Hannah Davis, virginia gardner,nude, Maxim USA , March 2016
Hannah Davis likes to win. After years of struggling to make a name for herself in the notoriously high-turnover world of modeling, the former tennis champion is now squarely front and center—on our TVs, on our newsstands, and in the tab-loids. In the past year she became the star of arguably the most controversial swimsuit cover of all time, the popular host of the successful Lifetime spin-off Project Runway: Junior, re-created the iconic role of the girl in the Ferrari in last year’s National Lampoon reboot, Vacation, and captured the heart of her fiancé, former Yankee and five-time World Series Champion Derek Jeter. Spend a minute with her and it’s obvious why the 25-year-old has risen to the top of her profession—and gotten one of America’s most enduring bachelors to retire from playing the field. We met at Long Island City’s Circus Warehouse—her choice—because she wanted to try aerial acrobatics. I arrived early, but she was even earlier, happily sitting in the waiting area without handlers like any twentysome-thing from the neighborhood, ready to start her Sunday hanging upside down. Even in casual workout clothes and no makeup, she is ridiculously beautiful. Her eyes are an unusual shade of blue-green, and her skin is the color of toasted sand. But what strikes you immediately is her warmth, her quick smile, her easy laugh. Eyeing the people spinning above us near the ceiling, without a net, I ask “Why trapeze?” hoping for a bit of reassurance from the former athlete. “I like to try new things,” she says with her slender arms crossed. “I thought this would be fun.” Our instructor, Summer Lacy, begins the lesson by showing us how to hold a trapeze bar, telling us to trust that our harnesses will work as we leave the comfort of earth. “I’m not a worrier,” Hannah says. “There’s no point. My philosophy is to let everyone else worry.” Davis’ parents moved to St. Thomas on their honeymoon and raised their three children with the same kind of centered island mentality that characterizes influencers like Obama and Rihanna. In St. Thomas, Hannah fell in love with tennis young. The same family who instilled a healthy perspective when it comes to worry also drove home the value of hard work and practice, which eventually led to her becoming nation-ally ranked in the top 5o of the USTA youth division. She grew up accustomed to long hours on the court running drills, repeating her serve and volley, getting better and better still. By age 12 though, scouts were already approaching her to model. She put them off until she was 14, when the thought occurred to her that a little modeling might pay for more court time. “I remember asking my mom, ‘If I get $2oo an hour, how many rackets could I have and how many lessons could I buy?’ That was really my idea of modeling
CABIN FEVER Virginia Gardner
is about to take o .
Stop Virginia Gardner at your own peril. No longer the teenage girl who got her start in Hollywood at age 16 playing wholesome characters in TV shows like Glee, Hart of Dixie, and The Goldbergs, Gardner, now zo, is all grown up, with a career that’s gaining major momentum. Her movie debut in the Michael Bay-produced 2015 time-travel thriller Project Almanac will soon be followed by back-to-back leading roles in three more films: the psychological thriller Tell Me How I Die, a teen comedy called Lit-tle Bitches, and the indie drama Goat, which deals with the brutality of fraternity hazing.
Given all the controversy surrounding fra-ternities and hazing rituals, what was it like being in Goat? Do you have any obser-vations about that aspect of male culture? I never went to college, and I don’t know much about fraternities other than what I’ve read and seen on the news. One article related hazing to Darwin’s theory about survival of the fittest—in order to succeed and fit in, people feel the need to assert dominance, and become overly aggressive. I think there’s probably a lot of pressure on guys, especially now with social media, to be hyper-masculine.
What kind ofwork do you want to do in the future? You’ve been written about as a pos-sible blockbuster sex symbol in the mak-ing. Do you want to play action roles? I just did this psychological thriller, Tell Me
What kind of superhero would you like to be? Look, costume, powers? I’ve always loved Catwoman’s costume. I don’t know if it gets more badass than that, or sexier. It would also be cool to try a female version of Iron Man.
How I Die, where I got to be really strong and do my first fight scene, which was really fun. I enjoy doing movies where I get to be physical. I got my black belt in tae kwon do when I was really young, so I love doing anything where I get to be active. Playing a superhero would be a dream.
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Do you train a lot? How often do you train? I box all the time. I like to hit things and get out all my aggression and feel really strong when I leave. I don’t look like the strongest person, and quite honestly I’m a klutz, but I leave boxing and feel like I can kick ass. Whether or not you look like you can kick ass, if you feel like you can kick ass, you probably can.
You left S acramento and moved to L.A. when you were 16 to start your career. People are so taken aback when I tell them that, but it wasn’t like I had free rein. I had a tracker on my phone. My parents checked in on me. I knew that if I screwed up I would be back home in four seconds flat. If anything, it made me independent and helped me grow up a little faster.
Did you feel vulnerable being an attractive young woman in Hollywood? I had to grow into being assertive. When I was younger, I was the most quiet and shy little girl that you would ever meet. In high school I came into myself, and when guys started to be into me I got more confident
and was like, “I’m the same girl you’ve known since I was nine, I just look a little more attractive now Take me seriously.” When you’re a pretty blonde, it’s hard to get the same respect, and I think sometimes you have to compensate by being more assertive and confident. Otherwise you’re not going to be taken seriously.
Text by MEG O’ROURKE Photographed by GILLES BENSIMON Styled by ISABEL DUPRE