Ilene Hamann was born in Jeffreys Bay, where she lived until she moved to Cape Town, South Africa. Her mother is of Portuguese descent and her father of Dutch descent. Hamann started her career with photography, which earned her several modeling offers, which she pursued.
Hamann attended Nico Malan High School, and Matriculated with a B aggregate.[clarification needed] After her matriculation, she went to Stellenbosch Academy of Design and Photography, where she completed her first year in photography but had to give up her studies due to the amount of modeling work she was receiving.
Hamann kicked her career off in 2003 by traveling off to India, Dubai, and Australia for modeling jobs. In South Africa, she was booked for advertisement job in such places as Truworths, Foschini, and American Swiss. In India, her job highlights included editorials for Elle and L'Officiel (including a cover). During her seasons in Cape Town, she was booked for British designer Stewart Parvin's print advertising campaign, the bauknecht catalogue, Stihl power tools, and various others. Hamann is represented by Faith Models in South Africa and managed internationally by Star Born Talent.