Grace Elizabeth Takes Center Stage

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Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø
Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø
Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø
Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø
Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø
Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø
Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø
Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø

Grace Elizabeth has her mother to thank for her modeling career. With her encouragement, the Lake City, Florida, native began with childhood pageants and graduated to modeling prom dresses in mall runway shows. Before long, the two of them were shouting with glee at seeing her face on a Sunset Boulevard billboard. They became a duo, traveling the world, staying in tiny hotel rooms. Things shifted into high gear when super stylist Katie Grand picked Grace Elizabeth for a Miu Miu show, which led to a V Magazine cover, Chanel campaigns, and a thriving runway career.

Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø
Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø
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Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø
Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø
Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø
Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø
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Now 24, the model recently became a mother herself, welcoming her son Noah this past February. Fashion’s pandemic slowdown allowed her a longer-than-usual maternity leave. “I got to take a break and reevaluate, as a person, what’s valuable to me,” Grace Elizabeth says. “What are my priorities outside of fashion? What kind of person am I? What things am I interested in?” When she returned, it was with a new focus: becoming an advocate for ovarian cancer awareness. Inspired by her mother, who was diagnosed with the disease in 2018, Grace Elizabeth has raised funds, posted on her social media platforms, and completed walkathons. “I’ve seen her go through treatment, a short remission, back into treatment. I’ve seen what the cancer itself does to the body, what chemo does to the body and the mental state. It’s life-shattering,”she says, adding that “it’s such an uncommon cancer that there’s not enough funding.”

Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø
Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø
Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø
Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø
Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø
Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø

Becoming a new mom with her husband, Nicolas Krause, has been the highlight of her life, Grace Elizabeth explains in her endearing Southern twang. “I think I was born to be a mom. Everything I have, I pour into him happily,” she says of Noah.“It’s so amazing to watch him discover the world for the first time. What may be ordinary to us is fascinating to him. We get to see it all over again, see the beauty in things.” As the fashion world has reawakened and she’s returned to work, adapting to her tiny travel companion has been relatively easy (“He’s an incredible traveler, knock on wood”). What’s been trickier to manage are the complicated new feelings about her career and motherhood. “Mom guilt is very real. I think a lot of women often don’t speak about it because they’re either afraid of judgment or just [dealing with] self-inflicted guilt,” she says. “I feel guilty for enjoying myself when I’m away or at work or having that moment of time to myself. Then I also feel guilty that I’m not there, that maybe he needs me or I’m missing something, because every day he learns something new.”

Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø
Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø
Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø
Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø
Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø
Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø

What has offered her much-needed peace is being part of a fashion-world baby boom, giving her a group of fellow mothers with whom she can talk about parenting in an unvarnished way. She and her friend, photographer Zoey Grossman, who has twins, “are able to speak about postpartum struggles and what it’s like to become a new mom. Gigi [Hadid], Emily [Ratajkowski]—our children are around the same age,” she says. “We don’t have to beat around the bush and say, ‘Oh no, it’s wonderful.’ Because as wonderful as it is, as grateful as we are, it is very hard.”

Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø
Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø
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Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø
Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø
Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø
Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø

These friendships have been critical to her confidence and happiness—and have helped shape a message she wants to share with other mothers. “You feel like you’re failing all the time, even when you’re not. Hormone flux is crazy. It’s up and down,” she says. “I don’t think there are a whole lot of conversations around [the] postpartum [period] because there’s guilt with it. It’s okay to feel angry or alone or tired and confused, or to feel like you’re doing something wrong, or to just want to be a little selfish with your time, take 15 more minutes in the shower.”

Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø
Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø
Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø
Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø
Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø
Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø
Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø
Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø

While she figures it all out, she’s looking forward with hope. She welcomes the return of fashion and the new adventures parenting will take her on. She also dreams of an acting career and has been taking classes, reading about Method acting, and self-taping. “Walking in all of these shows, it was so amazing to be back in this crazy chaos. Of course, with a bit more precautions and generosity and a little more humanity. Motherhood has been absolutely incredible, and I’m a very lucky woman,” she says, adding, “and hopefully you’ll see me on a big screen soon.”

Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø
Photo credit: Sølve Sundsbø

This article appears in the February 2022 issue of ELLE.

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