Kelsey Merritt is living every model’s dream. From being cast as the first-ever Filipina to walk for the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show to being the newest face of Bulgari Parfums, the future could only get brighter for the 24-year-old beauty.
This summer, the Filipina model is back in the pages of Sports illustrated’s coveted swimsuit issue for the third year in a row! According to SI editor MJ Day, Kelsey is the perfect combination of beauty and brains. “Kelsey’s pride in being the first Filipino model in the SI Swimsuit issue is matched by her commitment to sustainability and her dedication to using her platform to inform and educate,” she writes. “We are so excited to get to work with a woman who is beautiful inside and out.”
In the same article, Kelsey opened up about her humble beginnings working as a model to partly pay for her college education at Ateneo de Manila University. “I’m from a small town in the Philippines called Pampanga. I would go to Manila with my friends; go to open castings for fashion shows,” she says in a short video interview. “Filipino was my first language but I grew up speaking English.”
“People always think I’m from America, but I’ve never been to America before I was 18,” the model reveals. “It’s taken a lot of time to get to where I am, and I’m proud of that journey.”
Kelsey for Preview's February 2016 cover story
Back in 2015, Preview did a video with Kelsey driving back to her hometown in Pampanga. Apart from showing us where to eat like a local and where to take IG-worthy OOTDs, she also talked about missing homecooked Filipino food and the struggles of being a teenager modeling in a foreign country. She even taught us a few words in Kapampangan with fellow models Jana Stuntz and Samantha Gomez!
Congratulations on your Sports Illustrated feature, Kelsey! We couldn’t be any prouder!