FIU grad becomes 1st Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model from Medellín

The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue is one of the hottest spreads of the year, and this year’s edition has a special South Florida connection. Deco caught up with the Miami model who’s turning heads and breaking barriers.

Talk about a picture perfect job for Manuela Alvarez Hernandez. She’s the first model from Medellín, Colombia to appear in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

Manuela Alvarez Hernandez: “Oh, my God, it meant the world. It’s literally like I said, it’s a huge dream come true, and just seeing it become a reality is just so worth going through all the struggles.”

The SoFlo native and Florida International University graduate isn’t afraid to take risks — which is how she ended up auditioning for the magazine.

Manuela Alvarez Hernandez (in audition video): “Hola, Sports Illustrated. Me llamo Manuela.”

Manuela Alvarez Hernandez: “I filmed the video two days before it was due, so it was a very last-minute decision. I just said, you know what? I’m gonna take this chance and go for it. I have nothing to lose.”

And she was right. Out of thousands of girls, Manuela was one of six models picked to appear with superstars like Olivia Culpo and Tyra Banks, who just came out of retirement.

Manuela Alvarez Hernandez: “Iconic. Yep. She’s a legend, so it’s truly an honor to even be apart of it and have her be on the cover, you know?”

For her shoot, Manuela was whisked away to the Bahamas for some fun in the sun.

Manuela Alvarez Hernandez: “We got to shoot with dolphins and parrots. It was a lot of fun.”

All the models are in town this weekend celebrating the big release.

This year’s issue is all about diversity and features a variety of women of different skin tones, sizes, ages and cultures — like Halima Aden, who’s also making history in this issue.

Halima Aden: “It’s all about shattering perception, and I’m so excited to be in a hijab and burkini right alongside women to who choose to wear a bikini.”

As for Manuela, she’s excited to be part of an experience that celebrates women and lifts them up.

Manuela Alvarez Hernandez: “I definitely have my Colombian curves in my genes. Sports Illustrated just makes you feel confident in yourself, powerful, and I think we all really portray that message. So it’s really cool to see that all come together from such a diverse group of girls.”

2019 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue: Manuela Alvarez Hernandez

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