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Swimsuit Cover Model Irina Shayk Wants to Play a Russian Spy

Russian-born Irina Shaykhlislamova, known as Irina Shayk, is the newest model to grace the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. The 25-year-old, who has appeared in the magazine each of the past five years, was photographed in both Hawaii and the Philippines for this issue.

Speakeasy spoke with the model this afternoon and she seemed giddy from landing her first Sports Illustrated cover. In halting English with a thick Russian accent, Ms. Shayk talked about her cover, her substantial bikini collection and the Russian spy she’d like to play if she were ever cast in a James Bond film.

You found out you were on the cover of Sports Illustrated on last night’s “Late Show with David Letterman.” What where you talking about with the other models while waiting to find out which one of you were chosen?

You just kind of go to the shoots and then you wait for the issue come out because you never know who’s going to be on the cover. It is kind of a surprise every year.

You hail from Yemanzhelinsk, a small town in Russia. How were you discovered?

It is a funny story. It is because of my mom. She saw an ad at the bus stop about a beauty school and I went there with my sisters for fun. There was a model school next door and that’s how I got discovered. One manager came and signed me. I was 19.

Do you still live in Russia?

No, I moved to New York three years ago but I still visit because my parents live there and I have friends there. So I visit.

Has anybody called to congratulate you?

Yeah, my mom and my sister.

Have any Russian officials, like Vladimir Putin, called to offer their congratulations?

Not yet, I’m still waiting for that.

Last year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue cover girl, Brooklyn Decker, has been able to move from modeling to the movies. Do you see yourself acting?

You never know because Sports Illustrated opens so many doors and I’m just trying to enjoy my moment and concentrate on my modeling career, but you never know where it takes you next.

But I could see you in the next James Bond movie, for example. What do you think of that?

I would love to play that role, I think it would be really fun.

Describe what your part would be.

Well I would definitely be a Russian spy. I would be very comfortable in that role, this I know for sure.


I don’t know, it’s just…if you are in a James Bond movie you have to play that role.

You get to keep many of the swimsuits you model. Are they practical, do you wear them on the beach?

Oh yes, very practical. You know from the Hawaii shoot I got so many swimsuits that when I go for my vacation I am wearing them. They are very beautiful and sexy but very very comfortable so you can use them. And I have hundreds and hundreds of them because I’ve been shooting for Sports Illustrated for five years in a row now. I feel like I need to build a new closet only for my swimsuits.

Did you receive a bonus for being on the cover?

I mean it’s not about money it’s about getting a legendary magazine cover and you are in the history of Sports Illustrated. This is more than money. The money doesn’t count at this moment. It opens doors and Sports Illustrated gives you the chance.

But did the surprise come with anything more?

This year I got 3-D TV, which was more than great because I never had TV for the three years I’ve been living in New York, so finally I can watch. It was a great bonus for me.

In addition to your modeling, you were also in Kanye West’s “Power” video. What was that like?

It was moving art and it was so much fun to work with Kanye because he’s a great artist but also a great person. I was playing the role of an angel which I was doing more devil than angel.

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