Camille Kostek Is Maxim’s May/June 2024 Cover Star

The model, TV host and longtime girlfriend of Rob Gronkowski has ascended to fashion’s stratosphere.

(Gilles Bensimon)

Camille Kostek seems to radiate positivity and confidence when she beams back at you from magazine covers, billboards and TV screens. That’s because the model, host and actress is lit up with the knowledge that all those years of hard work and dedication have led to her dream life.

While you may know her as the longtime girlfriend of NFL tight end Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski, whom she started dating in 2015 when they met while she was a cheerleader for the New England Patriots, don’t for a second underestimate her as merely a pretty plus-one.

(Photography: Gilles Bensimon, Styling: Karin Agstam, Styling Assistant: Mookie Sauers and Charles O’Shea, Hair: Thomas Dunkin using R+Co., Makeup: Kelli Anne Sewell, Production: Jessica Athanasiou-Piork)

“When people hear you’re an NFL cheerleader, they might think you’re just trying to date an athlete. To have to train for 17 years as a dancer—that’s a difficult way to get a boyfriend,” she laughs. Dance is indeed where it all began for the Connecticut native, who picked up performing as a three-year-old who loved nothing more than bringing a smile to people’s faces.

“My mom reminds me of times that I would tap the TV and ask how I could get inside the screen,” Kostek recalls. “I recently came across a project I wrote in middle school called ‘Future Me,’ where I talked about how one day I wanted to be on the big stage, have agents and be a dancer, a singer, a performer and a TV host—all the things I am now, besides the singing! I wrote about how I wanted to make the world a better place and go to schools and talk about how it hurts to be bullied, and how I never wanted someone to experience that.”

Even at a young age, Kostek, who’s a wise older sister to her three younger siblings, was steadfast that if you led by example and treated others as you wanted to be treated, coupled with determination, you could achieve whatever it was you set out to do. To further spread that message, she has used her platform as a public figure to start the “Own It Tour,” which has her visiting universities around the country. “I talk to [students] about manifesting your life, letting go of limiting beliefs, tapping into all that you are and having an abundant life and being a dreamer,” she explains.

Top: GUESS, Shoes: KURT GEIGER, Sunglasses: CHROME HEARTS, Bracelet: H&M STUDIO, Rings: MIRACO
(Gilles Bensimon)

The opportunity to endorse self-confidence, self-worth and self-belief among others is particularly poignant for her, considering her own turbulent experience with traditional modeling agencies as she began her journey in the spotlight. However, in hindsight, she’s grateful she never listened to their advice to change herself or her body to fit their antiquated ideals. Having moved across the country to Los Angeles on her 25th birthday “with very little money but big dreams,” Kostek started to figure things out on her own terms, and the bookings began to roll in.

“I feel like, at surface level, when someone reads a quick bio about me or they ask what I do and I say I’m a model or TV host, or they learn that I rose to prominence for posing in a bikini, they can be quick to judge,” she says.

Dress: FLEUR DU MAL, Trench: AVEC LES FILLES, Rings: H&M Studio (Gilles Bensimon)

“But the reason I was drawn to [modeling] in the first place wasn’t because I wanted to be in a bikini and pose, it was about loving the skin that I’m in. Even when I was struggling to love it. Thankfully, advertising is evolving, but at that time, it was difficult to even find a girl with freckly skin or see a girl’s boobs hang in her bikini top! That was attractive, natural and beautiful to me. I wanted to see someone who looked like myself or my [friends] in magazines.”

And while the path appears to be clear to her now, having spent her college years with posters of cheerleaders and supermodels tacked up on her dorm walls, it’s taken more than just willpower and luck to get to where she is today.

“I believe in divine timing; rejection is redirection, but any time something isn’t working out or something you want isn’t happening at that time, it either means that something better is out there for you or your time is coming at a different time,” Kostek says. “You have to embrace who you are. The quicker you believe that and settle into that mindset, the more everything just flows in life—with health, yourself, relationships and career.”

That ability to be okay with rejection and knowing things will come your way when they’re supposed to has helped Kostek navigate success as a host, too. “My first big TV show was Wipeout on TBS when they did the reboot [in 2021],” she says.

(Gilles Bensimon)

“When I got the job, it was a couple of weeks after being told ‘no’ about another opportunity I thought for sure was meant to be. Little did I know, Wipeout was right around the corner and that was going to prepare me for an NBC show, Dancing With Myself, with Shakira, Nick Jonas and Liza Koshy, and then being on the E! panel for the Met Gala. I didn’t know that doors were opening and things were happening. When you settle into knowing that there’s a plan and purpose, you’ll unlock the potential you never even knew you had. That’s when the growth happens!”

Never one to rest on her laurels, Kostek has been challenging herself by dabbling in acting. “I hate being complacent. I feel like I get bored easily, so I’m constantly trying to find new things,” she says. “Acting is that thing for me right now that scares me so bad because I’m used to being a TV host, talking directly to the camera. Embodying a character and pretending the cameras aren’t there is still new to me, but I love it.”

She’s already got a few Hallmark TV movies under her belt—something particularly close to her heart as she grew up watching them with her dad—as well as several other small film roles, including Free Guy with Ryan Reynolds, that have whet her appetite.

From challenging herself to challenging decades-old stereotypes, the 32-year-old doesn’t do anything by half measure. That’s why if she’s going to work with a brand as an ambassador, campaign star or spokesperson and share recommendations with her one million fans on social media, it has to truly be a match. “Advertising is right in the palm of our hands,” she says.

(Gilles Bensimon)

“I think that brands lean into work with me because I don’t like to put out anything that doesn’t naturally fit in my life. I would never lie to my followers. I stay true to who I am, even if that means less jobs. If it doesn’t align, I don’t want to be a part of it. I’m all about longevity, and that’s what would be my biggest advice for someone who wants a long-lasting career: Lean into your quirkiness, your uniqueness and what makes you special. Even if you don’t think it’s what everyone else will like, you will attract the right people.”

Kostek has parlayed that same sense of relatability and authenticity into successful projects, including the Camille Kostek Collection with Boston-based Dune Jewelry and a soon-to-debut partnership that will see her collaborating and co-designing sexy swimwear collections with La Porte for the foreseeable future. She also pauses for a moment of reflection when asked for advice to those who want to carve their own career in modern media.

“I used to host the red carpets for Maxim’s Hot 100 and I was so excited to interview models. I thought, ‘Maybe one day someone will interview me on a Maxim red carpet or for a cover story. How cool would that be?’ I kind of let it go because it never happened. But it always sat in the back of my mind and I guess the time is now, so I’m excited and honored!”

As for what’s still on her bucket list, Kostek admits she has a spin on Dancing With the Stars placed front and center on her vision board. After all, she’s been performing and entertaining since she could walk, so it seems like a natural next step for this rising star.

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2024 issue of Maxim magazine.