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In 2018, American model Iyonna Fairbanks graced the pages of the SI Swimsuit Issue alongside the four other members of the brand’s inaugural open casting call. The Swim Search finalist traveled to Belize alongside the other women and photographer Yu Tsai for her photoshoot under the Caribbean sun.
While there, the model took the chance to parse through her emotions on the occasion. “I’m overwhelmed, I’m excited, I’m ready,” she told the SI Swimsuit team ahead of her impending feature.
The trip included some pretty phenomenal snapshots, including a few taken right in the midst of golden hour, with the sun reflecting off of the water behind Fairbanks as she lounged on a cream-colored cushion above the water in a metallic triangle bikini.
Posing for SI Swimsuit was different than any work or modeling experience she had previously had, but she made the most of it. “It was very fun. It was different,” she said of working with Yu Tsai and the brand. “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.”
Ultimately, she was just ready for the issue to come out—and we don’t blame her, as the photos were incredible. So much so that we still haven’t gotten over them five years later. Here are some of our favorites from the trip.