Since bursting onto the scene in 2017, Jeenu Mahadevan has become one of the hottest male models, with Vogue Paris listing him as one to watch in January 2018. He is also a force for representation as one of the few models of South Asian heritage in the industry, and has spoken out against the cultural taboo of colourism.
Initially an aspiring astrophysicist, Norway-born Mahadevan was discovered by Ida Falck Øien — one third of the design team behind Norwegian fashion brand Haikw — while on his local bus route home in November 2016. He was later picked up by Team Models, now his mother agency.
He went on to kickstart his modelling career at Paris Fashion Week Men’s Spring/Summer 2018, walking for Hermès, Alexander McQueen, Burberry and Etro, and has since featured in editorials for L’Officiel Hommes Germany, Vogue Hommes, GQ France, L’Uomo Vogue and Allure magazine. He has also starred in campaigns for Fendi, H&M and Pharrell Williams’ collaboration with Adidas Originals. Models.com ranks Mahadevan among its Hot List of male models.
Born to Sri Lankan parents, Mahadevan is one of the few faces in modelling to represent South Asian heritage. He has used his platform to talk about his experiences of further marginalisation due to his skin tone, both within and outside the fashion industry, saying in an interview with the BBC that "I was one of the first few dark-skinned guys [in modelling]. And now you see that every time there's a new Asian guy joining the industry, they know of me and they're always like 'Wow you're famous.'"
Mahadevan is based in New York. In addition to Oslo-based Team Models, he is represented by DNA Models in New York, Premium Models in Paris, D'Management Group in Milan, Elite in London and Nisch Management in Stockholm.