Damaris Lewis may earn a living as one of Sports Illustrated’s hottest swimsuit models, but the 24-year-old Brooklyn-born, St. Kitts–rooted knockout is far from reliant on aesthetics to define her. The unusually down-to-earth soul model shares her thoughts on beauty, social media, personal responsibility and her plans for the future.
You aren’t just a model, you’re involved in so many other things as well…which projects interest you the most?
I love to dabble in many fields. The projects don’t interest me as much as the outcomes of them. By that, I mean the knowledge and experience I obtain during the course of each project. Whether it’s dancing on the Super Dome stage with 50,000 people watching, a photo shoot in the middle of nowhere, organizing a prom for a hundred kids or interviewing an athlete about his favorite clothing company, I’m able to take my blessings and create a great give-and-take balance as far as what my gifts give to people and what they bring back to me.
Was there ever a point at which you felt compromised as a woman and had to make a hard decision for the integrity of your career?
No, there was never a time where I felt compromised as a woman and had to make a hard decision. I got scouted when I was 13 and I told the agent “no.” A year and a half later with one year of high school under my belt and a mouth full of braces, I returned to Elite Model Management and told them I’d sign under the condition that I keep my morals, my sanity, and my childhood. I can count on one hand how many days of school I’ve missed in my life. I knew that my life at that age would influence everything in my path once I got older, and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t moving too fast.
With that being said, how do you feel about the media images of models and the impact they have on young women who are developing their identities and learning themselves?
I could have a three-hour-long conversation about that followup question. I think the biggest difference between the fashion industry back in the day versus now is that models of the “Supermodel” era looked like women. Grown women. As kids, we understood that we wouldn’t look like them for a long time, our bodies at least, and that was something to dream about and look forward to. With the rise of social media, we’re living in a very instant world. Young girls want to look like what they see and scroll past, right now. The patience in the processes of success and womanhood has grown very thin. I do believe the image of the “model” is slowly creeping back to the way it used to be, but confidence levels in the viewers are low when the social media turns off. My advice to young women is to be you. Every great woman in history is and was great because they were themselves. Even with lights and makeup and camera flashes, there was an essence of their inner being that came through when you saw them do their thing. Be confident in that being YOU is enough!
What can we look forward to seeing from Damaris Lewis in the future?
It’s more of a “look forward to knowing” rather than seeing. Look forward to knowing that there’s at least one woman out here who’s keeping her morals no matter what and intending on meeting every dream she has at the front door with a new set of keys to the next one! I’ll be continuing my charity work with the Garden of Dreams Foundation, Project Sunshine, and Pencils of Promise because I love helping kids more than anything. Also, I’ll be 25 in October, so it’s a special year for me! I’m very blessed, thanks for having me Upscale!
Damaris Lewis | model
Claim to fame: Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model, NBA Style Correspondent, Touring Dancer for Prince
Currently working on: Philanthropic Work and Several Modeling Campaigns
Words: Laconia Dean
Photo: Marilyn Model Management