IN CONVERSATION WITH OLIVIA PONTON
Olivia Ponton debuted as a Sports Illustrated Swim Rookie for the class of 2022 and will be gracing the pages of the magazine once again in 2023. 2023 is proving to be a big year for Olivia, who will also be achieving a bucket list item when her first campaign with Victoria’s Secret Pink unveils.
Olivia, last year we’ve been able to see your debut as a Sports Illustrated Swim Rookie for the class of 2022. Tell us more about this exciting experience.
Being a part of the Sports Illustrated family has been something that I have dreamed of since I was a little kid. When I first got the call that I was going to be a Rookie, I felt so blessed and overcome with emotion. And the entire experience has felt that same way. The first time I shot for them I was 19 years old and I traveled to Montenegro where we shot for 12 hours straight. Not only was it an amazing experience all around, but we got to shoot on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
You’ll be gracing the pages of the famous magazine once again this year. How exciting is it to be a part of a Sports Illustrated Swim magazine not only once, but twice?
It’s been great getting to form actual friendships with the other girls in the issue and become family with the Sports Illustrated team. Everyone is very inclusive and encouraging. Being around so many strong powerful women really lifts you up and that energy just organically rubs off on you.
You are a NudeStix investor and collaborator, with your products being available in ULTA stores worldwide. Why did you decide to become an investor in this company particularly?
I really loved how easy their make-up was initially. Their products are very user friendly and it’s simple to learn how to use the best for different skin types. I am also always on the go, so having a product that I can slip into my bag and put on with my fingers is something that is incredibly useful.
Recently, you sat as a panelist for NYFW: The Talks ‘The Long-Term Luxury of Sustainability’ discussion and are a member of the DNC’s Creator Counsel. What makes being a panelist on such an important topic so important to you?
Speaking out on topics that are important to me is something that I have found myself more and more inclined to do lately. I’ve began realizing what is ultimately important to me and I feel empowered to share my experiences and set the stage to allow others to feel empowered and do the same.
2023 is proving to be a very big year for you. You’ll be achieving a bucket list item when your first-ever Victoria’s Secret Pink campaign unveils. What makes working with Victoria’s Secret a bucket list item for you? Why have you always wanted to work with them?
Since I was young, I have always looked up to the classic Victoria’s Secret Angels that we all grew accustomed to watching during their annual fashion show. It feels surreal to now be able to work with their team. I literally have to pinch myself every time I walk on set. It is definitely a goal I have always aspired to achieve and now seeing myself in their stores and on their website is wild. There are truly no words to describe the feeling. Working with their team is like working with family. It’s very refreshing to work with such creative and exhilarating people.
As a young, influential woman, your social media allows you to communicate with a large audience. How are you using your social platforms to raise awareness on important topics? Which topics are your main focus on social platforms?
Right now, my main focus is ocean conversation and speaking out for the LBGTQIA+ community. I am also involved with the DNC and am vocal on all relevant political issues, especially as we approach an election year. I try my best to use my platform to educate young people of what is going on in these communities and how they too can help.
What do you count as your biggest accomplishment from your social media posts?
Coming out on social media was one of the biggest steps I have taken. It has been such a privilege to create a community around my story and give others a place where they too can feel accepted, heard and connected with. I hope that my content gives others the permission and empowerment to be themselves and embrace who they truly are.
Olivia, you love ocean so much that you have partnered with the 4Ocean organization. Tell us more about this partnerships and what are some of the activities everyone could take part in?
First and foremost, educating yourself around how we impact the different ecosystems in the world is a crucial part to getting involved. Building awareness and understanding of how our day-to-day activities affect the oceans is a key to being more mindful of activities that can positively make a change.
In my partnership with 4Ocean, we hosted a beach clean-up, which was truly eye opening. You would be shocked to see how much debris and trash is along our coast when you actually look for it. There are so many ways to get involved with 4Oceans, from simply purchasing their bracelets to participating in their beach clean-ups.
I also am involved in Coral Gardeners, which is a reef restoration organization that is based out of Tahiti. I have been lucky enough to travel to plant coral with them and see the work that they are doing. It is absolutely amazing. There are of course ways to get involved with them that don’t require traveling to Tahiti, like their ‘Coral Adoption Program’, which makes a great gift by the way.
You also actively support other organizations, like non-profits The World Harvest Food Bank, GLAAD and Paw Works. What makes giving back something you are passionate about?
From a young age, my family instilled the value of giving back and it is something I have carried through into my adult life. For me, being able to give back not only through hands-on work, but also through my platform by encouraging others to do the same is very important. Being able to share my positive experiences, advocate for others and support others is something that I plan to continue to do throughout my career, wherever that may take me.
interview by JANA LETONJA @janaletonja
talent OLIVIA PONTON @olivia.ponton
photography EVAN MURPHY @evan.murphy
styling BRANDON GARR @brandonmgarr
mua FAITH VILLICANA @faithvillicanamua
production JOEY WHITLEY @joeywht
editor TIMI LETONJA @timiletonja