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Rising Stars: Meet Ella Halikas

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ella Halikas.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
Well, super long story short… My journey started when I transferred to the University of Hawaii in 2016, where I started to take a ton of photos on the beach, explore the island, and share them on my Instagram! That’s where I started to pick up some traction online – people gravitated towards my confidence, through my content. I started taking more and more photos, and then realized ‘Hmm.. maybe I could pursue modeling!’ I started to do some smaller swim shoots in Hawaii and pitched them to different brands online to send me suits/products in exchange for social content. And that’s where my modeling and influencing career all began.

Later on, I was scouted by a modeling agent on Instagram who was based in San Francisco. I had also been trying out for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit since 2018, where I put out an audition video tape on my Instagram and hoped I would be recognized.

Once I graduated college in 2019, I moved back home to the Bay Area to save money with the hopes of moving to LA to pursue modeling and influencing full-time. By this time, I had tried out for SI Swimsuit for two years and been rejected each time.

When Covid hit in 2020, I lost my serving job at a restaurant and decided to take the risk to move to LA in May 2020 to pursue my dreams! Crazy timing… I know. But, thankfully, once I moved here, I hit the ground running and gained so much momentum. I landed JCPenney and Snapchat commercials right away, then decided to try out for SI Swimsuit again in August of 2020. I started to gain more traction online and grew my TikTok account to over 100,000 followers by posting self-love and confidence content.

After years of trying, my SI audition tape did super well, and I finally got a call back from the SI team for an interview – I couldn’t believe it! About a year later, I became a 2021 SI finalist, stayed consistent with my online content, signed with three modeling agencies, signed a PR team and a social media manager, and now I work as a full-time curve model and content creator. With over 650,000 followers online through Instagram and Tik Tok, I’m feeling so blessed and grateful to have come so far, and proud of myself for staying so determined.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It has not been a smooth road! I believe you need to fail a million times before you ever succeed. I heard more “no’s” throughout my journey than I can even count. But, my consistency and persistence helped me to get where I’m at today. I’ve struggled financially, emotionally, and mentally along the way – especially during the pandemic when I first moved here. It was a challenging time for everyone, and especially hard trying to navigate a whole new life in a brand new environment. At the end of the day, I’m so glad I took that leap and trusted myself!

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I work as a full-time model and content creator. I film content consistently on my Instagram and TikTok platforms, where I help others find their self-worth and confidence. I specialize in confidence coaching and refer to myself as the “CEO of Confidence.” I love to help others feel beautiful and empowered in their own skin, while also being a catalyst for change within the modeling industry. My whole message is for everyone to work towards becoming the best versions of themselves, and not just try to fit into a box that society and the industry continuously place us in. I’m most proud of my impact online, and how much I’ve helped people become more comfortable in their bodies. I’m also extremely proud of sticking to my goals, and becoming a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model!

If we knew you growing up, how would we have described you?
I was definitely the same growing up as I am today! I had the same outgoing, extra, dramatic, funny, and loving personality that I have now. Internet-wise and just overall, I’ve definitely become a lot more confident within myself over the years. I used to be so insecure growing up, even though I was actually a lot smaller physically. This is why I preach that confidence doesn’t have a size! As I’m now the curviest and the biggest I’ve ever been, I’m actually the happiest and most confident I’ve ever been as well.

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Image Credits
YuTsai Madelene Lisella Nick Borsodi

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