When I began interviewing actors and filmmakers, my hope was readers would pick up a few tips or tricks to ace the job interview or calm their nerves before the big boardroom presentation.
What I learned was successful actors and filmmakers have several traits in common with successful professionals and business leaders. Excelling in any industry takes hard work and perseverance, and while the most successful tend to make it look easy, the reality is its anything but.
“Making it” as a model or an actress is a nearly impossible task, having the “look” helps, but at the end of the day, it’s its motivation and dedication that drives success. I’m thrilled Eugenia Kuzmina took some time out of her schedule to share with me her experience on what it takes to “make it.” Hopefully, you will apply these same techniques to your careers and industry.
Meet Eugenia Kuzmina
Eugenia Kuzmina is a Russian-American actress, comedian, and model. Her modeling career took off when she appeared on the cover of Glamour and walked the runway for multiple designers including Yves Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, Thierry Mugler. She appeared in advertisements for Hermes, Armani jeans, Dior sunglasses, GAP.
My questions are in bold, Eugenia’s follow in plain text
Can you tell us about yourself and your background?
My two favorite words are adventure and fun. I’m not a typical Capricorn, and I don’t have a normal birthday, it’s on Dec 25.
I’ve always been one of those kids who doesn’t fit in the box.
Early creative ideas caught my scientist parents and my early teachers by surprise, like the time I made bikinis out of soviet uniforms or snuck into a screening of Terminator 2 at five. In fact, I was so blown away by it; I had to sneak in twice in a row.
Let’s just say I’ve been feeling much happier pursuing professional ice skating than sitting at a school desk. Who cares about everyday training in -22F when you can feel that excitement of doing a live show on ice like Red Riding Hood, and Snow White …The smell of freshly cleaned ice, the lights, the music was bursting… And then came modeling.
It’s not something you can pursue, just the look you have and the Russian designer Slava Zaitzev thought I had a look for his brand and a few others, like M&Ms (love chocolate) RC Cola (we went through 50 bottles shooting the commercial) and magazines like Vogue and Elle. Then, at 15, came contracts for Dior, L’Oreal, Hermes to travel to France, Tokyo, London, New York.
I would wake up in the planes from the Amazon Jungle to Shanghai, to the Sahara to New York. That was the most gypsy time of my life!
Then at 23, I gave it all up to have a baby with a man I fell in love with. It was a big leap of faith, and I believe life has its magical ways.
Not long after Rodrigo Prieto was looking for a model character in a short film, he wanted to direct with Elle Fanning. He was looking for someone who could portray decadence, vanity, and extreme neurosis. Who knew you could share all the dark sides of being human on camera!
The past three years have been a rollercoaster of discoveries and stories, like playing a girl of the oldest profession with John Turturro and Woody Allen on the streets of NY, making Zoe Deschanel act even more awkward on “New Girl”, playing an FBI agent with Stana Katic on Castle, being a mean night club host with Danny McBride, Scott Caan, and Bill Murray and improvising with Lisa Kudrow on The Comeback .
I’m incredibly grateful for being part of the creative process and working with such incredible artists.
Recently I’ve decided to get back doing live shows and found Stand Up! And I fell in love, just being in a room with total strangers sharing life at its most unexpected moments brings me a lot of joy.
Eugenia Kuzmina Discusses Acting and Modeling
How did you get started as an actor and model?
First, I was scouted in School to be part of Eralash episode, which is an SNL type of show with kids in it. Then at 13, I was discovered by the Russian Designer: Slava Zaitsev
What does a typical day look like?
Having three kids on top of the very diverse and busy career as an actor, comedian, and model makes me appreciate every minute of the day. I wake up at 6 to get kids ready for school and then either go to set or airport to fly to set or shoot for my blog and do interviews.
Not one day is the same, and I love the unpredictability of my life. One thing is sure; I have to spend quality time with my kids and family
Professionally what are you most proud of?
I love being part of the television Academy and be able to work on projects I love New Girl, Lady Dynamite, and Castle. I’m very excited about the upcoming Guy Ritchie movie too
What do you think the biggest misconception the public has about acting and modeling?
I think its viewed as a glamorous and easy job where you travel to amazing places and get paid well, while in reality in both industries you deal with rejection on a daily basis, you put yourself to be judged and critiqued, you have to work very hard on a regular basis and you never know if tomorrow you will have a job.
I think it takes motivation and reason to pursue modeling and acting. For me, if I make one person laugh or affected in some way… it’s a big reason why
Is there something you learned from the industry that you found surprising?
I am surprised by how humble and giving real artists are. I met people who have Oscars and who would show up on reverse of their movie scene take to support you not talking back at the wall
Working opposite Zac Effron, Zooey Deschanel, Lisa Kudro, John Turturro, Danny Mcbride, Scott Caan, has been nothing but a fantastic experience
What advice would you have for people that are having difficulty making it in the industry?
Meditation is a huge thing for me. Our thoughts create our reality. If you’re complaining about other people or outside the situation, it’s time to quiet down, find gratitude and next positive action one step at a time. I believe in abundance
Do you have any tips for people trying to make it as an actor or model?
Stay humble, no matter where you are. Acting, modeling can make you self-involved and egocentric. I think it’s so important on staying grounded and learning new skills
Eugenia Kuzmina on Success…
What have you learned from being successful?
That it’s not a measure of your self-worth, Success is one or few achievements never define a relative word and life. There’s always the next mountain to conquer and learn for the process.
Also, it’s not about your ego but service and how you change the lives of others by what you are successful at doing
What advice would you give someone launching their career?
Focus on building your skills, don’t compare your journey to others, instead find what makes you unique, how you can be of service and always be compassionate at the end of the day
Do you have any advice for people that may feel discouraged about reaching their goals?
I think the most important is always to have hope no matter what’s your situation. To be excited about achievement but also about failure in a similar way, because you equally learn from both.
To know why you’re doing what you’re doing will make you understand that any no coming your way is only a reflection of other people’s reality. Use no as a way to find new opportunities.
If you could recommend one book to help people be more successful, what would it be?
The Power of Now by Ekhart Tole changed my life. If you’re present, you’re really alive at the moment no matter where you are or what emotions come up.
How import is fitness to success?
A healthy spirit is in a healthy body. Animals are natural at that. When they get stressed, they shake their bodies. Humans keep a lot of stress inside, and it gets stored for years.
You can see in the way people are carrying themselves. Exercise helps to be present in the body and release any unnecessary tensions
Do you enjoy working out?
I love working out. Its an act of self-care, a way of saying “I love you” to your body.
It’s a way of meditation and focusing your mind.
How do you manage time?
Being present at the moment, being flexible to changes and writing down next day tasks before bed in order of priority and joy
Do you have any apps, books, or tips that you use to be more productive?
- Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
- Comedy Bible by Judy Karter
- Acting is Everything by Judy Kerr
- Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter
- The Power Of Habits: Why We do What We Do by Charles Duhigg
Eugenia Kuzmina Discusses What’s Next
Any cool projects you are working on?
I just finished a cute comedy for Lifetime 12 Pup Christmas; we are on a stand-up tour with Nobodies Funny Tour and an upcoming Guy Ritchie movie. I’m also writing a comedy book and continue to work on www.modelmom.tv
Where can people connect with you online?
@eugeniakuzmina on Instagram
@Eugeniakuzmina1 on Twitter
I hope the comedy book that I’m writing about juggling work and parenting will help parents to be unapologetically themselves when raising kids and trust their instincts.
What is the best advice you have received?
When your actions match your words, that’s when you are authentic
What is the one thing you wish everyone knew?
There’s never an end to learning and being curious about life no matter where you are in the journey.
Thank you for interviewing with us.
Thank you so much for such a thorough interview!!!
Michael has worked in the financial services industry for nearly 20 years. He lives in rural PA with his wife, two children, and too many animals. Michael shares his experience, unique insights, and profiles inspirational success stories at Your Money Geek.