Neferteri: One Great Shepherd
Neferteri Shepherd claims she was born to model, and she has the moniker to confirm it.
The 19-year-old's first name is Egyptian for "here comes the beautiful one," a fitting description for this looker. Newlywed Neferteri (her friends call her Nef) studies business in college and lives in Berkeley, California. "I basically want to be my own boss -- I don't want to work for anyone else," says Nef. An avid reader, she has what it takes to go to the head of the class, but Nef's been chasing her true calling for as long as she can remember.
"Modeling is hard work, but I like the result when I get to see the pictures," says Nef. "I'm an ambitious person. When I want something, I put 150 percent into achieving it." Even though her love affair with the camera began at an early age, Nef worries about young girls hungry to strike a pose. "I believe girls shouldn't model until they are at least 17 years old. People cart these little kids all over the world and they become drug addicts or anorexic. I'm glad I didn't start out when I was younger, because I can look at everything from a different perspective and not let anyone take advantage of me."
Now that's she's older and wiser, does Nef feel confident about posing in the buff? "I went to a nude beach when I was 16 and didn't feel comfortable with it," she says. "Now, after posing for Playboy, my confidence has been boosted [laughs]. I look at nudity as art, depending on how it's presented. I never thought my body was nice until I started dancing and looking at other people's bodies. My breasts are natural -- it's all me."
Nef is fortunate to have a husband and family who support her new found freedom of expression. "I just got married last December, and my husband is excited about my being in Playboy," she says. "At first, he didn't want me to do it, but my mom really wanted me to go for it." Nef, who was born in New Orleans but raised in California, has a family reunion in Mississippi this month where she can expect to meet previously unknown relatives, now that word is out that there's a Playmate in the family. "It's going to be out in the cut -- we're supposed to bring tents and camp out," she says. The cut? "You know, in the woods, somewhere far out."
In her free time, Nef is a smooth operator. "I love Sade and Brian McKnight," she reveals. "I mostly enjoy rap and hip-hop. I used to listen to a lot of alternative rock music when I was younger. I'm not sure why -- it was kind of weird. I love to dance -- it relaxes the body and refreshes the soul." Nef lists her mother and Iman as two important role models. "I admire my mom a lot," she says. "She raised me by herself -- we're very close. As for Iman, I like her because she's a smart businesswoman. She models and acts, plus has a family and her own cosmetics company." Has Nef caught the acting bug yet? "I've thought about being on a soap opera or in a comedy-action movie, like Lethal Weapon." That's a risky business for a model. Would she do her own stunts? "Depends on the stunt. Leaping off a building or being lit on fire would be too much. If I have to be lit on fire, I need a double." We'd like to keep Nef around, so this is music to our ears, and she insists she would never take her good fortune for granted. "When I wake up, I thank God for giving me another day of life. I try to make the most out of every day -- you never know if it will be your last.
Photography by Arny Freytag