‘Outlander’ Star Caitriona Balfe Modeling Gig Once ‘Ripped off’ Her and Colleagues for ‘Quite a Significant Amount’

Thanks to Outlander, Caitriona Balfe never has to fall back on modeling again. She had left a modeling career behind already when she began acting in film and television in 2011. And it’s a good thing too, because Balfe said she could never count on getting paid what she was owed as a model. 

'Outlander' star Caitriona Balfe looks to the left with a serious expression
Caitriona Balfe | Starz

Balfe appeared on The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast on Jan. 31 to discuss her role in Belfast. Delving back into her career prior to acting, Balfe told the story of how a modeling job ripped her off, and it wasn’t the only time. Outlander Season 6 premieres March 6 on Starz. 

As a young model, Caitriona Balfe didn’t suspect this agency

Looking back, Balfe recognizes a pattern of abuse in the modeling industry. As a 19-year-old model, Balfe just needed work. 

“Those kind of things were a regular occurrence,” Balfe said on Awards Chatter. “I had an agency in Italy. It was just a dodgy endeavor but we didn’t know that. The guy who set it up basically ran away with all of our money, and quite a significant amount after working really, really hard.”

Catrina Balfe’s modeling beefs were about more than just pay

Balfe wasn’t the only one left in a lurch. When she and her colleagues tried to take action, they found there was little they could do.

“And there’s no recourse for that because you’re these young women who really have no way of navigating the law in Italy,” Balfe said. “And then you find out that it’s not even a legally recognized profession. Even back then in that day it wasn’t. I don’t know nowadays. Those kind of things.”

RELATED: ‘Outlander’ Salaries: The Simple Way Caitriona Balfe Won Equal Pay to Sam Heughan

Balfe also spoke up about sexism in the modeling industry.

“It’s a great industry but it’s also quite infantilizing,” Balfe said. “You’re always a girl, no matter how old you get in that industry, you’re always one of the girls. I just think you have to take the good with the bad but eventually I think it’s not the healthiest profession. At least it wasn’t for me.”

Before ‘Outlander,’ there were some good times modeling 

Modeling wasn’t all bad for Balfe. She said she got to travel the world and work on some prestigious campaigns. It also led to extra work on The Devil Wears Prada. For the most part, Balfe said she avoided the worst aspects of modeling.

I have to say, when I first went, look, it’s the fashion industry. There’s young women. There’s always an element of some dubious older men who seem to live in the fringes and you’re not quite sure why but they are. I went in September, so I was turning 19 in October. Obviously that made me so old and so mature but I was quite a bit older than a lot of the girls who were starting and I had done this year of living on my own in Dublin at college. At the time I felt so worldly but I managed to stay away from the worst of situations. 

Caitriona Balfe, Awards Chatter podcast, 1/31/22

Balfe also credited the Ford Agency for looking out for her and her colleagues as much as they could.

“I think I was very fortunate in that,” Balfe said. “I have to say at Ford, when I joined them at that point, I had the most lovely booker and they did look out for us a lot. But it was more just starting out. It was at the height of the Brazilians and I was most definitely not Brazilian, did not look anything like that. It wasn’t something that just all of a sudden started working very well.”

RELATED: ‘Outlander’: The Most Dramatic Scene in Season 5 Had This Major Distraction, Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe Say