The Wale sisters are chalk and cheese: Nesra is the outspoken and pragmatic younger sister, while Samiira is the creative and introverted old soul. Nesra cry-laughs at her own jokes, loves adventure and is decidedly bossy. Samiira is afraid of heights, loves to read and is softly spoken. “We’re like Batman and Robin - Samiira’s a superstar. She’s extremely talented and I’m just her handy sidekick that tags along really,” explains Nesra during our interview from their Hamilton home. This is where their family settled after emigrating from Somalia twenty years ago. Samiira, formerly a librarian, is now a full-time carer for their mother, while Nesra is a primary school teacher. Outside of their noble day jobs, Samiira is a budding photographer who dabbles in makeup artistry and styling, with Nesra as her part time model, frequent set assistant and number one cheerleader. I discovered the dynamic sister duo on Instagram through a shoot of Nesra modelling an Emerald Croc Rebecca Bag and a white leather hijab - created, styled and photographed by Samiira herself.
Despite their myriad differences, the sisters share both a mutual respect for one another, and the title of Rihanna’s Biggest Fans. Nesra, whose Instagram bio describes her as ‘the unofficial face of Fenty Beauty,’ expresses that she only recently became interested in makeup because it was never something that catered to their skin tones. Then in 2017, Rihanna released 41 foundation shades in her debut Fenty Beauty collection and featured then-unknown Somali model Halima Aden in the campaign. “[Rihanna] gave her this platform so we thought if those girls can do that anywhere, there’s no reason we can’t do that here from New Zealand as well,” Samiira notes. That initial Fenty campaign inspired the sisters to dream big, and was the catalyst for a more diverse representation in makeup shades - a change they are happy to see evolving.