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'Sports Illustrated' Model Hannah Ferguson on Her Career Goals & Why She Feels Most at Home on a Beach

By Jared Shapiro | August 2, 2016 | People Feature

Model Hannah Ferguson swelters in the latest swimwear on a scorchingly sexy day at the beach.

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Maillot, Lisa Marie Fernandez ($395). Tenet, 91 Main St., Southampton, 337-3981. Chaos cuff, Jennifer Fisher ($1,635). Barneys New York, 660 Madison Ave., NYC, 212-826-8900

It’s 90 degrees outside as gorgeous Sports Illustrated swimsuit model-turned-Hamptons cover star Hannah Ferguson frolics in the pristine waves of the Atlantic Ocean. Just another day at the beach? Hardly. Slipping in and out of swimwear from a range of designers, including Luli Fama and Agent Provocateur, Ferguson hardly notices the gawkers and paparazzi who crowd the shimmering white sand to catch even a glimpse of one of the world’s most beautiful women. This week it’s Miami Beach; next week it’s the Virgin Islands. It’s all a far cry from Ferguson’s childhood home in San Angelo, Texas, just a stone’s throw from an Air Force base, where a little ballerina who dreamed of being an ice-skater was homeschooled. “It’s a pretty small town,” says the IMG supermodel. “There’s not a lot going on there.”

In the years since, Ferguson has traded her Midwestern upbringing for the fast-paced world of fashion and modeling in New York City, but as she tells Hamptons, she’s never far away from the ocean, where she truly feels most at home…

Let’s start straight from the beginning. How did you get into modeling?
At 19 years old, after I graduated from high school, I drove to Dallas with my mom from my hometown in San Angelo, Texas, did a model search, and ended up winning. So I quit my job and moved to Dallas to model for six months, and then they sent me off to New York.

Was it something you always wanted to do?
It’s something that came up when I was about 15. I used to want to be a figure skater, and then I wanted to be a ballet dancer, and then I was like, “I want to do Sports Illustrated.” So modeling was my dream, and has been ever since.

Were you a figure skater?
No. In San Angelo, we don’t have any ice. It’s a small town in West Texas. It’s pretty dry, and we didn’t have any ice-skating rinks or places to take lessons. I had taken ballet ever since I was 3, so I kind of figured that was a good way to get my ground for figure skating if I ever got the chance to start taking lessons, but it just never really happened.

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Jumpsuit, Adriana Degreas ($525). Intermix, 64 Main St., Southampton, 283-8510. Choker, Martha Calvo (price on request)

That’s sad, right? If you’re a kid and you want to be something and you never get the chance?
Yeah, but one thing led to another… I love ballet—still to this day I love ballet—so whenever I realized that ice-skating probably wasn’t going to be my thing, I figured I would become a professional ballet dancer.

Some models talk about being an ugly duckling or how boys never liked them. Were you always aware of your beauty?
I never really thought that I was anything special. I always felt like I was a pretty average person and a normal girl, but I wouldn’t say I was an ugly duckling. I’ve never been out of shape, and I was well-endowed at a young age, I’ll put it that way. People always thought I was older than I was; I was always the tallest in my class. But I was never a weird, skinny, funny-looking kid. I just had a dream and I wanted to at least go for it so I could say that I tried. I went for it, and it worked.

What are your views on plastic surgery?
I find it interesting, learning about things, or doing research, or asking people questions… My mom was always firm on not wanting us to ever get into plastic surgery and doing injections. She would always say just be happy with what God gave you. But I feel like once you get to a certain age, if you want to lift something or fill something, then do what you want, do what makes you happy. I do think that there is a fine line between doing too much and something that looks good. My boobs are 100 percent real—thanks, mom! Everything about me is real.

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Shirt, Valentino ($1,800). Neiman Marcus, Roosevelt Field Mall, 630 Old Country Road, Garden City, 516-742-8001. Necklace, Martha Calvo (price on request)

I read that your parents were both Marines, your dad was a sniper…
My parents never had to go to war, thankfully, but my dad trained to be a sniper. Both of my parents were on the shooting team, which is actually how they met. My mom was a drill instructor—that’s something that kind of stays with you and had an effect on our childhood.

Is that still how you live your life?
[Laughs] No, I’m really bad about making my bed in the morning, to be honest. I actually think it’s more comfy when it’s messy and you get back in and the blankets are already disheveled.

But it obviously affects your feelings on guns and the Second Amendment.
My point of view, from being a Texan and having two Marines as parents—I just think having gun knowledge is so important. Whether you want to have a gun or you think people should be allowed to have guns or not, I think that at least knowing how to handle and operate one and knowing how it works and not being afraid of it is pretty crucial.

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Top, Foundrae ($395). Neiman Marcus, Roosevelt Field Mall, 630 Old Country Road, Garden City, 516-742-8001. Sunglasses, Valentino ($276). Neiman Marcus, see above

Shifting gears, on a Carl’s Jr. commercial, you had to take a bite out of 70 burgers?
It was something I had never experienced before, that’s for sure. They had a spit bucket actually on the side, so every time we would do a take and I would take a bite out of the burger, this guy would have to run over with a bucket and I would have to spit it out. Otherwise I would probably end up not feeling so good. I did have a stomach full of barbecue sauce by the end of the day.

Did you eat any of it?
I ate a few bites, but most of it I put in the spit bucket. It’s like behind the scenes, where people never realize what’s going on. It’s like, “Oh, this commercial is so sexy…” If only you knew what was really happening.

You were originally part of Trump Modeling?
I was with Trump for a little over two years. I met [Donald] the second day after signing my contract with a few other girls. He was nice, basically asking us about our careers.

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Bomber jacket, DSquared2 ($2,150). Saks Fifth Avenue, Walt Whitman Shops, 160 Walt Whitman Road, Huntington Station, 350-1100. Bandeau bikini top, Canvas by Lands’ End ($75). T-shirt (worn around hips), Vince ($55). Americana Manhasset, 2060 Northern Blvd., 516-627-1189

Let’s talk about Sports Illustrated. That was a dream come true?
That was the only reason I got into modeling, to be in that issue. My third issue came out just this past February. I’m hoping to be in there for many issues to come.

Is that the ultimate goal?
Absolutely. I’m hoping to get the cover now—that’s my next goal.

What do you love about New York?
If I’m in New York or on an island or in the country, I’m happy. I can’t spend 100 percent of my time in New York, because I grew up on a farm around animals and being outside and in the sun, so naturally that’s kind of my habitat. I love that New York has so much going on and that I can do anything at the drop of a hat, but I need to balance that with being in nature and being outside and just freeing my mind.

“That was the only reason I got into modeling, to be in Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit issue. I’m hoping to get the cover now—that’s my next goal.”

That’s what’s so great about being close to the Hamptons—that lifestyle is there.
It’s funny because for the longest time I had never been on a beach, but I always knew inside that it was the place I wanted to be, and to live on a beach or by the beach. It was just something I always felt. That’s why I’m happiest to be in a city by the beach, or on the water, or in the ocean… that’s where I feel at home, for sure. I did a shoot with Abercrombie with Bruce Weber a few years ago in Montauk.

What’s the perfect swimwear for you?
Definitely a two-piece. I usually go to a triangle top, just because they fit me the best. But then I love the smaller bottoms, kind of like Brazilian cut. I like bright colors sometimes, but at the moment [I’m favoring] earthy tones. Having a swimsuit that is a tan color, a military green, or a salmon color—I think those look so good with tan skin. And I love wearing body chains and dainty gold jewelry.



Photography by: photography by randall Slavin. Styling by Nycole Sariol, Creative Management @ Mc2. Styling assistance by Ali Marino. Hair and makeup by Jennifer Cruz for Dior Beauty. Manicure by Bo Satayakul, Creative Management, using Dior Vernis