St. Thomian featured in pages of Sports Illustrated
Published: February 25, 2013
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St. Thomas native Hannah Davis is pretty comfortable in a bikini, which came in handy when she was asked to appear in the pages of the 2013 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.
The magazine hit newsstands this week, and while she is not the cover model, Davis' photo does appear in the upper right hand corner of the cover - highlighting her as one of the issue's four "rookie" swimsuit models.
"We've got Hannah Davis, the dreamy rookie," it says.
Landing the Sports Illustrated gig has always been one of her major goals, Davis said.
"It has been for years, from when I started playing tennis, it's always been a goal of mine, so, yeah, it's very exciting," she said.
An athlete at heart, Davis was surrounded by sports in her family and began playing competitive tennis when she was about 12. She played the Caribbean Tennis Circuit and was ranked no. 1 or no. 2 from the time she was 12 until she graduated Antilles School in 2008. She was ranked among the top 50 young players in the country as well and could have ranked higher but she only played in stateside tournaments in the summer when she was not in school.
Davis also played on the Antilles volleyball team and the USVI volleyball team.
Mother Debi Davis said she and her daughter often would be approached at tennis tournaments by modeling scouts, but her daughter would just toss the business cards into the trash. When she was 14, however, Hannah Davis' interest was piqued, and she decided to try her hand at modeling.
The Davis family invited friend - and fellow St. Thomian - photographer and model scout Ginny Edwards Maxwell to take some pictures of her. Maxwell went back to New York with the photos, and the top eight modeling agencies all wanted to meet with the fresh-faced teenager.
Hannah Davis said she did not own any heels, other than a pair of flip-flops with a small heel, so that was what she wore to her big New York interviews.
She signed to IMG Models immediately and flew back to St. Thomas.
The very next week, she got a call that Ralph Lauren wanted to meet with her, and not long after that, she was walking the catwalk in Milan at a Ralph Lauren fashion show.
"I wasn't expecting it to be such an overnight thing," she said. "I was looking at it as a hobby, a secondary thing to me playing tennis and school."
She told IMG she did not want to be home-schooled and that she loved Antilles - where she was an honor student - and wanted to finish. She was strongly against leaving St. Thomas and moving to New York as well.
"I said, 'I'm not moving. I play tennis and that's my first priority,'" she said.
Part of the reason she signed with IMG was because they understood and supported her choice to finish high school, she said.
Despite being a ranked athlete and top student who could have gotten scholarships for higher education, Davis made the decision to put off college and move to New York to pursue her modeling career immediately following graduation.
Her mother said she almost put her foot down and made her daughter go to college, but her father, Conn Davis Sr., said they should let her make the choice on her own.
Hannah Davis' career has skyrocketed in the last four years.
She appeared in several Ralph Lauren ad campaigns, and was the face of one of the brand's fragrances, Ralph Rocks.
Davis appeared on two covers of Italian "D" Magazine and the cover of Mexico "Elle" in 2009. She also has modeled for Victoria's Secret, American Eagle, Tommy Hilfiger and Levi's.
The call from Sports Illustrated was the one she was waiting for.
Debi Davis said she found out last May, when she got a distressing call from her daughter.
"I could just hear whimpering, but I could tell it was her because her name came up on the phone," Debi Davis said. "I was shaking I was so frightened, and then she said, 'I got SI.' "
Hannah Davis went to Guangxi Province, China, for her swimsuit shoot. The theme of this year's issue is "All seven continents."
It took her two days of travel to get there, and they only had one day to shoot photos and a second day to shoot video. She arrived exhausted, she said.
"I had an amazing team that helped me look my best when I wasn't necessarily feeling my best," she said.
The excitement also helped her stay focused, she said.
"It was the first time Sports Illustrated had ever been to China," she said. "It was kind of a big deal for everyone there."
Despite already being a very successful model, her exposure in Sports Illustrated likely will make her a household name.
"You're on another playing field when you work for SI," she said. "They give you that stamp of approval."
She scored a touchdown in this year's celebrity football game during the Super Bowl, and is rumored to be dating New York Yankee Derek Jeter - all signs the hometown girl is well on her way to A-list celebrity status.
"I'm excited to see what's next, but I don't know," Hannah Davis said.
While she currently is appearing in television commercials as the DirecTV Genie, she is not sure if acting is the direction she wants to go.
"I don't think I'm going to get into acting. I think I want to be on the other side of fashion, designing," she said.
She is getting ready to launch her own line of swimwear, One Love.
"I'm sticking to what I know, and what I know right now is bathing suits," she said. "Down the road, who knows, I'm trying to conquer one thing at a time."
- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email email@example.com.