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Shahira carves out glittering career for herself in LA

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With her smouldering dark looks, Shahira Barry’s nationality is often called into question – which annoys the LA-based model who is proud of her heritage, and is a ‘Galway Girl’ through-and-through.

The dominant genes Shahira inherited from her Bangladeshi grandfather add to the confusion, as does her name – appropriately meaning ‘famous’ in Arabic.

Not that Yasmin Barry realised what the name meant 24 years ago, when she named her daughter after a warrior princess.

None of this has done Shahira any harm career wise, as her biggest claim to fame has been doubling for reality star, Kim Kardashian, and her sisters, on the E! Channel.

Her maternal grandmother, Nancy Faherty from Leenane, Connemara, fell in love with her grandfather, Abdul, in the UK, where he was a member of the British Navy – but otherwise, she is ‘all-Irish’.

“Some people would say I look mixed, while others say I look Irish, so it depends who you’re asking really,” she told the Galway City Tribune.

“But when I’ve been in the press – particularly when featured online – the comment section will always be full of: ‘She’s not Irish’, and that annoys me because I’m proud of my heritage.

“And, while I would love to learn more about my Bangladeshi roots, I am Irish – everyone in my family is Irish, except for my grandfather; I was born and raised in Galway, so I am a true Galway Girl.”

“I guess, having an Arabic name makes more people question where I’m from, but it can certainly be irritating to have strangers telling you you’re not from somewhere you are from, somewhere you love.”

Shahira’s very normal Galway upbringing with her mum and sister did not diminish dreams of stardom – she spent her childhood between Oranmore, Knocknacarra, and Corrandulla, before settling in Athenry, and was educated in Gaelscoil de hÍde and Calasanctius College in Oranmore.

“I was telling people that I was going to move to Hollywood, before I even knew what it was. And I used to put on performances for my whole estate, and put up flyers for my concerts, at a very young age.”

However, coming from a single-parent family, she was keenly aware that a steady career was the safest choice in life, so after an excellent Leaving Cert, she opted for primary school teaching in ‘Mary I’ College in Limerick.

“The reason I went on to do a Bachelor in Education was more of a ‘Plan B’.

“I am glad that I have my degree, and I am proud of it – who knows, one day I may decide to fall back on it but, for now, my motto is ‘you only live once’ and you have to pursue whatever it is you really want to do, while you have the chance.”

And her big break really did come about by chance when, during a short holiday to Los Angeles three years ago, she was asked to test for Playboy magazine, and was booked onto a music video for the singer, Akon.

“That holiday gave me butterflies in my belly for LA, and the idea that perhaps there were opportunities for me out here if I was to move – because a lot happened for me in just two weeks.”

She loved it so much that she booked a three-month stint in 2013, and finally made a permanent move in 2014.

In fact, Shahira had very nearly gone to LA in 2010 on a J1 visa, but gave up the opportunity to join a girl band.

“The band fizzled out during the summer, and I was gutted I hadn’t gone but, looking back now, I think I would have been too young for LA – it’s a very dangerous place.”

She is living her dream in Beverly Hills now though – a far cry from home in Knocknacarra – where she shares a two-bed apartment with one other. There is 24-hour security, a gym, and a rooftop pool and spa.

“I’ve made loads of friends, but they are all people I meet on set – so we all have crazy schedules, and it can be hard to make them fit together to meet up, because you have to be able to drop all plans at a moment’s notice for an audition or job. Luckily, we all understand that, but it makes it hard to stay in touch.

“It can definitely get lonely at times. I miss having someone to go and do normal things with, like go for walks – often when I go out here, it’s to events and to network, which can be draining when you just want a normal day’s activity and a normal chit-chat.”

She has no special man in her life at the moment, and while her time in LA has made her miss the down-to-earth style of the Irish male, she is more lonely for her pets – sorry lads!

With every life choice there are ups and downs, and Shahira’s experience has been no different. Maybe the down times are eased, somewhat, by the fabulous quality of life in California, and being on first-name terms with celebs?

“I’m working with them all the time, and if I’m not working with them, I’ll run into them at parties!

“It’s strange because when you meet any celebrity, you realise that they are only human, and just like the rest of us. It actually encourages me all time because I think if they can do it, so can I.

“And every day I am inspired to keep chasing my dreams. I don’t get star-struck, but there is definitely a moment when you get home later on and you think – ‘Wow, that’s so weird, I just met so-and-so, and there are people who would give anything to meet them’, or they have millions of followers all around the world but I just spent the day with them!

“I’ve worked with Snoop Dogg a bunch of times now, and he was probably the person I was the most star-struck to meet at first – just because I have been a fan forever.

“My Jack Russell is even named Snoop Dogg, and I was thinking: ‘What if he’s not nice, and ruins my dog’s name’. But the second he walked in, he was so warm and welcoming, and he became a friend immediately.”

Shahira’s biggest job to date, however, is probably her booking to stand-in for ‘reality star’ Kim Kardashian during an E! promo commercial for the upcoming season of their show.

In fact, Shahira stood-in for all of the Jenner/Kardashian females.

She also features as a podium dancer in the movie ‘Straight Outta Compton’ – about infamous rappers NWA – which is released this weekend.

“They [Kardashians] are some of my style icons, so it was cool to meet them in person and, because I’m a fan of their show, I felt like I already knew them.

“I had worked in a Subway commercial, like four months beforehand, and one of the production directors had remembered me and thought I’d fit the stand-in job.”

Shahira is currently taking acting classes, and is working on her American accent, so that she can be more versatile, but has no sights on long-term goals.

“I’m working hard, and I’m delighted with how lucky I’ve been so far, but I think it’s difficult to make long term plans in a town and industry that’s so unpredictable. For now, I’m just having fun riding the roller coaster.”

Connacht Tribune

Two arrested following taxi hijacking in Galway

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Gardaí have arrested two men following the hijacking of a taxi in Co Galway last night.

Shortly before midnight, Gardaí received a report that two men who were passengers in a taxi had attacked the driver and stole his vehicle.

The driver was ejected from the car on the M18 motorway.

Gardaí were alerted and observed the car in Claregalway.

A managed containment operation to ‘block in’ the taxi was put in place with assistance from the armed Regional Support Unit.

The car was brought to a stop on Bothar na dTreabh and two men fled on foot. The two men, one in his mid-20s and the other in his early-30s, were subsequently arrested.

They are currently detained at Garda HQ in Renmore under the provisions of Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Small shops fight back in store wars

Dara Bradley

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Caroline McCarthy

A popular city boutique has threatened to re-open in breach of Covid-19 restrictions – to highlight the unfairness of supermarkets selling so-called ‘non-essential’ goods.

The proprietor of Lanidor on Eyre Street said she is ‘taking a stand’, and has urged all retailers to follow suit, unless the authorities crack-down on those bending the rules.

“This stuff about ‘oh we’re all in it together’ is a load of rubbish,” fumed Caroline McCarthy, who said the multiples were ignoring restrictions while independent retailers remain shuttered.

She said all non-essential retail should be open, or none, but the current situation was “discriminatory”.

“I’ve had it at this stage. I’ve lost it. I can’t put up with this anymore. On a point of principle and on a practical level, someone has to do something about it. It’s not that we want to open.

“We have adhered to every single one of the regulations. But we are making a stand now. We will go ahead and open, at a date to be announced, if they are not shut down. And we would call on retailers across the country to do the same,” she said.

Under public health guidelines only ‘essential’ retail outlets are permitted to open. They are not permitted to sell ‘non-essential’ goods during Level 5. This is to stop people congregating and browsing in order to limit the spread of the virus.

But large retailers such as Dunnes Stores and Marks and Spencer stand accused of selling ‘non-essential’ clothing during the pandemic, even though clothes shops should be closed.

Galway Gardaí visited stores last weekend on foot of a complaint.

A spokesperson for M&S said it was following the guidelines but the tills in its Galway store’s clothing section was staffed on Saturday.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Vaccine roll-out stalls after advice

Dara Bradley

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Staff from the Paediatric Department at UHG (from left) Mary Scally, Clinical Nurse Manager 1; Cecily Cassidy, Clinical Nurse Manager 2; and Lisa Porter, Play Specialist with shadowbox theatres and accompanying tote bags which are being shared with children in hospital during April as part of an Arts and Health project for Galway 2020 called A Bird at My Window and Other Stories.

The roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine programme in Galway has stalled due to updated advice on the AstraZeneca jab.

Operations at the mass vaccination centre at Galway Racecourse in Ballybrit were  suspended Tuesday, for the remainder of this week at least, to allow the HSE to ‘reconfigure’ its roll-out plan following the new guidance.

The European Medical Agency safety committee concluded that unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as very rare side effects of AstraZeneca.

National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) then issued revised recommendations for its use, including not administering it to people under 60.

For people who have already received their first dose, NIAC said people aged 60 and older should continue to receive their second dose, as should those under 60 with underlying conditions.

Those under 60 without underlying health conditions – mostly healthcare staff – should have an extended period between the first and second dose, “to allow for further assessment of the benefits and risks as more evidence becomes available”.

Anyone who develops unusual blood clots with low platelets after the first dose should not take the second.

HSE West said vaccination clinics for the over-60s proceeded as planned; it would not say how many people had their vaccination jabs cancelled at Ballybrit.

“Everyone scheduled to get their vaccine at Ballybrit vaccination centre this week has been contacted,” a spokesperson said.

“The HSE is actively looking at the implications of the updated NIAC recommendations for the vaccine roll-out and the implementation of the programme. On receipt of national guidance we will recommence scheduling of vaccines at the Ballybrit vaccination centre.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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