Sports Illustrated’s (SI) legendary swimsuit issue has been on an all-encompassing search for its next cover model since the magazine announced in July 2019 that it would be holding an open casting call for new faces and fresh energy to add to its already impressive stable of previous cover bombshells.
Many of the newcomers stand out but none more than Kathy Jacobs, a 56-year-old actress and body-positivity activist from Calabasas, Calif., who had been vying for a coveted spot atop the SI Swimsuit mountain for at least a couple of years.
“Frankly, I’m still in shock,” Jacobs said in a digital video for People magazine.
“It means so much to me to be part of this, to be part of a movement that’s bigger than myself, and for ladies in my age range to be included,” she continued. “I mean, I’m 56, and the world considers people over 55 to be senior citizens. And I just want to show the world what 56 means. You know, it’s not like I’m ready to roll over and play dead because I’ve still got a lot more living inside of me to do.”
In addition to Jacobs, SI unveiled the remaining models all competing for the coveted 2020 cover, which included Christie Valdiserri, who lives with alopecia, a condition that causes hair loss.
“In 2018, my friend attended the open call, and I remember thinking to myself, ‘Wow I can’t do that until my hair grows all the way back in,’” the 25-year-old Los Angeles resident told People.
“This was when my hair was growing in but very unevenly,” she continued. “Then it had all fallen out again in April 2019, and I told myself, ‘OK, I can either continue to drown in this pain and let it dictate my life, or I can take the power back and own this look.’”
“I knew this was my moment to be a voice for all the women and young girls who cry every day because they just want to feel normal again,” Valdiserri added.
The other four finalists include:
Clarissa Bowers, 24, from Umatilla, Fla.
Brielle Anyea, also 24, from Baltimore, Md.
Lynne Byrd, 27, from Philadelphia.
And Tanaye White, 27, from Southington, Conn.