If you hadn’t heard of Danielle Herrington before, you probably have now, following the unveiling of her Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue cover.
As the editors of the magazine themselves point out, in its 54-year history, Herrington, 24, “becomes just the third African-American to appear on the cover, joining Tyra Banks (1997) and Beyoncé (2005).” Considering that Beyoncé isn’t a model — she’s a rock star queen — this makes Herrington the second model to have the honor. Banks, who also appeared on the mag cover in 1996 (but it was a shared cover), was tapped to break the news to an emotional Herrington and is one of many famous people celebrating her achievement.
After initially posting Herrington’s cover photo on Instagram and writing, “She’s carrying the torch. She’s MY (and YOUR) Model Olympian! Go go go @danielle_herrington_ Make TyTy proud,” Banks changed it up. “Do you understand how MAJOR this moment is?” she later added in a revised post. “@danielle_herrington_ is the 2nd African-American MODEL to grace the cover of #sportsillustratedswimsuit! I was the 1st, but she is MY (and YOUR) Model Olympian today! Go go go, Danielle! Make TyTy proud!” (Banks clearly cut out Beyoncé, but don’t look for drama. They are friendly.)
Do you understand how MAJOR this moment is? @danielle_herrington_ is the 2nd African-American MODEL to grace the cover of #sportsillustratedswimsuit! I was the 1st, but she is MY (and YOUR) Model Olympian today! Go go go, Danielle! Make TyTy proud!
A post shared by Tyra Banks (@tyrabanks) on Feb 13, 2018 at 7:21am PST
Herrington, who hails from Compton, Calif., grew up idolizing Banks. Of course, Banks has built an empire, including America’s Next Top Model, since her early days in the modeling business. She actually borrowed a bit from that show in delivering the news of the cover to Herrington, saying, “One girl stands before me, but I only have one photo in my hands, and this photo represents … the girl that is the Sports Illustrated swimsuit 2018 cover model, Danielle Herrington.” There were tears.
A post shared by Danielle Herrington (@danielle_herrington_) on Feb 13, 2018 at 4:34am PST
Tyra also surprised Herrington with a message Tuesday morning on Good Morning America.
Tyra Banks surprised Danielle Herrington on GMA, a real passing of the torch moment.
"So many little girls are looking at you and saying,'Oh my gosh, that could be me one day.'" pic.twitter.com/PH2KyYawt2
— Michael Blackmon (@blackmon) February 13, 2018
And Danielle wore a power suit all over NYC on Tuesday — to publicize the cover — at the advice of Tyra.
A post shared by Danielle Herrington (@danielle_herrington_) on Feb 13, 2018 at 8:39am PST
While Beyoncé hasn’t reacted publicly — a flower delivery might be on the way — previous cover stars of the mag have weighed in.
Kate Upton, who is back for more inside this year’s issue after covering it three times (2012, 2013, and 2017), called it a “gorgeous cover.”
Ashley Graham, who appeared on the cover in 2016, congratulated Herrington “on breaking even MORE barriers being the 3rd black woman to ever grace the cover… I have so many emotions. SOAR BABY GIRL!!”
DANIELLE!!!! Tears of joy for you this morning! Congratulations on breaking even MORE barriers being the 3rd black woman to ever grace the cover of @si_swimsuit! I have so many emotions SOAR BABY GIRL!! @danielle_herrington_
A post shared by A S H L E Y G R A H A M (@theashleygraham) on Feb 13, 2018 at 6:02am PST
Under Danielle’s cover announcement on Instagram, Petra Němcová, who was on the cover in 2003, wrote, “Huge congrats dear @danielle_herrington_. Enjoy this incredible journey and make the best out of it for you [and] your loved ones…”
Lily Aldridge, who appeared on the cover in 2014, commented on Herrington’s Instagram post with just a bunch of pink hearts.
Meanwhile, Sailor Brinkley Cook, who appears in the issue this year (without mama Christie Brinkley), commented to Herrington, “I’m so happy for you. You are just as incredible inside as you are out!!!”
Ditto Samantha Hoopes, who is in the mag this year for the fifth time in a row. She described the cover as “so sexy!!!!” and added, “I’m so proud!! Yay!”
Veronica Webb, a groundbreaking African-American model, wrote, “Congratulations! Enjoy every minute of your success.”
Jourdan Dunn also gave her a round of applause the modern way — via emoji.
Herrington has other famous supporters. Michael B. Jordan crashed her Facebook Live with GMA, giving her a hug and saying, “Keep doing what you’re doing. It’s an inspiration.”
And — poof — just like that, a star is born.
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