Skip to main content

Get to Know 2023 Rookie Nicole Williams English

The Nia Lynn designer and longtime model made her franchise debut at Miami Swim Week.

Nicole Williams English, we assure you this is not a dream! Last month the longtime model and Nia Lynn designer was named Sports Illustrated Swimsuit’s first rookie for 2023. “I feel like I’m going to wake up and it’s going to be such a cruel way to find out this wasn’t real,” says English. “I can’t believe it because this has been a dream of mine for over 20 years. I just couldn’t stop crying. It was just such an emotional day. [Husband Larry English and I] went for a walk in the sun to go celebrate and we just couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces.”

Nicole Williams English at the SI Swimsuit Runway Show During Paraiso Miami Beach on July 16, 2022.

Nicole Williams English at the SI Swimsuit Runway Show During Paraiso Miami Beach on July 16, 2022.

English has wanted to pursue a career in modeling ever since she was a kid, growing up in the remote Canadian town of Paradise, Newfoundland. To make this a reality, though, the family would have to move so her mom sold the house, packed English up along with her two brothers and three dogs and headed for Toronto. It was there that the then 14-year-old had greater access to magazines, SI Swimsuit included. “One of the first covers [I saw] was the 1997 Tyra Banks in the polka-dot bikini,” says English. “I remember just being in awe and thinking she's just mind-blowing. That cover and then a Heidi Klum cover. I’d put [the pictures of models] all over my walls, and I literally just manifested.”

Scroll to Continue

More from SwimLife

From there, she moved to New York City when she was old enough to live on her own, later moving to Los Angeles. Along the way, the swimsuit designer had plenty of castings with SI, but it just wasn’t in her cards until now. “I’d be shaking. My palms would be sweating. I wanted it so bad, but I do believe in divine time,” she shares. “I just know that even though I wanted it badly, I probably wasn’t ready for it. I probably needed to grow a little more and experience a little more, so I think that is just the perfect time now.”

Every time she wouldn’t get a call back or felt her world was turned upside down with disappointment, it was more of a reason to keep pushing on. “I just knew if you really stretch your mind to something and focus on that and not let the doors that get closed in your face put you down, that if it's meant to be, if it's something that you really want, it's going to happen for you, no matter what,” adds English, who released a collab with Macy’s, Nicole Williams English x bar III, earlier this year. “There were a lot of other great things that were happening for me. I was getting a lot of other campaigns and commercials. I just knew if I stayed focused and kept believing that one day it would happen for me. It’s still just mind-blowing that it happened when I’m 38 years old. I still can’t believe it. All positive thinking and fighting through all the hard times. Here we are!”

Watch Nicole Williams English take the SI Swimsuit Miami Swim Week Runway.