Chanel Iman is one of the most recognized and celebrated young Black models in the fashion industry. This year, the beauty graces the pages of Sports Illustrated once again while rocking the season’s hottest swimwear.
While on a two-city tour promoting the annual swimwear issue, Chanel spoke to ESSENCE about everything from being an African-American woman in the modeling industry to why Beyoncé is so special to her.
“I feel very blessed to be one of the Sports Illustrated girls this year,” said Chanel of her return to the iconic issue. “Sports Illustrated gives us models a voice and the opportunity to venture out and do our own thing. It’s just one of those things that you pray that you get and when it comes you’re very grateful for it. “
When it comes to being an African-American woman in the industry, Chanel says she feels a sense of responsibility.
“I’m proud of being an African-American woman and I just feel like I represent our people and I just want to do my best and show the world that Black is beautiful as well. There are a lot of struggles that I have to deal with but that’s a part of it. For all of us. We have to fight so much harder but I think that’s what’s so amazing is that when we achieve something it’s that much more empowering to others.”
As a young woman that represents #BlackGirlMagic in her own right, Chanel says when she thinks of the magic of Black women, Beyoncé is what comes to mind (join the club, girl).
“Beyoncé is always a significant moment for me. For her to have me in the ‘Yoncé’ video, I didn’t think that was possible. I was just a little girl listening to her music, pretending i was her, making up dance routines at a sleepover. I never knew that I would meet her, let alone be in her music video. And have her be a woman that supports me. She’s so special to me.”
When it comes to Beyonce’s newest hit, Chanel says she’s in formation.
“Everything that she drops I get goosebumps. I’m definitely in the Beyhive.”