Orange County’s Yumi Nu Graces ‘Sports Illustrated’ Swimsuit Cover

The singer-songwriter is the first Asian curve model on an SI cover, and the niece of model Devon Aoki and DJ Steve Aoki
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Sports Illustrated revealed its 2022 “class” of cover models for the annual Swimsuit Issue Monday and Orange County’s own Yumi Nu is one of the lucky four.

While Nu, who is of Dutch and Japanese descent, already made history as the first Asian curve model to be included in the yearly edition in 2021, making the cover this time around came as a shock to the 25-year-old.

As the New York Post reports, Nu—who is the granddaughter of Benihana founder and Cannonball regular Rocky Aoki, and the niece of DJ Steve Aoki and fellow model Devon Aoki—showed up to her agent’s office last week for a routine interview only to SI boss MJ Day popped out with other staffers and a film crew to surprise her with the news.

“I was processing the surprise of it not being a real interview and that this was actually the SI cover reveal,” she told the paper. “I could not speak. I had full body chills. I was shaking, I was crying. They really got me good.”

Nu, who was born in New Jersey but moved to Newport Beach with her family at 14 said the first person she shared the news with was her boyfriend.

“He was freaking out. He was like, ‘If I were a teenage boy, I’d have a poster of you in my room. Now I’m dating an SI cover star.’ “

Despite her boyfriend’s glee, Nu says becoming a model wasn’t exactly a dream of hers.

“I wasn’t sure where the [modeling] industry was headed,” she explained. “I think I was a size 10 then, and the only people working were either a size 2 or a size 14. I really had my sights set on music, but then the industry left more room for me to be a part of it. Once the trends of inclusion came upon us, it was easier for me to make a living and a career out of it. It was like, ‘Oh, there are so many possibilities, and there are no bounds on what anyone can do now.’”

The other cover models SI revealed Monday are Kim Kardashian, “one of the most powerful women in the business,” Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Ciara, and 74-year-old model and renowned dietician Maye Musk. Maye is also the mother of space-explorer and Twitter-botherer Elon Musk.

(Yu Tsai, Sports Illustrated)

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