Ciara’s Legacy Is All About Making Sure the Next Generation Soars

Being on the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover has been one of the singer’s dreams since she first saw Tyra Banks pose.

Ciara was photographed by Ben Watts in Barbados. Swimsuit by Alon Livine. Cuff provided by New York Vintage. 

Since coming on the scene as a teenager in Atlanta, Ciara has continued to impress the masses with her talent. We have all seen those dance moves and listened to her many hits including “Goodies” and “Level Up”. While recognition in the music industry is important, the 36-year-old wants her legacy to go well beyond the charts. She and husband and Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson have spearheaded several initiatives – including the Why Not You Foundation – which give back to the community and empower the younger generations.

“I think nowadays, the platform for us is changing, and there’s more opportunity for us to fully be ourselves and confidently express our ideas and go after them and know that we really can do what we are capable of and be who we are,” says Ciara. “There’re new challenges that I still take on. There’s a lot more I want to accomplish, and I have to have that I-believe-in-me-why-not-you? attitude. I have to have that in all that I do.”

It's that exact mentality that had her manifesting the 2022 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover. “This is probably 15 years later from the moment I dreamt of being on this cover, and it’s happened, right,” she adds of her shoot in Barbados. “Know that your dreams can come true, and they will happen at the perfect timing for you.”

Read more from Ciara below and watch the video above to hear more about her future aspirations.

Timing is Everything

“I’ve always dreamed of being on this cover ever since I was really young and especially as an entertainer. I remember the first time I saw Tyra Banks on Sports Illustrated, and that was a big deal, especially being a Black woman, and at that time, a Black young girl. She was so powerful; she was a force. We all remember that iconic leopard swimsuit moment. There were just so many things about that issue and time that were really special and historic. It’s always been pretty significant in the entertainment space. It’s a big dream come true for me, and it was a special day when I got the call.”

Experience on the SI Swimsuit Set

“Working with Ben Watts and [Swimsuit editor in chief] MJ [Day] was pretty amazing. Ben Watts is an incredible photographer, and MJ just has clear vision. She just makes it a very fun experience. Favorite look of the day, that’s hard. I really loved the blue Mugler top with the gloves. I loved the LaQuan [Smith] leopard one piece. That was pretty fun. I loved every look, you can’t just make me pick one.”

Ciara was photographed by Ben Watts in Barbados. Swimsuit by LaQuan Smith.

Ciara was photographed by Ben Watts in Barbados. Swimsuit by LaQuan Smith.

The Good(ies) Life

“I think about me being in the car [in Atlanta], riding in the backseat and my mom listening to Gloria Estefan and hearing her music just travel how it did. Those moments leave an impression on you. I think my very first moment that I fell in love with music was watching Michael Jackson… I was captivated, but I was also like this is something that I’m really deeply connected to. That’s where I think it started for me. With writing my music, I’ll think back to even when I was a little girl before I was really even doing this thing, being in my room, writing songs. Then I got the great chance to go work with cool groups like my friends and their studio called Red Zone. It was this whole squad that was making every hit that you could think of. Just being in those environments, being exposed to really successful producers and writers really helped me to go really fast in the writing space. And before I knew it, I was writing the first single of my career, “Goodies,” when I was 17 years old.”

Staying Grounded

“I had very humble beginnings, and I’m grateful for those moments. They make you really appreciate it when the blessings continue to pour over in your life. I think that’s the reason why I always like to keep perspective. Just as quick as you can get things, you can lose them. I don’t want that to be the case, so my rule in life is you have to always appreciate your blessings.”

Believing in Yourself

“I think we are living in this time where things are changing, where it’s like, we ain’t taking no junk. Just to be honest as a woman, and I think it’s been really powerful to see. There’s been a lot of women before me that have crawled so I can walk. And then, [when] the next woman walks; the next woman can run. I just feel like it’s a new day, and we ain’t taking no mess! I’m excited for us. I’m excited for my daughter. I hope that the crawl and the walk and the run that we are doing are going to allow her to soar… The moment you tell me no is the moment opportunity begins because I’m going to figure out the way to make that no a yes. And you have to have that kind of attitude because a lot of times, if we all listen to the first time someone told us no, we’d never have opportunity. We’d never be where we are today. When you are pursuing your dream, all it takes is one person to believe and that person is you. I just want to encourage my fans to know that. Don’t stop believing and don’t stop dreaming. Dreams really do come true. I’m sitting here talking to you!”

Ciara was photographed by Ben Watts in Barbados. Bodysuit by Mugler. 

Why Not You

“Our worlds are both moving really fast. He’s just not in football; it’s football and then some. The same thing for me, it’s music and then some. Luckily, we also do some things together. We have Why Not You Productions that we run together; we have our Why Not You Foundation that we do together, we love serving. I think that’s been a big part of what we love and what we do is that it gives us a platform that allows us to give back. Education is important to us; [fighting] poverty is important to us. We just want to keep finding ways to give back. That’s what I feel like I’m ultimately doing; everything that I do is to make an impact.”


“I grew up in the era of mystery makes history where you didn’t really say too much. I also learned there is a lot of opportunity to grow when you allow yourself to be vulnerable and comfortable in your vulnerability. I think it’s good for my fans to learn I’m human just like them. If I can share my journey and my life with different scenarios, whether it’s me as a woman, me as a mom, there is a chance to inspire so many and to build a bond with my fans that no one can break. I’ve just been able to find my own rhythm. That’s what social media is about. I don’t think you should feel pressure to post in a way that someone else posts or to share in a way that someone else shares. You need to share in a way that is comfortable for you.”

Lasting Impression

“I hope that people will say when they think of me, ‘Ciara was a person that loved; she never stopped loving. Ultimately, she was someone that made a great impact.’ I think that’s what it is about for me. I just want to continue using my resources to make a difference in whatever way that I can, big or small. Ultimately, she was someone that loved, someone that cared and she made a difference.”

View Ciara’s Full 2022 Gallery


You can view the 2022 photo shoot for Kim Kardashian here.

You can view the 2022 photo shoot for Ciara here.

You can view the 2022 photo shoot for Yumi Nu here.

You can view the 2022 photo shoot for Maye Musk here.

Alisandra Puliti


Alisandra Puliti is a NYC-based entertainment journalist with over 15 years of experience. Before joining the SI Swimsuit team as a contributing editor, the Penn State alum held several positions at HELLO! and HOLA! Media, Us Weekly and OK! Magazine. Throughout her tenure, she has been a fixture at events such as the Golden Globes to the Cannes Film Festival and has interviewed the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Taylor Swift, Eva Longoria, Jay-Z and more of Hollywood’s elite. A self-professed ‘social homebody,’ when she isn’t home binge-watching the newest streaming series or perfecting pasta dishes, her constant wanderlust has her packing her bags and heading out for a new adventure –most likely back to Italy!