‘Model Squad’: Runway star Shanina Shaik opens up about modeling, being bullied as a teen and her business aspirations

The multi-faceted beauty, Shanina Shaik, discusses the importance of female comradery and exploring passions outside of modeling.


                             ‘Model Squad’: Runway star Shanina Shaik opens up about modeling, being bullied as a teen and her business aspirations

‘Model Squad’ star Shanina Shaik is both a name and face you’ll not want to forget. The 27-year-old Pakistani beauty got her start in the industry as a runner-up on the Australian reality competition series, ‘Make Me a Supermodel’, in 2008. She since has become a veteran of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, has walked the runway for designers like Tom Ford, Chanel and Stella McCartney and has graced the covers of Cosmopolitan Australia, Vogue India, Harper's Bazaar Arabia and more. Shaik’s most recent project is of course ‘Model Squad’, E!’s newest two-week docu-series event following the careers and lives of some of the industry’s top models.

While many imagine the lives of models to be glamorous and elite, ‘Model Squad’ portrays the lifestyle in a different light. The series focuses less on the glamour and more on the hard work involved in this tenuous career. This was was something important to Shaik as she wanted viewers to get a real depiction of what their lives are truly like.  “After seeing the show, I would hope that the audience has an understanding of what our industry entails and for young girls to know it’s not so glamorous. Yes, we get to travel to beautiful places and wear high-end designer clothes, but it’s also a lot of hard work and dedication with a lot of risk and sacrifice as well.”

One of the most important and endearing aspects of the eight-part docu-series, however, is its emphasis on female friendship and comradery. While many of the women are competing for the same jobs, Shaik explains that focusing on her own career and being happy for the other women in the industry is vital to her success. In fact, fellow model and co-star Nadine Leopold is one of Shaik’s best friends and was even a bridesmaid at her wedding.

(L-R) Shanina Shaik, Jaimie Alexander and Nadine Leopold attend the Ninth Annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic at Liberty State Park  in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Veuve Clicquot)
(L-R) Shanina Shaik, Jaimie Alexander and Nadine Leopold attend the Ninth Annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic at Liberty State Park  in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Veuve Clicquot)

“If you are focusing on someone else’s career and are trying to take them down, you’re not going make it very far.  It's all about being positive and looking after each other and supporting one another because it’s a hard job. I think that’s really important and it’s so nice to have that with my girlfriends.” With that being said, Shaik’s journey hasn’t been easy as she was not only bullied as a child, but also as an adult, due to the color of her skin. Because of this, Shaik had other aspirations before becoming a model, wanting to help young girls that had been through similar hardships.

“I wanted to be a children’s psychologist, I love children and I enjoy psychology, but also I was bullied when I was in high school and it was a really hard and difficult time for me.  I am so grateful that I overcame that and had a great support system. So, I just really want to help younger children.” 

Shanina Shaik attends the 2018 CFDA Fashion Awards at Brooklyn Museum on June 4, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
Shanina Shaik attends the 2018 CFDA Fashion Awards at Brooklyn Museum on June 4, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

On that same note, Shaik believes it is crucial to have other hobbies and passions outside of modeling. Similar to the career of fellow model and fashion icon Rosie Huntington-Whitley, Shaik has aspirations to act, start a business and have a family. “I'm at a stage in my life where I would like to create a business for myself, like Rosie Huntington-Whitley, who I look up to not just as a model, but as a woman. I have also been working on acting, which I enjoy so much. While I do like to consistently work, right now, starting a business, doing collaborations and acting are all passions of mine.”

Consequently, ‘Model Squad’ couldn’t have come at a better time, giving the Shaik a tool to show her true emotions in front of the camera while also spreading positivity and inspiration to viewers. 

(L-R) Models Ping Hue, Hannah Ferguson, Nadine Leopold, Shanina Shaik and Devon Windsor from TV show 'The Model Squad' visit SiriusXM Studios on August 22, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
(L-R) Models Ping Hue, Hannah Ferguson, Nadine Leopold, Shanina Shaik and Devon Windsor from TV show 'The Model Squad' visit SiriusXM Studios on August 22, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

‘Model Squad’ premieres on September 4th at 8/7 CST on E!