She’s one of the most-in-demand models, but it hasn’t all been plain sailing for the stunning Shanina Shaik. Her darker skin and exotic looks made it hard for modelling agencies in Australia, where she grew up, to find her relatable. She also couldn’t find anyone to look up to. With her mixed heritage, the 27-year-old brunette bombshell’s mother is Lithuanian while her father has Saudi Arabian and Pakistani roots, she had early struggles finding her place in the modelling world. Not looking like the typical Aussie girl also meant she was a victim of bullying at school, in fact it got so bad she didn’t go to school for months.
However, the bumpy road and difficulty fitting in has also meant she’s become an amazing role model and spokesperson for girls hoping to fulfill their aspirations. According to Shaik, it all helped make her stronger and independent, especially as her mother, who has been a major driving force, was always there for moral support. Her Singapore-born father, who raised Shaik and her brother as Muslims, has always been supportive too and has respected her career choice, as he knows she will always value herself. "My father is very open to my job and understanding and he is grateful for the woman I have become,” she told “Emirates Woman.”
The Career Path
Melbourne-born and raised, Shaik has spoken out about being a shy child, and her mother felt modeling would help build her self-confidence. The 173cm-tall beauty, who showed an interest in fashion as a youngster by watching Fashion TV, started modelling when she was eight, doing catalogue work and appearing in a TV ad for Hyundai. After getting accepted into an accelerated programme when she began high school, Shaik quit modelling so she could concentrate on her schoolwork. Then by the age of 15, she was encouraged to enter the “Girlfriend” model competition. However, it was her participation in Australian reality show “Make Me A Supermodel” that started shaking up her career. Shaik went home as the runner-up, but a photo of her caught the attention of an agency in New York, and she was offered a contract.
By 2011, her third year, the hazel eyed model, who is now with IMG, had starred in a lingerie campaign for Intimissimi. A champion of fashion brands from her home country, she had also done work for Seafolly and RMK, as well as Macy’s, J. C. Penney and Bloomingdale’s. That year Shaik also scored a real breakthrough as she was chosen to walk in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, becoming the first part-Saudi model to do so. The only way was up from then on, with Shaik walking for Chanel’s pre-autumn 2012 collection. She then strutted for major brands like Stella McCartney, Tom Ford, Diesel and Oscar de la Renta during the 2012 autumn-winter Fashion Week. That same year, Shaik became the hot new Just Jeans ambassador, flying the flag for the brand until 2015, when Ashley Hart took over. She has also been chosen as an ambassador for Khloé Kardashian’s Good American line and Bonds. For the cosmetics industry, the gorgeous model has done a series of Sephora promotions and appeared in advertisements for Smashbox and L'Oréal.
Shaik has also graced the covers of some of the most renowned magazines, including “Cosmopolitan” and “W.” She has posed for international editions of “Vogue” and “Harper’s Bazaar” too. Always proud of her cultural heritage, she has appeared in “Vogue Arabia” and “Harper’s Bazaar Arabia,” helping the latter celebrate their 10th anniversary issue alongside Hind Salhi, a Moroccan, and Tunisian Hanaa Ben Abdesslem.
Behind The Scenes
Shaik’s star-studded weekend-long boho-style April wedding to Gregory Andrews (aka DJ Ruckus) on the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas, says a lot about her cool personality and style. The model, who has named Zimmerman, Givenchy, Tom Ford and Versace as her go-to designers, looked breathtaking in her custom-made off-the-shoulder sheer white lace gown by Ralph & Russo. Style-wise, she is inspired by Rosie Huntington-Whitely and Rihanna, while Adriana Lima, the girl crush who was very kind to her during her fist Victoria’s Secret show, has impacted her career path.
The LA-based sizzler caught the acting bug after starring in “The Mummy” alongside Tom Cruise and Sofia Boutella, so this may be an avenue she’ll pursue, and she has even mentioned Bollywood. Shaik, who has collaborated with Beach Bunny swimwear, is set to appear in “Model Squad,” an E! Entertainment series.
To stay in shape, Shaik enjoys mixing it up with kickboxing, Pilates, yoga and gym workouts. And while she does indulge in treats like chocolate chip cookie dough and chocolate ice cream, most of the time she is loading up on vegetables and proteins before shoots.
A dedicated supporter of charities Telethon and Youth Focus, she is interested in helping children overcome difficult issues.