Just recently, Shelby Welinder was in Nepal, providing care and supplies to children. Before that, she was writing about art from London. And before that, she was long-boarding through Central Park. This British-American model, journalist and philanthropist (And actress! And singer! And surfer!) proves that an engaged, curated life is within reach – if you’re willing to go for it. It takes a lot of drive to take the path she has chosen, and we’re thrilled to share with you her story.
- Age: 22
- Location: NYC & London
- Education: Currently at NYU, studying International Relations
- Field of Interest: Journalism
- What’s Your Favorite Thing About Yourself? My ability to make the most of any situation and always laugh.
Questions + Answers
You’ve worked as a fashion model since you were 10 years old. What was the biggest lesson you learned growing up and coming of age in an industry that doesn’t seem to understand the subtleties of adolescence?
Having started working at the age of 10, I’ve been apart of the fashion business for 12 years now. Modeling, like most things in life, has its ups and downs.
The industry has shaped me as a person. It taught me to fend for myself; it made me tough and thick-skinned. I learned the meaning of hard work along with the value of time and money, all of which forced me to mature at a young age.
Especially on social media, you’re an active proponent of healthy body image and body positivity. Do you have any advice for people who may be struggling with accepting their bodies? Alternately, do you have any advice for how to be healthy mentally and physically?
Since working as a child model I’ve been scrutinized on everything imaginable. I’ve been criticized on my weight for as long as I can remember. This type of abuse can obviously cause permanent damage and lead to serious health issues.
However, I chose to never let it affect me. I refused to neither buckle under pressure nor be controlled by others opinions and demands over my body. I’ve always been a strong or stubborn (as I’m sure most view me) individual. Usually, people tend to accept something once you’ve made a stand and proven yourself.
As for advice, I believe that everyone should be true to him or herself. The more you know who you are and what you want, the less you let things upset you. Always dare yourself, push outside your comfort zone and appreciate life’s simple pleasures. I think being happy, healthy and humble is key.
In addition to modeling, you have experience as an actress, singer and journalist. How do you balance all of your interests and professional endeavors with a life on the road?
Over the years I segued into the entertainment industry, where I’ve dabbled in presenting, reporting and various acting roles.
My life remains an imperfect balancing act! I’m constantly juggling between my professional and private personal life. However, I’m eternally grateful to be doing what I love, which gives me a sense of purpose and motivation.
What does a perfect day in London look like to you? In New York?
Depending on where I’m based, a perfect day in New York or London would consist of warm weather, walks in Holland Park with my dog or long boarding through Central Park, delicious food filled with friends, laughter and love. And of course, dancing the night away with my fiancé, Edward Akrout.
In modeling and entertainment, it can be infamously difficult to pursue an education, yet you are earning an undergraduate degree in international studies. Could you talk a bit about your educational journey?
My educational journey has been an unconventional and challenging one. I dropped out of high school at the end of my freshman year at 15 years old to begin working full time. Financially, I never saw college as an option.
Eventually I was faced with the reality that without a degree, employers would see me as a liability. Even with life and work experience, my reputation in the modeling world preceded me, leaving companies questioning my credibility. After hitting this “glass ceiling,” I obtained my GED and did everything humanly possibly to get myself accepted to University. Which was, without a doubt, the hardest endeavor I embarked on to date. I’m currently pursuing my passion of International Studies for Journalism at NYU.
Who inspires you?
My life motto is: “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.”
Anyone that’s hardworking, who isn’t afraid to get their hands dirty, inspires me. Those that fight for what they believe in, the underdog, the selfless, the kindhearted and the brave, all encourage me to be my best self.