StyleList talked with the 31-year-old all-American stunner about her sex symbol status, beach bag essentials, and small-screen ventures.
StyleList: You're working on a new television project. Tell us about it.
Marisa Miller: I'm really involved with the USO and the military, and I get a lot of letters from servicemen and women. I wanted to do something to give back and show appreciation. It's an unscripted show, but I'm not allowed to say much more.
SL: Do you have a personal relationship with the military?
MM: My uncle and grandfather served in the marine corps. And I went to Guantanamo Bay on the USO tour, where I was taken aback by the dedication of the troops.
I work with Harley-Davidson, and last November, for military appreciation month, we did a photo campaign based on 1940s pinups from WWII. We made posters and calendars, and the reaction was crazy. Some guys wanted to use the photos to paint on the sides of their warplanes. I sent posters to the servicemen and they sent pictures with them holding the posters in Iraq. It blows me away how appreciative they are.
SL: What's it been like making the jump to television?
MM: I think I've found my niche. I was always surprised at how successful my modeling career has been and that was something I never anticipated. I've been on talk shows and late night, and I felt like everything opened up for me. I like being able to connect with fans and be more of a personality, not just a photo.
SL: You've teamed with Cosmopolitan for the Practice Safe Sun campaign. Now that you've sworn off tanning beds, what are your favorite fake-tanning products?
MM: Before a big job, I use Jimmy Coco to spray tan and it's flawless. When I don't have access to him, I'm a huge fan of the gradual-tanning lotions. Jergens has one that I like and Nivea. Ten years ago self-tanners were really orange and not that easy to use, but now the products are so amazing you don't have to put yourself at risk for a tan.
SL: You live in Santa Cruz, Calif., so you're at the beach all the time. What are your beach bag must-haves?
MM: Obviously sunscreen. And I use the beach as an opportunity to tie my hair in a bun, put in conditioner, a mask, or UV oil protectant, and let it sit in there. I always have an umbrella and little speakers for your iPod. I bring hummus, veggies, fruit, water, and other healthy stuff that doesn't have sodium or carbonation.
SL: What's the most embarrassing song on your iPod playlist?
MM: My husband loves hip-hop, so the only thing he would flip by is Lady Gaga and any girl-power hits. I always look around on the beach and see if it's a family crowd or whatever and try to be the good DJ. Reggae always works well.
MM: I've been trying to stay away from chemical products, especially now that I'm working with breast cancer and skin cancer organizations. I have peach fuzz everywhere, and I used to use hair-removal creams, but now I use an electric Remington hair trimmer.
Laser is really good on dark hair for underarms and bikini and all of that, because then you never have to worry about it. It's kind of expensive, but if you're someone who needs that, it works very well.
SL: You were named FHM's Sexiest Woman in the World and have received similar accolades. How does that feel?
MM: I get really shy. I know that's weird to have a model say she is shy, but I don't look at myself as a supermodel, and all of my friends back home would tell you I'm the same girl they've grown up with. I just try to stay grounded. So when I hear that, it's amazing and I'm super flattered, but I get shy about it because I don't think of myself that way.
SL: You're an avid surfer. We hear you're designing your own board.
MM: I've designed a board for stand-up paddle boarding [SUP], which is a great workout and great for someone like my sister, who is terrified of waves and surfing, but still wants to enjoy the ocean. I developed a board line with Surf Tech for a woman's body because boards are often so heavy you need a guy to carry it to the water. I like being independent, so we did a board that's really light, really stable, a bit wider, and really easy to use.
SL: What else do you have planned this summer?
MM: My husband has an old 1955 Volkswagen bus and we're going to take it down the coast of California. We're starting in Santa Cruz and ending up in San Diego. We're going to surf and camp and stay in cheap hotels and keep it really simple. I'm packing a backpack instead of a suitcase. I'm really looking forward to it!
Read more exclusive tips from Marissa Miller, including diet and workout advice.