Saffi, I have been a major supporter of your career for a long time and have seen you grace the screens and covers of numerous print campaigns over the years. You were actually scouted, whilst out and about on London’s Oxford street, but surely you must have looked into modelling before this point?
I hadn’t actually no. People had often suggested it to me as I was quite tall- but my initial ambition was to work behind the camera & I was studying Photography A-level at the time which I had a huge passion for. I lived & breathed the dark room whilst I was at college producing my prints!
What would you say in your opinion is the best part of your career?
The best part of my career would have to be the variety of aspects that the job offers. Every day is different in terms of what I’m shooting, where I’m travelling to, and whom I meet & work with. No two days are ever the same & that’s what I love!
Even though following being scouted, your modelling career started to take off. You still made the decision to finish your studies first and have gained a BA in Design Studies, A Levels in Photography, Art & Design, English, Communications and a Fashion diploma in Women’s wear & Accessories from the reputable London College of Fashion. How vital would you say gaining an education has been for you as a person?
Education has been vital to me as a person as it has allowed me to explore & nurture my talents both academically & creatively. Studying allowed me to weigh up my options career wise, before making a final descision on what I wanted to do long term. With anything in life it’s always good to follow your dreams, but I wanted to gain some qualifications first, knowing that I had the security of having something else to fall back on in the future. I went into modeling knowing full well that nothing is guaranteed & that it can be quite a short lived career. I’m just going to enjoy it for as long as I can!
Was there any points during combining both your modelling career and education that you had to overcome any barriers and if yes, what steps did you take to overcome these issues? If no, how did you maintain the balance between these two diverse disciplines?
I was able to juggle the modeling for a while whilst I was at college, but it became virtually impossible when I began my degree course at university. There just wasn’t enough time to fit in castings & shoots with lectures, assignments & dead lines. I’m the kind of person that likes to do something knowing I’m committing myself 100 percent! & combining both hectic schedules of Modelling & study didn’t allow that – so I made the decision to put the modelling on hold til I finished uni. It was the best decision I ever made & now I’m commited to my career full time with qualifications behind me!
In your career so far you have graced the cover and featured in a number of reputable magazines. However, more recently, you graced the cover of Playboy-Philippines and the results were phenomenal. Did you ever think you would work with Playboy and how did you find the overall experience?
Never ever in a million years did I think I would be doing something as Iconic as playboy-let alone front cover! I was on a fashion shoot in Manila when the photographer said I would be great for the magazine & suggested I meet the editors. In the meeting I got an even bigger shock as not only did they want to do a feature,they wanted me for Front Cover too! They reassured me that as it was Asia they wouldn’t be doing ANY topless or nude shots & that everything would be classy & tastefully done. And it was- the end result was a beautiful 1940’s pin up theme. The over all experience was surreal, I met some amazing people, made some friends for life & had so much Fun! To say I’ve followed in the footsteps of previous playboy cover girls Naomi Campbell, Jessica Alba, & Mariah Carey is also an accomplishment in itself!
You have a fantastic figure! Are you naturally slim or do you have to work at it?
Thank you. I’m naturally a healthy size 12 & don’t’ follow any strict diet’s- I LOVE my food! As with anything though I believe it’s all about moderation & leading a healthy & active lifestyle wherever possible. I eat what I want when I want, but also make sure I include lots of fruit & vegetables in my meals.To stay fit I kick box & do Spinning & Zumba classes a few times a week. Running to & from castings is also a workout for me on a daily basis!
As a working model, it is vital that you keep healthy. Do you have any beauty secrets/regimes you wouldn’t mind sharing with our amazing In-spireLS readers?
The beauty secrets I swear by are pretty obvious but they really do work! Get a good nights sleep, drink lots of water, & invest in a good facial moisturiser! At the moment I swear by “Hydrazen Neurocalm” by Lancome. For the body you can’t beat good old Palmer’s Cocoa butter, the solid one. If your skin is rested & hydrated it shows.
What would you say has been the main factors behind your success in modelling so far?
I’d say my success has been down to sheer hard work & pure determination more than anything. For every knock back that I got, I worked twice as hard & kept on striving! Things don’t happen over night-particularly in this competitive industry & you have to constantly push to be the very best that you can be & give it your all! I feel I’m just getting started though & still have a long way to go to reach the top!
Your portfolio is filled with a number of phenomenal and timeless images. Out of all your shoots so far, are there any that stand out the most?
Every shoot I’ve done has been significant in it’s own way but I’d have to say my Play boy Asia cover- It was so unexpected & kind of just “happened”. It also reminds me of an amazing six months spent in the far east.
Your career sees you not only working within the UK but also internationally. Out of all of the places you have visited, what has been your most memorable destination and why?
The Philippines for me will always hold a special place, as its where some of my closest family live. I was fortunate enough to work there for a few months, so being able to do what I love whilst being around my loved one’s at the same time was great.The beaches & sights are phenomenal! Over 7,700 islands of tropical paradise- so each time I go back there’s always another island to discover.
Before you were scouted you were at the time studying photography, is this something that you still pursue in your spare time?
Yes I’m always taking photographs of sights & places of interest when I’m on holiday & out and about. The only thing that has changed is the introduction of digital photography, so I have upgraded from my 35mm SLR & no longer need the dark room!
You are an exotic mix of Cuban, Filipino, Hawaian and Irish, which gives you a very distinctive and unique look. How would you say your look has influenced the modelling work/assignments you receive?
My mixed heritage gives me the added advantage of being able to pass for a multitude of races, therefore I am rarely limited on the roles I have been cast for. My look allows me to be thoroughly versatile- & modeling is all about versatility & being able to adapt to the clothing & product you are endorsing. I feel mixed models work well in the industry as we are able to appeal to a broader market & are representatative of todays multicultural society.
Recently you were seen as the lead girl in the recent Littlewoods TV and print campaigns along side Coleen Rooney. Did you have to attend a casting/audition for this role? And what was the most fulfilling part of this experience?
I had to attend the initial casting & then a second call back . After all the hard work & long hours filming the most fulfilling part was seeing the advert shown for the first time on ITV1! The final edit looked great & exceeded all my expectations.
At such a young age, you have achieved so much. How proud are you of yourself and your achievements?
I still have so much more to achieve & see this as just the beginning. I am proud however of the fact that despite numerous knock backs early on in my career, I never ever gave up & pushed & pushed & pushed! That determination has got me this far & has allowed me to experience many wonderful opportunities.
You made it down to the final four out of thousands in the Sun newspapers ‘M&S’ lingerie model search in 2010. How happy were you with this result and would you enter this type of competition again?
I entered the competition as my boyfriend & best friend told me about it & only managed to send my pics in the day before closing deadline- so to make it down to the final 4 from thousands was amazing! I was very pleased with the result. The over all winner was chosen by the public & I feel they made a great choice! In terms of entering another competition, who knows what the future holds?
Who are your top 3 favourite models and why?
I love Freja Beha & Omahyra Mota for their unabashed androgyny & Noemie Lenoir for her stunning beauty & versatility. She’s amazing both commercially & as a high fashion model.
What or whom in-spires you most within your career?
My mother inspires me most within my career as she believes in everything I do! shes spent her whole life working hard to raise me & now I work hard to give her the life she deserves. To retire my mum within the next few years is my ultimate goal!
Who are your biggest supporters?
I’m fortunate enough to have the undying support of my mother,an amazing boyfriend, friends & my family all over the world.
What positive mottos do you live by?
There are so many but the ones that I relate to most are:
“Live well, Love much , laugh often”
“Feel the fear & do it anyway”
” No guts, No glory!”
In today’s entertainment industry, it is not unheard of to be multi skilled and pursue more than one career field. Away from modelling, we can also look forward to you taking on some challenging film roles. Have you always been interested in acting? And how have you found the transition between modelling to acting so far?
I took an interest in acting from around the age of 10 & took classes at the Sylvia Young theatre school every weekend for a few years. I was very shy though, & as much as I loved acting in itself I got terrible stage fright & dreaded performing in front of other people. As I’ve grown so has my confidence & I no longer get the stage fright! My drama experience has been relevant & beneficial to the modeling as you often need acting skills to convey a certain mood or emotion to camera. I’ve found the transition from modeling to acting thoroughly enjoyable & always look forward to preparing for the roles I’m auditioning for. I’d love to take on a really gritty & unassuming role in the near future.
In 2011 we can look forward to seeing you in a number of campaigns including ones for Body Shop, Bravissimo, John Lewis and Susuki as well as your own personal business ventures- can you give anything else away apart from that or is it top secret?
It’s a secret for now- but all will be revealed later on in the year & you’ll be one of the first to know!
What are the best ways to keep up with you and your projects?
My website is still in it’s developmental stages but until thats up & running you can catch up with all my latest ventures via my twitter account :
Thanks Saffi for completing these questions….
Thank you for featuring me!
Please round it off by completing these sentences…..
I am passionate about…………………….Life!
Self love can…………really help to your strenthen your relationships , for when you love yourself you can love other people better.
I am focused about……………………fulfilling my ambitions!
Confidence can…………………………carry a person far better than the most expensive of outfits
I am at my happiest when…………surrounded by good company, good food & laughter!
I am at my best when…… working it in front of the camera!
I believe in……………………………….following your dreams & ambitions no matter what the obstacles!
I am a ‘Wonder woman’ because……………I always push myself to the best of my potential!
W| Interview By Sasha Shantel I| Courtesy of Saffi Karina-All Rights Reserved by individual photographers