Living Her Best Life
With her exquisite beauty, Shiva Safai is the perfect model for any look and any era. Going back in time with photographs to depict the style of the 1950’s, Shiva lends her beauty to symbolize timeless glamor. She spoke to Upscale Living magazine about her rise to fame and leading a fairytale existence.
Shiva, tell us a bit about your formative years. You were born in Iran and raised in Norway? What are your most precious memories of the different places where you lived? Then you moved to Los Angeles at the young age of 19. Why the move and what were your first impressions of Los Angeles? My fondest memories of living in Iran were my grandparents. I spent a lot of time with them until we moved to Norway when I was four years old. Norway was definitely a culture shock at first, but I adapted quickly, and I remember Norway being my home. Where I grew up felt safe and I became an adult. I decided to move to LA for one year after high school, but one year turned into 17 years later. I was just so drawn to the people, mix of cultures and how people blended so easily. The weather was unbeatable compared to Norway or any other place in the world for that matter. And I just started working and met my ex-husband (then boyfriend) and decided to stay.
You ran a very successful criminal background check business for over a decade. That sounds like an intriguing field to go into. Why did you choose that?
I started working at a criminal background check company when I first moved to LA. Eventually, I decided to move on and open my own and I had it for over a decade.
Without giving too much away, this job probably came with a level of excitement and suspense. What enjoyment did you get out of being a criminal background checker?
I loved my job; it was different and exciting every day. The cases were different, and it gave me new challenges and made me learn new things throughout the years. I would travel and meet other companies like my own, so I truly loved what I did and it didn’t feel like work to me.
Interestingly, you didn’t do what everyone else does when landing in Los Angeles – look to becoming an actress? Was that not an avenue that interested you?
It never ever crossed my mind. The reason I moved to LA was never to become an actress or a model. I never even thought it was a possibility.
I have no idea how you and Mohamed met. We would love to know when and where you met and when did you start dating?
I met Mohamed very randomly on a beautiful spring day in Beverly Hills. He was having lunch at his favorite restaurant and that’s where I was with my girlfriend. We locked eyes and there was this instant chemistry. We never talked but I went home that day just thinking about him, I found him on Facebook, reached out to him and the rest is history. We talked for a few weeks before we went out on our first date.
When and how did you realize he was ‘The One’?
When we went on our first trip to Europe and he also took his children, Bella, Gigi and Anwar along. I could immediately gauge the type of man he was and still is - a caring father, a good friend who treated me with so much love and respect. And I truly loved his morals and values.
When and how did he propose?
After two years of us dating, we went to Bali, it was New Year’s Eve and after we finished dinner, he pulled my chair and said “I need to talk to you” I thought I was in trouble ... lol then he started the proposal and I remember I just started crying and I said yes yes yes !!!!
He seems like a romantic person and looks like he absolutely adores you. Do you think he would mind telling us what first attracted him to you, apart from your gorgeous looks of course!
I think or know he always says I was “different” from anyone he ever dated. I was someone he felt could be around his kids, someone who is safe (someone who is a good person). He loves the fact that I bring everyone together and encourage family time.
Without stating the obvious – he is really handsome on a different level – what attracted you to him?
I truly believe he is a genius. He thinks outside the box in a way that’s very unique. What I love about him the most is his kind and generous heart and despite all his power and wealth, he is so down to earth and humble.
You are very open about your relationship and issues that most people would shy away from, like the age gap of 33 years between you and Mohamed. Do you believe that being in the public affords you the platform to address these questions in such a way that people in similar situations don’t feel like they are alone in the world?
I have noticed that throughout the years as my platform has grown, it has been a great way showing other couples in similar situations that it is ok. Age is just a number, and no one has the right to judge you or your relationship due to just our age gap. I receive many messages from women saying how our relationship has been a great inspiration.
Has the age difference ever been an issue? If yes, how have you resolved it?
There has never been an issue for me or Mohamed.
You will be the third Mrs. Hadid and Mohamed will be the second Mr. Safai. With no guarantees in life, how do you make your relationship work to want to be together forever?
With both of us being divorced, we have learned that there are no guarantees in life. We both try and have learned from our past mistakes to be a better person for each other and to live in the moment rather than thinking of ‘what if ’ and ‘how about’ .... this works for us and hopefully will for the rest of our lives. :)
What pressure is there on you to be better than the two wives before you?
I don’t feel any pressure; I am my own person and I’m not trying to compete to be any better or different.
It looked like a lot of fun to film Second Wives Club. But then there were also challenging times with some of the ladies not getting along. Was that very stressful and how did you resolve issues amongst each other?
Putting six women in a room is without a doubt going to create drama sooner or later. Some were more dramatic than others. I did try to be the one who would try to bring everyone together; it was challenging at times, but I wasn’t stressed out. I had a wonderful time filming with the ladies, I went in knowing it would be dramatic at times, but I also knew I should just be myself and hopefully the viewers would like me and my character.
You are so classy – you turn a camping experience in your perfectly manicured garden into an event. I suppose there are no half measures for you?
I love to be hands on with everything I do myself. I guess I am a little bit of a perfectionist
and I like to make sure things are done the way I like it, so many times I end up doing a lot of the things myself. Setting dinner tables and making flowers and arranging parties all on my own.
You and Mohamed have the most exquisite home. Do you ever wake up thinking you are a princess in your own real-life fairy-tale?
I do wake up every day feeling grateful, first and foremost for my health, the fact that I am blessed to wake up to see another day, but I sometimes have to take a minute and take it all in. I am blessed and sometimes do feel like a princess living her fairytale life.
Your house is enormous in size – who is in charge of the upkeep and are there areas that you hardly ever use?
We have a house manager who is in charge of the upkeep of the house. He schedules maintenance of whatever the house may need and oversees the other employees working around the house. The basement level of the house is probably least used where there is poker room, ball room, theater and Moroccan room/Turkish bath.
What are your favorite rooms in your home and why?
I personally love my bedroom, and then the kitchen family area where we cook and entertain friends and family.
Favorite key pieces of furniture with a story attached to it that you would never want to go without?
I absolutely adore and treasure the portrait Mohamed painted of me. That to me is priceless and I could never part with it.
I believe you are quite the cook – what are your favorite dishes to prepare?
I enjoy cooking from time to time. I can almost cook anything, but I love cooking Persian food. I have this chicken and rice dish everyone in the family loves when I make it.
Does Mohamed also like making food and if he does, what are his signature dishes to whip up?
Mohamed is by far a better cook then me. It’s a talent and he has it. He can cook for 40 people without a problem. He usually cooks our thanksgiving or Christmas dinners at home. He can whip up anything really but we all love his famous ‘eggs from Nazareth’ as he calls it.
The portrait Mohamed painted of you is something really special. How did that make you feel when you saw this larger than life impression of you by the man you love?
It was a pleasant surprise when he unveiled his latest work. I have never ever had anyone do something so special and romantic before. I look at it every day with so much pride and love. I admire his work so much, not only the painting he has done of me but also all his other artworks.
Apart from his artistic side, what other hidden talents does Mohamed have?
Mohamed has so many hidden talents, anything he puts his mind to he can do. But something maybe people don’t know is that he can fly a plane. He got his pilot license about thirty years ago.
You are a budding flower arranger (pardon the pun). What are your favorite flowers and I assume they differ seasonally?
I never knew I enjoyed making flower arrangements so much until I moved in with Mohamed. We have a fresh flower delivery every week to fill the house. It’s almost like therapy for me. I truly enjoy making them. My ultimate favorite is peonies, but I love most flowers. They are all so beautiful and different in their own way and depending on what look or season you are in, the flowers will vary.
Let’s talk a bit about you and your dropdead-gorgeous looks. What are your beauty secrets and your fitness regime?
I believe moderation is the key to anything in life. Don’t overdo anything really, even when it comes to a fitness regimen and/or beauty. If you overdo it you can get tired and just not want to push yourself. If I’m not in the mood or I feel my body is aching, I won’t work out. I try to be consistent but sometimes I fall off the healthy eating and exercise wagon when I travel and deal with jet lag. I have always been attentive to taking care of my skin since I was a teenager. The best advice I ever received was to wear sunblock on my face every day no matter what. I like to maintain my skin with monthly facials with my favorite facialist Shani Darden.
You have travelled extensively. What has been your most special destination and why?
My recent trip to Beirut was one of the best and most memorable trips of all times. The food, the culture and the hospitality reminded me so much of my homeland, Iran. The sounds of traffic and honking horns and call to prayer were so nostalgic. It’s a place I will go back to again and again.
You are an influencer. What does that entail?
Being an influencer, I see it as being an inspiration to others. And to reach out and maybe be able to make positive changes in the world with the platform we have been blessed with.
What current projects are you involved in?
I can’t give much detail, but fun things are coming in the near future. All I can disclose is a possible collaboration in fashion and beauty.