It’s hard to imagine a cover greater recent modeling success than Kate Upton. After a video of her dancing at a basketball game went viral in 2011, she catapulted to the cover of Sports Illustrated and into boys’ fantasies across the globe, followed by an unfeasible leap into the pages of Vogue, despite her couture-busting curves.
She even lit up Hollywood, starring opposite Cameron Diaz in a sexy summer flick.
But, more recently, industry insiders are saying her meteoric rise has started its downward trajectory — and part of the reason for that is her own attitude.
As Upton’s career ballooned, says more than one fashion insider who spoke to The Post on the condition of anonymity, so did her ego. She went from “innocent” to exhibiting diva-like behavior, insiders say.
“She became really unappreciative of her success,” says a fashion publicist who asked not to be named for professional reasons, commenting on her general behavior. “It totally went to her head. She didn’t understand that people had taken a chance on her.”
Another modeling-world veteran says Upton’s demands became ridiculous, including asking for photographer approval on shoots and refusing to be photographed with other models. (She’s since posed with a male model for an Express campaign.)
“Even Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell embrace new models and shoot with them,” the second source says. “If you look at people with those long careers, they know how to give back.”
The secret sniping is the latest setback for Upton, 22, who’s also noticeably absent from the most recent Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. (The magazine did not return a request for comment.)
As for her acting career, she has just one new project slated for production in 2015: “The Layover,” a road-trip sex comedy co-starring Lea Michele and directed by William H. Macy.
Meanwhile, her highly anticipated Super Bowl commercial for the video game app “Game of War,” which depicted her in a medieval breastplate trotting toward a battlefield, was widely panned.
As soon as she uttered, “Do you want to come and play?” it made people wonder whether she should have stuck to modeling.
“This campaign does the impossible: making Kate Upton seem totally wooden,” tweeted Adweek.
In October, Upton ditched her modeling agents at IMG Models in favor of talent agents at William Morris Endeavor to strike it big in Hollywood (WME owns IMG), according to a Page Six report. The change in management came on the heels of working with Diaz in 2014’s “The Other Woman.”
But her range, as The Hollywood Reporter noted, was limited.
“Upton does what she’s called upon to do, look great in a bikini, and rarely has more than one line to speak at a time,” wrote THR’s Todd McCarthy.
It’s been a harsh reception for a 5-foot-10 blonde famous for her bubbly approachability and all-American style.
The great-granddaughter of Frederick Upton, one of the founders of the Whirlpool Corporation, and niece of Congressman Fred Upton, she was born in Michigan and raised in Melbourne, Fla. There she became a champion equestrian and, at 15, signed with Elite Model Management.
She moved to New York to pursue modeling, and on her 18th birthday signed with IMG Models — the agency that nurtured the careers of Gisele Bündchen, Tyra Banks and Heidi Klum.
Four years ago, the clip of a carefree Upton dancing to Cali Swag District’s “Teach Me How To Dougie” at a Los Angeles Clippers game lit up the Internet. By the time she was 20, she made the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue twice (in 2012 and 2013), as well as GQ, CR Fashion Book, Cosmopolitan and Italian Vogue.
She became the darling kim kardashian makes the cover of adweek of top photographers like Terry Richardson, Steven Meisel, Mario Testino and Bruce Weber. And in June of 2013, she landed the biggest coup — the cover of American Vogue.
Away from the lens, the sexy Floridian continued to titillate by dating athletes like former Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez and Justin Verlander, a pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, whom she’s still dating.
“She really shook up the industry in terms of how quickly you could achieve the usual markers of success,” says Betty Sze, managing editor of industry site models.com. “What takes high-fashion models sometimes years or decades to get, like the Vogue cover, the name recognition, the cosmetics contract... Kate was able to get all those in the space of two or so years.”
But Upton was convinced she made it to the top alone.
“It’s weird that in the press they’ll be like, ‘Your biggest fight was with the industry and the designers,’ and I’m like, ‘No, my biggest fight was with my agents, trying to get them to sign me into the castings,’” she told British Vogue last June.
Upton wasn’t always an easy sell, though.
“When Kate first came in, everyone at the agency thought I was crazy. She wasn’t ‘fashion’ enough,” Ivan Bart, the SVP and managing director of IMG, told the New York Times.
She became really unappreciative of her success. It totally went to her head. She didn’t understand that people had taken a chance on her.- A fashion publicist on Kate Upton’s career
The legend-maker said he had to convince clients to meet with her. But once he got her in front of them, they were smitten.
“Kate was embraced for her ease in front of the camera and in her interactions with people,” says Sze.
And yet, Upton, who has 1.9 million followers on both Instagram and Twitter, just last week criticized the very medium that made her a star.
“I feel like social media at this point is kind of bulls–t,” she told the Edit, Net-a-Porter’s online magazine.
It was yet another comment that made industry insiders fume.
“That’s how she got famous!” quips the fashion publicist.
Despite these recent bumps, her new agents are convinced she has legs as an actress.
“Kate achieved enormous success as a model by the age of 22 and is now embarking on the next phase of her career,” Upton’s reps at William Morris said in a statement. “She is taking acting very seriously, receiving great reviews for her work in ‘The Other Woman,’ and is now about to start shooting her next starring role in ‘The Layover.’”
Her move to movies is one Nigel Barker, author of “Models of Influence,” says suits her career trajectory.
“Whenever you see someone with a meteoric rise, you see them skip to the next thing very quickly,” he says. “And she has a very good on-camera presence that is extremely charming.”
But one Hollywood agent who asked to remain anonymous says Upton’s turn on the silver screen didn’t make a splash.
“Kate is not even on our radar,” the agent says. “If she thinks she can make it as a movie star, she’s clearly believing her own hype. I don’t even remember her in ‘The Other Woman,’ but pretty, buxom actresses are not exactly in short supply. Without any discernible talent, she will struggle to get taken seriously.”
As for modeling, Upton is still the face of Bobbi Brown cosmetics and Express, though a source says her contract with the clothing line has expired. (A rep for the company declined to comment.)
Regardless, Barker says someone as versatile as Upton will always be in demand.
“People still want to hear from her. Once you get to the point in her career that Upton has, you don’t just fizzle. It has to be a conscious decision to step aside.”
And, while she aims for the top, perhaps a little bit of adversity will help her get there. As Upton herself admitted to the Edit, “Maybe a little hate is good for me.”
Additional reporting by Louisa Pisani
The rise and fall of Kate Upton
From a fresh-faced Florida kid to modeling’s hottest babe to panned actress — all by age 22.
At 15, Upton is signed to Elite Model Management.
A video (above) of Upton dancing at a Clippers game goes viral.
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Upton makes a swimwear splash, walking the runway in Miami.
Barry Wetcher/Twentieth Century FoxHer comedy “The Other Woman” (above, with Leslie Mann, left) flops.
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty ImagesBut her love life is looking up — she’s dating baseballer Justin Verlander.
Han Myung-Gu/WireImageUpton’s Super Bowl commerical is deemed one of the night’s worst ads.
Twitter users BLAST new Kendall Jenner Pepsi commercial What to wear to a funeral guys
[Filter Horse Ads Ads 1 - 8 of 8,638.