Actress & Comedian Eugenia Kuzmina: “Remember people’s names and care about them sincerely; human experience is priceless”
I learned to be grateful to be part of the project and experience no matter the outcome. At the end no matter what you’re doing in life it has to be bigger than yourself , I’m happy to be of service to others.
I had the pleasure of interviewing comedian , actress and model Eugenia Kuzmina. Eugenia has graced covers and done editorials for such magazines as Glamour , Vogue , Elle , Marie Claire and appeared in numerous fashion ads like L’oreal, Dior , Hermes , etc … After having children she moved to LA and got cast in Rodrigo Prieto’s (cinematographer of “ Wolf of Wall Street “ ) directorial debut “ Likeness “ opposite Elle Fanning. Films as “Fading Gigolo“ , “Rock The Kasbah“ “Bad Moms “ Toff Guys” as well as guest appearances on shows like “New Girl” “The Comeback” “Castle”, and Lady Dynamite. Eugenia performs stand up at The Comedy Store , Laugh Factory and is currently on tour with her stand up group Nobodies Funny across US. She resides in LA with her husband and 3 kids.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Since growing up in Post Soviet Russia, I was looking for my voice , ways to express and authentically connect with others . After the end of communism and new era in Russia , there weren’t many avenues for creative expression or free speech. I knew that to find an authentic voice , I’d have to travel , that’s why modeling was very appealing as means to discover different cultures and ways of living . After having kids I felt it was time to grow and dig deeper . Acting provides me with an opportunity to learn more about human nature and since the roles for Russians are still quiet limited I felt that live comedy stage is an incredible place to connect and share life experiences ….
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
It’s hard to choose one experience over another as this career is a daily rollercoaster , once we were shooting a comedy sketch with a live chicken and after the shoot the chicken was supposed to be returned to the butcher , where she was taken from …..but I grew really attached to the animal , my comedy partner and I named the chicken “ Sylvie “ and she was the sweetest creature to be around, so I decided to keep the chicken and find a farm for it to live. My other friend had a rescue place for animals and she was ready to take “ Sylvie “ in 5 days . Meanwhile the chicken lived in our house with 3 kids … Every time my husband and I would have an argument , the chicken would walk in ….. And we couldn’t do anything but laugh …. So I would say,”if you have relationship issues … get a live chicken”.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
One of my first films was “ That Awkward Moment “ with Zac Efron . I was supposed to be a bartender ….As a model , I had no experience whatsoever bartending and kept breaking glasses and making weird noises during the scene . It was shot at 4 am after a very long day . At the end the director and Zac just said , “let’s skip this scene ….” I was very upset and at the film’s closing party I decided to prove that I can bartend for real and jumped behind the bar and started making drinks for everyone . In that moment two security guards arrested me and escorted from the bar . Little I knew you have to have a licence to do the real job in NY ….. models ….I learned a lot about everything , including respect , to be part of the team and that any acting you do requires skills
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I just finished shooting “ Toff Guys “ with Guy Ritchie , we are currently on stand up tour across US with Nobodies Funny troupe and I’m writing a comedy book Model Mom’s Guide based on the blog www.modelmom.tv
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
I’m blessed to meet extraordinary people from all walks of life . Of course it was intriguing to meet presidential candidates and leaders in different countries , but people who really touch my heart are people who use their voice to share their truth , inspire others , despite their life circumstances . It’s people I meet at the comedy club , at the local coffee store , doctors , teachers , singers , artists ….. One person I met and was inspired by is Benazir Bhutto , she is an example of courage to girls and women .
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I would say …. A silent retreat is amazing …. 10 days without talking really focuses you. You have to ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing ? Is it to change and ease and inspire the lives of others or are you trying to prove something to someone or yourself . The deeper you go , the more aware you are of what projects to take on and what projects to say no to . That way you don’t burn out , you rather feel more energy because it is something you’re meant to do . Life is short and time is everything
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I currently work with Equal Means Equal to support human rights in the US. I think there’s a direction we’re heading where human rights are respected and heard no matter the gender or race. I believe in kindness , respect and unity by self example . Even though there’s a lot to be changed in the current climate, the deficiency is a great example of what needs to be paid attention to and worked on.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- I learned that I shouldn’t take anything personally and treat it as a normal job . It took me sometime to transition from modeling onto acting and performing live comedy shows. On the movie set , there are so many people and elements that are involved into creating a final product . It’s about the story at the end . When you start out and get smaller parts , it’s very common to not make it to the final cut . In the beginning I took it personally, but I learned to be grateful to be part of the project and experience no matter the outcome. At the end no matter what you’re doing in life it has to be bigger than yourself , I’m happy to be of service to others.
- In modeling everything revolves around you. A model is usually the center of the fashion campaign , and if you are not grounded it’s easy to become self centered in this business. A lot of times you get paid thousands of dollars when youre still a teanager, you get to live a glamorous lifestyle and get extra attention just for your looks and it can be very misleading.
- Remember people’s names and care about them sincerely . Human experience is priceless.
- Always bring something to the table , be of service
- Mistakes are best opportunity to grow , laugh about them , change fast and move on
- You are how you treat people even when they can do nothing for you
- Always help others who are starting out
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Say what you mean , mean what you say and let your words and actions match “ I learned from the Meisner acting technique that actions speak louder than words. Integrity is a quality that takes practice and self awareness . Respect is something that is earned and I learned that respect and loyalty in any relationship — either work or personal are irreplaceable
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I would have never have achieved anything without others . Of course my parents are an inspiration. My dad ,who was a nuclear scientist , taught me to be curious and my mom taught me to be sensitive to others . I was so lucky to meet amazing mentors like my first modeling agent Nathalie Cross-Coitton from Nathalie Models in Paris who took me under her wing at 15 , Luiz Mattos at IMG models who guided me to make wise career choices , I would have never made it without my husband Bill Block’s support and encouragement , he taught me so much from his perspective as a businessman and Miramax CEO , and of course my kids are teaching me the most important lessons of being present in the moment and living life to the fullest
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)
I love the work of Brene Brown . She’s an inspiration and influence .I feel she has great insights into leadership , authenticity and vulnerability . These are the qualities that are so needed in current times
How can our readers follow you on social media?
I love connecting and my instagram is @eugeniakuzmina , twitter @Eugeniakuzmina1 , website www.eugenia-kuzmina.com
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!