New Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover girl Danielle Herrington was left in awe on Tuesday after receiving an empowering message from her modeling “idol” Tyra Banks.
Danielle made history as she became the third African-American woman to appear on the front of the publication, following in thefootsteps of Tyra and Beyonce, and as she celebrated her achievement on breakfast show Good Morning America, she was surprised with a special note from the America’s Next Top Model creator herself.
“Hi Danielle,” Tyra smiled in the video clip. “Do you really understand what’s going down right now? Do you really understand how your life is going to change?
“So many little girls are looking at you and going, ‘Oh, my gosh, that could be me one day.’ There are so many people telling little girls that look like us that we’re not good enough and that we can’t achieve our goals, but by them looking at me back in the day, and then looking at you now, you are the living embodiment to say that dreams do come true.”
The 24-year-old was stunned to hear from the veteran supermodel, and admitted it was a full circle moment for her as she first learned all about the magazine from watching Tyra’s old talk show.
“She’s how I found out about Sports Illustrated,” Danielle said. “I remember watching on The Tyra Banks Show, she said she was the first black woman to cover Sports Illustrated Swimsuit so I just always aspired to be like her and follow in her footsteps.”
“It makes me feel amazing,” the young model continued. “She is my idol and she was the one I looked up to, so for me, to be the one that little girls in the next generation is gonna look up to is just really inspiring to me.”
And Danielle confessed she is still trying to come to terms with the cover news: “This was such a surprise, I’m just gonna take in this moment and be present in the moment because this is… emotional,” she shared. “It’s heavy!”
Past Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover models include Kate Upton, Heidi Klum, Kathy Ireland and Christie Brinkley.