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.