Get to know one of Sports Illustrated’s newest faces, Ebonee Davis, a Seattle native turned New Yorker who chats getting discovered, her philanthropic work, her competitive robotics days, epic game nights at her pad, and more.
What’s new, Ebonee?
I’m just enjoying myself and my career as I continue to work in New York, especially now that I have shot for Sports Illustrated.
Tell us about how you got into modeling.
I’ve had an interest in modeling since I was a young kid and started at a local modeling agency in Seattle. I went to an open call casting and they signed me that day. I remember being super nervous! From there, things sort of progressed and I moved to New York to take things to the next level and I’ve been here since. I realized I had to be in New York to reap the benefits of those opportunities. I guess my passion just came calling and I answered.
What were you doing before you modeled?
Before I started modeling I was in high school. By the time I was ready to move to New York I was studying at the University of Washington. I had to make the decision to drop out of college to fully pursue my dream.
What was your reaction when you heard you’d be in Sports Illustrated?
I couldn’t believe it! It seemed too good to be true. I felt reluctant to tell people. Not only because of the confidentiality contract [laughs] but because it didn’t seem real to me! I thought something terrible would happen, like they would change their mind about using me. So I just kept it to myself, but of course I was still so thrilled!
What was the shoot like?
I had a really good time. It took place in the Dominican Republic. The crew was amazing and I really enjoyed working with Justin, the photographer. He was so chill and nice, so I felt super comfortable.
What’s your favorite music to listen to when working?
I love all types of music but I especially like rap music when I’m modeling or working out out at the gym. It makes me feel great, like queen of the world!
Favorite spots in NYC?
I love Prospect Park, especially in summer. It’s so beautiful, and I love seeing people outside in the sun, having a good time. My favorite place to eat is Rusty’s Flavor. It’s a Jamaican spot in Harlem. It’s such a small place. They don’t have seating available, but the food is incredible! Totally worth the trip.
How does it feel to be one of six Rookie finalists?
It’s a dream come true. It’s a cliche thing to say, but accurate. I really feel like I’m in a day dream, or I’m living someone else’s life. It’s a humbling experience.
What are some previous modeling gigs you’re most proud of?
I’m really proud to be working with Victoria’s Secret PINK—that’s another huge accomplishment for me, and another reason I feel like I’m living in a dream! It’s amazing that I am doing exactly what I have dreamed of for so many years. I am also proud of a recent editorial I shot for Teen Vogue with my natural hair.
Most memorable casting call?
This is a hard one for me because I try to forget all of my castings as soon as I leave the room. It’s a strategy I learned to stop me from worrying about whether I would book certain jobs or not. As long as I do my best, all I can do is walk out knowing I gave it my all and move forward.
What can’t you go on a casting call without?
A good attitude. A love of people will get you far in life. It’s really important to walk into a casting and make the person you’re meeting with feels like you actually want to be there, like you’re actually engaged. And confidence! Of course, I couldn’t go on a casting call without confidence.
Tell us about the charity you’re launching.
I’m launching a summer reading camp for fifth-grade girls. The reading camp will take place in Brooklyn, New York and it’s geared toward young ladies who may not be doing well in school, mainly with literacy. The name of the charity is Honey Bees, a derivative of my adult book club name, Apis Mel, meaning honey bee in Latin. Honey bees are one of the few matriarchies found in nature.
We hear you’re interested in meditation.
I got introduced to mediation at a young age. My grandmothers are both Buddhist, so many practices associated with eastern religion and philosophy are familiar to me. However, I started seriously looking into it about a year ago, as a way to get some peace and clear my mind. I like to meditate in a corner of my bedroom. It’s a personal space and since very few people enter my room, the energy in there is my own, which is helpful.
We hear you’re quite the cook…
I do like to cook. I have a really great recipe for vegan curry that I love. Actually, there’s no real recipe. I came up with it in my head and somehow it worked. I’m not vegan, but I typically end up making vegan or vegetarian food when I cook for myself. I’m not big on handling meat, but I still love it. I do know how to fry chicken, and that’s one of my favorite things to cook, because it’s one of my favorite things to eat.
Tell us about the game nights you host at your apartment…
I like to have game nights at my house as a way to bring people together and have a good time. In New York, people get so busy, so it’s nice to be able to bring your friends together in one place. We have a great time playing games but the best part is the conversation.
What’s something we’d be surprised to learn about you?
I was on a robotics team in middle school, so I built robots out of Legos and programmed them to complete “missions.” I did this competitively.
Click HERE to vote for Ebonee for SI 2017 Rookie; voting is open until April 15.