Valentina Sampaio has made history by becoming the first transgender model ever featured in the annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue.
Editors of the iconic yearly edition of the publication announced the Brazilian bombshell as the 2020 Rookie on Friday, and the rising star couldn’t be happier about the honor.
“I was filled with so many emotions of happiness when I heard the news,” Valentina told People in a statement.
“The feeling was surreal,” she explained, “Being in SI Swim has always been on my bucket list of things to achieve in my career. It’s a dream come true on so many levels.”
Valentina said the achievement also caused her to reflect on her past: “To come from a space of fear and marginalization, to now being included in one of the most iconic magazines that truly embraces and celebrates diversity – it is life changing.”
Valentina, who was also the first transgender model to work with Victoria’s Secret, said she hopes her 2020 Rookie appearance in the new Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue will inspire change and progress for other members of the transgender community.
“As a community, each personal success is a step forward for all,” she shared. “I am very grateful to God and all whom have helped me along my journey so far. I honour the challenges of those who have paved the way for me directly or indirectly.”
The SI Swimsuit 2020 issue drops in the U.S. on 21 July.
– Cover Media1