Jasmine Sanders snagged the 2019 Rookie of the Year and now graces two of our 2020 covers. But what is she really like? Well, besides being wildly stunning, she speaks her mind, has a hysterical sense of humor and is simply a great person to be around. SI Swimsuit Editor-In-Chief MJ Day says it best: “Jasmine is never about Jasmine.” Jasmine is about her friends, fans and the community around her. After receiving the news of her cover appearance, we asked Jasmine a few questions about her experience with SI Swimsuit and about how she’s using her platform to challenge the status quo.
SI: You were SI Swimsuit’s 2019 Rookie of the Year and now have, not one, but two covers. What does that feel like?
JS: Honestly, at this moment I can’t put into words how it feels because it hasn’t sunk in fully. It feels very surreal and I think it will hit me when I have the covers in my hands.
SI: The SI Swim editorial team was on Zoom with you when you called your parents to tell them about the cover. It was clear to us that you have a deeply loving support system behind you. What’s it like being able to share these kinds of moments with your family?
JS: My mom and dad are always the first people I want to call. It’s really exciting to call on FaceTime to see their reactions because they’ve been through every step of the process with me. My family is my biggest support system and I honestly couldn’t have done any of this without them.
SI: You have been outspoken and supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement on your Instagram. How do you hope to see the modeling industry evolve in terms of diversity?
JS: I believe the industry has started the process of being more inclusive and following the lead of publications like Sports Illustrated Swim that have a space for all types of women. SI includes such diverse women and to now have Valentina as a rookie really paves the way to show that everyone deserves an equal chance to express their individuality. Companies and publications need to give not only mixed-race individuals opportunities but especially give Black women the space to express their individuality and creativity.
SI: As a Black mixed-raced woman, how does it feel to represent on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit?
JS: It’s an overwhelming feeling because I’m not only representing my mother's side but I’m also representing the girls on my father's side that haven’t felt worthy or good enough. My skin tone may not match theirs but it’s my duty to use my voice and platform to bring awareness to the inequality. It's very exciting and I’m very proud to be amongst a handful of Black and mixed-race women on the cover but it also highlights how much work we have to do.
SI: With nearly four million followers on Instagram, what are some of the messages you try to convey to your followers and community?
JS: I really try to convey to people to have a carefree life, meaning not to take yourself too seriously. I try to encourage self-care and self-love in ways of working out, working hard, but also in having a great time with friends and family. Life is too short for you to not speak up for what you believe in and stay true to yourself.
SI: What impact has being a part of the SI Swim family had on you?
JS: Sitting down with MJ the first time already started me on the process of being a more confident woman. It’s so amazing to be around so many strong, confident, empowering women, you can’t help but want to be one of them!
SI: What’s next for you?
JS: I have a lot of projects coming up that I can’t share details about just yet, but be on the lookout!