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Yumi Nu didn’t know what to do with herself after she learned that she made the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit.
The model and recording artist made a splash this year alongside Kim Kardashian, Maye Musk and Ciara as the latest cover girls.
“I could not speak,” the 25-year-old told the New York Post on Monday following the announcement. “I had full body chills. I was shaking. I was crying. They got me really good.”
The curve model noted that her first phone call was to her boyfriend Dimitri Dinas.
Yumi Nu is on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit’s 2022 issue. (James Macari/Sports Illustrated)
“He was freaking out,” she gushed. “He was like, ‘If I were a teenage boy, I’d have a poster of you in my room. Now I’m dating an SI cover girl.’”
Nu is making a mark within her family. Her mother is the daughter of Benihana founder Rocky Aoki. Nu is also the niece of DJ Steve Aoki and fellow model Devon Aoki. Not only did she appear on the cover of the coveted September Vogue issue alongside a supermodel posse, but she was also the first Asian curve model to land the cover of Vogue Japan.
“It’s amazing. I’m on cloud nine,” Nu reflected to the outlet. “There is nothing I could prepare for. It’s unexpected. I feel like we’re in a place right now where people are making space for more diversity on magazine covers. It’s a big time for Asian American people in media. I know I play a big role in representation in body diversity and race diversity, and I love to be a role model and representative of the plus-size Asian community.”
The New Jersey native credited Ashley Graham, who landed the cover in 2016, for breaking barriers.
Yumi Nu attends the 2022 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Cover Reveal on May 11, 2022, in New York City. (Mike Coppola/Getty Images for SI Swimsuit)
“Her SI cover changed so many people’s lives, and I think it changed the industry because you have this legendary publication putting its first curve model on the cover,” she said.
Nu added that fellow SI Swimsuit model Hunter McGrady has also been an inspiration for her.
SI Swimsuit’s editor-in-chief MJ Day shared that Nu made her debut in 2021 before appearing on the cover.
“In her first year of being in the spotlight, Yumi is coming into who she is and taking on the responsibility of what she stands for,” said Day.
Yumi Nu attends the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit celebration of the launch of the 2021 Issue on July 24, 2021, in Hollywood, Florida. (Rodrigo Varela/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit)
The original swimsuit issue ran in 1964. It has been a launching pad for models such as Kathy Ireland, Christie Brinkley, Elle Macpherson, Kate Upton and Graham.
Over the years the issue has tried to stay fresh, with painted bikinis, plus-sized models, unedited photos, tiny swimsuits, amputee models, older models and the addition of professional athletes and celebrities in relationships.
This year’s issue will include 28 women, including WNBA stars Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart, newcomer Duckie Thot, former cover girl Camille Kostek, as well as 2021’s Rookie of the Year Katrina Scott, who was photographed when she was six and a half months pregnant. Kate Bock will also mark a decade of appearances in this year’s issue.
The magazine hits newsstands on May 19.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.