Born in a small town in Brazil, 1981, to middle-class parents of Italian and Polish descent, Alessandra Ambrosio nurtured the desire to become a model from a young age. She enrolled in modelling school at the age of 12. By 1996 she entered the Elite Model Look competition in Brazil and while she didn’t win, she was offered a contract with Elite and landed her first gig with Brazilian Elle shortly afterwards.

Alessandra then moved to New York to pursue her modelling career, sharing an apartment with fellow-Brazilian models, Gisele Bundchen, now Super Model and also an Elite Model Look discovery, and Adriana Lima. Together they helped create a new sexy, healthy look for fashion.

In 1998 Ambrosio was featured on cover of Harper’s Bazaar. In 1999 she did catwalk shows in Paris, Milan and New York for some of the prestigious names in fashion such as Christian Lacroix, Fendi and Kenzo. By2000, four years after entering Elite Model Look, she got a major break when she was chosen as the face of Guess? campaign. A star was on its way!

Ambrosio was subsequently seen in campaigns and advertisements for designers such as Oscar de la Renta, Dolce and Gabbana, Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein as well as cosmetics brands such as Revlon. She has appeared on countless magazine covers including Vogue titles internationally, GQ, RUSSH, Numero, Glamour and Marie Claire.

In 2001 she walked her first show for Victoria’s Secret, in 2005 she became the ambassador for Victoria’s Secret Pink line and shortly thereafter earned herself a new title: ‘Super Model’.

Since then Ambrosio, has become one of the world’s best paid super models with a variety of entertainment and commercial interests; ranging from television appearances to launching her own swimsuit line.

In 2008 she gave birth to her first child, a daughter, to her boyfriend of three years, California businessman Jamie Mazur. Three months later, she was back on the cat walk and by 2009 she was ranked fifth in Forbes magazine's list of the highest paid with an estimated annual income of $6million.

Her advice to aspiring models blends idealism and pragmatism: “Believe in yourself. Listen to the photographers you work with and try and be professional.”