— -- Fashion royalty has graced the pages of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue for decades, from Christie Brinkley to Heidi Klum and even Beyonce.
But this year the magazine launched its first-ever open casting call, inviting women of all shapes and sizes to audition for the chance to become a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model and appear on the coveted cover. More than 5,000 women responded, submitting videos on Instagram using the hashtag #SISwimSearch, each of them showcasing their own unique personality and background.
The six finalists -- Allie Ayers, Iyonna Fairbanks, Olivia Jordan, Haley Kalil, Camille Kostek and Tabria Majors – range from a former NFL cheerleader, beauty pageant winners, a security guard, a podcast host and an award-winning scientific researcher.
Meet these real women who will appear in the 2018 issue as model search contestants.
Fairbank, 25, of Cincinnati, Ohio, is a security officer and has a red belt in taekwondo.
“Where I come from, there’s not a lot of big opportunity,” Fairbank said on “Good Morning America” today. “I would love to inspire and motivate people to just go for their dreams.”
Kostek, 25, from Connecticut, is a former New England Patriots cheerleader which she said has inspired her to empower women.
“This is the first time since I’ve dipped my toes into the modeling industry that I wasn’t told this certain image that I had to be, or certain measurements,” said Kostek. “That was the best news that I could get. Being among the pages in the issue I only hope to inspire teammates, sisters, strangers, women of all shapes, sizes and colors to love the skin you’re in.”
Majors, 27, of Nashville, Tennessee, said one of her goals is to land a magazine cover to showcase “under represented” women in the industry.
“Landing the cover of any magazine would be amazing, but more importantly it’s about expanding diversity within the fashion industry because I want to continue to represent those women who have been under represented," said Majors, who hosts a podcast called "The Thick."
Jordan, 28, from Tulsa, Oklahoma, was crowned Miss USA in 2015 and used that platform to help get the HOPE for Alzheimer's Act passed in Congress.
“This was always the ultimate dream,” said Jordan. “I was hoping that Miss USA would open doors but luckily in that I learned how to use my voice and take every opportunity to show people that if they are themselves, they can go make their dreams come true.”
Kalil, 25, of Charlotte, North Carolina, has an impressive academic background in science. She graduated summa cum laude and took part in award-winning immunological published research.
“I’d love to encourage young women in the sciences,” Kalil said on “GMA” today. “They’re very under-represented in the STEMM field, but my mom always taught me there is nothing more powerful and more beautiful than an intelligent woman.”
Ayers, 23, of Dallas, Texas, said her proudest accomplishment is finding a good relationship with her body.
“I stepped out of modeling for a few years because I felt that the industry was doing far more harm than good on my self-worth and body image,” Ayers told Sports Illustrated of why she submitted to the swim search. “I was trying so hard to be ‘thin enough’ that I really hurt myself in the process. When I finally decided to step back in to modeling, I knew I had to remember that I am not defined by a hip measurement, and I wanted to help the people I came in contact with remember that as well. I wanted to use the industry to change the industry.”
Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Editor, MJ Day, told “GMA” these women “represent all walks of life, all levels of experience and all different types of beauty, which is what the Swimsuit issue is about.”