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Meet the legendary digital content creator – Shenelle Rodrigo

By Mahika Panditha

If you have been on Instagram for the past few years, I am sure you have caught a glimpse of this amazing human being. She needs no introduction, but here I am. Our cover today is a digital content creator and model by profession. She was the first Sri Lankan to be featured on a cover of Vogue magazine and she is by far one of the most talented people out there. She is Shenelle Rodrigo (@sheneller).

Shenelle would like to create a meaningful impact through her platform on matters that are important to her. She is passionate about travelling, eating, and enjoying living in the moment. You guys should definitely check out her YouTube channel for her travel vlogs and other fun videos. You will want to start planning your next trip after watching her “This Is Sri Lanka” series!

We had the chance to speak to Shenelle last week and ask her a few questions, so that you can get to know her better. Here’s what she shared with Happinez.

So, tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born and raised in Colombo, Sri Lanka where I attended Colombo International School (CIS) for my secondary education. Thereafter, I pursued my degree in international business and marketing from the Edith Cowan University at the Australian College of Business Administration (ACBT).

I started modelling professionally at the age of 16, and since then have done a number of part-time jobs including co-founding my own cold-pressed juice business Elixir (@elixircoldpressed) in 2017.

How did you start modelling and what has been your favourite memory so far in the industry?

I was a very shy girl in my early teens and didn’t really see myself as model material until my best friend forced me to pose for her to test out her camera. She uploaded those images on Facebook and the rest was history.

I’ve been blessed to have some amazing memories in the industry, but by far, I would say the most memorable one was being flown to India to shoot for the cover of the ninth anniversary issue of Vogue India along with some of the region’s top models for the theme of “Beauty in Diversity”. It was an exhilarating experience that I still find myself in awe when I think back to.

You are also a travel enthusiast. What inspired you to travel and what is the process of picking the places you go to?

I’ve been privileged to have been travelling around the country from the time I was a kid. However in 2017, my boyfriend Shehaan and I embarked on a month-long backpacking trip from the North to the South of Thailand. This was the first time we were travelling solo and on a budget, and it really opened our eyes and broadened our horizons. What we experienced and learnt in that month felt like years of knowledge we’d have never been able to get back at home. We’ve always loved travelling, but after coming back from that trip, we knew that we wanted to build our lives around travel and finding ways to make it possible for us to travel long term, sustainably.

As for picking our travel destinations, we always look to explore the underrated and unknown, and even when visiting popular tourist destinations, we try our best to cover experiences less known to the mass tourist groups. We also make it a point when travelling to a new country to spend a minimum of a month so that we are able to get a wholesome experience of that particular destination.

Talk to us about #ThisisSriLanka.

#ThisisSri Lanka was a campaign Shehaan and I came up with after spending one month in Vietnam. Having travelled from the North to the South of Vietnam and seeing how well tourism was marketed and promoted to tourists from around the world, we thought of exploring our own homeland and showcasing it to the world, along with sharing vital information budget tourists like ourselves would look for when planning a trip.

The primary object was to promote travel to lesser known gems found around the island and show that it could be done comfortably with a budget of less that $ 800 per person over the course of three weeks. It turned out to be a lot more successful than we had imagined and to date, we are so happy with the impact it has had and the continued feedback we are getting on the series.

We are currently in the process of filming our second iteration of #ThisIsSrilanka, which will launch no sooner our borders open for foreign tourists.

In our beautiful little island, what is your favourite place to visit?

We’ve come to realise that this is an evolving answer. We continue to discover new gems all around Sri Lanka that leave us in awe! If I had to pick one at this moment, I would say Gal Oya National Park or Arugam Bay.

What about outside Sri Lanka? What has been your favourite place so far?

Thailand, without a doubt, which is why we keep going back. Many Sri Lankans equate Thailand to just Bangkok and Phuket, but the country is blessed with amazing food and culture around; we especially love the North of Thailand and cant wait to go back.

Any funny stories for us?

From our recent travels, I think the funniest might have to be the one where we met professional boxer Floyd Mayweather in Bali and Shehaan almost got beat up by him for trying to film him for our vlog. It was scary at the time, but in hindsight, it one of our funniest travel experiences!

What advice do you have for young, aspiring travellers?

Find the time and finances to make it happen at least once a year – to a place you have never been to. There is so much to learn from travelling and one should look at it as a means of personal growth rather than just a fun holiday to be spent at a resort.

With regard to content creation, how would you describe your aesthetic?

It is an ever-evolving aesthetic that grows and changes as we experience and learn from our travels. We always look to create fresh new content based on our experiences and skillsets.

What is the process like taking your photos and videos?

Over the years, we’ve found little hacks to being more efficient and precise when taking pictures and making videos, and we now have a routine which we follow when we are at a new destination for content creation. Whenever possible, we make it a point to experience it ourselves first so that we are able to better capture and portray it to our audience.

And we also take multiple shots throughout the day in different lighting conditions to make sure we always have a variety to select from when we are in post-production.

Where do you see your platform in five years? What do you hope to build it into?

I see it being an international platform for like-minded travellers. We also hope to build on our platform to branch out into other areas of interests as we go through the different stages of life.

The best part of being a content creator is the fact that you can create content on anything that interests you, and I hope to keep doing that and share as much positivity and inspiration for those who enjoy the work we do.