Adriana Lima never thought about being a model, although she had won many beauty pageants in elementary school. However, she had a friend at school who wanted to enter a modeling contest and did not want to enter alone, so Lima entered with her. Both sent in pictures, and the contest sponsor soon asked Lima to come out for the competition. Soon after, at the age of 15, she entered and finished in first place in Ford's "Supermodel of Brazil" model search. She subsequently entered the 1996 Ford "Supermodel of the World" contest and finished in second place. Three years later, Adriana Lima moved to New York City and signed with Elite Model Management. After acquiring representation, Lima's modeling portfolio quickly began to expand, and she appeared in numerous international editions of Vogue and Marie Claire. As a runway model, she has walked the catwalks for designers such as Vera Wang, Giorgio Armani and Valentino, among others. Adriana Lima became a GUESS? girl in 2000, appearing in that year's fall ad campaign. She also appeared in the book A Second Decade of Guess? Images.
Adriana Lima continued to build upon her portfolio, doing more print work for Maybelline, for whom she worked as a spokesmodel from 2003 until 2009, the same year she appeared in the company's first calendar, a limited edition run also featuring Kemp Muhl, Jessica White, Julia Stegner, and Anna Wang. Adriana Lima has also worked for notable fashion brands bebe, Armani, Versace, BCBG and Louis Vuitton. She also appeared on the covers and in the editorials of other fashion magazines such as Harper's Bazaar, ELLE, GQ, Arena, Vogue, V, Esquire and French Revue des Modes. Her April 2006 GQ cover was the highest-selling issue that magazine for the year. She also appeared in the 2005 Pirelli Calendar and became the face of Italy's cell phone carrier, Telecom Italia Mobile, a move that earned her the nickname, "the Catherine Zeta-Jones of Italy."
In February 2008, Adriana Lima was featured on the cover of Esquire, re-creating the classic 1966 Angie Dickinson cover on Esquire's 75th anniversary along with fellow Victoria's Secret Angels Alessandra Ambrosio, Karolina Kurkova, Izabel Goulart and Selita Ebanks. She appeared only in shoes, diamonds and gloves for the November 2007 issue of Vanity Fair celebrating 20 years of supermodels with her fellow Angels. In February 2008, she was chosen to be the face of Mexico's Liverpool department store chain and launched the partnership with a press conference, runway show, and summer campaign. Lima returned to the high fashion runway in 2009, walking for Givenchy. That same year, after visiting Turkey, Adriana Lima signed a contract with Doritos to appear in print campaigns and commercials which began airing in Turkey that April. She was also one of the faces of Givenchy for the Fall/Winter 2009 season, alongside Mariacarla Boscono and Iris Strubegger. Lima is one of the two faces of Blumarine's Fall/Winter 2011 season.
In 2011, Adriana Lima signed a deal as a spokeswoman for Megacity by Votsu, a Brazilian social gaming company, to appear in their commercials. She also became the face of Brazilian luxury brand, Forum for there F/W and S/S seasons. Adriana Lima has worked with the most established photographers in fashion such as Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matidin, Vincent Peters, Mario Sorrenti, Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott and David Sims.
In 2006, Adriana Lima ranked as the fifth highest paid supermodel. In 2007 and 2008, she ranked as the world's fourth highest paid supermodel by Forbes Magazine.
Adriana Lima is probably best known for her work with Victoria's Secret. Her first fashion show for the company came in 1999, and since being contracted as an Angel in 2000, she has appeared on subsequent shows ever since, opening the show in 2003, 2007, 2008, and 2010. Adriana Lima has appeared on several television ads for the brand, including the praised and criticized "Angel in Venice" commercial of 2003 with Bob Dylan and her solo Victoria's Secret's Super Bowl XLII ad, the single most-seen ad of the game, watched by 103.7 million viewers. 2008 continued for Lima with hosting the What Is Sexy? program for the E! Entertainment Network and a July tour for the BioFit Uplift Bra launch. She was also featured in November's Miracle Bra relaunch. Topping the year off, Adriana Lima wore the "Fantasy Bra" for the 2008 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. The bra, created by American jewelry designer Martin Katz, was set with 3,575 black diamonds, 117 certified 1 carat (200 mg) white round diamonds, 34 rubies, and two black diamond drops totaling 100 carats (20 g). Valued at over $5 million, the bra carried more than 1,500 carats (300 g).
Lima's first acting role was the wife, alongside Mickey Rourke and Forest Whitaker, in The Follow (2001), a short film in BMW's series The Hire, starring Clive Owen and directed by Wong Kar-wai. She also appeared with her fellow Angels in a guest spot playing herself in the series How I Met Your Mother in November 2007.
Adriana Lima was listed in the 2005 Forbes' edition of The World's Best-Paid Celebrities Under 25. Also, she ranked No.99th in the 2006 Forbes' edition of The Celebrity 100 (Forbes' Highest Paid and Powerful Celebrities in the World). Adriana Lima was chosen to be a part of People magazine's 100 most beautiful people in the world list, sharing that space with the Angels, with whom she also received a star on the Hollywood "Walk of Fame" prior to the 2007 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. That same year, she ranked 7th on FHMs "100 Sexiest Women 2007" list and was awarded as the "Hottest Girl on the Planet" at the first Spike TV Guys' Choice Awards, although the category was not mentioned in the actual broadcast. Lima was also voted on Maxim's "Hot 100" 2007 at the No.53 spot. She was voted No.1 as the Most Desirable Woman in 2005 by visitors of the men's lifestyle website, Askmen.com (she placed 4th in 2006 and 2007, 10th in 2008, and 19th in 2009). Since November 2008, Models.com has featured her at number one on the list of the "Sexiest Models." As of July 2011, she is also ranked No. 4 in the website's "Money Girls" list. In 2010, she was voted eighth in "FHM's Sexiest Women In The World". Previously to this, FHM ranked her at No. 6 in 2009, No. 21 in 2008 and No. 4 in 2007. In an interview about beauty, celebrity photographer and Victoria's Secret main photographer, Russell James says Adriana is one of the most beautiful women he's ever worked with in the course of his career.
Adriana Lima. I've seen her go from a young girl who's very unaware of how absolutely beautiful she was to this absolutely beautiful woman. But her heart is also so amazing. Any charity that asks her to work, she'll do it. And she's just so damn beautiful. You just look at her and you're 'Oh, jeez ...' It's ridiculous!In 2011 Adriana Lima guest starred in Yok Böyle Dans'ta, the Turkish version of Dancing with the Stars, where she danced to two musical numbers and then later became one of the judges for the night.