Interviewed by Katarzyna Sprengel
2 p.m. in Warsaw. It’s a sultry, bright day. I power walk in my high heel sandals towards Costa Coffee in the heart of the city, where I am about to interview Anna.
I arrive first and order a coffee. Not long after, I spot Anna entering the almost empty, quiet cafe. I am slightly discombobulated as I expected her to be very tall. Her face is very intriguing – unusually shaped and very elegant. Almost straightaway, it becomes clear that the beauty of it verges on the subtle balance between being headstrong and aggressiveness. She gives me a soft kiss on the cheek and a short hug – I cannot help but notice how petite she feels!
A strange man approaches us and starts mumbling inarticulate things to Anna. “No, thank you” she says, quickly reversing her body. You can tell she deals with these sort of situations a lot.
Chatting with Anna was interesting. She has an engaging personality and radiates with worldliness. The goal of her modelling work is to produce something truly wonderful, yet the greatness of it seems to be the side effect of defying the expected “dull sullen model” which is seen nowadays. Anna is different from all the other Polish models – and her intriguing, peculiarly chiseled face is not the only proof for that. Her mindset is representative of the modern woman not afraid to do things on her own, follow her dreams and accomplish whatever she wishes.
B.O.B.: How did you start your journey with modelling?
A.: I was born and grew up in Warsaw. When I was 17, I took part in a dancing competition, which actually led me to embark on the modelling experience. During the competition, I was approached by one of the many present photographers, who asked if I would like to be a model. Soon after, we took some pictures and it started to take a good turn. After that, it didn’t take long for one of the most prominent agencies in Poland to contact me and start working together. It all began when I was in first year of high school and I started travelling for work in the second year.
B.O.B.: Did that collide with your studies?
A.: It may be surprising to some, but not in the least. I was travelling a lot, but I could focus on what’s important. The teachers were often annoyed because despite being prevalently absent, I still managed to get the best grades (laugh).
B.O.B.: What was your first overseas travelling destination?
B.O.B.: As it usually is…
A.: Ahahaha, yes, as it usually is! (giggle) My pale, skinny and blonde self flew to Tokyo – I received acclaim there straight away. I’ve traveled to Japan on many other occasions. These were the beginnings and it was quite enjoyable. The money was also good – especially for a person from Poland like me, earning in dollars was something!
I also went to China once, but I do not recall this positively. The work was unrewarding and the treatment of the employees could definitely be better…
The next step was flying out to Milan, where I’ve signed a contract with Next Models. Then there was time for London and Paris. I’ve thought Paris would be my base for a while. However, I’ve realised it was hard to live in Paris without even properly knowing the mother tongue.
B.O.B.: What languages do you speak then?
A.: I know a little bit of French, but I’m still learning. I just got my business management degree from Oxford, so I have more time for that now!
B.O.B.: Congratulations! And where do you feel at home?
A.: Well, I love being home and spending time with my family, but I’ve never felt like Poland is my place, that’s for sure. I think I’m more of a cosmopolitan kind of girl. Since I started travelling, I really grew to like exploring new places. Not to mention the fact that the paths of career development are much more attractive in foreign metropolises. In Poland, you can’t network like you can network in London, LA or NY.
B.O.B.: Can you tell me how collaborating with so many agencies works out?
A.: Sure. We have a mother agency or an agent, and we are allowed to connect with other agencies. The mother agency is a central point of communication with other agencies around the world – they obviously charge a fee for giving you work. I’m not with my first agency anymore. Now I’m represented by a mother agent from Berlin, Ingo Nolden. I’m also assigned to Two Management in LA, City Models in Paris, Traffic Models in Spain, Iconic Management in Germany and NEXT in Milano. At the moment, due to just completing my degree and being able to concentrate on modelling more, I’m in the midst of changing a lot of agencies (like in London and NY).
B.O.B.: Do you have a specific image you need to or want to fit in?
A.: Let’s say that I fit the image influences like Gigi and Kendall with a touch of an “LA girl/surf girl” and ‘girl next door”. I can be chilled, but I can also be sexy and sensual, if needed. Also, I’m not the tallest model – I’m quite petite, but I have the right proportions and a good outgoing personality, which are both very important and always decide whether you win in this business or not.
I look up to Kate Moss – she is my personal point of reference. In actuality she is only 168 cm, and although considered short in the modelling world, it shows you can still be successful. It is all possible.
B.O.B. I think being a model used to be more prestigious before. Nowadays everything can be done in Photoshop anyway…
A.(laughing): Yes, soon models won’t be needed at all! It is a problem with which us, professional models, deal with today. All those instagirls, influencers and bloggers. It is not rare to get a question about the number of your Instagram followers at a casting. Especially smaller companies often prefer to hire people that have a larger number of followers because it is easier for them to promote their clothes. I’m constantly working on my Instagram followers – I’ve managed to hit the number of 25 k.
B.O.B. So, do you have any tips how to boost your Insta-fame?
A.: Oh yes, someone could write a Bible on tagging, posting pictures and using Instagram in general. I personally didn’t use Instagram much until 2 years ago when I got told that I should become more involved in it. People noticed it can be an excellent marketing tool.
The importance of posting pictures on IG was pointed out to me by an American agency. I think at the moment they care about it more than the European ones.
I’m a gym freak and I’m into healthy, clean eating, so I try to create a model-styled workout and lifestyle which is accessible to the public. I think it’s good in light of the large amount of girls being susceptible to Eating Disorders today. I want to show them that starving or vomiting is not the way to go.
B.O.B. Do you think you are an exception in this regard? Or are your model-peers also adhering to a healthy lifestyle like you?
A.: While travelling around the world I’ve met girls that were extremely self-aware, ate well and took good care of themselves. Yet, I’ve also seen models with various ED’s like anorexia or bulimia. It’s inevitable, but I can at least promote a healthy way of living. Eventually it’s their choice.
B.O.B.: How often do you go to the gym?
A.: I try to go at least three-four times a week. I don’t have enough time to exercise as often as I would like to, but… I also like to eat! (smile) There are days when I buy myself a packet of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and I can wolf it down in twenty minutes. The thing is, I believe in listening to your body. If I
feel like having a medium-rare steak, it means I apparently need iron. There is a reason behind every craving – this is my philosophy. I’ve tried all sorts of diets: vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, sugar-free… In short, I didn’t feel good on these diets, I think I lasted about three months on the vegan one. I had symptoms of anaemia, I’ve experienced dizziness and I was very weak. I do have a model friend who has been vegan for four years now, but I just don’t think this diet is for everyone. Keeping track of all the nutrients and energy can be difficult and complicated – it’s a bit like advanced maths!
B.O.B.: Do you ever feel lonely while traveling?
A.: Ha… I think traveling is addictive. When I flew out the first time to Japan, “touched” the great world and came back, I remember feeling very weird in Poland. This was the moment I’ve realised being at home and not doing anything is not for me.
B.O.B.: How does that look like?
A.: It’s a lot of people per a square meter (smile). At first you definitely miss home a lot and miss the stability it gives. I started traveling when I was more mature, but there are girls who leave home at such tender ages like 12 or 13! However, it’s a good way of meeting new people and thanks to that many of these girls don’t feel so lonely in a completely foreign place.
B.O.B.: Tell me about your weirdest/worst experiences in modelling?
A.: I remember being forced to wear and attach to myself a fake belly when doing maternity editorials in Japan. This felt totally bizarre to me, just really abnormal.
Another photoshoot that is quite memorable took place in Italy. The photos were taken in an Italian village, it was very cinematographic and somewhat Hollywood-like. I was working with a male model because it was a dramatic history of betrayal. As a heart-broken femme fatale, I was told to make myself cry. And I did it without a problem because I like acting challenges.
I also recall shooting for a Polish brand “House” in a forest during wintertime. I had to run around half-naked, only in jeans – in extreme coldness. That was very unpleasant and since then, I stress the fact that I want to work in comfortable conditions. Even if usually everyone is trying to be nice, you can encounter rude, over-demanding clients that make you want to run away after a shoot and never come back.
B.O.B.: Do you do runways as well?
A.: Sometimes, but not often. It requires a lot of work, but money isn’t good unless you are opening a show of a big designer like Prada.
B.O.B.: What are some of the biggest brands you’ve worked with?
A.: I did a beauty campaign for L’Oréal in Paris. I’ve worked with Garnier, Marks&Spencer, Forever 21… Whenever someone asks me this question I get immediately confused because of how many brands I’ve had the pleasure to collaborate with.
B.O.B.: What is your favourite drink?
A.: Sake! When I drink sake, I drink it like whiskey – cold and on the rocks. After being so many times in Japan, I grew to like the cuisine there. Sushi, green tea…
B.O.B.: What are your plans for the future?
A.: Well, I’ve finished my studies in England and right now I’m waiting for visa to Australia because I hope to visit your country soon!
In the future I see myself working mainly in U.S., but being in Europe is also pleasant. I hope to continue doing modelling as long as I can and become more recognisable. I think the key to success is knowing your own worth, go-aheadness, positivity and being open to people.