Sports Illustrated: Did you have experience modeling before submitting an IG video or showing up in person for the #SISwimSearch?
Salina Jade: I did have experience modeling before submitting my video for the #SISwimSearch. It’s coming up on 6 years that I will have been with one agency or another. I’ve come a long way, but I feel like I’m just now approaching the starting line. Which is OK with me! It takes a while to learn, and go through hearing “no,” and come to terms with your abilities and find out where you want to take this. I’ve booked many jobs over the years, but not yet have I booked a major campaign or worked for one of my dream brands. I don’t think my goals as a model are out of reach for me. But they are big.
SI: What was your casting experience like in Miami?
SJ: My casting experience in Miami was the most unique, and one of the best experiences of my life. The days were long but I swear it all happened so fast! It was my third time submitting a video for the #SISwimSearch. Getting the email that my video was selected had me in major tears because I had been anticipating this for the past couple years of submitting and I felt like my prayers were finally being answered and it was my time.
During round two of castings in Miami, most of the time I felt really, really happy! That day we were mingling with everyone and then we had a two minute timed interview that was probably the deciding factor. I sat down with Hillary Drezner. She was very sweet and welcoming, but I couldn’t help but see the timer on her cell phone ticking away. She asked me a question that I think everybody, especially in this industry should practice answering because the question itself is simple enough but answering it, and summarizing to people, especially in two minutes is where it gets tricky. She said, “So, tell me about yourself!”
Sometimes answering simple questions about yourself are harder than you think, especially when you're smack dab in the middle of a dream come true. The thing was though, casting for Sports Illustrated in Miami was the funnest casting I’ve ever been to, and nothing like the hundreds of other castings I’ve been to. Rarely does anyone ever sit you down and say tell me about yourself. So, under pressure or not, I was grateful to be asked that question, and I’m happy they cared to know.
SI: What does being a part of SI Swimsuit model search mean to you? How do you plan to use this platform?
SJ: Being a part of the SI Swimsuit model search has already changed my life. It means a lot to me. I am very emotionally invested in the brand just from loving it and consuming it for so many years and being inspired by all of the issues, even ones that came out before I was born. This was my third year being able to submit for #SISwimSearch, and on my third try I was called in. I think it's important to talk about that kind of thing. If you’re going after something big, be prepared to try and keep trying. And if it's worth it to you, you will. I believe a lot in trusting the timing of the universe.
I moved to New York City from New Hampshire three years ago and I did it for opportunities like this. I am someone who has always let my dreams take the lead and because of that I feel like I really don’t have a “plan B.” There is definitely a lot more than modeling that I want to do with my life though. I want to be an actress, I could see myself running my own business some day, I want to make a bigger impact with a few important causes that I care about, such as the World Wildlife Fund. I know with SI Swimsuit and its platform everything I just mentioned could unfold and start to bloom just from taking this journey with SI. The journey that started with the #SISwimSearch.
SI: What emotions did you experience while walking the #SISwimSearch runway show at W South Beach? Were you an experienced runway model before?
SJ: (On the SI Swimsuit runway) You can be yourself. People aren’t looking at what you’re wearing as much as they’re looking at who you are. I had walked a runway only once before that day and it wasn’t for anything big. Was I nervous on the runway? Hell yes! The nerves were there but majority of my body felt exhilarated and really that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. It was pure joy, and it felt great to celebrate with all the girls and bond with them. We all represented different things on that runway, different body types, backgrounds, movements, achievements, and more. That show was so amazing and made headlines for a reason. I went to bed that night praying that I wasn’t going to wake up and have it all had been a dream, because I actually had been dreaming of this so many times before.
SI: What challenges have you faced as a model?
SJ: I have faced many challenges as a model. To even get my foot in the door took me a few years of time and research. I didn’t come from a place where modeling was a profession or at least a big one. I had to find out how to submit and where to submit. Luckily my first agency’s were good places for me to dip my toes in.
After a few years of modeling in New England I was told if I wanted a better shot with the agency’s in New York, then I better go to Europe and develop my book first. This was the first big hurdle I guess because I did not come from money. I always had a job but I remember being worried if I was going to be able to afford to buy my ticket to Milan. It was so important for me and I thought this was what I had to do, so I made it happen. I got signed in Milan, for a very short period of time. Pretty much right when I got to Milan I was measured and told I was too big. To make a long story short, I couldn’t lose the 3 cm. in 2 weeks, because… obviously, and I was told to go home. I felt so ambushed, and upset. That day, a door closed for me, but it lead me to the open doors that I actually was meant to walk through.
Fast forward to now, I live in New York City. As far as modeling, it's still hard. Sometimes people want you to be something you’re not. When I first got here, even though I had experience in the industry itself, I was still new in New York, and I was still facing some similar challenges about my body. NYC is a fashion capital, there is a lot of competition here and beautiful girls from all over the world that are here just to model. Naturally, it's not going to be easy, but I never expected it to be.
See photos from our unforgettable runway show at Miami Swim Week: