Fernanda Lima was born in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul. She if of Portuguese and Catalan descent.
One of three children – she has two brothers, Rodrigo and Rafael – of two professors of physical education, as a child, she showed interest in journalism and the art world, creating choreographies prepared at parties and family gatherings. She also went to the streets with her cousins carrying cameras to do research on voting at election, editing the material recorded at home.
She began her modeling career at the age 14, when she was discovered by a photographer, and she ended up living for five months in Japan, Milan, and Zurich in 1990 as a teenager. When she returned to in Brazil, she moved to São Paulo. As a model, in Brazil and abroad, she has been photographed for dozens of covers and fashion editorials in publications such as L'Officiel, I-D, Nova, Marie Claire, Elle, GQ, and Trip, among others, and advertising campaigns for the Benetton Group in Italy.
In 1999 she made her television debut on MTV Brazil, in Mochilão MTV. While making this programme, she went to Hawaii, it was there where she decided to study Communications and she went back to Sao Paulo, where she attended and graduated in Journalism from Centro Universitário das Faculdades Metropolitanas Unidas. In the same year, she went to work for RedeTV!, debuting in the channel on November presenting two programmes, Interligado, which was aimed at a young audience and conveyed video clips and music and topics of interest to teens, and TV Escolha, a movie session transmitted on Sundays and where viewers chose the films that would be shown.
After nine months in RedeTV!, she was invited to return to her previous channel and, in August 2000, she again presented the Mochilão MTV, Luau MTV, and Fica Comigo, which premiered in October of that year. In February 2005, she was hired by Rede Globo to replace Angélica of Vídeo Game, presenting the programme Vídeo Show, during pregnancy and maternity leave of the titular host. Soon after, she was invited to act in the Bang Bang, set in a plot of city directly reflecting the old west Brazil, where she was the protagonist Diana Bullock. Without any training or experience in drama, she accepted the role, taking lessons martial arts and hiring a speech therapist. Due to being inexperienced for the lead role, her portrayal of the character received several criticisms from the press, who said she was the cause of the low ratings of the telenovela. In spite of the criticisms, she was invited to play role in Pé na Jaca by Carlos Lombardi playing the role of Maria Bo. She got better reviews from the viewers. After this, She got other roles in Fantástico, Daqui para Frente, and Por Toda Minha Vida. In August 2009, she began hosting Amor e Sexo, which is aimed at a young audience and talks about the theme of sex and related topics.
She was contracted by FIFA in July 2010 to present alongside her husband Rodrigo Hilbert during the launching the emblem of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil directly from South Africa. In July 2011, with presenter Tadeu Schmidt, she hosted the draw of the 2014 World Cup Qualifiers. In December 2013, again alongside her husband, she presented the drawing of lots of the World Cup. Her participation in this event was seen live by more than 500 million viewers in 200 countries around the world, Causing her to be called the "goddess" or "muse" of the World Cup by the foreign media.
The neckline of the dress worn by Lima during the presentation of the draw was censored in the live broadcast of the event in Iran, one of the qualified countries of the World Cup. The authorities of the country – which has cultural and religious restrictions to women's clothing and where women can not go to football games – suspended transmission in real time.
At the end of 2013, she was included in a list of 10 Brazilians who stood out in the international news that year, prepared by BBC Brasil. In January 2014, she was the official host of the Ballon d'Or of FIFA for Dutch football player Ruud Gullit. Because of the huge publicity around Lima, she was invited to perform in London during the National Television Awards, the highest award of the British television.
Lima has a relationship with fellow actor and model Rodrigo Hilbert, whom she met at a luau in Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro and with whom she has twin sons João and Francisco. She is a fan of Grêmio Football Porto Alegrense, a business partner in a restaurant in São Paulo, a vegetarian, and a practitioner of yoga.