SI Swimsuit finalist Kathy Jacobs, 56, on whirlwind journey, being a voice for women: ‘I’m bringing sexy back’

Kathy Jacobs made it her mission to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated’s iconic swimsuit issue after learning the publication was searching far and wide for some fresh faces to usher in a new generation of top talent.

Jacobs -- a 56-year-old mother, actress, entrepreneur and body-positive activist hailing from Calabasas, Calif. -- had been putting herself into the mix for two years before she was selected as a Top 6 finalist for the SI Swimsuit cover and was selected to walk the runway during the 2019 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Runway Show during Miami Swim Week.

Jacobs has already surpassed last year’s finish when she didn’t even crack the second round, so this year Jacobs is putting forth her best poses, and even though she’s guaranteed to make it into the magazine, she wants to represent all of the middle-aged women and let everyone know their time is far from over.

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Kathy Jacobs walks the runway during the 2019 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Runway Show During Miami Swim Week At W South Beach - Runway at WET poolside lounge at W South Beach on July 14, 2019 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)

Kathy Jacobs walks the runway during the 2019 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Runway Show During Miami Swim Week At W South Beach - Runway at WET poolside lounge at W South Beach on July 14, 2019 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)

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Jacobs recently spoke to Fox News where she opened up in a huge way about being a face for women over 50 and how she managed to find her purpose in life. “It just happens to be, I set my mind to posing in a bikini for Sports Illustrated,” she said.

Fox News: Tell us a little bit about your background and how you got to this point.

Kathy Jacobs: Well, I am Kathy Jacobs. I have been married for 24 years. I have a 23-year-old daughter who's interviewing for med schools right now. Yeah. And I am super creative. I invented cake and cookie kits. I've been on Food Network. I spent five years inventing a skincare line for women over 40 and I could not get the money to get it manufactured. I took a minimum wage job a year ago.

A year ago, I had just quit my minimum wage job sweeping the floor at Dry Bar and I said, I'm going to give this one last shot. I'm gonna take some headshots and send them out. And I got some modeling and acting jobs. And I won this contest in a year. I mean, it's crazy. So anyone out there. Anyone out there that thinks that it's too late for them. I'm here to tell them that it's not. I'm here to tell them to believe in themselves.

Kathy Jacobs attends the 2019 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Runway Show During Miami Swim Week At W South Beach - Front Row/Backstage at WET poolside lounge at W South Beach on July 14, 2019 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)

Kathy Jacobs attends the 2019 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Runway Show During Miami Swim Week At W South Beach - Front Row/Backstage at WET poolside lounge at W South Beach on July 14, 2019 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)

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Fox News: What does it feel like knowing you’re so close to landing that coveted Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover?

Jacobs: Well, it's a completely different feeling because I entered last year and I didn't even make it past the first round and I didn't give up, I was like, "I'm going to show them that ladies over 50 have really it and we really need to be seen and everything," and so I did it again. I entered again. And so, this time I'm gonna be in the magazine. I'm one of the top six. And then after that, I guess they're going to pick like one or two people that were going to be rookies that get to go on again. So it's exciting just to be in the magazine.

Fox News: You’re a 56-year-old rookie?

Jacobs: I'm the 56-year-old rookie. Yeah, I actually wrote a song about it – a Dolly parody. And it was like, "I want to be over 55 and I'm out on a mission to be in SI," swimsuit edition. So, yeah, that's one of the things I did as a challenge to become a winner in the contest. I made a video about that, about being a rookie. I want to be the oldest rookie. And the shortest rookie.

"Anyone out there that thinks that it's too late for them. I'm here to tell them that it's not. I'm here to tell them to believe in themselves."

— Kathy Jacobs 

I'm here for the girls over 50 and I'm here for the petite girls. Because I just want to tell you something, the average height of a woman in America is 5 foot 4 [inches]. And when they say inclusive, they don't include us shorties. They never include us. And finally, they're including us. And I'm just so grateful to Sports Illustrated for including us.

Fox News: How does it feel for a performer or model to be told their specific look isn’t “in?”

Jacobs: Well, you know, it's really hurtful to tell someone that they should be expired or that their time is up because there's a number attached to them. Because when you hit 50 or 55 or 60, you have potentially another 40, 50 years left on this planet. And are you going to roll over and play dead for 50 years?

I'm here to say we're not going to do that anymore. And I'm here to take your reality and put it over there and insert my reality over here. And I'm here to show the world who we are, not let the world tell us who we are. And that's just the way that I feel. I just don't accept it. I refuse to accept what society says that women and men are over 50 and especially over 55.

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I mean, I could be, according to the world, eating off the senior menu at Denny's and playing bingo or I could be going to Turks and Caicos and posing in a bikini for Sports Illustrated. You know, it's what you make it and if I believe it and feel it and put it out there, it's like throwing a rock or a pebble into a lake and it gets a ripple effect. And I hope to have that ripple effect go out.

I have so many ladies direct messaging me and e-mailing me and saying, "Oh, my God, thank you so much. Finally, someone my age, how do I enter?" They all want to enter. So that's pretty cool. And I have a lot of short girls. "Oh, my God. Someone short made it. How do I enter? I'm so excited."

MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA - JULY 14: Kathy Jacobs walks the runway during the 2019 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Runway Show During Miami Swim Week At W South Beach - Runway at WET poolside lounge at W South Beach on July 14, 2019 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)

MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA - JULY 14: Kathy Jacobs walks the runway during the 2019 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Runway Show During Miami Swim Week At W South Beach - Runway at WET poolside lounge at W South Beach on July 14, 2019 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)

Fox News: What did you learn about yourself in the year you were working minimum wage jobs?

Jacobs: I have learned to believe in yourself, even when no one around you believes in you. Because, I mean, a couple of years ago, my husband was looking at receptionist jobs and sending them to me and saying, "Here's a job for you. Go be a receptionist," and I knew I had something else left inside of me.

And I knew it wasn't over. And I knew there was something there. And no matter – I mean, he loves me more than life itself. But sometimes other people around you think they know what's best for you or they really may not even realize your full potential. And believe me, he's happy now.

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Fox News: Well, now you can tell him to go out and buy the magazine because you’re going to be in it.

Jacobs: Yeah! I'm going to give him an autographed copy!

Fox News: Has it always been a dream of yours to model for SI: Swimsuit?

Jacobs: Well, I definitely did some acting. You know, quite a while ago. Well, let me put it this way -- I'm so old I had a part on "Murder, She Wrote." That show was on like 30-something years ago. But, yeah, it's always been a dream of mine. And I think it's just sometimes you take a break from your dream and go back to it. And sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't. But it's never gonna work out if you don't try.

That's just my motto, you know. My motto is if you're going to go down, go down in flames. And I've always told my daughter that.

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Fox News: Has there been a moment in your life where you knew you had to take a risk and put yourself out there?

Jacobs: I think just in general if you don't take the risk and you don't put yourself out there, you're not going to get a job in anything you want to do. If you don't take a risk and put yourself out there, you're not going to be the best person at golf or you're not going to be able to beat your buddy at tennis. It's the same thing. It's just whatever you want to set your mind to. It just happens to be, I set my mind to posing in a bikini for Sports Illustrated.

Models Jamea Byrd, Miki Hamano, Robin Holzken, Hyunjoo Hwang, Ashley Alexiss, Soraya Id, Katina Taylor, Brielle Anyea, Brooks Nader and Kathy Jacobs attend the 2019 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Runway Show During Miami Swim Week At W South Beach on July 14, 2019 in Miami Beach, Florida.

Models Jamea Byrd, Miki Hamano, Robin Holzken, Hyunjoo Hwang, Ashley Alexiss, Soraya Id, Katina Taylor, Brielle Anyea, Brooks Nader and Kathy Jacobs attend the 2019 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Runway Show During Miami Swim Week At W South Beach on July 14, 2019 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)

Fox News: What are some things you do to keep yourself mentally sharp and ready to go?

Jacobs: Well, I do a belly-dance class because it says that -- I read somewhere that choreographed dance helps you keep dementia away. Exercise, it keeps your mind going. My mom has dementia and she's only 76 years old. And so, I really, really believe in trying to keep myself healthy.

So I do eat healthy. I cut out the sugar and a lot of carbs and stuff just so I stay healthy for my daughter and my husband. But I'm going to say the main thing that keeps me sharp is my daughter because she's super smart and so is her boyfriend and my husband. And they're all just -- they always keep me on my toes. So, yeah, I mean, there's never a dull moment.

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Fox News: In 23 years of being a parent, what has been most fulfilling about raising your daughter?

Jacobs: Well, I mean both my husband and I don't know where she came from because she's a lot smarter than the two of us put together. But I'm just beyond the moon that I have a well-adjusted, happy daughter who cares about people. She works with autistic teens every Wednesday and it's literally the highlight of her week. She studies Spanish because she wants to help underserved communities when she becomes a doctor.

She's just a real good girl. She's really well-rounded. And I cannot take credit for that because my husband is a really good dad. So I can't take all the credit. But it does make you feel good when you look at this kid that's an adult that turned out so well. And you're like, 'How did I do that?'

One day she said to me -- because they call me 'Sidetrack,' she's like, "I don't know how you ever got me to school on time." I'm like, "I don't know how I did either."

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"I think just in general if you don't take the risk and you don't put yourself out there, you're not going to get a job in anything you want to do."

— Kathy Jacobs 

Fox News: What bucket-list items have you been able to check off since becoming a swimsuit model?

Jacobs: Well, I'm going to say my highlight was when I got to feel the accomplishment of being like the oldest person to walk down the runway in that show. Miami week, swim week for Sports Illustrated. And just the love I felt from everyone. I just felt like I was literally on cloud nine. And I just was giving everyone love and gratitude. And they were I could feel them all giving it back to me. And it was just like one of the most magical moments of my life. It was wonderful.

Kathy Jacobs walks the runway during the 2019 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Runway Show During Miami Swim Week At W South Beach - Runway at WET poolside lounge at W South Beach on July 14, 2019 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)

Kathy Jacobs walks the runway during the 2019 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Runway Show During Miami Swim Week At W South Beach - Runway at WET poolside lounge at W South Beach on July 14, 2019 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)

Fox News: You look happy in all of the photos and this was a big moment not only for SI but for women.

Jacobs: Yeah! And I was able to be in the moment during that. And I'm just so hoping and praying that when I do my shoot, I'm in the zone and in the moment, too because I want to appreciate it.

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Fox News: What does it mean for a model to be in the zone during a photoshoot?

Jacobs: I don't know what it means for other people, but for me, it just means like feeling confident and really exuding that out. And for Sports Illustrated, I'm going to turn my sexy on. I'm gonna bring sexy back!