Two-time SI Swimsuit model Georgina Burke and 2023 rookie Mady Dewey were both photographed by Ben Watts in Puerto Rico for this year’s magazine but are at different points in their modeling careers. However, their advice about getting your foot in the door is very much the same.
“I’ve learned that you need to go after opportunities and really pursue them yourself,” Dewey, who won the Swim Search open casting call last year, says. “You need to take control of your career and the best way to do that is by just being open and knocking on doors and asking for help and asking for people to take you in. You’re gonna get a lot of ‘nos.’ And that’s O.K. Move forward, and just keep pursuing what you want to pursue.”
The 26-year-old tech professional is the founder and CEO of metrics-free social media app, Herd, as well as a product marketing manager for Discord. She’s only modeled for SI Swimsuit thus far.
Burke, who was a rookie in last year’s SI Swimsuit Issue, was discovered in her home country of Australia at the age of 17. She has modeled for Polo Ralph Lauren Swim for more than a decade and was previously the face of Torrid’s swimsuit line.
Get Comfortable With Hearing “No”
Burke adds that she’s received tons of “knock backs” and rejection throughout her time in the modeling industry, and having friends who are able to relate and understand is super important.
“You can’t let other people hold you back. No matter how silly it seems to you that ‘I want to be in Sports Illustrated, or I want to be on the cover of Vogue or I want to be a TV host’—whatever it is,” the Burke NYC founder continues. “Look at all these women that are here, going after [their dreams]. Look at Brooks [Nader], she just landed the cover. That’s been that girl’s dream forever. And here we are celebrating her being on the cover. So don’t let anything hold you back. Don’t let anyone hold you back. Especially not yourself.”
Stay With It
Burke says that determination is much more important than trivial things like size or height. She adds that as a plus size model with 13 years of industry experience, her opportunities continue to increase exponentially.
“Not only are brands realizing that they need diversity—look at Martha Stewart, she’s on the cover—age shouldn’t stop you. Your size shouldn’t stop you,” she continues. “I am a size 14 and my career is only growing and I’m getting to shoot bigger and better brands. What you need to do is self-work, and be the best version of yourself. That’s what’s gonna get you here.”
Dewey agrees and adds that the most difficult part of getting her foot in the door with no modeling experience was gaining the courage to send in the first application.
“I took a long time to take that first step because I was worried that I didn’t fit the mold,” the Socially Well podcast host shares. “I think a lot of it just comes from self-confidence, building yourself up and believing that there’s more than one standard of beauty and we need that represented.”