Getting to Know Camille Kostek, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Rookie Turned Cover Girl (2024)

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PEOPLE chatted with the dancer and rising model about her "late" start in the industry, #nevernotdancing social media platform and boyfriend Rob Gronkowski's Instagram skills


Brittany Talarico

Brittany Talarico

Brittany Talarico is PEOPLE's Deputy Style Director, where she oversees the brand's digital Style and Beauty coverage. This includes running lead on the Met Gala, which is among's top-trafficked red carpet events every year, interviewing the industry's top influencers (including all the Kardashian-Jenners), and breaking A-list celeb news (a New Jersey shore native, it is no surprise that her favorite interview ever was with Bruce Springsteen). Brittany is a style contributor to People Every Day Podcast and has represented the brand on national TV programs including Good Morning America and The CW's two TV specials on the British Royals. She joined PEOPLE from Cosmopolitan in 2013, where she was an Associate Editor.

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Published on May 8, 2019 04:24PM EDT

Getting to Know Camille Kostek, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Rookie Turned Cover Girl (1)

Spend 30 seconds with Camille Kostek, and you’ll feel like her best friend. The model, dancer and aspiring broadcast journalist has that type of infectious energy that draws you in instantaneously. And now she’s about to be household name thanks to her Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2019 cover.

Less than a year after she was discovered at the annual SI Swim Model Search casting, Kostek, who is a former New England Patriots cheerleader and girlfriend of retired Pats NFL star Rob Gronkowski, landed her debut cover as a rookie.

The rising star is focused on building her career around a platform of acceptance and kindness, which can be seen through her viral #NeverNotDancing social media platform, a hashtag which has encouraged people around the world to find joy in dance.

Below, we chatted exclusively with Kostek about body acceptance, her rise in the modeling space and boyfriend Rob Gronkowski’s Instagram skills.

She Turned Down a Journalism Job After College to Pursue Modeling
CK: Right out of college I was offered a job with Saturday Night Football and I ended up turning it down because I really wanted to travel. I wanted to get into the modeling world and I wanted to live in L.A. That’s like a dream job straight out of college, but I wanted to explore other options.

SI Swim Has Always Been Her Dream
CK: I remember being a young girl and looking at these billboards, and you didn’t really see that many curvy women as you do now. There’s been such a wave of inclusivity and Sports Illustrated is definitely leading that shift. They have always been that magazine that I’ve been able to relate to. It wasn’t until I read SI Swim that I was like, ‘Wow, I love my freckles, I like my thighs, I like my curves.’ They’re showcasing these confident, sexy women in a way that I had never seen before. This has been a lifetime dream. I’ve always wanted it, but I just didn’t know how to get it.

She Faced Body Adversity as a Model and Dancer
CK: There’s definitely been times when I’ve been on sets and I was the bigger model in the room, where they’re casting girls. It’s discouraging, it’s really, really hard to have thick skin through a lot of that stuff. The looks. The questions you get. But as soon as I changed my mind perception, my life literally changed. My love life changed, my day-to-day life changed, my self love with myself changed, my career started changing. The dynamic when I would walk into a room, even if I wasn’t the thinnest model in the room, changed. Confidence is everything, and the way you carry yourself, your posture, eye contact, all of that is such a big role in impressions, regardless of your size.

She Doesn’t Stress Herself Out Over Prepping for Bikini Photo Shoots
CK: In the past, I felt like I used to beat myself up a little more, just because it was hard to breakthrough. I would be like: ‘I want to drop 15 pounds in three weeks and lose an inch and a quarter off my thighs and my hips and my waist and do this and that.’ But that is so contradictory to why I wanted to be in Sports Illustrated. I wanted to be signed in these measurements. Because of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, I can be comfortable in my skin and rock who I am.

Her #NeverNotDancing Platform Started Organically
CK: I’m literally always dancing, I just am. Whether there’s music or not, and my friends were always filming it. And I’d always be like, ‘Wait that’s kind of cute, send it to me.’ And it ended up being this thing where I just started uploading it, and tagged it #nevernotdancing. Then my followers started tagging me in it, and then I had so many dance videos that I just kept posting them. It’s so fun. There are nothing but great things that come out of dancing. People are laughing, people are uncomfortable, it’s an ice breaker. It’s fun to see people giggling and wiggling. Babies, grandmas, football players. Everyone!

Rob Is an A+ Instagram Boyfriend
CK: I never thought he would do my photos. I thought I would get a little uncomfortable in front of him when he has to take my shots. But he does a good job. It’s easy, and he’s so supportive.

Getting to Know Camille Kostek, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Rookie Turned Cover Girl (2024)
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