The rise of Hope Hicks, Donald Trump's campaign press secretary, is nearly as unlikely as Trump's candidacy. The 27-year-old former model went from Ivanka Trump's PR aide to the press secretary for the strangest campaign in recent memory seemingly overnight. So who is Hope Hicks, and how did she become Trump's right-hand woman?
To answer this question, Daily Beast writer Olivia Nuzzi had to go to the top (well, the 26th floor) of the Trump empire to get the scoop on the beautiful and bizarrely tight-lipped press secretary for GQ. Rather than putting herself at the opposite end of the media requests she fields daily, Hicks did what she does best: She deferred to The Donald and had him answer Nuzzi's questions in front of her, causing one to wonder if Hicks's role is to act as a mouthpiece for the erstwhile Apprentice host.
Strangeness aside, Hicks' role in the Trump campaign has long been a source of speculation, and Nuzzi's article sheds light on the inner workings of the silent communications director and her role in the controversial campaign. Nuzzi's piece "fills us with joy and alarm in equal measure." Below are some of the top takeaways from the profile.
Her Role Is Largely Created "On The Fly"
If nothing else, Nuzzi's profile highlights in great detail how unique Hicks' role is on the Trump campaign:
Hicks's job — a sui generis role of outsize importance that she half invents on the fly — involves keeping the media at bay and operating as Trump's chief gatekeeper. But she's also summoned in critical moments of confusion to play instigator and score-settler. It was her job to facilitate Trump's rebuke of the Pope after His Holiness questioned the Christianity of anybody who would build a border wall (kind of Trump's thing).
Hicks' reportedly sits in on the majority of Trump's interviews with print journalists — which, given the breadth of Trump's campaign media circus, is impressive. She definitely keeps busy fielding comments and acting as a bouncer to Club Trump, and does so all while keeping quiet about her own life.
She's Surprisingly Sensitive
You'd think with an employer like Trump, Hicks would have grown some thick skin. But according to Nuzzi, Hicks suffered more at the hands of Trump's recently-dumped campaign manager, Corey Lewandoswki. Sam Nunberg, a close Trump advisor, told Nuzzi that Lewandowski "made [Hicks] cry a bunch of times," and longtime Trump counselor Michael Cohen described her as a "sensitive person" who reportedly takes coverage of her boss personally. Apparently, that sensitivity eventually led to a blowout. Hicks was seen yelling at Lewandowski on the street in Manhattan in May.
She's Notoriously Tight-Lipped
If the fact that she chose to conduct a profile interview by having her employer speak about her to a journalist wasn't enough, Nuzzi's article provides ample supporting evidence of Hicks's silence, which was already made famous by a parody Twitter account inspired by her constant refusal to comment on Trump-related media requests.
Most of the handful of articles about Hicks, Nuzzi's profile included, mention the same information. She's from a PR family, got in with the Trumps by working as a PR aide to Ivanka, had no prior political experience, had stints in modeling (including for Ralph Lauren), and she and her boyfriend of six years broke up due to the demands of her current job.
Reading between the lines, the message is clear. Hicks isn't just content to be behind the scenes; she seeks to live there full-time, working as the press wrangler for one of the most talked-about people in the world.
She May Be The Mastermind Behind Trump's Success
With her own story reduced to a handful of talking points, it's clear that Hicks's PR background serves her well. When it comes to The Donald, many have speculated that his sharp tongue and public gaffes may make her job more difficult, but given the tight ship Hicks seems to be running, those "gaffes" might not be as off-the-cuff as they seem.
While Trump definitely is speaking his mind and not reading surprisingly bigoted teleprompted points from his press secretary, his success lies in his unpolished rhetoric and apolitical appeal — which Hicks, as his spokeswoman and someone born to work in PR, must be well aware of.
People Focus Too Much On Her Appearance
Most articles about Hicks, this one included, mention her beauty. While it's customary for human interest pieces to describe a subject's appearance and demeanor, the descriptions of Hicks go above and beyond that. In a post about Lewandowski on the candidate's website, Hicks is mentioned only once, in a paragraph about how well-dressed Trump campaign staffers are. She's described as "the communications director and one-time Ralph Lauren model" who wears Ivanka Trump's clothing line. Given the revelation that Hicks was first noticed by Trump after she was hired to do PR for Ivanka, a job which included occasional modeling, there's reason for speculation about how important her looks are to her employer.
She's Really, Really Busy
On any given day, Hicks sees more than 250 media requests arrive in her email inbox. Typically, she alone decides who gets access to Trump and who doesn't. But sometimes Trump has a say in it, too. An anonymous source told Nuzzi what this process looks like:
She sees the tantrums, and there are tantrums. [Trump] reads something he doesn't like by a reporter, and it's like, ‘This motherf*cker! All right, fine. Hope?’ He circles it. ‘This guy's banned! He's banned for a while.’ That's exactly how it works.
Others Aren't Convinced Of Her Work
Nuzzi spoke to some political experts who clearly weren't convinced that Hicks is making the right career choice:
She made a choice to work for the most fascist candidate in recent American history. Everyone who knows her tells her to stop doing this and putting her name on stuff … She is going to regret everything she's said and done. And I don't think she knows it yet.
The current flurry of interest in Hicks acts as a perfect foil to all that is Trump. She is polished, quiet, and content to sit back and let her boss do the talking. In many ways, Nuzzi's profile proves that we're not likely to learn more about Hicks anytime soon.