In an interview with the New York Post, the 25-year-old half Dutch half Japanese Nu revealed that the magazine Sports Illustrated surprised her with the cover reveal. She thanked the magazine for promoting inclusion and body diversity.
“I could not speak. I had full body chills. I was shaking, I was crying. They really got me good,” she said after being informed of the honor.
The cover of the swimsuit issue is a result of her being featured in Vogue's September issue the previous year. She was also featured on the cover of Vogue Japan this past April.
“It's amazing. I'm on cloud nine. This is nothing I could prepare for. It's unexpected. I feel like we're in a place right now where people are making space for more diversity on magazine covers,” Nu stated.
“It's a big time for Asian-American people in the media. I know I play a big role in representation in body diversity and race diversity, and I love to be a role model and representative of the plus-size Asian community,” she said.
Nu started modeling at the age of 12 and then began singing at the age of 15 when she thought about whether the modeling industry could be changed to be more accommodating of her body type.
“I wasn't sure where the [modeling] industry was headed. I think I was a size 10 then, and the only people working were either a size 2 or a size 14,” stated.
“I really had my sights set on music, but then the industry left more room for me to be a part of it. Once the trends of inclusion came upon us, it was easier for me to make a living and a career out of it. It was like, ‘Oh, there are so many possibilities, and there are no bounds on what anyone can do now,' ” she said.
Plus-sized models Ashley Graham and Hunter McGrady have appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue as well. Playboy also set new records in 2021 with its feature on plus-sized model Hayley Hasselhoff.
Its Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue will feature a wide range of women including Kim Kardashian, Ciara, and Elon Musk's mom, Maye Musk. The issue will also feature Ladies of the WNBA.
In July, Sports Illustrated also featured transgender model Leyna Bloom on the cover of the swimsuit edition.