Ashley Callingbull is Sports Illustrated’s first Indigenous swimsuit model

“It’s such a dream come true,” says member of Enoch Cree Nation in Alberta

Cree First Nations woman Ashley Callingbull is Sports Illustrated's first Indigenous model. Photo: Instagram


Enoch Cree Nation’s Ashley Callingbull is the first Indigenous woman to pose for a Sports Illustrated (SI) swimsuit edition.

The First Nations woman from Alberta is also the only Canadian in the SI Swim issue.

Callingbull was chosen alongside 13 other finalists who submitted their portfolios to the annual casting call for the 2022 SI Swim Search program.

Callingbull arrived in the Dominican Republic earlier this week for the SI Swim photo shoot on March 17.

“It just feels so surreal because it’s something I couldn’t have imagined when I was a little girl,” Callingbull told CTV News Edmonton.

“It’s such a dream come true.”

Five swimsuits

Callingbull told CTV she chose five swimsuits from SI’s extensive collection to wear for the shoot.

The women posing for the magazine this week aren’t just pretty faces, she added. The models include an astronaut, lawyer and ICU nurse.

“You wouldn’t think that when you think of a Sports Illustrated model, you’d initially just stereotype them, but we are more than a face, we are women with a voice and with a mission,” she said.

Callingbull said, while growing up, she was told she wasn’t beautiful because of her skin colour, her background and her culture.

“Now I own the skin I’m in. I’m proud of who I am, and I encourage other women to be proud of who they are.”

The 14 Swim Search finalists are competing to be a “rookie” for the 2023 SI Swimsuit issue.