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SI Swim Search: Saje Nicole

Name: Saje Nicole
Occupation: Model/Actress
Hometown: Born in Turks & Caicos, raised in Fort Lauderdale

What inspired you to try out for SI Swim Search?
The legacy of Sports Illustrated. Once I learned about it from an alumna (Brielle Anyea) I couldn't wait to audition. I always thought SI was very exclusive and virtually unattainable until I saw Swim Search. Now is my chance -- I just had to give it a try and here I am! So many women of SI Swimsuit have influenced me, my career, and my idea of beauty. I want to be the same for millions of women out there as well.

What would it mean to you to win Swim Search?
Oh my goodness! What a question. I have to be honest, winning Swim Search wouldn't just be about me, it would be about anyone who has been told they aren't qualified enough, young enough, tall enough, or the right race to achieve their dreams. I've been told no so many times but sometimes that one yes is all that matters. That one yes you’ve been waiting for that opens doors to many more yesses. Everyone deserves that opportunity. That is what winning Swim Search would mean to me.

What has been the best part about being a part of the Swim Search community?
Honestly, there are so many things that can be said about this entire experience. From the amazing women I have met to the fun weekly challenges. But I think what has stood out to me the most is how much the SI community truly empowers women and wants them to show up as their best selves daily. Everywhere you turn women are constantly underestimated. Though we have come a long way, I love seeing that the SI community has taken a stand to help us excel even further. And not just by their words but by their actions. Thank you.

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What is your favorite SI Swimsuit memory?
I would definitely say when I saw Ashley Graham's reaction video when she found out she was going to be in SI. It was so raw and relatable I now understand the excitement she was feeling at that moment. There are so many beautiful moments of SI, but that one definitely tops the cake.

Who is your role model?

My mommy! When my dad passed away in the fourth grade I saw how hard she worked to make sure her kids were well taken care of and I never forgot that. She is a real-life superhero and I wouldn't be here without her. Thank you, mommy.


How are you preparing for the SI Swim Search photo shoot?
On our call, SI Swimsuit editor MJ Day was so amazing -- she said, “Please don't go on a crazy diet and starve yourselves. We love you just the way you are, that's why you're here.” That meant a lot. So I will be doing the same things I was doing before to maintain my frame and just clean up the eating a little bit. I will be documenting my prep on my YouTube channel so I'm excited to see my end results. As far as mentally, I'm here for the ride. I am excited about it all and just prepared for the SI journey.

Who was the first person you told the good news to?

The first person I called after the news was Kristen Louelle who is also a finalist. Since we weren't allowed to tell anyone, we called each other and were screaming and crying on the phone! This is all so surreal and I'm happy I can do it with this amazingly supportive group of women.

What would you tell your younger self?

Your uniqueness is your superpower. Growing up, everything that is beautiful about me was made out to be ugly and unacceptable. My skin tone, my height, my build, and even my heritage. Those things have turned out to be my superpowers. So it doesn't matter if you have different textured hair, are short, freckled, or have different perspectives. You were made beautifully and perfectly. All of the things that I should have hated about myself have made me as bold, audacious and powerful as I am. I wouldn't have it any other way.