I was chosen out of 10,000 girls to advance to the Top 16 of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit’s #SISwimSearch model search. The experience was nothing short of exhilarating and is one that I will never forget.
In June, I submitted an Instagram video to the SI team to explain why I wanted to not only be a model, but a SI Swim model. Out of the thousands of video submissions they received, they selected me and a few dozen other girls to advance to the in-person interview round. So, I gathered up my coins and flew myself down to Miami to meet MJ Day and the rest of the team.
The day after I arrived in Miami, I found myself stuck in a room at the W Hotel Miami, with 60+ other beautiful women. Some girls I recognized from their video submissions, while others I did not. The day prior, SI had an open casting call for those who did not submit a video. Several thousand girls waited in line at the crack of dawn, eager to secure a top spot. A few dozen were picked from their group, too. By the end of my first day with the SI team, I had met MJ Day the editor, interviewed with and hugged the then pregnant Kate Upton, and met so many down-to-Earth and equally gorgeous girls. I had already fulfilled my dream of even be affiliated with the likes of Sports Illustrated, so you could only imagine how I burst into tears when they called my name FIRST to be a Sweet 16 finalist— afro and all.
The following day was filled with swimsuit fittings, runway practice (in the pool, might I add), hair and makeup, and lots of calls/texts from family and friends. My night ended with me walking down my first ever professional runway for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit as part of 2018 Miami Swim Week, followed by partying at WALL with the girls.
We all returned home starry-eyed and excited for what was yet to come. Who would win? A few months later, we got an email saying to get ready to head back to Miami for charity events, galas, and a celebrity soccer match! We hung out with members of the Best Buddies program and had dinner at a fancy restaurant overlooking the water. We had a sick photoshoot with Sports Illustrated Swimsuit and FAE Swim, and chatted with other SI cover girls, and just had a blast. I even had the chance to personally meet Ocho Cinco and Tyson Beckford (life-long baby daddy).
We returned to our sides of the globe without knowing what was yet to come or who was cut. However, when the day came that I found out that I did not make it to the Top 6, I was absolutely devastated. I had prayed about being in the magazine every day, had said positive affirmations to myself and friends. “I’m not worried, I know I made it.” But, I did not. It was definitely a hard pill to swallow that the Top 6 would be in the magazine and I would not. But, I still support my girls. I’ve developed near and dear friendship with many of the girls and I don’t regret a thing. This was the experience of a lifetime!