Chatting to Hannah is like talking to a friend. I’m instantly at ease and before we know it we’re exchanging pop-culture references left, right and centre. She’s friendly, down to earth and has a habit for poking fun at herself like only a Brit can.
As you would expect, Hannah is tall and athletic with impossibly long legs – every inch the catwalk model. She excelled at sports in each of the four schools she attended growing up in East London’s Walthamstow. As well as a keen athlete, Shakespeare is a talented dancer. Before diving headfirst into the world of modelling, she attended The Urdang Academy studying musical theatre, where, she tells me she earned a part scholarship. “Just saying!” she teases.
I wonder whether her ability in dance translates to modelling. “It definitely helps the way I move,” she tells me. More introspectively, she reveals it also helped prepare and ease her into the heavy workload and pressures of her industry. “When I started modelling, it didn’t really feel like the two worlds were much different,” she says. “Castings were just like auditions.”
Sinking further into the soft leather chair, Hannah seems to proportionally sink further into herself, revealing how her work helped her to become comfortable with herself and her sexuality. “Fashion correlates with how everyone feels about themselves,” she explains. “It’s made me feel like I have some way to express the way I feel about myself. Especially being a gay, black young girl.” She ponders a moment, “it’s quite a nice place, a nice industry, to call home. Especially now everything’s more embraced.”
Read the full story in Edition 02