Prior to her acting career, she walked the runways for brands ranging from Chanel to Victoria’s Secret.
Prior to playing time-traveling doctor Claire Fraser, actress Caitriona Balfe had a successful modeling career, walking the runways for fashion houses like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Givenchy, and brands including Victoria’s Secret.
“I was privileged to work frequently with Karl Lagerfeld in my early career as a model. Those were truly the highlights of my career back then especially when I got to work with him as a photographer,” she wrote on Instagram, eulogizing Lagerfeld when he died in 2019. “He was a true icon and a creative genius. I am so grateful I was fortunate enough to meet and work with him.
But not everything about her modeling experience was positive. During a recent appearance on the podcast Thanks a Million, Balfe opened up about how “tough” the industry could be.
“You’re supposed to just automatically be this fun, interesting, edgy person that fashion people want to be around, but then at the same time, you have to be so skinny and so androgynous,” Balfe said.
“[I was] constantly being compared to people. I think, as a young woman in your teens and twenties, that’s really really hard.”
She continued, detailing the criticism she faced, as a regular part of her job.
“There’s so many times where you would go in to castings or even fittings for jobs that you already supposedly had and somebody in the room would just be annihilating how you look or your lack of personality or you talk too much,” she said. “All in front of you, and it’s really tough. I have so much admiration for girls who can come through that unscathed.”
During the conversation, Balfe was clear that her career as a model provided her with opportunities she might not have received otherwise, but they came at a cost.
“In one way, it opens up so many doors and it does open your mind to so many things and it does give you an incredible education in a certain way. But in another way, it infantilizes you and it stunts you in so many other ways, and I think it takes a while to sort of like rebalance all of that,” she said.
Now, of course, Balfe is an actress, not only appearing in Outlander, but also feature films like Ford vs Ferrari. Additionally, she’s starting to work behind the camera; for season five of Outlander, she served as a producer, and she recently secured the rights to Sarah Crossan’s novel Here Is the Beehive. She’ll be working alongside Ocean Independent, the production arm of talent agency Emptage Hallett on that project.
Listen to the whole episode here: