Details About Valentina Sampaio, The First Transgender Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model

Photo: Instagram / Valentina Sampaio
Who Is Valentina Sampaio? Meet The First Transgender Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model
Entertainment And News

The 23-year-old supermodel was just named a 2020 Rookie by Sports Illustrated: Swimsuit, which hits newsstands on July 21. Valentina Sampaio is the first transgender model ever featured in the famous publication, and she could not be more excited.

“I was filled with so many emotions of happiness when I heard the news. The feeling was surreal," she told People in an exclusive interview. “To come from a space of fear and marginalization, to now being included in one of the most iconic magazines that truly embraces and celebrates diversity — it is life changing."

Who is Valentina Sampaio?

Valentina was born on December 10, 1996 in Aquiraz, a small fishing town in northern Brazil. Valentina said that she “always felt like a girl.”

Although she has not revealed when she transitioned or what her name was before choosing to be called Valentina, she did say that her mother and father “were always supportive and are very proud” of her choice to transition. 

RELATED: Meet Valentina Sampaio, Victoria's Secret First Transgender Model

How was Valentina Sampaio discovered?

At just 16 years old, Valentina was discovered by a makeup artist and signed with a modeling agency in São Paulo shortly after. She walked her first runway show in November 2016 at São Paulo Fashion Week. 

Valentina Sampaio's L'Oreal short film.

Another one of Valentina’s dreams came true after L’Oreal produced a short film about her and released it on International Women’s Day. She then became a L’Oreal brand ambassador.

In her interview with Vogue Paris, the leggy brunette said one of the things she hoped to achieve that year was to “ become an ambassador for L’Oréal Paris.” Looks like she can check that huge accomplishment off her list!

Valentina Sampaio's Vogue Paris Cover.

When asked what it was like to be the first openly transgender model to appear on the cover of Vogue Paris in their March 2017 issue, Valentina gushed, “It feels incredible. I'm very happy and proud. It's honestly a dream come true. Vogue Paris has always been and continues to be a very strong and inspiring reference for me.” 

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She also appeared on the cover of Vogue Brasil and Vogue Germany the same year. 

Valentina Sampaio's Victoria's Secret ad. 

Valentina Sampaio was spotted at the casting call for the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in 2018. Unfortunately, she was not hired for the show. Around the same time, Victoria’s Secret was being heavily criticized for their lack of inclusion and diversity in their shows and as a brand as a whole.  

In 2019, Valentina posted a photo of herself with the caption “Backstage click @vspink,” which indicated she was working with the brand.

In 2019, Sampaio told Elle via email, "This represents a victory for society, not just the trans community but for all people who are currently underrepresented in fashion. We are experiencing a moment, an evolution, and it is a positive one. Brands are finally learning and catching up to the importance of inclusivity and diversity. It is hugely important moment not only for myself, but my community and beyond."

RELATED: Meet Brooks Nader — The 22-Year-Old Winner Of The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue Model Search

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Olivia Jakiel is an editor and writer who covers celebrity and entertainment news.