When it comes to Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit issue, there is definitely no sophomore slump for Kelsey Merritt. After being included in last year’s “rookie class,” the Filipino-American model is once again included in the US magazine’s 2020 edition. The New York-based Ateneo graduate plugged the issue, which was released yesterday, six days ago in a short video on SI’s IG.
Merritt first gained widespread attention after walking the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show two years ago. She was the first—and only—Filipino to do so, a distinction that would probably keep for a while following last year’s cancellation of the event, and the current pandemic we are all in. The 23-year-old always seem to find herself in headlines, whether she’s working out with Zac Efron, dating an Olympian, signing with Viva, or simply picking up trash in Siargao.
Last year, SI’s popular issue was shot in the Bahamian district of Exuma. This year, the backdrop is the Samana Peninsula in the Dominican Republic, marking the second time that the Carribean country was used by the magazine for the issue. Merritt was with fellow models Anna De Paula, Halima Aden, Josephine Skriver, Camille Kostek, and Anita Marshall for the nine-day photo and video shoot in January, months before the world was crippled by COVID.
“SI Swim is such a powerful and iconic brand that celebrates women of all color, size, age and ethnicity. Whenever I see them do something groundbreaking that no one else has done before, I am in awe that I get to call this brand my family,” Merritt says of the issue in the caption of one of her photos from the shoot. “They continue to shatter ceilings for inclusivity. I am so proud and honored at the same time to be amongst the company of strong, confident women that encourage everyone to be their true authentic self."
For more info—and photos—of the 2020 edition, click here.