Joan Smalls is a professional fashion model. She was born in Hatillo, Puerto Rico on July 11, 1988. She has two sisters. Her mother, Betzaida Rodriguez is a social worker and her father, Eric Smalls is an accountant. Between her parents, Joan is of African, Puerto Rican, Spanish, and Taino Indian heritage.
She attended the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico and graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelors Degree in psychology. After graduation, Smalls moved to New York City to try her hand at modeling. There she was signed by Elite Model Management in 2007. She was with Elite Model Management for two years before leaving in 2009 for IMG Models. Here she was able to shift her focus to runway work. She was quickly signed as an exclusive for Givenchy in Riccardo Tisci's Spring/Summer Haute Couture show. She is currently represented by IMG Models.
After working for Givenchy, Smalls modeled both haute couture and ready-to-wear collections for designers including Marc Jacobs, Prada, Gucci, Chanel, Tom Ford, Lavin, Missoni, Alexander Wang, Versace, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, DVF, Oscar de la Renta and Jean Paul Gaultier among many others. She has walked in Fashion Week in New York, London, Milan and Paris. She has also appeared in the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.
Smalls has also done an abundance of editorial work. She has appeared in ten international editions of Vogue (Italian, Australian, Japanese, Turkish, Brazilian, Korean, Russian, Spanish, American and German), i-D, Dazed & Confused, Glamour, W, GQ and Harper's Bazaar. In September 2013, Smalls appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair with fellow model Karlie Kloss and earned the label “The New Supers” by the industry.
Smalls is the first Puerto Rican fashion model chosen by many brands and companies to lead their advertising campaigns. These have included Gucci, Chanel, Fendi Eyewear, Calvin Klein Jeans, Next, H&M, David Yurman, Estée Lauder, Mercedes-Benz, Barneys New York, Ports 1961, Tiffany & Co., Rag & Bone, Prabal Gurung, Hugo Boss, Stella McCartney, Versace, Versace Eyewear, and Missoni.
Her Estée Lauder contract in 2011 was a personal milestone as she became the first Latina to sign a worldwide campaign for the brand. Richard Ferretti, Estée Lauder's global creative director has been quoted as saying, “The word supermodel is overused, but if there's any woman of our generation who deserves the title, it's Joan. She can go from looking girl-next-door to superchic-tough-strong—and she is all of that.”
She has been photographed by an abundance of industry leading photographers including Steven Klein, Mario Sorrenti, Mario Testino, Peter Lindbergh, Nick Knight, Karl Lagerfield, Annie Leibovitz, Terry Richardson, Norman Jean Roy, Richard Bush, Henrique Gendre, Matt Jones and Vivian Sassen among many others.
Smalls co-hosted the MTV fashion series House of Style with fellow model Karlie Kloss. She also appeared in Ricky Martin's “It's Alright” music video in 2006. In 2013 she was featured in Beyoncé's “Yoncé” video.
Smalls has received many awards and accolades for her modeling work. She was named “Model of the Year” at the 9th Annual “Style Awards” in 2012. The award was presented to her by supermodel Iman. The same year she was also named #1 on the “Top 50 Women Models” by models.com. She has also been ranked #8 on Forbes' “World's Highest-Paid Models”. She earns approximately $3.5 million a year.
In her spare time, Smalls is very involved with a non-profit philanthropy, Project Sunshine, where she assists children with medical needs.