Her shoot comes 22 years after she was the first solo Black woman to grace the cover of the magazine. Photographer Laretta Houston is now the first Black woman to ever shoot for the magazine's cover.
Twenty-two years after gracing the covers of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit as the first solo Black woman, Tyra Banks rose from retirement to smile at us again. The 45-year-old supermodel is the current cover girl for the summer 2019 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue and it looks like she hasn't aged a single day since her 1997 solo debut.
This is for everybody that has been told that they are not good enough because of their body, their age, their everything. #BanX is here to tell you that you ARE friggin’ fierce no matter what anybody says!— Tyra Banks (@tyrabanks) May 8, 2019
Drop mic now!@SI_Swimsuit 2019 pic.twitter.com/bgUqGunhAe
But that isn't the only unique element behind this year's photo shoot. Speaking to Entertainment Tonight, Tyra said that she wanted to be shot specifically by Laretta Houston, making her the first Black woman to shoot a 'Sports Illustrated Swimsuit' cover.
"I am obsessed with firsts," she said. "I was obsessed with it for myself, and now I am obsessed with firsts for everyone. I feel like my mission in life is to open doors for other people, and to get them in places that they probably couldn't get to on their own. We all need a little help."
Keeping in mind the kind of trajectory that her first ever solo cover photo gave her, Tyra decided to make her comeback equally unique. With the help of SI Swimsuit editor MJ Day, the two of them picked out Laretta out of a list of photographers that they had compiled together, given the fact that Laretta's shots stood out the most amongst the others.
Tyra Banks is 45. That’s it, that’s the tweet. pic.twitter.com/qFMIKVUkAG— Kim (@mrskimcam) May 8, 2019
The current iconic shot features Tyra in a bright yellow Andi Bagus bikini with the gorgeous Great Exuma Bahamas in the background. She explained to Entertainment Tonight that it was during the shot that Laretta found out the exciting news: she was going to be shooting the cover for this edition of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit.
"We actually did not tell her, we did not tell Laretta that I chose her," she explained. "Because we didn't want to rock her too much, make her too nervous. It's already a lot of responsibility. So, she's shooting me, did not know I chose her, but then all of a sudden she just walks away from the camera and starts crying... She started crying. It was like, I had all this makeup on my face. I had to hold it together."
Along with Tyra's solo cover, SI Swimsuit model search winner Camille Kostek and Olympic gold medalist Alex Morgan also earned covers for the 2019 issue.