At 27 years old, model Jasmine Sanders has racked up some pretty impressive runways and features — everything from Chanel to Vogue. Her latest feat? Landing one of the coveted Sports Illustrated Rookie spots for the magazine’s 2019 Swimsuit Edition, which is already on stands.
Jasmine boasts over three million followers on Instagram and is constantly jet-setting to her next gig while vlogging for her YouTube channel, but she insists she’s “not any different than anybody else,” and while that usually sounds like a load of bull coming from a 5-foot-9, blonde, blue-ish-green-eyed beauty, after a 30-minute conversation with her (I only expected to get 10 minutes with her), I get it.
She’s been bullied growing up and has a zero-tolerance policy on the matter, she has a bit of a Coca-Cola addiction that she’s trying to ween herself off of, she loves pasta but trains vigorously in the gym when she feels like she needs to “pull it together” and she doesn’t beat herself up about any of it. Sounds like a lot of millennials I know trying to figure out adulting, no?
The only thing is Jasmine is doing it all in front of an audience of 3M+.
Keep reading to find out what Jasmine dished to BET exclusively on body image, her nutrition and fitness and, of course, that gorgeous 'Sports Illustrated' spread.
BET: How did you react to the Sports Illustrated Rookie news?
Jasmine Sanders: I was completely shocked. There were a lot of tears. I immediately asked my agent if I could call my mom and dad to let them know the news. I just wanted to know if it was really real because this has been a dream and goal for me for such a long time.
I started modeling when I was 13 years old. I’m 27 now. It’s been a very long run, and it's a great opportunity to say that I am a Sports Illustrated Rookie, and to be a part of the team and the women that are involved with it.
Sports Illustrated is all about empowering women, and they are constantly doing stuff to show that you it’s not a man’s world. Women break barriers. We can do all kinds of things and not just be a pretty face.
B: What was the actual shoot experience like? Any memorable moments?
JS: I definitely got hit in the face by some waves a couple of times. I’m sure they have some funny blooper videos that will come out at one point. I just remember we had a call time at 4 a.m. for hair and makeup to make sure we got every bit of time that we could on the beach in the sun. It was a gorgeous day. We shot in Costa Rica. Beautiful place. Beautiful people. I really enjoyed the whole process.
It was just cool to do things that I haven’t done before, show myself in a way that I haven’t before, and really just feel like a beautiful, strong woman that can do and conquer everything. I tried to show all of that and give all of that in every photo while trying not to get washed away at the same time. [laughs]
B: So what was your exercise routine preparing for SI?
JS: I took two-and-half weeks to come up to New York to focus on getting my body into tip-top shape. At that point, I actually didn’t know that I would be meeting with Sports Illustrated. For me, I was like, "I need to pull it together." [It’s] not that I wasn’t together before. It was like I could tone up a little bit here, I could do this, and cut back on some of the crappy foods that I had been eating.
I started working out with my trainer, Kirk [Myers], at the Dogpound gym here in New York. I don’t know what it is or what he does, but he whips my body into shape. He can do it in 30 to 45 minutes. It’s like he just knows how to make my body sweat and move in a way I can’t figure out how to do on my own.
I just go there and trust anything he says. I go as hard as I can. I grew up with three brothers [and] my dad used to be in the military, so I’ve always had that competitive [streak]. I never want to stop. [Kirk] has to be like, "Hey, stop. You’ve done enough." I went there twice a day, sometimes.
B: What do you eat in a day?
JS: [During my prep, I would] go to Dig Inn in New York. I would constantly get the broccoli, salmon and quinoa bowl. So that’s what I was addicted to eating every day and that was my clean eating. I really stayed away from sugar, cut out all soda, [quit] drinking, and focused on getting myself to where I needed to really be.
It happened to be the perfect timing because, later, I found out [about Sports Illustrated] and my agents were like, "Hey, Sports Illustrated wants to see you." I remember going in there and [editor] MJ Day was like, "Hey, girl. I love your body now but don’t lose your curves. I love your curves and I love the body you have as well." But she was also just telling me to feel free to eat. She was like, "You can eat what you want or you can add a little bit of weight. Do whatever you want to do for you. Just feel as confident as you want to be."
B: So everyone knows how intensely Michael B. Jordan’s diet and exercise regimen was while training for both Creed movies and Black Panther, so much so that he’s spoke about it disrupting his social life...
JS: It’s funny actually because his trainer in Los Angeles, Cory [Calliet], is my LA trainer as well. When I want to bulk up and make my legs a little thicker, I go to him. He definitely knows what I should be doing. Cory is hard. Cory is strict. When it comes to eating, focusing on your body and focusing on rest, he is intense.
B: Oh, wow. Well, did you have to step away from anything to focus?
JS: It wasn’t really a process of having to step away. I did stop drinking, and I don’t drink a lot, but you have drinks here and there with your girls at night. [I did] have to be like, "Hey, I’m not going out to the bar tonight" or "I’ll come and see you guys but grab a tea” or "Can we get tea in the afternoon?" and "I’m going to bed earlier because I’m waking up super early so I can get in a workout in the morning and one at night."
I can allow myself those things now and just balance it out. I’m not big on diets or anything like that. I like challenging myself and seeing what I can do. I just stopped drinking soda. I don’t drink coffee, so my caffeine fix was a Coca-Cola every morning when I’m on set and stuff like that.
I challenged myself to see if I could cut soda out and see how different my face and body would react. It’s really more of that for me. I don’t try and set a strict diet. Next week, I could be like, "I want a Coca-Cola," and I’m drinking that for the rest of my life. [laughs].
B: So do you do cheat meals?
JS: I love greasy food. I’m just like anybody else. I grew up in the South, so I love fried food. I don’t have a major sweet tooth, so it would have to be when I’m at the movies. I might get a bunch of junk food there. I like Sour Patch Watermelon candies. I can eat three packs of those in 20 minutes. I’m really big on pasta. I love truffle pasta and I love sushi, so I like anytime when I can pile up and eat a bunch of sushi.
Now I’ve found a way to just focus on eating good things in the right portions. I’m big on minding my portions and what I eat. If I’m going to eat something crazy, like junk food or soul food, then I know the next day I need to slow down. I need to tone down what I’m eating and focus on my job.
B: Appearance aside, what helps you feel most confident?
JS: Honestly, it’s all of my friends and family. I feel like they are such a good support system and are pushing me constantly. It allows me to be myself. I feel like that’s the biggest part. Being comfortable in who you are allows you to have so much confidence and be able to conquer whatever you can. I’m constantly working, and to be able to reach out to my friends and talk to them about real issues is comforting.
I try not to separate myself from the rest of the world. I feel like a lot of people try to put you on a pedestal and look at you a certain way. If you separate all of that and let people know that you are just as human as they are, I feel like that’s the easiest way. Just showing someone that you’re normal.
I’m not any different than anybody else. I’m just like everyone else in the room. I feel like if everyone can understand that, that allows me to have the most confidence in the world because I can just be myself and have fun. A no-judgment zone.
Sports Illustrated Swimsuit hits stands May 8, and fans can join Jasmine and the other models at SI Swimsuit on Location in Miami May 10 to 11. Tickets available at Swimsuitonlocation.com.
(Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated)