Eugenia Kuzmina іs model, actress and presenter of American television shows. Originally from Russia, she moved to Europe, and then to the United States at a very young age having plunged into the harsh realities of the modeling business. In this interview given to me Eugenia has told how models work in America, she also covered the topic of the filming of Kati Lund, Rodrigo Prieto, Guy Ritchie and friendship with Arnold Schwarzenegger. In addition to show business, Eugenia Kuzmina is engaged in television projects on the topic of the day and tours the United States as part of his own stand-up show.
Please tell us what problems you faced when moving to America? What seemed unusual? What was difficult to get used to?
I moved to Paris at 15 and lived on my own in different countries ever since. I had to adjust from being a kid to working in the fashion and film industry where you’re an independent talent for hire, the one making decisions about contracts, salary, taxes, etc…
I moved to US when I was 21 and it was a big difference in adjustment as well. In US everything is about business. If in Paris we could spend 12 hours to get a specific modeling shot because it’s all about art, in US if you’re working past hours that you were scheduled to work, its considered overtime and here time is money.
I learned pretty fast to never be late, to depend on myself, work hard and to be an open communicator. What was hard to adjust to is the difference of values. I feel in Europe family and quality of life comes before work, in US there’s a constant need to succeed and a lot of times its considered that work defies who you are. I’m happy to find a great community with artists since moving to Los Angeles.
What qualities should a model have to be interesting for American customers?
There are a lot of beautiful photogenic people but I feel that to be successful in a long run as a model you have to be a people person. You have to communicate and get along with different personalities. It’s a small business where people judge based on who you are as a person , the way of how easy it was to work with you especially in stressful situations like (shooting a cover in a bikini in winter, showing up on time, asking how is everyone doing).
How to remain in demand in the profession in a constant competition and at the time of the crazy boom of social networks?
When I started modeling, I compared myself to everyone in the business and it lead me to anorexia at 16 and unhappiness. I was lucky that my agency in Paris Nathalie Models was very supportive and guided me to reflect on it. I realized that perfectionism is not the answer, that if you find what’s unique and different about you and realize that you flaws and vulnerability are what makes you stand out, it’s much more interesting for a brand to cast you in a shoot or film. So I realized that competition is a false perception. There’s no two people alike and I started to take “no“ as not personal when someone wouldn’t hire me. It gave me perspective and confidence.
What was the most interesting contract for you personally?
I personally love films and telling stories. I acted in Russia and did commercials as a child, but internationally the first time I was hired to be in a music video at 17 rather than photo shoot had a big influence on my confidence to pursue acting. David Halliday hired me to be in a music video “Strange Angel“ where I had to play quiet opposite of myself , wear a black wig and portray a dark angel. It was fun.
I was also thrilled to work with genius designers like Yves Saint Laure, Alexandre Mqueen, Vivien Westwood and connect to them on personal level rather than just be a hanger for their clothes.
How does the American approach to the modeling business differ from other countries?
In US it’s about business more than art. You have to know the value of your brand, of your compensation, and value of your time.
I heard that you are friends with Arnold Schwarzenegger. What kind of person did he turn out to be when communicating?
I love Arnold! As a child “Terminator“ was a film that inspired me to think bigger and look in a different way about human potential. Arnold is an inspiration. He is an immigrant, he has a hard to pronounce name, he has an accent and he is a true star. He genially cares about people and he is a giver. When I met him I knew he connects to people not based on what they give him but based on who they are inside no matter what you do. We love his Christmas parties and I always feel like in a company of a good person around him.
Please tell us about your work in the stand-up comedy genre. What parodies are the most interesting of all?
After having kids I knew that traveling for modeling shoots every week would make me home sick and luckily I was cast in a Rodrigo Prieto movie with Elle Faning which gave me a chance to get an acting agent. Movies and TV are more stable I would say by comparison to modeling that can take you from Japan to Paris to Brazil in one week.
Typecasting is still a big problem in Hollywood; even though its getting more diverse, so playing Russian Spies made me feel uncreative as an artist. I wanted to connect to live audience in a more personable way. I started doing stand up reflecting on all clichés and talking about flaws. It’s an amazing way to connect to people on a heart level.
What is the concept of TV-show Model Mom?
When I became a mom, I realized there’s not a lot of support for working mothers. I felt like I was falling short of expectations as a mom and as a professional. Sometimes I was not able to take a job because my kids were sick or I had to miss a soccer game because I had to shoot in another city. I wanted to create a conversation with other working moms and started a blog www.modelmom.tv. Then, a production company approached me about doing a reality show after I did a movie “Bad Moms“.
Please tell us about the ‘Reflection’ documentary film directed by Katia Lund, in which you also take part. Continuing the line of the film, I want to ask a question: in your opinion, how has the image of a woman in photography been changing in recent years?
Katia Lund approached me about being part of the documentary about “image of women and how it changes through the history“. Frida Pino produced this film which is a very important conversation in current times .I feel there’s a big change that’s happening in the change from patriarchy to a different more balanced society. Women’s voices are more diverse then ever and so many of them are bing heard for the first time. I’m working with Equal Means Equal organization to pass the law of equal pay for women and we only need one state to pass it in January to change history. It’s a work in progress.
You played a major role in the Justice for All blockbuster. Share the most memorable episodes of filming.
Actually I haven’t started shooting my part of the movie. We planned it for 2019 . I’m playing a very strong villain. I actually just passed a motorcycle license to be able to shoot in one of the scenes.
What are your creative plans for the nearest future?
It’s very exсiting to be cast in Guy Ritchie film ‘Toff Guys’. I’m leaving to shoot in London this Friday! I’m so lucky to work with incredible artists. Then were going on Stand Up tour to Palo Alto and I have a movie I’m appeared in that’s coming out on Valentines day called “Isn’t It Romantic“. On the side I’m working on Model Mom blog and writing a book about imperfections.
Photographer: Colin Angus
South African born fashion photographer started as a model 25 yrs ago turned to photographer after being inspired by working with fashions greatest photographers and magazines. Colin Angus has worked with Steven Meisel for both Italian and American Vogue and shot with both Mario Testimony and Patrick Demarchellie. I love fashion and beautiful people like Eugenia who inspired me with her beautiful blonde looks and beautiful femanine body to shoot a 70’s inspired story. I love the 70’s it’s my favorite era for fashion and beauty. Sex was rampant in the 70’s and Eugenia exudes that sexuality.