In a world that suddenly seems overpopulated with “supermodels,” there’s only one Shanina Shaik; her striking hazel eyes casting a seductive gaze, her flawless skin a glowing bronze with a dusting of freckles, the unmistakable exoticism that sets her apart from the rest of the beautiful people.

Despite her booming success, Shaik’s diverse background — an Australian-Lithuanian mother and a Pakistani-Saudi father — wasn’t always an asset. While her striking features are celebrated and desired by designers today, early on in her career, her uncertain ethnicity was a bit of a hindrance.

“At times being so mixed hindered me from getting jobs as clients couldn’t place me in a ‘category’ of, “which I thought was absurd and really unfortunate.” Thankfully those days are behind her, and Shaik is now one of the most coveted and recognizable faces in the industry. “Now, I’m happy to be an inspiration to young girls who may not fit into one specific category.”

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