new products and facials, and finding what works best for me. I’ve been seeing Dr. Jason Diamond in Beverly Hills for a while now and his blood facial has been a massive game changer for me. Growing up in the sun, I actually have a lot of sun damage, and he and his staff have amazing treatments for rejuvenation. For skincare products, nothing works better for me than Dr. Barbara Sturm and Kate Somerville (Kate’s sunscreen mist is the best for summer!)
It’s the middle of summer in the Hamptons. As someone who is focused on wellness, what is your advice to people in terms of sun care?
I have melanoma on both sides of my family, and I am covered in freckles. So, I definitely advise smart sunning. Use SPF, use umbrellas, wear a hat — it’s really important! And, then, staying up on it by checking in with your dermatologist is so important.
What feeds your soul from a philanthropy standpoint?
Best Buddies. It’s near and dear to my heart, and gives me purpose in life and centers me. Being a buddy to someone who has a developmental disability gives me a good feeling at the end of the day, and helps me step out of my day-to-day life in a very good way. I’ve been working with the organization since high school. If you don’t know much about the program, go read more about it at bestbuddies.com and you will want to get involved. Trust me!
Creative Direction: Devorah Rose
Photographer: Dennis Leupold
1st Assistant: Tommy BLanco
2nd Assistant: Lauren Kelly
Producer: Kevin Leupold
Stylist: Ashley Pruitt
Make-up Artist: Mia Jones
Hair Stylist: Dritan Vushaj