Kimbra HickeyWhether you're a Twi-hard or not, it seems impossible not to know the iconic image of the youthful hands holding the symbolic red apple that graces the cover of 'Twilight,' the first of Stephenie Meyer's record-breaking four-book series. With over 17 million copies sold and translations into 37 different languages, the book -- and the cover photo -- have become a cultural phenomenon.

Kimbra Hickey, part-time massage therapist and part-time "parts" model, certainly had no inkling of what was to come when she auditioned for the hand model job in 2004 -- before the book was published, and before the word 'Twilight' became synonymous with beautiful golden-eyed vampires living in an overcast, wet corner of Washington State.

Hickey seems to have embraced her role in the 'Twilight' phenomenon, touring with the 'Twilight' convention, meeting fans, and possibly seeking a spot on the 'Breaking Dawn' cast list. We talked to her to find out more about the person attached to those famous hands.

How did you get the job of being the hand model for the 'Twilight' cover? Did you know anything about it?

No, no, I didn't. That was back in 2004 when I got called in for the audition. They called in all the hand models. They said it was for a book cover, but they didn't say what the book was; they just said it was a book cover audition.

And who knew there were auditions for hand modeling!
Yeah, all the time! I know it's weird how they have to compare hands, I don't know what makes them choose one over another. It's so strange to me.

What do you have to do for an audition, pose your hands?
Sometimes you just show the photographer your hands, and he looks at them and your portfolio. Other times they don't even look at your portfolio, they just take a couple quick pictures and then move on to the next. Sometimes there are a couple hundred people at those auditions, sometimes there are 20. Sometimes they'll call in models from all the agencies -- they're regular models, and they're trying to see if they have nice hands for a particular shoot. It just depends on what they're shooting for.

What happened after you found out you were chosen?
I got called the next day and my agent said, "You just booked that book cover job, and the name of the book is 'Twilight.' It's a vampire teenage novel." I went in the day after that and we shot it for two hours. I didn't know anything about the book other than it was a love story, a teenage/young adult book. They didn't tell us anything about it; the photographer didn't even know the story behind it. It was kind of a secret thing, the book wasn't published yet. The book came out about six months later, and that's when I picked it up.

Has being "The Hands of 'Twilight'" helped with getting other hand modeling jobs?
I don't feel I'm booking more gigs from being on the 'Twilight' cover. Each ad campaign needs a very specific hand so I still audition just like everyone else. Having said that, once I book a job i usually end up giving autographs to the crew at the end of the shoot -- 'Twilight' fans are everywhere.

Have you met Stephenie Meyer?
I met her once last year because I showed up at that 'Oprah Show' that she was on in November. I sat in the audience, then afterward she was signing books for everyone. She gave everyone that four-book collection, and we got to have her sign one. So I took my 'Twilight' book out, and I was like, "Hi!" My friend introduced me to her and said, "This is your hand model!" And we shook hands and she signed my book, and it was pretty cool.


How has 'Twilight' changed your life in these six years since the book came out?
I have a lot of people that want to get to know me and how I got in the business, what my career is all about, where it's going. No one was really interested before in what I was doing in my modeling world! And no one ever asked for an autograph before -- I'd never had to give an autograph before, so that has changed.

It feels really good. It's a nice thing to know that people have embraced the fact that I'm just the hands on the cover and that I'm moving on with it, working with it, having a good time with it, getting to know the fans. It's not something I would have thought would happen from this photo shoot!

How did you get involved in the 'Twilight' conventions?
I had never been to any convention of any sort, and there happened to be one in Chicago in February 2009 when I was visiting a friend. She said, "Let's go to that 'Twilight' Convention, we'll just show up and tell people those are your hands on the cover and see what happens." And that's what we did, and it worked! Everyone wanted to talk to me, wanted my autograph.

Eventually the manager for the actors that weekend came up to me and she said, "I think what you're doing here is fantastic and I'd love for you to come on tour." It was so cool!

In a recent piece about you in the New York Post, it sounds like you might be looking to get in on the 'Breaking Dawn' action. How's that going?
That article went everywhere! [Laughs.] The timing is so bizarre, to have bumped into this reporter and have him write the article ... and the way that he wrote it during the 'Breaking Dawn' casting, which is almost complete, from what I understand. I think they cast the movie, except for the extras. So I'm sure any day they'll start looking for extras, and I don't know how they're going to make that happen. So that's why the timing is really strange.

Have you been in contact with anybody from the production?
No, but I've been talking about it through the convention, with fans. And you know how fans get really excited about the movies and they want a chance to be an extra. So there's so much conversation about that all the time wherever I go that I'm just comfortable talking about it, "Yeah, I would love to be an extra, why not?" I'm telling my story, and the way it came out in the Post makes it look like I should have this, or I'm seeking fame and all this stuff. I'm like, "Oh my God, what happened?"

Twilight tattooDo you find it a little wild that some fans have gotten tattoos of your hands?
Yes, yes, that's wild. That's probably the craziest thing, definitely! People like their tattoos and they happen to be obsessed with this picture, so why not have it tattooed on their body? [Laughs.]

Have you read all the books? Which is your favorite?
I have, and of course I'm going to say 'Twilight'! But it was my favorite from the beginning; I like the love story part of it.

You're sort of embedded in pop culture now -- everyone knows that book cover with those hands and the apple.
You know that picture would have remained anonymous had it not gotten the response it got. And that's why I think ... Imagine if I didn't say anything about it, if I had just let it go. And 10 years down the road I tell everyone, "Those are my hands!" No one would have cared, they would have wondered why I waited so long. I thought about this for a long time before I decided to tell people, tell the fans. I didn't know, I was a little nervous about it.

And I look at it as, they're not my fans, they're 'Twilight' fans -- and I happen to have a part of it in my own little way. It's a different kind of cool way, and I feel really good about it.


Check out more of Hickey's modeling work on her website.