Security officer Iyonna Fairbanks defied stereotypes when she became a Swim Search open casting call finalist and landed a spot in SI Swimsuit’s 2018 issue. The Cincinnati native was photographed by Yu Tsai in Belize for her magazine feature.
“Six months ago I was a security officer. My job is pretty much watching cameras and signing people in and out. But now I am a Sports Illustrated model,” she said. “To be here now is just amazing. I never thought I would be here. I’ve been pushing through my struggles. This is my dream. I was so nervous making that [application] video.”
The model, who is represented by NV Models & Talent, was featured on the cover of Cincinnati Magazine’s 2020 Wedding issue. Fairbanks, whose secret talent is freestyle rapping, felt “overwhelmed, excited and ready” before her SI Swim photoshoot. She walked the runway for the brand’s very first SwimMiami Show during Miami Swim Week in 2017.
“It was very fun. It was different. It was kind of new to me because I had to be like kind of sort of sexy, and I had never done like a real sexy shoot before. But it was a lot of fun. I enjoyed it,” Fairbanks reflected after the experience. “This is the first time I’m showing off my sexy side. It doesn’t make me uncomfortable, but it’s all new, so I’m just soaking it all in.”
Below are five gorgeous photos from her 2018 photoshoot in Belize with Yu Tsai.