Brooks Nader doesn’t mind causing a stir wherever she goes.
The Baton Rouge beauty made heads turn when she attended Sports Illustrated Swimsuit’s first-ever open casting call in Miami in 2018 and earned a spot in the final six out of more than 10,000 applicants. After strutting her stuff for famed photographer Yu Tsai in Paradise Island, The Bahamas, Nader was named the 2019 model search winner. For her upcoming rookie spread, Nader headed to Bali, where she was once again photographed by Tsai, this time for the sizzling issue.
But many were first introduced to Nader when she bared nearly all at the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year awards in December 2019 by rocking a dangerously sheer dress that went viral overnight. Despite the backlash Nader endured, she isn’t feeling the heat these days.
The star, represented by The Lions, spoke to Fox News about her famous mini-dress, posing for SI and how she copeswith criticism, and she shared a fun facts every fan should know about her.
Fox News: You caused a sensation when you attended the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year awards. When you saw your dress on the hanger, were you thinking, "I'm going to go viral after I wear this?"
Brooks Nader: No [laughs] When I saw all the stuff about that dress, even the designer who designed the dress was like, "Wait, was it really that sheer?" It was really dark... I really didn't know it was that sheer when I tried it on. And then with the flash on the red carpet, I thought it was just a normal event. But then when I saw it I was like, "Oh, it looks kind of cool. It's pretty sheer, I kind of like it." [laughs]
So when people were commenting mean stuff about the sheer dress — whatever — I kind of don't really care because I really liked the dress and it was such an empowering event. Megan Rapinoe won Sportsperson of the Year. She was talking about how unapologetic she is with the signature move that she does when she scores a goal.
And people say it's arrogant. ... That's what the whole event was about — her being totally unapologetic for who she was. And she's like, "I'm accepting of myself. You guys should be accepting of me too and not give me so much hate for being myself when I score a goal. If I do something awesome, I should be able to celebrate it."
And so I was kind of like, "Well I'm a rookie this year so I can wear a sheer dress if I want to." Not really [laughs] but I mean I thought it looked good and half the people thought it did, half the people thought it didn't. … I think people that comment mean things and give hate over stuff like that just kind of have nothing better to do. I really did like the dress and I thought it looked good. So that's that.
Fox News: You previously participated in the SI Swim Search competition. What made you take a chance on that opportunity?
Nader: I really wanted to be in Sports Illustrated. I’ve always admired the girls and what it represents. I was told by the agency at that time, “Oh, I don't think that they'll like you. We can't send you into the casting. I don't think it's going to be a good fit." They put me on the back burner with that.
I basically heard about an open call from Camile [Kostek] and Haley [Kalil], who won the year before me. I saw it all over their Instagram and saw it advertised in Miami. So I was like, "... I really want to be in it this year somehow. So this is my only other chance."
I went to the open call. There were thousands of girls in Miami in the summer. You wait in line outside. You're sweating like crazy ... but it was totally worth it. I met so many girls that I'm still friends with. That's what I tell people now when they ask me if they should do it. If anything, you'll definitely get to meet the editors. You'll definitely make friends and connections if you're trying to be a model. It's putting yourself out there, and you'll totally regret it if you don't go.
Fox News: What was your first shoot like?
Nader: I got the call from [editor] MJ [Day]… [She was] like, "All right, pack your bags. You're going to the Bahamas to shoot with Yu Tsai." No pressure. So I was obviously a little bit nervous. I tried to just have a good mindset going into it and not be too nervous, even though I had never really done a bikini shoot like that... I was a little nervous but literally the second that we started shooting, everything went away.
He made me feel so comfortable. I love photographers that are really encouraging and he's always like, "Gorgeous, gorgeous, you look so beautiful." Even if I wasn't doing the right thing, he made you feel like you were just crushing it. That was the best part about it, was being able to shoot with him and being able to have MJ behind the camera being like, "Oh my gosh, I love that shot."
I mean everyone was so encouraging and their energy was uplifting, so that was a crazy experience. … You wake up at 4 a.m. for hair and makeup and you shoot until sunset. But with him and the whole team, you're running on adrenaline and you're just so excited that I genuinely didn't get tired the whole time.
Fox News: You won the competition. Who was your first phone call?
Nader: I was in such disbelief. I was so shocked because we had to wait for so long after voting. ... I think I FaceTimed my mom first, and she was driving and she was like, "Oh my gosh, I have to pull over. I'm crying," because she was with me from the beginning of the process to the end.
She's also a real big drama queen, so she was like, "I'm crying so hard I have to pull the car over on the interstate." And then my dad, I called my dad and he was super excited. And then I called my now-husband and he was also very excited.
My whole family in Louisiana was voting for me every day because it was won by a vote, basically. And my grandmother, it took her 20 minutes to submit one vote. But she voted as many times as she could. [laughs] It meant so much to them to know that all their votes paid off.
Fox News: Looking back, how were you discovered as a model?
Nader: I was discovered as a model when I was 18 years old. I was actually in New York for an internship. I was attending Tulane University for finance. … I moved to New York for the summer and was out at a bar. Somebody who worked with Wilhelmina, which was my first agency, asked me if I had ever considered modeling. And I obviously took it as a compliment, but I didn’t entertain the idea right away. I went back to school for my sophomore year, but then I was thinking about it. It was kind of always in the back of my mind when I was studying and [being] miserable, crunching numbers. I was like, "What if I could be a model?" So then I just basically dropped out after my sophomore year and moved to New York and signed with my first agency. That was my discovery story.
Fox News: It’s been reported you initially had a difficult time modeling because you didn’t have the typical body type for the industry.
Nader: There were certain people [who were] not accepting of curvier body types, people that are bustier, girls that "Sports Illustrated"-type brands gravitate towards. So that was obviously a little disheartening to hear no. Nobody wants to hear no. But a lot of the most successful models that I know have always been told no in the beginning. If anything, I feel like it was a little bit more motivation to keep going. And now luckily the industry has shifted.
I wasn't ever plus-size or anything. I was just a little curvier than what the New York market for models was used to. I've always liked my body. I was bustier growing up. I thought that people would be receptive to that in New York, but it was obviously challenging at first. But now I'm in a really good place, mainly because a brand like "Sports Illustrated" noticed me.
Fox News: How do you stay in swimsuit-ready shape all year?
Nader: I try to do everything in moderation and not limit myself too much. If I want a sweet I'll just have portion control and have a little bit of a cupcake instead of four cupcakes. I think that you can totally drive yourself crazy if you go on insane diets for long periods of time. You're just going to crack. It's taken me a while to just do everything in moderation — try and eat healthy as much as you can.
Fox News: What’s your cheat meal?
Nader: This is so weird, but I love McDonald's. I eat cheeseburgers and french fries from McDonald's on my cheat days, which people might find gross. But I love McDonald's and I love pizza and I love wine. So that would probably be my meal, a very weird meal.
Fox News: What are some fun facts our viewers should know about you?
Nader: I am obsessed with eating jalapenos out of the jar. And I also drink pickle juice all the time. I don't have a Southern accent, but whenever I go home or am around my friends from home, my Southern side starts to come out. And people are like, "Wait, that's so weird. You just talked like a different person." I used to have a little bit of a Southern accent, and then when I moved to New York I felt so strange saying "y'all" all the time and sounding so country. So when I go home I just totally unleash and let it all out.
And then another weird quirk is ... This is a good one — I used to be really scared to sleep alone in my bed, even up until the age of 18. I was scared that a robber was going to come in and steal from us. I had all these crazy paranoias. ... My little sister would fall asleep. She was 12, and I would literally run across the house when my parents would fall asleep at the age of 18, all the way up until 20 when I'd come home from college, and pick her up and run across to the other side of the house and put her in my bed. … I would carry her across the house to sleep with me because I thought that it would help prevent us from getting robbed. Such a weird thing to do but I was really scared.