top of page

Haley Kalil: Beauty Model, Science Activist & Found of the Nerd Heard

Updated: Dec 19, 2022

We don’t often associate beauty models with science, technology, engineering and mathematics….until now. Meet Haley Kalil, a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model who is launching “The Nerd Herd” – an organization that empowers women to love their bodies and minds, while working to educate the new generation of women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

A cause Haley is passionate about as an accomplished scientist herself (who earned a collegiate 4.0 in Biomedical Sciences & Psychology, with a minor in Chemistry). Haley will be releasing a collection of Nerd Herd loungewear later this year, donating 100% of the proceeds from the first launch to organizations like Black Girls Code that help get young women involved in STEM. Miami Living chatted with Haley to learn more.

Click below to launch slideshow >

Words by Markin Abras | Images by Nick Suarez, Christian Michel & Serek Kettela

Miami Living: I understand that Miami was the birthplace of your modeling career. How did that exactly happen?

Haley Kalil: Miami holds a special place in my heart because it was the first place I ever modeled. I was a lab nerd living in my home town of Minnesota, who had recently graduated with a double major in Biomedical Sciences and Psychology with a minor in Chemistry. I was drawn to the study of cellular tissue and medicine. While studying for my MCAT and preparing to apply to medical school, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit held their first ever open casting call. I always wanted to be a model but I never knew how! As a nerdy kid growing up in Minnesota... It seemed like an impossible dream.

Thankfully, I built up the courage and submitted a casting video to the iconic SI Swimsuit. To my surprise, they invited me to the casting in NYC. After the casting, I was chosen as one of only 15 women to walk in Miami Swim Week. This was the birth of my modeling career. I’ll never forget walking that runway in front of what felt like all of Miami... so nervous but also so excited for what the future could hold. Who knew that runway would be the start of an entirely new life.

Click below to launch slideshow >

ML: So what happened after that memorable runway walk?

HK: I went on to shoot for the SI Swimsuit issue and eventually was named co-winner of the first ever SI Swimsuit open casting call. I was signed to my first modeling agency. I went on to shoot with brand after brand, that I had previously only dreamed of working with! I never would have guessed that four years later, I would have just finished shooting my 4th year with SI Swimsuit and working as a full-time model.

ML: How did you manage to come up with “The Nerd Herd” with such a busy schedule?

HK: Because science holds such a special place in my heart, I wanted to use my platform to give back. I had grown my platform from a mere 50 followers to over 380K on Instagram. I never imagined I would reach so many people – especially so many young women. That’s when I started The Nerd Herd.

ML: Tell us about The Nerd Herd project and what it means to you.

HK: The Nerd Herd is my passion project. It is a way I am hoping to give back to a community I know and love dearly. Science was once my entire life. I came from a world where I was respected for my mind... and entered a world where I was respected for my body... and it made me aware of the incredibly stringent rules that have been placed on women in the sciences.

Society tries to place women into categories. If you embrace your intellectual abilities, you can’t embrace your body and vice versa. Society puts women in boxes based on their choice of swimsuit or the length of their skirt... but women are incredibly multifaceted and embracing both one’s body and one’s mind at that same time should not be deemed inappropriate.

Click below to launch slideshow >

ML: What are some of the objectives you are looking to achieve with The Nerd Herd?

HK: I want a world where female doctors can post a bikini photo without being shamed. I want a world where a female engineer does not have to worry about posting vacation photos because her sundress is short. I want a world where a female attorney doesn’t wonder if wearing the wrong top will lose her the respect of her coworkers. I started The Nerd Herd as a safe place for women to express every piece of who they are and embrace the multidimensional nature of their bodies and minds.

ML: Besides your modeling, what are some of the things you are working on?

HK: When I’m not busy modeling, I have been working hard on a line of Nerd Herd loungewear that will launch in Summer 2021. With 100% of the proceeds from the first launch donated to organizations that help get young women involved in STEM at an early age – organizations like Black Girls Code. I have always been passionate about the sciences. It gave me meaning and purpose. I want other young women to feel the same. I want them to embrace the power of their minds, and hopefully they will be the next generation of astronauts, doctors, engineers, and researchers that change the world. And, I will work tirelessly until they are able to do so without all the current restrictions society places on women in these fields.

ML: Your meaning and purpose are powerful intentions. They are indeed needed!

HK: It’s incredible for me to look back at this entire journey... a journey that began with a 60-second casting video on my tiny Instagram platform and a runway show in Miami. Every time I land in Miami to work on a campaign or shoot for a magazine cover.. or even, to shoot for SI Swimsuit for my 4th year.... I think of that runway. I think of my nerves. I think of my excitement. I think of how that girl had absolutely no idea what life had in store for her... because one post and a few steps on a runway in Miami changed my entire life.

Connect with Haley: Haley Kalil and The Nerd Herd

bottom of page