Dream Big

She goes by the nickname Billy, doesn’t need a boyfriend to wear a wedding dress, and dreams of being on stage. “I’m booked because I learned just to be me. I must be doing something right.” (Read the interview below)

Photography Liselore Chevalier Words Pam van der Veen Styling Valerie van der Werff

Just visible on her upper arm is a tattoo of a pair of comfy slippers. “Long life, short life”, it says. Short life, or kort leve in Dutch, is a reference to her last name. The slippers are her dad’s. “I used to hide them when I was young. Only when he found them would I let him go to work.” The slippers aren’t the only things Jill Kortleve (22) has engraved on her skin. ‘Soul mates never die’, her other arm reads and, ‘Today is my favorite day’. On her back there’s a number one to remind her of 1 November, the day she took to the stage to dance for the first time.

“ I used to hide my dad’s slippers. Only when he found them would I let him go to work

She goes by ‘Billy’, the unconventional nickname given to her by her parents. Her small Amsterdam kitchen in a student house is chaotic and cluttered. “What would you like to drink?” she asks. When I tell her water would be fine, she looks relieved. “That’s all I have right now.” She lives there with three housemates, which is a lot of fun but a little crowded. And there’s a lot of mess. Judging by the empty mugs, wine bottles, coffee stains and old newspapers lying on the table, no one seems to feel a need to clean up. On the wall is a cleaning roster, pitifully out of date, and Jill’s own room isn’t something out of a lifestyle magazine either. Piles of clothes are heaped around a disheveled bed along with magazines, bags and dead flowers in a vase. Crumpled in the corner is a full suitcase, unopened since her trip to Paris. “Friends of mine were playing in a club. We went there with 10 people. It was great to be in a big and clean AirBnB for a few days.”

She gets bored quickly, and is always on the look out for something new and different. Right now she’s enrolled in her third study but she’s most excited by her performances. She works for The Amazing Agency by Robbie Baauw, a stylist with a sharp eye for everything eccentric. He’s your man for extravagant hosts, dancers, door bitches, photographers and other party personalities including gender benders like Valentijn de Hingh and Gia Bab. “They’re such cool people. They create unique things. Being around them has definitely deepened my personality. They thaught me that it’s ok to be yourself, whoever that self is. It’s made me more open minded and less judgmental.” Her surroundings now are very different to where she comes from, deep down south, from Heerlen, Limburg, where the g’s are silent. Hers aren’t though. “Having a southern dialect in Amsterdam is kind of like having a handicap.”

“ Having a southerndialect in Amsterdam is kind of like having a handicap

She doesn’t have a boyfriend and isn’t too occupied by the thought. If she meets someone, great, if not, that’s fine too. She would like a boy who’s a bit crazy. Not one completely insane, but someone who feels comfortable being himself. Not too stiff, a bit goofy like her. Like the boy she met in Costa Rica, where she spent four months to learn Spanish, but love proved too distracting. The fact he was Italian didn’t help her Spanish either. When she got home she didn’t speak a word of the language and had finished with the boyfriend. But those months in Costa Rica did teach her one thing: confidence. “I used to be terribly shy; I hardly dared to order anything in a restaurant. Travelling cured me of that. Being out there on my own forced me to take action. Most definitely when I was hungry.”

Her newfound confidence might well help her. Jill has plans. Big dreams. She’s been working as a model and she would like to do so full time. Not in high fashion – she’s a bit too short and not skinny enough for that. She’ll never become that sort of model and she doesn’t have to, because at Amazing Faces they book you on your charisma. “I can be myself there. And with all the jobs that are coming in, it seems I must be doing something right.This is only the beginning.”

Photography Liselore Chevalier
Styling Valerie van der Werff
Words Pam van der Veen

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