Updated: May 20
Katya, you’ve had a successful modeling career, having done work for L’Oréal, Armani, Bulgari Jewelry, Pacco Rabbana, and Lanvin. Can you tell us about how you became a model?
I was 14 years old. I was walking with my mom on the streets of Saint Petersburg and a woman who was a scout told me I should try modeling. She tells me there is a casting for a model contest which I end up going to. There were around 2000 models and surprisingly I was chosen to be one of the 70 girls for this pageant. A couple days of rehearsals, first catwalks, and thousands of eyes looking at you. It was stressful, but exciting! The judges picked 5 finalists — I was one of these girls. The judges turned out to be representatives from IMG Models, one of the biggest and well-known model agencies in the world. After the contest, I signed with IGM and left Russia to pursue my modeling career.
What was your favorite photo shoot to be a part of?
I’m a creative person and being a model let you be a part of creating something amazing. There were many shoots I enjoyed being a part of. A recent one I had flew me to New Delhi, India to shoot with the Indian Polo Team. I love animals and having a chance to shoot with beautiful and kind animals like horses was an incredible experience.
I used to enjoy horseback riding when I was a child, but haven’t done it in years so it brought me back those incredible memories and feelings.
What are the perks that come with modeling?
Being a model will expose you to a lot of different skills. You learn proper posture, always being pretty for photos, communication and poise. You learn how to put make up, and style your hair just watching professionals working with you. You develop your own style having a chance to try out a 1000 different looks. Many things you learn on the job can apply to other careers.
Being a model gives you a chance not only make your own money, but also get you free stuff. Designers send you their goods once you work with them on the regular basis.
You have a unique opportunity to travel all over the world like NYC, London, Milan, Paris, Miami, LA, Tokyo, Moscow, Munich, Vienna. If you’re lucky, Bali or St Barth's. You have a great opportunity to meet new cultures, new people.
Any words of wisdom for anyone just starting out as a model?
“The secret to modeling is not being perfect. What one needs is a face that people can identify in a second. You have to be given what’s needed by nature, and what’s needed is to bring something new.” ― Karl Lagerfeld
My own personal pearls of wisdom are:
1. Modelling is a business and as a model, you are your own business! Like any business, it takes time, effort, and commitment to become a successful model. Remember that success does not happen overnight.
2. Present yourself as the perfect candidate: show confidence, have a good attitude, and a friendly personality. Show your personal style, but keep it clean and simple. Always make a good first impression. Be prepared! Be professional. Never be late. Apply it to castings, go-sees or work.
3. Keep a healthy lifestyle: drink a lot of water, hold on to a healthy diet, workout regularly, get sufficient sleep.
4. Look after your skin and hair: use skin & hair care products, keep makeup at a minimum.
6. Model agency representation: If you are looking to be repped or if a modeling agency contacts you, be sure the contract is reliable and includes the standard conditions of the industry. Ask other models and if you have to, consult an entertainment lawyer. If you have any doubts, don't sign the contract!
7.All new models experience rejection at one point or another. Don’t give up! It is just a fact of the business. Stick to your goals, work hard, and start connecting with the right people in order to make your dream of being a model into a reality.
You’re making the transition to acting and have several films coming out this year. You’re in ‘Angel Has Fallen’ alongside Gerald Butler and Morgan Freeman as well as a lead character in ‘Honeymoon in Paradise.’ What has the crossover to acting been like?
My transition to acting from modeling has been smooth and interesting adventure. Modeling and acting are different arts, no doubt. For as different as they are, there is there overlap, which is why the transition from modeling to acting is a well-established route of many performance artists.
Mark Wahlberg famously modeled Calvin Klein underwear before he became Hollywood star. Charlize Theron became big in the fashion industry before her successful film career.
There’s no substitute for the acting school, which is why I think all actors should invest in classes. With education comes experience and confidence. Models have the of being comfortable in front of the camera. Adding acting classes teaches important aspects that models usually are unaware of, like how to experience different lives and tell stories. Model on the other hand are taught to sells the beauty of a product or the lifestyle that comes with it.
We caught that you’re currently filming for lead role in the fantasy film ‘Empire Queen.’ Tell us about the film and how you got the part.
This film is produced by Christopher Dane Owens and Jason Schulz. It’s a beautiful fantasy film - let’s say Harry Potter for adults.
I’m playing a role of Terra Winter, a kind, powerful witch set in this ‘Golden Age of Magic’. Jason has been my dear friend for years! We’ve already worked together on couple great projects. One was a short film called “Fashion Assassin.” He knew my professionalism, work ethic, and experience which is why I was invited to be a part of this project.
What are the other projects you have on the horizon?
This summer, I’ll be shooting the film “Wish Cake.” It’s a beautiful romantic comedy with elements of magic, love, and laughter. My character is an athletic redhead, which means I’ll have to change my image temporarily. We’ll be filming in Jamaica, which is pretty amazing.
Another film is the drama “Driver,” a story of two brothers, love, money, and difficult relationships. It’s intense and twisted, though I’m glad to have the chance to work on something unpredictable, intense, and totally different than what I’ve done previously.
What would be your dream film or TV show to land? Who would you want co-star with?
I love thrillers, comedy, sci-fi movies, but my favorite genre is action. In the action genre, I can play a bad ass women on the side of justice. In television, something like Carrie Mathison or Claire Danes in Homeland or Peta Wilson in La Femme Nikita. Even Lucy Lawless as
Xena: Warrior Princess. For films, Charlize Theron in Atomic Blonde or Gal Gadot as Wonder Women. It’s definitely a goal to get to this level.
Choosing a costar is harder because there are so many talented actors out there who I’d love and dream to work with.
It’ll be an honor to work with Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Gal Gadot, Brie Larson, Zoe Saldana.
You have an active lifestyle doing dancing, rhythmic gymnastics, karate, yoga, and boxing. What keeps you motivated to juggle all these activities? Is there any favoritism?
I’ve been active since my childhood. My parents are both professional athletes. My dad was doing Russian judo, mom was into martial arts. I probably could’ve become a professional gymnast if I hadn’t chosen modeling.
I’m grateful my parents kept me active. It taught me to be disciplined and persistent. Now I work out 6 times a week. It’s always different when you keep this many activities. That’s why I don’t get bored. Your body doesn’t get used to monotonous exercises and it’s the best way to keep yourself in a great shape. Let’s say today, I do boxing - it’s cardio and upper body. The next day I’ll do yoga, hiking, and barre class.
Keeping a healthy lifestyle and working out - it’s a great mental and emotional release with physical benefits. It helps you feel better and happier, look better, and stay in shape. It’s a great motivation for all of us.
When you’re not working hard or working out, what do you do for fun?
Let’s see. I love shopping and spas. I think it’s a common answer of all women, but it’s true. Ha-ha. I take acting classes. Even though I graduated The Lee Strasberg Film Institute and The Theater, you have to continue to train your “emotional muscles” just like an athlete. I love to be active and take a walk on the beach. I like going to nice restaurants or checking out art exhibits. There’s watching movies, TV shows, and reading when I need to relax. And of course, I love to travel whether it’s for fun or work.
What’s something few people know about you?
You’d be surprised to know I have a degree in Economics and I speak few languages including Russian and French. I’m also a homebody and I feel comfortable being on my own. I often need “me time.” I like to recharge myself reading a book, having coffee, or doing a solo hiking. I’m natural introvert. Acting helped to open me up and understand my potential, as well as to be more communicative, open and outgoing.
Take us inside an average day for you.
Well, there is no really an average day for actors and models. It is always different. We don’t have an office job. We have photo shoots and filming with different people, looks, locations.
For example tomorrow looks something like this:
Wake up call - 8am. Breakfast. Gym. Surfing the internet, emails, Instagram, and Facebook. Checking if I have any auditions, castings, meetings. Later, I’ll be going to the actor’s studio, a 4 hours class. Meeting with an agent. After that, going to read a script of the movie I’ll be auditioning for. Dinner with friends. Sleep.
Where can we follow you and your adventures in acting?
Well you can find me on IG - @katyabakat / FB - Katya Bakat / Imdb.me/katyabakat