Irina Shayk

///
1 min read

Irina Valeryevna Shaykhlislamova was born 6 January 1986 and she is known as Irina Shayk, she is a Russian model who received international recognition in 2007 when she became the face of Intimissimi lingerie. She also had appearances in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, and was the first Russian model to grace its cover in 2011. 

Shayk was born in Yemanzhelinsk, Soviet Union, to a Volga Tatar father, Valery Shaykhlislamov, a coal miner, and a Russian mother, Olga, a kindergarten music teacher. Her surname literally means “Islamic scholar” (Shaykh al-Islam). She has stated that she inherited her looks from her father and that people often mistake her for being South American: her father was dark skinned, because he was Tatar, and sometimes Tatars can look Brazilian – she got her light eyes from her mother. She has one sibling, a sister named Tatiana.

Shayk started playing piano at age six. At age nine, she enrolled in a music school and studied there for seven years, both playing the piano and singing in the choir, since her mother wanted her to study music. Her father died of complications of pneumonia when she was 14, leaving her family with little money and forcing her mother to work two jobs to provide for the family. 

After high school, Shayk studied marketing but later instead chose to enter a beauty school with her older sister. While there, she was noticed by a person from a local modeling agency who was struck by her beauty. She was urged to participate in the “Miss Chelyabinsk 2004” beauty contest and she won. 

Irina is helping a maternity hospital in her hometown of Yemanzhelinsk. She and her sister helped rebuild the children’s ward of the local hospital, and now Shayk raises money on behalf of a Russian charity, Pomogi, which provides care to sick children. Shayk is its official ambassador for its charity in Russia.