A County Galway model, who moved to the United States five years ago and is a regular guest at Playboy boss Hugh Hefner’s Los Angeles mansion, has had her work visa extended for a further three years.
Shahira Barry from Athenry, who formerly worked with Assets Model Agency in Dublin, was first invited by the American magazine publisher’s private secretary to visit his headquarters in California in May 2012.
The then 20-year-old was initially unable to take him up on the offer but said “yes” that September and has been living in America since.
The model, whose grandmother was from Connemara - her grandfather was from Bangladesh - has graced the covers of magazines and newspapers over the years. She has no regrets about turning her back on her career as a primary teacher.
She has not decided whether she will pose for Playboy which featured the late movie star Marilyn Monroe in its first edition in 1953.
In a previous interview with this newspaper she stated she would “never say never”. “I have never been set on doing it and have a few other exciting things to work on. However, if anything, meeting Hef and going to the mansion made me more for it than I had been previously.”
She was apprehensive initially about visiting the Playboy mansion and says she had a few misgivings about meeting the magazine bosses because she did not want “everyone thinking that is the route my career is going”.
“I was unsure what to expect and had a few worries going there but there was zero sleaziness and I just felt that I fitted in straight away with the mansion staff and everyone. They were all so lovely. I have never felt so welcomed before and everyone loved my accent,” says Shahira who holds a Bachelor of Education degree from Mary Immaculate College in Limerick and has been compared by the Irish tabloids to the well known Greek-Irish model and former Celebrity Big Brother star Georgia Salpa.
Shahira attended the famous midsummer’s dream party at the Playboy mansion on Saturday night. She is a regular at this event. A glittering affair, it was organised this year by Hugh Hefner’s son Cooper.
“It was a fully catered and open-bar lingerie party full of celebrities which makes it one of the most prestigious and eventful parties in LA,” says a spokesperson for the Galway model.
“Shahira has had a relationship with Playboy since 2012 when Hugh Hefner invited her to his mansion first.”
She says Shahira is enjoying the social scene in LA. She attended two exclusive parties recently at the home of Jamie Foxx - the actor, singer, producer and comedian who won a Golden Globe award for his portrayal of Ray Charles in the 2004 biographical film about the American singer/ songwriter.
“She has been mingling with a host of different celebrities. She recently attended the IGoLive launch party at the Waldorf Astoria where Tyga [the American rapper] performed.
“Shahira has a host of photoshoots lined up this summer. She is also busy going to acting auditions and modelling castings as well as taking both singing and acting classes. She has also been spending time in the recording studio with some very well known singers and rappers but at the moment she is not at liberty to speak about it.”
The Athenry graduate, who has been modelling since 2010 - she was chosen as one of Assets Model Agency’s New Faces after attending an open day organised by the company in Dublin - and whose photograph featured on the front page of the Irish Sun newspaper believes modelling will open doors in entertainment for her.
“I have dreamed of being on stage since I was three. I love doing modelling but didn’t grow up with dreams of being a model. It is good to have different avenues to pursue, to have more strings to your bow.”
She is proud of her success and attributes it to drive, determination and hard work. “I have worked for it myself, I was not handed anything on a plate.”