Becoming famous isn’t at all what it used to be. While traditional methods of auditions and nepotism are alive and still used in the biggest industries, going viral has become a common entry point into stardom. But receiving hundreds of thousands of likes on a single post isn’t a one-way ticket to Hollywood. It takes someone clever enough to increase the lifespan of their five minutes of fame. This is a strategy that model and actress Antje Utgaard is familiar with and successful at.
It all started during her short-lived time at the University of Minnesota. Like many young adults, Antje was unsure about her career path. She was switching majors and feeling the pressures many college kids do to make the decisions that will shape the rest of their lives. While the talented personality came to L.A. on a whim with hope and a restless heart, the social media following she picked up was by a stroke of luck. Back at the University of Minnesota, Antje snapped a selfie to casually send to her then-boyfriend, “There was a photo that I had Snapchatted him, and he screenshotted it and sent it to [Barstool Sports] as a joke.” The picture spread like wildfire, with Barstool fans everywhere wanting to know what the Instagram handle was of the girl selected as Barstool’s Smokeshow of the Day. Barstool’s appreciation for Antje’s stunning looks may have been a lucky break, but it was the model herself who took the title as an opportunity. “I feel like I just kind of kept up with what people were enjoying, and it kept on going and going,” she says, “After a few months, I got up to 100,000 [followers]. I figured there was something here, and I moved out to L.A.!” The model took advantage of her shifty mindset regarding her future, worked the summer, and took her car to Los Angeles. At 20 years old, she figured moving back home was an option if all else failed.
The word “self-made” seems to be thrown around too often, but Antje has earned that title more than many models with the same status. After realizing what people liked to see, she took in those likes, follows, and comments as analytical statistics. To this day, she is not represented by an agency. Her personal Instagram plays a big part in her career. She knows her largely male following dominates what posts will do the best, “Whenever I do more fashion stuff or different content, the followers you got, in the beginning, might not like that as much. But you can’t pigeonhole yourself into stereotypes. Branch out and try different things.”
Antje’s career in a high concentration focuses on her social media content. This is not to say she doesn’t have her fair share of gigs for the world’s most popular magazines. In fact, her very first job out in L.A. was a Playboy shoot at the infamous mansion, “It was definitely a cool experience both to have come out here, a little girl from the Midwest and then shoot for Playboy within the first few months.” Not many can put Playboy down as an initial job, but thinking back on her Minnesota days to where it all started, the model says, “I had this one company reach out to me; they were a local sports bike business. They wanted me to do a calendar. And they said someone recommended you. At this point, I only had 200 followers. And so I was like, ‘Okay, yeah, sure.’ And then I did it. And then after that, I was like, ‘Oh, that's kind of fun!’ I liked everything about it. So from there, I kind of branched out and tried to do a little bit more.”
Starring in Mob Town and strutting down Maxim’s Halloween Party red carpet, it’s safe to say that Antje Utgaard is nothing short of successful. With that being said, her family wasn’t on board at first with this new life. Being told by your child they are dropping out of college and moving to L.A. is typically not what a parent wants to hear. Antje recalls her family having a similar distaste for her initial life decisions, saying, “It was just one of those things people in the Midwest didn’t really understand at the time...Now everyone understands what an influencer is, but before, no one really got it.” She even admitted to her high-school-aged sister begging her to stop. But within a few months of her career in L.A., the model’s family finally got an idea of the success that would be brought into Antje’s life. Their first thoughts aren’t entirely shocking, considering her own uncertainty. When asked if this was ever the life she thought she would live, Antje admits, “I had no idea. For me, it wasn't something that I thought I was ever gonna do. I actually never wanted to get on social media. My friends kind of forced me. I remember Twitter was my first thing. I got that my senior year of high school. And then I didn't get an Instagram until college. Everyone was like, ‘No, you have to get on it.’ And then I kind of used it for my friends- I think I had like 200 followers. And then all of a sudden one day, like I said, my boyfriend had sent in that photo, and people took to it. And then after that, the rest is history!”
Widely best known for her sultry photos, Antje is actually a triple threat. She danced in college and even considered exploring a career in the field, “I was a dancer at the university and realized I had a passion for it. I actually trained on Broadway with the Rockettes. I thought I was gonna quit college, dance for them, and move to New York and be a Rockette. That was my game plan, but then when I danced for my university, half of the team quit that year because the coaches were not the nicest.”
Antje radiates confidence in every sense of the trait. Her voice is clear, answering every question sincerely with a bright demeanor. This is also reflected as you scroll through her Instagram feed or when watching her comedy-based TikToks. She dawns a big, bright smile when she’s not using the camera lens as a window to stare into your soul with her sexy, smoldering eyes. But she admits that while she may seem this way, she has her own insecure moments, “There are days where you’re shooting, and everything feels amazing, and there are days where the pictures are just not what you’re feeling. There's some content that I've put out that I'm like, ‘Why did I do that?’ or ‘Why did I ever bother, the original was better,’ or something. But in the moment, you look at it, and you think it's right. Or you think ‘I don't know if I like this photo, but I have to put it out’. It’s just one photo.” Talking more about Instagram, she says, “If one thing doesn’t hit, I don’t let it get me down. I just try to see the patterns. Some stuff does not hit at all. And then you
feel bad. 4000 likes are terrible. But the post right next to it got 50,000 likes, you never know.” Utgaard also disclosed her fears in real life, telling us, “Acting is the hardest. Modeling is a picture; you don’t worry about that much.
Acting- that’s a lot of pressure, especially when I did my first movie. You didn’t want to disappoint the director or disappoint the cast. You have to nail it,” but it’s not for nothing, she claims, “When it all is said and done and the movie comes out, it’s really rewarding.” As for what we can see her in next, Antje’s down for anything. Starring in Sable (2017) and Mob Town (2019), she enjoys the intensity surrounding the plots, “I love action. I mean, I work out twice a day. And I kind of have that build of like a superhero type, like a Wonder Woman. So I enjoy that. But yeah, I definitely would love, love, love to get into comedy. Comedy has been my passion ever since I was a little, like I said, making people laugh, even through dancing.” She continues, exploring many ideas, “And I took a lot of comedy classes when I got out to LA. I studied a little bit at Groundlings improv school, and honestly, I feel like that's when I feel I'm being my true self. And it feels the most rewarding at the end of the day. So yeah, I would definitely love to get into a sitcom or do some rom coms- Kind of like Sofia Vergara, or like a Cameron Diaz kind of thing. There are so many good examples, honestly. But yeah, I don't know. It's hard when you want to do so many things.” As if she isn’t doing enough, Antje elaborated on several other possible endeavors. Producing, directing, writing a book, and exploring the real estate business could all play parts in the model’s future, “I want to dip my feet into as many pools as possible. I have a lot of people tell me to stick to one thing, but I enjoy all of it… I’m all over the place!” On having so much energy, Antje seems to have found the solution to burnout, “No more boys in my life! They take up all my energy.” After a conversation with her, it’s safe to say that her strategy works.
The aspirations that Antje has for herself are influenced by her favorite movies and role models. In terms of modeling, Kate Upton acted as an inspirational force for Antje, “She got away with her curves, which I thought was cool.” When talking about film, many of the world’s favorite comedians have been figures to look up to for her, “As I said, Cameron Diaz has always been a favorite of mine. I love her tomboy, goofy, light-hearted energy that she gives off that's in front of the camera and off of the camera.” She goes on to name Kristen Wiig, Charlize Theron, Jennifer Aniston, Jim Carry, Steve Carell, and Will Farell. It’s safe to assume that new actress will explore the comedy genre in her film career, “They're over the top, expressive and unapologetic.” Antje’s favorite movies include the people she looks up to, mentioning Stepbrothers, Dumb and Dumber, and getting excited when talking about Jim Carrey’s The Grinch. In terms of a bit more action, Kill Bill and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood were some of her favorites. The young actress has hopes to one day work with Quentin Tarantino.
While she is inspired by many names, Antje is someone to look up to for new generations of models and actors. There’s a lot that the talented young woman has learned. As for words of wisdom, Antje sighs before advising, “Just be confident in yourself, love yourself. At the end of the day, it's a hard industry. I mean, I've heard it all. I've been abused emotionally on set. It comes down to loving ourselves. You can do whatever you want in life. Know exactly what direction you want to go towards and go from there. For me, I just kind of I didn't have a plan. I don't know if I'd recommend that. I got lucky in that sense.” She also gives a word of warning, “I was definitely a little too trusting a lot of times, and you can’t be too careful. Definitely have a mentor- someone you can talk to. But at the end of the day, if you really want something, don't let anybody stop you from getting that. They might not like you; they might not want you. One of my first photoshoots ever was a magazine in Minnesota. I remember when we got to the shoot, they didn’t really like me. They thought I was going to be a little bit slimmer than I was at the time. They just didn't seem like they wanted me. That made me feel bad, but now they always hit me up. So the timing might not be right, or you might not be right for that project because they had a certain idea in their head or a certain vision, and you might not have met that expectation for them. But that's not something that you hold against yourself and be like, ‘Oh, they didn't like me. So I think I shouldn't model anymore.’ Because I've definitely had a lot of those moments in my life. But here I am, you know, down the line a little bit later, and I'm happy I never gave up on myself.”
Reaping the benefits of social media can be a waiting game. As Antje mentioned, some posts will do a lot worse than ones posted just days apart. On keeping herself motivated, Antje recognizes the challenge. “You have to kind of see the light at the end of the tunnel, and know that if I'm not working, and I'm not getting up every morning and shooting something, or if I miss my workouts or anything, then it's never going to happen for me. And I just kind of feel that I motivate myself by basically making people happier. The comments when people are like, ‘Oh, I really enjoyed that.’ That motivates me, and it makes me think, ‘Okay, what's next? What can I do?’ And then I see my numbers go up, of course; in the beginning, especially on Instagram, you see it go up like 10,000, from this little thing and 100,000 from that, and it just kind of becomes addicting. And also just seeing that people are enjoying what you're putting out there. That makes me happy. And it makes me feel good that people can put a little smile on their faces. So yeah, I guess that would be pretty much my motivation.” As for hate and mean comments, Antje notes that for every ten mean comments, there are hundreds of remarks with uplifting messages, “Keep doing your thing.”
After an insightful conversation with Antje, it was time to ask some more trivial questions. With just a quick glance at the model, her toned build is astonishing. One can immediately understand the appeal of Antje, and asking her about her fitness routine was a given, “Oh, girl! I’m a fitness junkie. I do pilates 5 times a week as my second workout of the day.” She exercises 5-6 times a week and spends the rest of her day editing and working. With three personal trainers, SoulCycle (pre-covid), and boxing on Saturdays, she says that her Stairmaster with ankle weights every morning for 30 minutes “changed my body like crazy.” Antje claims that focusing on your legs changes you everywhere.
Favorite song: “What You Need” by Don Toliver
Favorite food: Truffle Pasta, along with Salt and Straw’s black olive goat cheese and peanut brittle flavored ice cream. “I know it sounds disgusting, but it’s so good.” We’ll take your word for it, Antje.
Favorite Beauty Product: The model says she would cake on makeup up until the last couple of years. She likes a modest amount of Oxegenetix foundation before doing her brows. Her skincare routine is much more important to her, with monthly microblading and facials. Her daily skincare routine consists of ten steps. Her favorite step is getting to the anti-aging moisturizer, symbolizing the finale in the process, as well as leaving her face radiant.
The Most Stars struck she’s been: Name-dropping Drake, Lebron James, Jay-Z, and Channing Tatum, she decides her 5 encounters with Leonardo Decaprio top them all. She gushes over the first time she met the legend, explaining, “He’s a friend of the director of my movie Mob Town; he’s in that wolf pack. L.A.’s very connected. The first time I met him was in a club. Do you know what he did to me? Do you know when he holds the glass up in The Great Gatsby? He did that to me! That was so insane!”
First Big Purchase: Antje treated herself to a Chanel handbag in her younger years, but after her career began to take off, the next big buy was a bit steeper, “When I started making more money, I bought a car. I just bought a new one in December and crashed it in March. Ugh, cringe. It was funny; I was in the driveway looking at my first car thinking, ‘It’s so sad I never get to drive my old baby anymore!’ And later that day I got into a car accident! Be careful what you wish for.” Noted!
While many in the modeling and acting worlds have a reputation for a cold demeanor, Antje proves the stereotype wrong. In all honesty, with a workload as grueling as hers, an unpleasant persona would be easy for anyone to take on. Antje Utgaard has a sincere air surrounding her, and despite her busy work schedule, her positive attitude only adds to the model’s already enticing appeal. A hectic life like Antje’s may seem tiring, but it’s evident through the manner in which she speaks and the quality of what she puts out that this is the life she was made to live for. Whether it’s dancing, acting, or modeling, there was one thing she always knew: “Entertaining people, making people laugh, making people smile. Just anything, I loved it. I loved entertaining people, no matter what it was. Dancing, acting, making a beautiful picture, anything. It was something that I've always felt like it was my purpose.”