Model Sharam Diniz has had quite a career since moving to New York from a small town in Luanda, Angola. She has walked the runways, representing the world’s top designers such as Victoria’s Secret, Jason Wu, Carolina Herrera, and Balmain. And besides gracing the runways, she has starred in campaigns for Chanel, Tom Ford, Ralph Lauren, Seven For All Mankind and Clinique.
With NYFW in full swing, The Levity Ball sat down with Sharam here in NYC to learn more about her transition to America from Southwest Africa, her time working with Victoria’s Secret on two of their shows, and all about how it felt being the first Angolan model to appear on the cover of Vogue Magazine.
1. Growing up in Angola, Southwest Africa did you always want to be a model? Or what did you think you would be doing career wise?
As a little girl my dream was always to be an actress. However, modeling invitations started at the age of 14 while traveling around the world with my mother who was a flight attendant at that time, so I pursued a modeling career.
2. You were the first Angolan model to appear on the cover of Vogue… how big of an accomplishment was this for you personally?
It was more than a dream come true! It was a huge honor and made all my sacrifices worth it, from being away from my family, to not eating what I love all the time.
3. As you just mentioned, being away from home at a young age can be difficult. How was it leaving your friends & family behind back in Angola and moving to the United States?
I left Angola when I was 18, moved to England to do Events Management at Leeds Metropolitan University. Three years later I landed in New York. Although the language and weather were the same, I felt like I did not belong in the US. I would say it was probably one of the hardest times of my life. Moving to a city where I did not know anyone, never been before, I saw myself starting from the bottom literally but today I’m very proud of the strong woman that I have become.
4. Since moving and signing with an agency here, you have appeared in some great campaigns and on some of the top fashion runways… what has been your most memorable experience to date?
I have many good memories, and I feel blessed to be able to experience each one of them. But more than anything else I’m grateful to say that I was able to do runway shows. Believe it or not, I used to hate Fashion week season. I always felt very depressed, because most of the casting directors would say that I had a very strong commercial look. I worked hard to be in shape and got to do amazing shows such as Balmain in Paris, as well as NY for Carolina Herrera, Rag & Bone, Jason Wu Prabal Gurung and many others, including Victoria’s Secret.
5. Do people ever stop you on the streets in New York (where you live now) and recognize you as a Victoria Secret model?
Most of the times, for some reason people recognize me more at the airports. Whenever they look at my passport, they remember my name. But I had a few people who bumped into me in Soho, or Union Square that recognize me.
6. What upcoming campaigns can we look forward to seeing you involved in?
I have a cover story coming out at the end of the month, a recent beauty campaign for “O Boticario” in Brazil and still busy working almost everyday in New York.
7. What is the best advice you have ever received career wise?
Be patient, and work towards consistency.
8. With social media now playing a factor in jobs and how people connect, what are your views on the technology in general within your industry?
I’m a social media person, just for the simple fact that I love taking pictures or even being in front of a camera. But in my opinion, social media has its advantages and disadvantages.
9. We all know models eat! So what are your favorite foods and places to eat in the New York area?
I love Nobu (Hudson Street), Im a big fan of seafood, I also love Fresh & Co tasty salads (30th St and 7th Avenue), whenever I finish my workout I always stop by to get one. Buddakan and Hakkassan in Chelsea (16th St and 9th Av) are two others of my favorite spots.
10. Do you keep to a strict diet and workout routine?
Yes. I never starve myself, I prefer to eat and workout the day after even if I have to workout twice as hard. Life is too short, and as a food lover, I will always listen to my appetite. It is good to be healthy but not in a crazy way where you do not get to appreciate the good things in life.
11. And final question: What do you want to be remembered for?
I would love to be remembered for being a hard worker, for never giving up, and standing back up no matter how many times I fall. Life is all about ups and downs and becoming stronger as you move learn & grow.