The professional model-turned-mom returns to the runway for DC Swim Week.
By John Arundel
Some eagle-eyed fashionistas may know Washington native Katie Rost as the onetime face of global campaigns for Cover Girl and L’Oreal, while others in the hip hop world may remember her back in the day as one of the teen hosts of BET’s popular talk show, “Teen Summit,” where she got her broadcasting chops by interviewing iconic figures of hip hop culture like Tupac and Queen Latifah.
There’s one thing about Katie Rost: With her rosy smile, sunny demeanor and impossibly perfect cheekbones, she’s not a model you soon forget. “She’s truly made a career in an industry where most girls last a season,” says her mentor and longtime friend Russell Simmons, the hip-hop business magnate.
In a decade-long modeling career which, gasp, was launched right here in the pages of Washington Life magazine – when she smiled brightly from our October 2006 cover – Katie has since been on every side of the modeling world, from the high fashion shows of Milan and Paris for design houses like Chanel and Lanvin, to mainstream catalogue work for companies like J. Crew, Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy’s.
But as they say, all roads lead home, and Katie returns to her native Washington this week as the honored emcee of the inaugural DC Swim Week, which launches Thursday at Café Milano in Georgetown and continues over two electric nights of high swimwear fashion at The Manor and Penthouse Pool Club, finishing up Sunday with an invitation-only private mansion party.
“It’s been an amazing journey,” says Katie, 35, over a hot cup of lemongrass tea at Malmaison. “I’ve been blessed to see so much of the world and to have had so many diverse experiences as a professional model. But, I have to say it’s really great finally being back in the DC area raising my three kids…There’s no chance I’ll ever wake up with a hangover here.”
If perhaps you lost that last reference, you try being a professional model for 10 years; the free-spirited revelry and hot nights at Bungalow 8, Cipriani, Tunnel or Limelight, followed by early wake up calls for international flights, or hair and makeup in the studio with bullwhip photo stylists. “My time in New York was really fast-paced and exciting,” Katie recalls, then giggles: “I don’t even remember the conversations I had back then.”
While it may not appear to be tough to be a professional model, what might have been tough for any model at the top of their game was the hard decision to leave all that free-spiritedness behind, and lock into the ever-present responsibilities of marriage, motherhood and being an on-time soccer mom for three small kids in Potomac, MD.
“I’m a different woman now…but I still never get enough sleep,” Katie confesses. “The kids are why I need the caffeine. They’re up all night, then they’re up at 5.”
“But,” she sighs reflexively. “These are good problems, because I love being a mom.”
Katie Rost attended Holton Arms School in the District and then Boston University’s College of Communications, where she graduated in 2001 with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.
As a freshman at BU she met James Orsini, who she maintained a close friendship with until 13 years later when they started dating and then married. However, the couple split in 2013, resolving to be “excellent co-parents.”
Other than co-starring in a docu-series for network television now being taped in and around Washington, most of the pulls on Katie’s time these days are from either motherhood or philanthropy.
After raising $56,000 with her “Team to Believe” for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of America’s Woman of the Year campaign, and helping to raise another $187,000 last year as co-chair of Imagination Stage’s Annual Gala, Katie now runs the Ronald F. Rost Charitable Foundation, which she co-founded in 2006 with her mother Rynthia Rost, an attorney and former college professor who now serves as Vice President of Public Affairs at GEICO in Bethesda.
The foundation is privately funded, and supports recreation, enrichment and leadership activities in the DC community.
“My father had a passion for sports, for life and for unlimited thinking,”Katie says. “So the effort is about finding partners in the DC area who are also passionate about those things, programs like the Boys and Girls Clubs or Theatre in the Woods, and partner with them to help them be successful. We’d like to do big, important things with this. ”
For more information about DC Swim Week, click www.dcswimshow.com
For more information about the Rost Foundation, click www.rostfoundation.com