Shalom Harlow has been referred to as one of “the new breed of supermodel” since being discovered at the age of 16 at a Cure concert in Toronto. Now in her early 40s, she has been parlaying her stunning looks and natural comedic ability into acting, and so far is surviving the stigma placed on so many who attempt to cross over from modelling to acting.
Harlow was born December 5, 1973, in Oshawa, Ontario, to David Harlow and Sandi Herbert, who named the little girl for the Hebrew word which, in addition to being used as a way of saying hello or goodbye, simply means peace. Raised in a bohemian environment, she grew up wanting to be an astronaut. As a child, she studied jazz, tap and ballet dancing. After being discovered by a modelling scout, she began taking modelling lessons.
She began her career with a photo shoot for Québec’s version of Elle magazine and soon she moved to Paris to further advance her career. She became hugely popular as a runway and print model for such designers as Dolce & Gabbana, Louis Vuitton, Isaac Mizrahi, Donna Karan and Versace. She became the face of Chanel’s Coco perfume and moved to New York City’s East Village, where she still lives.
In 1995, Harlow appeared as herself in Unzipped, a documentary about fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi, for whose collections she was the face of for three years. She was also named Model of the Year at the 1995 VH1 Fashion Awards. The following year she took over as host of MTV’s fashion show House of Style, alongside fellow supermodel and best friend Amber Valletta. In 1997, they left the show, but Harlow was moving on to the big screen.
Her first role was in the Kevin Kline comedy In & Out, playing – what else? – a supermodel. She received solid reviews for her supporting role as Matt Dillon’s spoiled supermodel girlfriend. In & Out screenwriter Paul Rudick praised her ability to combine “couture sophistication with gawky high spirits.” In 1999, she starred in the independent romantic comedy entitled Cherry, as a cynical 29-year-old virgin who is desperate to have a baby.
While appearing films, she continued to appear on runways, and in print as one of the world’s most sought-after models. In 2000, Harlow’s net worth stood at $10.5 million.
In 2001, she appeared in the romantic comedy Head over Heels as one of four models sharing an apartment in New York with the film’s heroine. Though her performance was not one that stood out, she again prompted a few critics to praise her natural comic timing and self-deprecating ability.
In 2001 Harlow had a small role in the Cameron Crowe/Tom Cruise film Vanilla Sky and in 2002, appeared in The Salton Sea alongside Val Kilmer and Vincent D’Onofrio. In 2002’s Happy Here and Now, Harlow played Liane Balaban’s sister, whose disappearance sets the plot in motion.
After 2001 Harlow made a few interesting choices in her film career, preferring small roles in both large Hollywood films, like Vanilla Sky, to playful romantic comedies such as How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days (2003) and small independent films, such as I Love Your Work (2003).
Quiet on the big and small screens for a few years now, her fan`s await her return to acting.
Also see: Shalom Harlow’s filmography