Rookie of the Year voting begins next week! Before you cast your vote, spend some time getting to know the 12 members of our incredible rookie class. First up is Hunter McGrady!
SI Swimsuit: What was your reaction to being named an SI Swimsuit model?
Hunter McGrady: You know what? I was speechless, because I didn’t win the model search last year. When they told me I was a rookie, I started crying. I know what this means to women and men everywhere. Beauty is subjective. Having a curvy girl as a rookie is so powerful, and so awesome. I was shocked but excited.
SI: What does it mean to you to be a part of this magazine?
HM: It means so much. Had you have told me when I was in high school, when I weighed 114 pounds and I was a size 2, I was going to be in the magazine, I would have looked at you sideways. It’s so much more than a beautiful photo. It’s much more than a magazine. It’s people’s lives. I want people to look and say wow, there’s so much diversity. It’s also showcasing that we are so much more than just our bodies. We’re people with stories, experiences, and incredible things to say. I’m so proud to be
SI: You very recently got engaged. What was that day like?
HM: I met my fiancé on Snapchat. If we ever get married, Snapchat better sponsor the wedding! We got engaged on December 29. I had come back from L.A.. He said he wanted to do a Christmas dinner with him and his daughter. He surprised me with dinner in Central Park. It was so cold, I was like, why are we doing this? But we got to Bow Bridge and I thought, “He knows I would love a picture here.” But then I turned around on and he was on one knee. I was so surprised.
SI: What advice do you have for people who want to meet someone on social media
HM: I always tell my friends this. This is a new age. This is not how our parents lived. They didn’t have social media or phones. We have to acclimate to what’s happening in the world. I wasn’t expecting to meet Brian. He actually had gotten my Snapchat from a date he was on. His date told him I would be a great person to follow. He followed me for a few months, and then he sent me something funny, and I took that chance. And taking that chance is so important. Dating is so hard. Everyone is alone together. That would be my advice: Take that chance! But be careful!
SI: What’s the craziest thing you’ve done on a shoot?
HM: Oh goodness. Run down the beach naked in body paint for Sports Illustrated. I’ve done some pretty crazy things, but literally running down the beach in a tourist area. The reality was I was completely naked with 20 people following me. I remember seeing these poor couples who were like, “What’s going on?” Looking back, it was really wild but fun and an adventure.
SI: If you could have any superpower, what would you choose
HM: I would probably choose... It’s a close call between invisibility and flying, I would love to fly anywhere but also listen in on any conversation. So maybe invisibility.
SI: What was your experience like in the prison ministry?
HM: I think realizing that these teenagers, they felt didn’t have love or a second chance. I’m Christian, and I believe you have a second chance and you have to do right by that. These kids just didn’t feel love or heard, and that was the common denominator. The majority of them were latch-key kids. That was really the common ground. It was a really interesting. What’s even crazier, most of the kids in there, they want to be in criminal justice. They do want to help the world.
SI: How important is it being in this particular issue
HM: For me, SI is the pinnacle of every model’s career. Everything after that is just icing. It’s the sexiest but most empowering issue. I remember being younger and going through it and being like, “Oh my god.” My mom was a model and she never shied away from showing us powerful women. And I thought no way, because everyone told me I was fat at 114 pounds. And here I am, in the magazine at a size 16. It’s just the top of the top for a model.
SI: What goals do you want to accomplish in the future?
HM: I want to continue breaking the glass ceiling, pushing the industry to open their eyes and see what’s possible with diverse models. I would love to get my hands in clothing and cosmetics. I have so much to say and so much to get out, however that comes out. I want to continue this body positive conversation. We’ve made a lot of progress but there’s so much more that can still be done.
See all of Hunter's gorgeous photos from SI Swimsuit 2017 Model Search: