Alyssa Miller was in Las Vegas doing press for the SI Swimsuit Issue when I caught up with her yesterday afternoon. Miller, who turns 22 on the fourth of July, told me about the independence she enjoyed while working on her first swimsuit issue, how that job differs from her other modeling work, and why she’s one of the few supermodels that actually will pose in the buff. This interview was transcribed and edited for clarity. Click on images to embiggen.
This your first swimsuit issue, isn’t it?
Yeah, I’m a rookie! It’s my first year. It’s really exciting for me! Everyone keeps saying that the excitement’s going to wear off, I’m really jaded about the whole experience. I’m exhausted, but it doesn’t even matter. I’m having so much fun.
Is the SI Swimsuit Issue the Super Bowl for models? Is there such a thing? I know this is a major achievement, but how major?
There is no other magazine like SI. It’s one of a kind. It’s one of the only big American magazines that really feature the girls and their personalities. You really do become a household name after being featured in SI. It’s a huge, huge deal. It’s such a big deal to me as an American girl. My brother and my dad read it, so for me it’s especially exciting. It’s a big deal. >>
I wonder growing up if you and your brother ever thought that you’d be the one in SI and he wouldn’t.
[Laughs] Yeah, that’s something that we never thought about at all. I have a big family and they’re all really exicted for me.
Seven siblings, I’m told.
Yeah. Five girls and three boys.
At least you have the majority.
Yeah, we’re in charge for sure.
Tell me about the shoot itself. You’re relatively young, you went to Fiji and Hawaii. Do you do any sort of preparation for these shoots, or do they just throw you in the water and tell you to look hot?
I’ve actually been modeling for a while, so I kinda know the drill. I always try to make sure that I’m in good shape and feeling well and [looked good] in my bikini, and SI is really good about that. They want a woman to look like real women. They love curves, so there wasn’t any pressure in that way. But mentally, I had to prepare for it. It’s such a big deal, and it’s scary.
All the girls they use, they’ve been using for years. You kinda feel like the new kid in school, and that’s a little bit scary. But they make you feel comfortable. They really just want you to be yourself. I didn’t have to do anything crazy.
You started modeling when you were 15. You’ve done the catalogs and the runways and the advertising. Do you have a preference in the kind of modeling you do?
I love to do everything. I love my job. I have the easiest job on the planet. I’m a very lucky girl, but this has been the most fun I’ve ever had on the job. I had the time of my life in Fiji. It was amazing, and all the girls are so sweet. It really is like a big family. It’s a really special job in that way.
Have you had a chance to look through the magazine yet?
If you couldn’t pick yourself, who would your favorite model be?
I’m totally biased. I love Brooklyn. Brooklyn is my sweetheart. I’ve known her for five years. We’ve shared the same agency and she’s the sweetest girl ever. She’s so gorgeous, so down to earth. No one deserves success like she does. I love her so much. I have a girl crush on Brooklyn.
Have you seen Brooklyn’s movie yet?
Yeah, I saw it when it came out. She was very good in it. I was like a proud mama when that came out. I was taking pictures of the theaters and tweeting like, “Brooklyn, the theater’s packed!”
You shouldn’t text in a movie theater. That’s bad form.
I know! But I couldn’t help it! Everyone was looking at me like, “Who is this chick?” There was literally not an empty seat. I was so excited, I couldn’t help myself.
That’s the worst.
You said that the SI shoot is different from what you normally experience on a shoot. Can you compare SI to what other clients are after?
Yeah, SI really stands alone, because the feature is us, our personalities, so we’re allowed to be sexy, we’re allowed to be goofy, to be crazy, to be funny. You can just be yourself. They just want you to have fun.
Sometimes on other jobs it’s just “Make the clothes look good” and just getting out of there. No big smiles. No laughing. There’s really no other job like SI. We all support the cover girl. We all support the magazine. I can’t say that enough, there’s really nothing like it, and I’ve seen it all.
So how do you get this job, out of all the other models out there?
They asked to see me. I don’t know how they…they must have seen me somewhere. I’ve been around for a while. So they asked to see me. I went in and met everybody in the office and we really made a connection. They’re such sweet people. I was just estatic. It’s really a huge honor for a model, because they’re not just featuring you, it’s your personality. It’s the whole package. That’s what they’re looking for. I don’t know! I got lucky, I guess.
I read that you’re one of the few supermodels that will actually do nude shoots.
I…well…yeah. I’m comfortable with myself and my body. And I’m not doing anything…anything that I’m uncomfortable with. It’s always very tasteful, and it’s really about the art. I’m really into photography. I love it, and some of my favorite photographers take really amazing nude pictures. And it really comes down to the art. It’s not really provocative or anything like that. It’s just beauty…on it’s own. But that’s all it is. For me, it’s about art, and I’ll only put myself in that position if I’m 100 percent comfortable, and I trust the photographer and I trust the situation, but I can be really comfortable if I know the pictures are going to be beautiful. I’m not afraid to say that.
I wasn’t trying to imply that you should have been. But as you become more well-known, as you surely will be after this issue, do you see yourself doing more nude work later? Or maybe pull a Brooklyn and try a couple movies? You’re based in LA, after all.
I am! The acting is kinda in my blood. I would love to dabble in different things. I’ve done a few commercials and a few small roles so…I don’t know. I think it’d be fun to just experiment and see where it takes me, but I’m really happy with where I am, and really happy to be working with Sports Illustrated.