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When it comes to positive role models, Shelina Moreda is as strong, powerful and fearless as any person on the planet.
The professional motorcycle racer — who learned to ride on her family's farm in northern California — has an impressive resume, which includes being the first woman to race a motorcycle at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and at the Zhuhai International Circuit in China.
Now, she’s breaking boundaries off the track as well. On Oct. 5, CoverGirl announced that they would add the internationally acclaimed racer to their increasingly diverse lineup of famous faces (which also includes 69-year-old model Maye Musk and fitness trainer Massy Arias).
While Moreda sports a helmet for her profession, she also has a passion for makeup and some strong opinions about beauty.
In an interview with TODAY Style, Moreda talks candidly about everything from advice for young women in a male-dominated industry to her personal beauty philosophy.
What’s it like to be a woman in such a male-dominated industry?
“I love being one of the few females in a male-dominated arena. I’m competing at the highest level of the sport and I have to work harder to compete with the men, but it makes it more fun, more challenging and more satisfying when I beat them.”
How do you ensure that you're taken seriously?
“It’s hard to be taken seriously, honestly. I’ve fought a lot of uphill battles to get to where I am now — it’s all part of the challenge. I know that many people aren’t used to females taking racing this seriously, but they’re learning that I do. The key lessons I’ve learned are to always be yourself, infuse your own energy into everything that you do and take yourself seriously first and foremost. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if anyone else takes me seriously ... I’m doing it whether they think I can or can’t.”
Do you have advice for other women in a similar position?
“My advice for women is very similar to my advice to men: You can do whatever you want in life, you just have to be willing to work hard and put your mind to it. The only difference I’d give to women in my position is to not use being a female as an excuse.”
What does it mean for you to be a role model?
“When I started racing, being a role model wasn't even on my radar. I race because it’s my own passion and I wanted to chase my dreams. Once I started gaining steam in the sport, and started doing my She’z Moto schools, I realized that I was becoming a role model and that really meant a lot to me. To be someone that people, especially kids, look up to is a big deal. My determination and what I’m doing could inspire them or change their life in some positive way, and I love that.”
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What message would you like to send to the next generation of girls?
“Work hard at anything you love to do. My grandma always said that you have to find something you love, and the rest will fall into place. Advice like that has gotten me through a lot of the hard times (while) climbing the ladder. Keep your chin up. Nothing worth having comes easy ... Put your mind to it and be willing to work hard.”
What does this being the face of a beauty brand mean to you?
“This partnership with CoverGirl is very special to me. I’ve always loved makeup ... so it’s a dream come true. I’m still on cloud nine that they chose me, a female who competes against men in a male-dominated sport is so outside the norm. It really shows that CoverGirl is recognizing that powerful females are a beautiful thing, and I’m ecstatic to be part of that movement.
"I appreciate that they embrace my love of wearing makeup while I race and doing what I need to do to make myself feel powerful. All of the women in this campaign are so strong and driven, it feels amazing to be part of this group. We get to break down beauty barriers together and we get to show the world that powerful is beautiful.”
What’s your beauty philosophy?
“My philosophy is that you have to do what makes you feel beautiful ... When I do my makeup, it’s for me. It’s what I want to do; what I want to be. That’s what matters. That’s why I love this new campaign ‘I am What I Make Up.’ It’s all about you getting to choose who you are going to be, right there in the mirror.”
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.