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Belmont freshman to model in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue

Belmont students are opened up to a wide world of opportunities, but few have seized them quite like freshman Raine Michaels.

After three audition stages, Michaels will appear in the the 2019 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue in May.

“There are only 25 girls in the magazine, which is crazy,” said Michaels. “And I’m going to be one.”

Michaels will be flown out to an undisclosed location in mid-February for the swimsuit photo shoot. But it was a long few months that led up to her selection for the legendary magazine.

Her first step was to submit an Instagram video to the Sports Illustrated Swim Search over the summer.

Michaels took 79 videos of herself, trying to find the perfect one. It wasn’t until her phone was at one percent that she decided to take one more.

“I was like, alright, if this one doesn’t work I’m not submitting it,” said Michaels. Still feeling a bit of uncertainty, she decided to submit that last video anyway.

She thought, “we’ll see where it goes, and if no one sees it then, whatever. I just tried it.”

The next day, she woke up to find her picture reposted on the official Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Instagram. A week later, Michaels was invited to Miami, where she took part in the second step of the audition process, an interview with her idol Kate Upton.

“We had to do an interview with her for for like two minutes. Which is crazy because she’s my role model. I was freaking out,” said Michaels.

Michaels was one of 60 contestants in Miami. Sports Illustrated editors and veteran models narrowed those 60 down to 16 that same day.

“I was like the 11th girl that got called,” Michaels said. “I thought, ‘there was no way I was going to get called now. There are 60 girls in here.’”

In November, Sports Illustrated flew the “Sweet 16” out to Miami again for a photo shoot and another round of interviews.

It wasn’t until January that Michaels received an email from the editor telling the top 16 that the six finalists would receive Skype calls congratulating them on making the magazine.

The next day, Michaels received the highly-anticipated call and secured her place as one of the six new models to appear in the magazine.

“I honestly can’t remember what they said. I was so nervous,” Michaels said.

Though Michaels is living out her dream, she is still a full-time student. She realizes trying to balance school and modeling is going to be a struggle in the next few months.

“I let my teachers know in advance. I let them know that this is kind of my main goal,” said Michaels. “Obviously I’m here to be a student, but this is what I really want to do.”

She doesn’t plan on dropping out, but knows if things start to pile up she’ll have to make a tough decision.

“It all depends on how everything turns out. I’m really going to think about it this summer,” said Michaels. “I actually love Belmont, but I might take a skip year in the middle. But we’ll see.”

Expect to see Michaels alongside 24 other models in the 2019 Swimsuit issue when it comes out in May.

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Photo by Kesler Tran for Fae X Sports Illustrated. 

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