An interview with Shiva Safai
It’s not easy to start a successful modeling career in Los Angeles. This town has lots of good looking people, many of them dreaming about having acting and modeling careers, what is your story? How did you become a successful model?
Honestly, I kind of fell in to it. I never thought it would be something I ended up doing. Michael Castello is a very dear friend and talented designer. One day he asked me to do a runway for charity, and then he wanted me to do the shoots as well. It just kind of started like that. It just organically happened.
Did your family always support you?
Yes. My family has been great; they have always supported anything I wanted to do. Whether it was moving to the States at a very young age or opening up my own business, they have supported me.
Yes, you have another side—being a business woman.
Yes! I was in my early twenties when I started a business.
What did you learn from being a business woman?
I started working for a company that was doing background checks, and in a couple of years, I decided I wanted to do it on my own. It was not easy at all. There have been times when I’ve really wanted to quit, but the support again—from my family—they are always making sure that I follow my dreams. Not everything comes easily. Sometimes you have to work hard for it. I’ve learned a lot through this process. If you work hard enough, you can achieve anything; that’s really important. That’s the one thing I really have learned; you can achieve whatever you want, but it is hard work.
You have Iranian roots. Have you ever had any conflict between your work (to be a model) and your culture? Have you ever had any uncomfortable situations when you visited your homeland?
I have not visited Iran since I was 12 or 13 years old, but I love my country, I love my culture and I love my roots. My parents have been so good at instilling values in both me and my two brothers. I actually have a really big fan base in Iran; I get really nice messages on a daily basis, which I love. It’s important for me to remember that I represent not only myself, but my country. So to get positive messages from my Iranian fans feels really wonderful.
You are the fiancé of Mohamed Hadid. He is very well known in the USA as a real estate mogul, and he is also known for his world famous daughters Bella and Gigi Hadid. We see you guys in the news, but I would like to see a bit behind the scenes. Could you please share some secrets of your daily/family life with us? How do you spend a regular day?
You know, we have such a great and normal life. People think that our relationship is so different, but our daily life is like any other normal couples and families. We wake up in the morning, make a cup of café, watch the news. Then we go about our day and we entertain at nights—like dinners with friends or families. It’s very normal. We do what everyone else does.
And how do you dress up in these ’normal’ days? Like a model or like a girl next door?
I live in workout clothes. I just love comfortable yoga pants, T-shirts or sweatshirts, and jeans. That is what I love to live in.
If you go out, does anybody help you to choose your outfit?
I like to put outfits together by myself. I like to fit things together. Of course there are times when I get help, but most of the time, I like to do it on my own.
What is your favorite type of food?
I love Persian food. I love my mom’s home cooking. I also cook Persian food, to me it’s comfort food.
You also participated in a TV show.
Yes, it was the Second Wives Club.
This documentary-series follows you and five other women who are married or engaged to powerful men. How did you get involved with it? What was the reason you agreed to participate in the show?
Someone actually just reached out to me on Facebook and wanted to pitch the show to me. It was a lot of going back and forth because I wanted to make sure this was the right choice for us, and at the same time, I wanted to protect everyone around me. His family and my family. After doing a lot of research, I felt like this was just a right choice for us. I saw it as a way to dispel rumors and show the world how our dynamic works and how our relationship really is. It was also an opportunity for people to learn more about who I am. I want people to see me outside of social media.
Does this mean that, after your positive experience, you wouldn’t say no for another opportunity to be on a TV show?
I had a wonderful experience doing it. It all just depends on what feels right to me and my family. We will see. I would love something where I would have more creative control; that would be more interesting to me.
This summer you moved to a new, actually a smaller house.
Yes. Honestly, while the old house was the most beautiful house I’ve ever seen, it was too big. For just Mohamed and me alone, it was too big. We were in Bel Air, now we are in Beverly Hills. It’s not too far! (laugh) I love it. Mohamed calls it ’a cottage’—so much more intimate and so close to everything. We love it.
Does this change mean that you might be opening a new chapter in your life with Mohamed, like extending the family, I mean having a baby?
That’s not what I am looking at right now. We are just so happy where we are. I am just really focused on the things I’m doing in my life. It’s not a top priority.
What are you focusing on right now?
I am doing a jewelry collection. My first jewelry collaboration with a wonderful lady, ANOUSHA and her jewelry line is called NOUSH. We came up with a collection that was inspired by ancient coins. There are meanings behind all of the symbols we use. For example, we use lionheads in the collection, which represent power, and pomegranate represents love. It’s just a lot of power and positive messages.
Do you believe if you wear this jewelry, it might bring you some spiritual energy?
Absolutely. I swear, I like looking at the jewelry and constantly reading it. I feel that this line really does give you self-confidence, that “Yes, I am powerful” and there is so much love to give. These are messages that women need right now.