Sports Illustrated's Latest Show Was Inclusive of Everyone—Or Was It?

Guests attend the 2018 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit show at PARAISO during Miami Swim Week at The W Hotel South Beach on July 15, 2018 in Miami, Florida.
Photo: Alexander Tamargo (Getty Images)

Sports Illustrated’s presentation at 2018 Miami Swim Week aimed to give all women a chance to be models, whether they had a prosthetic leg or were a breastfeeding mother.

As a result, there were many unexpected appearances on the SI runway on Sunday after Sports Illustrated held its first ever in-person open casting call, which took place at the W South Beach in Miami, Fla. The casting call invited women of all shapes and sizes a chance to audition in hopes of walking the Swim Week runway. In total, 16 models were selected, but a few models really made a statement.


2018 swimsuit issue cover star Danielle Herrington was, of course, the star of the show, walking the runway wearing a revealing black fishnet two-piece swimsuit and looking flawless. Herrington, originally from Compton, Calif., was the third black model to appear on the coveted cover of the magazine’s swimsuit edition, preceded only by Tyra Banks and Beyoncé.


Paralympian Brenna Huckaby walked the runway with a prosthetic leg and worked it, while Mara Martin stopped the show as she walked down the runway in a gold bikini while breastfeeding her 5-month-old daughter.


But though the show appeared to be diverse, with various types of women coming down the runway, at least one model claims it wasn’t as inclusive as it looked. Model Joia Talbott told Racked that black models were told, “the casting’s closed,” while white women were encouraged to audition.


“They told us they didn’t want any more black models, and that afros were a no-no,” the model said in a video posted to Facebook. “They was definitely not feeling my afro at all, so I didn’t stand a chance, right? Wow. We’re ready to go back to LA where we’re appreciated, and we book.”


From the looks of the photo Talbott posted on IG, SI missed out. But to be fair, there were several black models of varying sizes on the SI runway, including at least one with an afro. But despite the controversy, the show was a success and hopefully, a sign of better things to come for SI’s swimsuit franchise.

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Montana Couser

Montana Couser is a recent Howard University grad and Philly native.