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The Australian model, whose real name is Nyadak, was announced as one of the Rookies for the 2022 issue on the publication's Instagram. A quote from editor-in-chief MJ Day in the caption expressed that "It’s been a long time coming."
"We were eager to have her join us the minute we first met her over zoom while she was in Ghana during the pandemic. We were thrilled when we got the news that she'd be joining us on our 2022 shoot in Montenegro with photographer James Macari," Day's statement continues. "@duckiethot’s strong personality and beauty mixed with her inspirational story blended together seamlessly for some of our most powerful photos yet."
The 26-year-old was born and raised in Australia by parents who are South Sudanese refugees. She was discovered while at a photo shoot for her older sister Nikki and cast in Australia's Next Top Model at 17 years old. The industry was one that she wanted to get into after recognizing a lack of representation while growing up.
"I went to a private school where there weren’t many people of color. When we were growing up and people started wearing makeup, I could never find a shade for me, which was difficult to deal with," she told Marie Claire in February 2020. "I remember being in a shopping center, and I couldn’t find a single person who looked like me on a billboard. That moment made me want to get into fashion."
Even after coming in third place in Australian's Top Model, Thot had difficulty booking jobs in her home country. She later moved to New York where she modeled for Kanye West, appeared in the 2018 Pirelli Calendar and became the face of L'Oréal.
"The beautiful thing about fashion is it’s an always-changing industry [in terms of diversity]. We’re at a point right now, especially the younger generation, where everybody needs our voice and needs us to say what we want the fashion industry to look like in five years," she said in the 2020 feature. "Today, there are women of color on billboards everywhere. At airports, every shopping center in every country I go to. It’s so important and so necessary, and I’m so happy that other girls can see themselves now. When it comes to diversity in the industry, I’m happy to be a part of that change."
Now, she's doing her part to represent that change with her new spot in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit.
"So well deserved!!! She’s an icon," one person commented on the announcement.
"Powerful and show stopping," wrote another.
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