Irina Valeryevna Shaykhlislamova (Russian: Ири́на Вале́рьевна Шайхлисла́мова) (born 6 January 1986), known popularly as Irina Shayk and sometimes credited as Irina Sheik (Russian: Ири́на Шейк), is a Russian model and actress known for her appearances in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue between 2007 and 2015. She was the cover model for the 2011 issue.
Shayk was born in Yemanzhelinsk, Russia to Volga Tatar Valery Shaykhlislamov, a coal miner, and his Russian wife Olga, a kindergarten music teacher. She has said that she inherited her looks from her father and that people often think she is South American: “My father was dark skinned, because he was Tatar, sometimes Tatars can look Brazilian… I get my light eyes from my 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 failed it and entered 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.