Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Tampa native a finalist in Hawaiian Tropic model search

Danielle Erb never would have entered a bikini contest.

So the ad she saw on Facebook to become the "New Face of Hawaiian Tropic" was intriguing.

"I researched the new products and read all the rules and it was asking for girls to prove that they are more than just a pretty face," said Erb, 22, a recent grad of James Madison University. "I'm big on protecting my skin and I liked that they were looking for a spokesperson based on more than just your outward appearance."

After nearly 30 years of trotting out babes in barely anything, the sunscreen and tanning product company decided to hang up the pageant — which hasn't happened in the U.S. since 2008.

As a part of the culture change, new products that focus on moisturizing and quick absorption have been rolled out.

The woman who best embodies everything Hawaiian Tropic now stands for — beauty, confidence, style, enjoying the sun and keeping skin healthy, according to the contest information.

Erb thought she fit the bill.

So she entered the contest, which began on May 6, and was surprised at the speed at which she received an email. The winner gets a trip to Hawaii and will become a spokesperson for the brand, doing interviews and shooting an ad campaign.

"They told me I was in the running and I just freaked out," said the Tampa native, who went to Plant High. She went through a phone interview she can't quite remember, and later she was told she'd made the Top 5 finalists.

"My family and friends are all over it," Erb said. "They are my biggest cheerleaders. ... now that the video clips are out they keep reporting it on Facebook. The support is amazing."

On June 22, the top five were flown to New York where they stayed at the St. James Hotel in Manhattan and got the royal treatment. Finalist videos were recorded and Erb was shocked at the commitment of the Hawaiian Tropic team to change its girls-in-bikinis image.

"They never once asked us to wear bikinis and they weren't even wanting us to show our midriffs during our photo shoots," she said.

Erb said her opponents were all nice, down-to-earth girls. But she was born for this job.

"Being from Florida, I know about the importance of protecting your skin. It's second nature for me," she said. "When I was little my mom would put zinc on my face and I'd pretend I was Pocahontas."

Her competition is from as far away as California and as near as Orlando.

People will vote online at newfaceofhawaiiantropic.com, and the winner will be announced in August.

"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity," Erb said. "If I were to actually win, I'd be even more speechless."