Age is but a number and newly appointed 2024 Sports Illustrated Rookie Model winner/finalist Dr. Nina Cash is a shining example of an “encore career.” At age 57, Dr. Cash was named 1 of 7 winners who will all be featured in the 60th Anniversary issue of Sports Illustrated coming out in May 2024. Dr. Cash hopes to inspire and let the world know that it’s never too late and that exploring a new career at any age can be a beautiful thing!
As announced this past October, Sports Illustrated made the decision to declare all seven 2024 SI Swimsuit Rookie Models as winners for the upcoming 60th anniversary of the SI Swimsuit Issue that will be released in May 2024. Retired university associate dean, Dr. Nina Cash is breaking barriers and stereotypes by becoming this years oldest winning model at 57 years old, who also happens to be Filipino, diabetic and a pillar in her Long Beach community for her philanthropic work
What she considers her “encore career,” after retiring, becoming a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model was something she never thought possible after a certain age because of the industry’s infamous practice of not pursuing female models after reaching a certain age. Now after winning and gearing up for the illustrious upcoming SI photo shoot, she is ready to take on the modeling world and explore this new career path.
A wife, mother and daughter, Dr. Cash spent her life not only as a successful career focused woman but also giving back and providing for others. A firm believer in the adage “it’s never too late,” Dr. Cash earned her bachelor’s degree 10 years after high school, her master’s 20 years later and earned her doctorates in January of 2020. Having a passion for and earning her doctorates in educational leadership, higher education and adult learning, her students were all either returning adult learners wanting to explore higher education, and mentally disabled students/adults.
Along with teaching, Dr. Cash has also aligned herself with, continues to volunteer, and is on the board with the Get Safe organization who provide a variety of programs, including children’s anti-bullying trainings, workplace safety trainings, various safety programs for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, trauma-informed survivor programs, and law enforcement trainings.
Ahead, Beautify caught up with Dr. Cash to discuss being the eldest of the 7 finalists, how she has turned modeling into her “encore career,” what it means to not only be representing Asian culture (Filipino), women over 50, and we even asked about her current beauty go-to’s.
As the eldest finalist in the Sports Illustrated Rookie Model competition at 57, you’re redefining societal norms around age and beauty. How do you hope your groundbreaking achievement will influence perceptions of age?
I am blessed to be 57 years old. I believe that aging is a gift that not many are fortunate to receive. I also believe that beauty blossoms with age and exudes from the inside out!
The perception of age and beauty are seen through unique life lenses. I hope to provide a light that sparks a prism in these lenses, creating a kaleidoscope of inspiring colors and shapes that outshine the dark antiquated societal norms about age and beauty.
You’ve transitioned into modeling as an ‘encore career,’ which is incredibly inspiring. Could you share some insights about this transition? What motivated you to pursue modeling at this stage in your life, and how has your previous career influenced your approach to this new path?
I had the opportunity in June of 2022 to retire early from higher education. The pandemic had a lot to do with my ultimate decision. Like many people around the world, the pandemic made me contemplate my mortality and time left on this earth. So, when I was given the opportunity, I decided to close the educational chapter of my book of life.
I had modeled a bit in my early twenties, but never fully immersed myself into the business due to other priorities, marriage, and a child. A few months after I retired from the University, I decided to contact some previous agencies to dip my toes back into the modeling pool. I wanted to give it another whirl to see what would happen. Little did I know that I would be happily swimming in the deep end!
I believe that it is always “right timing”. In June of 2022, I shut my office door and walked out of the University into retirement. A year later, in July of 2023, I was walking onto one of the most iconic runways in the world, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Show. – Oh, what a difference a year makes!
I am really enjoying my “encoreering”, thank you for asking this question!
As a proud representative of the Asian (Filipino) community, how do you aim to use your platform to highlight and celebrate your heritage? Are there specific cultural aspects or stories you wish to bring to the forefront through your modeling career?
I am very proud to be Filipino and part of the Asian community. Having the opportunity to add to what has already been contributed by many Filipinos, will be an honor.
One of the things I would like to do is celebrate groundbreaking Filipino Americans throughout US history. (e.g., Larry Itliong, labor leader, who led the walkout that marked the beginning of the Delano Grape Strikes.)
Representing women over 50 in an iconic sports publication is a powerful statement. What message do you hope to send to women in this age group? How do you think your presence in Sports Illustrated can impact their views on beauty, aging, and pursuing new opportunities?
In the past, women in their 50’s with gray hair equated to being unsexy, old, weak, elderly, frail, retired, “someone’s grandma”, and the list goes on. Conversely, men with gray hair were and are perceived as wise, full of experience, sexy, and respected.
I am not the first woman to decide to naturally go gray, nor will I be the last. So at this time, having the platform of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Magazine and support of MJ Day, Editor in Chief, and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit family, I am happy to say that I’ve “gone gray and still slay” and so can YOU! — Time is going to pass regardless of what you are doing or not doing. SO DO IT … start your “encoreer”!
Can you share 3 of your favorite skincare products you use on the daily?
- Cetaphil cleanser
- Oxy cleansing pad
- Retinol moisturizer cream