Irina Shayk found modelling "impossible" when she first started out.
The 29-year-old beauty - who has starred in the pages of Sports Illustrated since 2007 - doubted whether a career in front of the camera was really for her after she was scouted aged 20 and moved to Paris to make a name for herself.
Irina failed to land jobs in the French capital and faced taunts from fellow models but her determination to succeed saw her relocate to Barcelona, Spain, where she landed her first big break.
She said: "My older sister went to a beauty school that was next door to a modelling school, and she asked me to join her there. One day an agent approached me. He wanted me to go to Paris.
"I was 20 years old, which was pretty late to start as a model. I'd never been anywhere like that. It was a hard time - I didn't speak the language, I didn't have any money. I lived in an apartment with other models, and some of them made fun of me.
"Paris was a really difficult time for me, but I thought, I cannot go back to my hometown with nothing, I have to at least make some money. But it was impossible so after about six months I went to Barcelona, and that's where I made my first money."
Although she has built up a thick skin thanks to her rocky start in the industry, Irina insists she is not a "mean" person but puts her "straightforward" manner down to her Russian upbringing.
She explained: "Some people think I'm not nice. I mean, I'm Russian and I can be really Russian but I'm a very friendly Russian. I'm a pretty nice person, but sometimes people don't know that about me. I'm very straightforward - if I like you, I like you, if I don't like you then do not even try to come near me."
And despite having become a world famous model Irina - who is dating actor Bradley Cooper - admits she still finds her career "difficult".
She told the Daily Telegraph newspaper: "It's a difficult business, it's very competitive. People who don't know our life think, oh, she's pretty, she's wearing a pretty dress and she smiles and she gets paid a lot of money for nothing, but it's a hard job."