The ladies of #SISwimSearch and heating up the pages of this year's Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. The final six women of the model search competition traveled down to Paradise Island, The Bahamas, to shoot with photographer Yu Tsai, and the results are going to blow you away.
Say hello to Raine Michaels. You may know her dad Bret Michaels, but this beauty is so much more than just a rockstar’s daughter! The college freshman is a full-time student studying music at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. One of her favorite moments from #SISwimSearch so far? Meeting her modeling idol Kate Upton! We caught up with Raine to chat about everything from her photoshoot with Yu Tsai to her supportive family!
Sports Illustrated: How has becoming an #SISwimSearch finalist impacted your life?
Raine Michaels: Becoming an #SISwimSearch finalist has changed my life for the better. I have had so many amazing and once in a lifetime opportunities arise from this incredible experience and I also have a forever family in everyone at Sports Illustrated and all my Swim Search girls that I have met along the way.
SI: How have your classmates at Belmont reacted to you being a part of SI Swimsuit 2019?
RM: My classmates at Belmont have been super supportive of being apart of the 2019 SI Swimsuit edition. The Instagram account Barstool Belmont posted something about me and was like “we win” on Instagram which made me laugh but no one really comes up to me and makes a huge deal out of it unless I personally know them. My close friends at school know I have been working so hard since they met me and have watched this journey unfold and they are so happy and excited for me which makes me so grateful.
SI: Is your family supportive of your modeling career?
RM: Both my mom, dad, sister, and dogs (LOL) are all so extremely supportive of my modeling career and everything I want to pursue within and beyond that career. My parents are protective yet very empowering telling me I can do whatever I want to do but also keeping an eye on me since I am and always will be their little girl. Even though I’m modeling in little bikinis I don’t feel that weird with my dad seeing it because I know he is so excited that I am reaching my goals rather than just modeling little bikinis for fun. My mom used to model so she has been 100 percent on board and almost like my momager/stylist/personal assistant throughout the #SISwimSearch. My sister Jorja is really excited for me and I think soon enough she will be right by my side in the modeling world.
SI: How does your dad feel about seeing sexy photos of you?
RM: I could not have gotten a more supportive or amazing dad when it comes to modeling bikinis he wants me to succeed and he doesn’t view it as a sexy picture but rather as me making my dreams come true which makes him so proud of me.
SI: How was shooting with Yu Tsai at The Cove at Atlantis?
RM: Shooting with Yu Tsai at The Cove in Atlantis was such an incredible and beautiful experience that I will be thankful forever for! He is such a gifted artist with the way he takes photographs and he knows exactly what he wants and me being very inexperienced that was very helpful for me because I’m still getting used to how to pose my body and he knew exactly what he wanted from me and told me and I listened.
SI: Would you drop out of school to pursue modeling full time?
RM: At the moment I do not believe I will be dropping out of school to pursue modeling full time. If it ever gets to a point where I don’t think I can handle the stress of both I might either switch to all online courses or pull out completely just to give my mind a rest.
SI: Where do you hope to be in the next five years?
RM: In the next five years I hope to be modeling full time and live somewhere like NYC or LA. I also hope to have my animal rescue opened up by that time and have a bunch of animals myself. I also hope that I will be a huge role model for young girls who are doubting themselves because they don’t fit the typical norm when it comes to models. And of course I want to continue being in the incredible pages of Sports Illustrated’s magazine — maybe even the cover — and hopefully even the calendar!
SI: What’s it been like to gain more of a following on social media? How have you handled everything from inspiring other women to dealing with the new haters?
RM: After the Sports Illustrated account reposted my video on Instagram during summer my account grew by the thousands pretty much over night. There has been a steady increase since then which is really really cool but it isn’t all about how many followers you have it’s about the message you are putting out there into the very controversial world of social media and I like to think I am putting a positive stamp on social media. It makes me so happy and shocked that women feel so empowered by me and confide in me because we have similar body shapes.
Because I am still pursuing and achieving my dreams, they tell me they are going to go to a modeling agency and that they are gaining their confidence back because of me which really inspires me to work even harder. As for the haters I am more of a karma person so if someone comments something nasty on my picture, I usually delete it and block them because what’s coming for them will come, or I comment something clever yet sophisticated back just to show them I don’t really care and that I’m the bigger person. Sometimes if I am having a bad day it can get me down when they are all talking about your physical appearance but I then come to realize they do not know me at all and you never know what someone is going through in their own lives and why they feel the need to take it out on me, so I brush it off and instead read the the hundreds of positive and uplifting comments and DMs I receive which inspire me to keep going.
See all of Raine's gorgeous photos from SI Swimsuit 2019: