Carelessly dubbed by one women's magazine in 1998 as "the model of the moment," Brazilian cover girl Gisele Bündchen makes that headline, in retrospect, look completely risible. In addition to gracing the covers and inner glossies of virtually every fashion magazine (and Victoria's Secret lingerie catalogue) in the West, this 5'10" firecracker -- like Cindy Crawford -- extended her career for many years, seemingly without end, outstripping the expectations of many in the process. Born into obscurity, Bündchen grew up in the town of Horizontina, Brazil, and reportedly never gave much, if any, thought to modeling; in fact, she harbored a passion for volleyball at an early age and foresaw herself becoming a professional volleyball player. She enrolled in a professional modeling course at age 14 to improve her posture -- a course that ended with a trip to a São Paulo shopping mall, where talent scouts were waiting. On her website, Bündchen modestly concludes "they must have liked me"; in retrospect, it appears certain that when the said agents laid eyes on her, they almost certainly realized that they were looking at one of the most fantastic discoveries of the era and someone who redefined "photogenic." In virtually no time at all, Gisele was everywhere.
Unlike some of her contemporaries -- such as Crawford and Elle MacPherson -- Bündchen undertook a somewhat reserved foray into Hollywood features. Her first appearances constituted bit parts in such pictures as Taxi (2004) and The Devil Wears Prada (2006).