This year's Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue features a real Philly girl next door.
Doylestown's Samantha Hoopes is one of 12 rookies - meaning, new to the SI swimsuit scene - in the issue's 50th anniversary edition.
"People actually know my name now," Hoopes, 23, said in a telephone interview while on a Malibu Beach in between taking pictures for the Latin version of Esquire magazine. "It's all been very unreal."
In the sure-to-be-a-collectors-item issue, Hoopes tapped her inner temptress in a breast-baring black one-piece bathing suit, a one-shouldered version of the white fishnet suit worn in the 1978 issue by Cheryl Tiegs (also featured in the "Legends" portion of this issue) that catapulted her into supermodeldom. Landing the swimsuit issue usually is part of the springboard to modeling fame: Christie Brinkley, Kathy Ireland, Heidi Klum, and Tyra Banks appeared in Sports Illustrated early in their modeling careers.
"It's all amazing," said Hoopes.
Hoopes was shot in a number of bathing suits, although she's pictured one other time in the issue nude - well, almost. An artist painted on her a rainbow bikini - replicating the same Ipanema Wear one Elle MacPherson wore in a 1989 issue - for the magazine's 8-page body-paint spread shot in St. Lucia.
If the SI spread doesn't prove Hoopes' potential, the former field hockey player is also a 2014 Guess Jeans model and the face of the chic sportswear label's spring lingerie campaign.
Late last week, a larger-than-life Guess ad featuring Hoopes went up on the side of Los Angeles' City National Bank building at the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Doheny Drive.
"She's just a really beautiful American girl and that is what consumers like to see," said Victor Del Toro, Hoopes' agent at Elite Models. "Samantha is a throwback to the beautiful 1990s supermodel."
Guess founder Paul Marciano is credited with discovering some of fashion's top faces, including the late Anna Nicole Smith and actress Amber Heard. Jason Lewis - he played Smith Jerrod, Samantha's hot boyfriend on Sex and the City - was once a Guess model, as was France's former first lady, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.
Hoopes grew up in Doylestown, the youngest of five girls. As a tween she hung out in local malls from Oxford Valley to Willow Grove. Even then she wanted to be a Guess model.
"Now my friends believe me," she said. "I used to walk through the mall and tell them that all of the time."
When Hoopes was 14 and a freshman at Central Bucks High School East, her mother enrolled her in the Barbizon school of modeling in Ardmore. She was always kind of tall, said mom Theresa, and "I just wanted her to learn how to speak without using the word like so much."
The staff at Barbizon liked Hoopes' wholesome look, so they started sending her on scouting trips to New York modeling agencies. Hoopes eventually signed with Click Model Management, modeling in a Boscov's campaign and as the cover girl for Simon & Schuster's young adult novel series Mob Princess.
She took a break from modeling when she graduated high school and enrolled at Pennsylvania State University, where she majored in kinesiology - she wanted to be a gym teacher. Then she changed her major to business.
Homesick, Hoopes moved back to Doylestown two years ago and started taking classes online. Then early last year, she decided to go back to modeling and sent photos to Elite Model Management's New York office. She landed a gig modeling swimwear for Khloe and Kim Kardashian's Beach Bunny Swimwear collection.
By fall, Del Toro took the test shots of Hoopes that landed her the Guess Lingerie campaign. Marciano met her and liked her so much he made her one of his Guess Jeans models, eventually urging Sports Illustrated to consider her for the swimsuit issue.
Although many of the swimsuit issue pictures were shot at the Jersey Shore, Hoopes was photographed in St. Lucia shortly after Thanksgiving. On Feb. 10 - Hoopes' birthday - she learned she had made the final cut.
"I never would have dreamed all of this would have happened," said Hoopes, who hopes to get into acting. "This is all pretty incredible."