Photo courtesy of Patrick Ta

Adriana Lima was born June 12, 1981 and  is a Brazilian model and actress, best known as a Victoria’s Secret Angel from 1999 to 2018, (being their longest-running model and named “the most valuable Victoria’s Secret Angel” in 2017), as a spokesmodel for Maybelline cosmetics since 2003 and for her Super Bowl and Kia Motors commercials. At the age of 15, Lima won Ford’s “Supermodel of Brazil” competition, and took second place the following year in the Ford “Supermodel of the World” competition before signing with Elite Model Management in New York City.

Lima was in Salvador, Brazil. Many sources state that “Francesca” is her middle name, but Lima herself denied this in an interview in 2010, and confirmed that her name is only Adriana Lima. Her parents are Nelson Torres and Maria das Graças Lima, a social worker. Her father left the family when she was six months old, and Lima was raised only by her mother. 

About her ethnicity, Lima has stated that she is an Afro-Brazilian of Portuguese, Swiss, Native Brazilian, Japanese, and West Indian ancestry (which classifies her as a Pardo Brazilian).

Lima speaks four languages: her native Portuguese, English, Italian, and Spanish.

Lima never thought about being a model, although she had won many beauty pageants in elementary school. However, a friend at school wanted to enter a modeling contest and did not want to enter alone, so Lima entered with her. Both sent in pictures, and the contest sponsor soon asked Lima to come out for the competition. Soon after, at the age of 15, she entered and finished in first place in Ford’s “Supermodel of Brazil” model search. She subsequently entered the 1996 Ford Models Supermodel of the World contest and finished in second place. 

Three years later, Lima moved to New York City and signed with Elite Model Management. After acquiring representation, Lima’s modeling portfolio quickly began to expand, and she appeared in numerous international editions of Vogue and Marie Claire.

Her first magazine cover was Marie Claire Brazil in September 1998. Her first Vogue cover was the Italian Vogue Gioiello in September 2000, on their 20th Anniversary issue. 

Lima is a devout Roman Catholic who attends Mass every Sunday. She believes that sex is for after marriage and that men have to respect that this is her choice. She also denounced abortion as a crime, and stated that she agrees with any teaching of the church. Lima is known to bring a Bible with her backstage before she goes onstage. She has also stated that, before she became a Victoria’s Secret Angel, she had wanted to become a nun. 

Lima does charitable work helping with an orphanage, “Caminhos da Luz” (Paths of Light), located in Salvador. She helps with construction to expand the orphanage and buys clothes for poor children in Salvador, Bahia. She appeared on Var mısın? Yok musun?, the Turkish version of Deal or No Deal, where her prize money went to a hospital in Istanbul for children fighting leukemia.