How nice it was to start the year off with Daria Stroukos' beautiful Vogue Italia cover. It made me think of the interview I did with her for Spur last Fall and thought this was a lovely opportunity to post the original transcript.
It is when you talk to Daria that the full tilt of her intelligence, passion and drive come to bear. Her clean and serene brand of beauty has made a steady subject for photographers raging from Willy Vanderperre to Steven Meisel but it is her active and searching quality of mind that makes that beauty even more rare. After a nomadic childhood, where she spent her first 5 years in Benin Africa, Daria now has a nomadic life where she juggles her responsibilities as a student , an aspiring actresses ( having landed a coveted role in Steven Soderberg's recent thriller 'Contagion') and of course, as an in demand fashion model. Tune into Daria's conversation as she shares with Spur the challenges of juggling all these varied elements of her life.
WS: This is your seventh season in fashion with your first walk ever being for Prada.
DS: Yes, that's true. I feel like the first time I ever traveled was for fashion. I went to Paris that summer of 2008 before and I learnt for the first time what was a "book" and a "casting" and a "comp card" . By September I was in the university because we finish high school at 16 in Russia, so I was in university already finishing my first year. Then I was sent to Milan to see Prada and I was like OK. But then I got the show. I was in complete shock because Prada is such a huge event with so many people so it was shocking for this to be the first show. I remember I was with my friend in the line-up next to Sasha and we were like "oh my god I'm so nervous" and Sasha turned around and said "Oh come on girls, relax. Everything's going to be fine." It gave us a week of talk! Sasha SPOKE to us!(laughs)
WS: Do you look back at those early days with amazement?
DS: My first year I didn't focus on modeling as much as I could have. For me it was so weird because I kept thinking I had to study but then I was like-No I HAVE
to model-I couldn't choose which one I wanted because it was so exciting... all this fashion world energy. At my university I was coming up with such stories ...like my grandma is very ill. Or my aunt in the Ukraine (laughs). I was the worst at excuses. It was Moscow State University where I was studying journalism and I felt like I couldn't just go up to my 70 year out Russian Literature teacher and say , "Oh, hi I have to skip your class next week cuz I have a Chanel show". I studied two and a half years before moving full time to New York. Now I'm going to finish up my courses here in New York at the New School. I wanted to study cinematography and film production which is very difficult when you're always traveling as a model. Last Fashion Week I would wake up at 5 am instead of 7 am just to do my homework before my first show. By the time I got to Paris I thought I was going to pass out.
WS: I admire your drive to challenge yourself.
DS: Interestingly enough the last year was a big challenge because in addition to modeling and film school I was also taking acting classes. For that you'd have to be there 3 times a week. For the first few weeks of my acting class I did say I modeled but there wasn't really a reaction. No one really did a background check. Thankfully (laughs)... and then one day one of the guys in my class went " Hey Daria, you're actually kind of a good model. You actually do real shows and stuff" .
WS: When you got on set for Contagion, was the modeling and the acting training useful ?
DS: It was definitely a lot of help! I did not realize how many people there were going to be on set .The first scenes I had to do was in Hong Kong and when I showed up to work the scene had so many extras, maybe 300 or 400 . When I saw all the extras in one room plus the production crew it was a lot of pressure. That was one of the things acting classes taught me. You have to go on set really knowing your lines. What I got from fashion was that you have to be outgoing. When I first started ... People now tell me that I seemed shy. I wasn't shy but I was very quiet, very respectful. Because you have to understand I was coming from university where I was taught to be very respectful and formal to my professors but this didn't work in fashion . I remember when I first went to my agency in Milan , I found it so strange that everyone was like, hey Daria and they were hugging me and kissing me. I found it so strange and kept thinking ..."Who are these people who keep touching me and kissing me" (laughs) but it's just a cultural difference. So what I'm saying with all this is that fashion helped my acting because it taught me to be spontaneous and to adjust to different cultures and different situations.
WS: Your reading for Contagion must have be amazing to land the role.
DS: They were casting in LA and I was in New York, so literally I just took a video camera and recorded myself . I put myself in front of a white wall and read the 3 pages that they sent me. Then we sent it through the agency, to the casting director . I didn't hear from them for a month so I thought...oh well. But when I got the call it was shocking.
WS: Was going on a big Hollywood movie set overwhelming?
DS: Because I used to read about movie production and because you see so much of " the making of" behind-the-scenes material I kind of had a good sense of footing on set. It really was a world I loved. For my future I would love to go further in the direction of acting. When I was 14 I was dreaming of theater. That was my dream. I started folk dancing at age six, and danced until I was 15 or 16, so I love the stage. Especially in dance you feel this amazing energy when 2000 people are totally focused on you. When I told my Dad that I wanted to go on to study theater in university in Russia, my Dad advised me not to do it. In the best theater company in Russia, one of the best schools in the theater world, it would be a very low paying job. But then again, actors everywhere are struggling and starving. Which is what my Dad was scared of. And he had a good point.
WS:You've been a performer pretty much your whole life.
DS: You could say that . One of my favorite shoots ever was the Prada campaign where I was dancing for four days in a row . For days they played that song "Fever" over and over again. I was so happy to be moving . Also I loved shooting the video for Gucci. It was a night shoot. We started at 6pm and finished at 5 am. I had just arrived from the plane from Europe,so I was so jet lagged but when I got there I loved it! The huge camera. The trailers. Everything. Even though I didn't speak I had to walk and turn and hit the marks. It's like a dance really. I had a character then. I was a character in this outfit and that was so lovely to explore.
WS: Your eyes sparkle when you talk about acting and performing. Could you see yourself in LA as a rising young actress?
DS: You know, this is something I've learnt from modeling. When I first started modeling I was pushing so hard. Every morning I would wake up thinking I must do this and I need to do that . I wanted it so badly it was like my mind was boiling. As soon as I let it go and just accepted that what will happen, will happen, everything happened for me. So I want to think about my acting career the same way. Whatever comes, comes. Plus right now is the best moment of modeling for me. I love working with Raf Simons at Jil Sander. I've done the campaign two seasons now and that's a show I do every season so I just want to really respect and treasure amazing relationships like that.
WS: I love your journey Daria, from studious Russian girl to high fashion model to young actresses. And through all these different Darias you are so full of drive and passion. Thank you very much for sitting down with Spur.
DS: Thank you Wayne. I loved our talk!