Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I was determined to make movies from the day I was born. I used to write poetry and short stories for many years since I was a child. My friends and family would read them and encourage me to make it more public. As a result, I made my big move to the capital of moviemaking- Los Angeles- in 2008. My first work was at a small black box theater in Hollywood. I contributed to writing, directing, producing, and even got to act in several shows. My first role in Hollywood was in a world-famous project called Vagina Monologues. It was an extraordinary experience to be a part of theater life.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started doing this?
Well, there were too many fun moments on stage, backstage, and on sets to choose just one. (Laughing). All right… I had a role in Moby Dick and in one of the most crucial scenes of the movie I had a scene with a veteran actor Matt Lagan. In the scene I am in a hospital, dying. Matt’s character comes in and offers me a glass of vodka. It was very hard for me not to laugh just because it was very stereotypical. Even though I am Russian, I don’t drink vodka! So I laughed it off and continued with the death scene. He ended up drinking the glass of vodka himself in the scene. Here is one more great story- I got an honor to represent Los Angeles in Miss California United States beauty pageant back in 2012. I am always grateful to American people for welcoming me to this beautiful country and treating me with respect.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I believe you have to be nice to everyone no matter how big or small his job title is. It might sound simple but being nice makes people want to work with you again in the future. The more good connections you get while working on projects- the more work you will get. For example, one day I got an offer to work on a first directing work by a very famous basketball player Shaquille O’Neal. I never auditioned. I got an offer based on a recommendation. His first directing project was a spec commercial and I had such a great time working with him. He truly is a very kind and caring person and everyone on set was very nice.
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?
I came here from a small Russian city. I had no friends. No family. All I can say is that everything is possible in America if you work hard towards your dreams. I am very grateful to my mom for emotional support I have been getting for many, many years.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I attend multiple charity events regularly and I do donate to children’s hospitals yearly. I strongly support the California Spirit, a charity that supports cancer research. I also organize multiple educational workshops for underprivileged kids as a part of an outreach initiative by The New York Film Academy. I worked with groups of kids from Bill Duke foundation, BAFTA, WACO Theater Center among others.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?
I believe in karma. Always help those who are in need and it will come back to you, you will see.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
I keep my Facebook private for close friends and family only, but I am open and active on Instagram. Will be happy to see you there!