Irina Proskurina is a wildly successful international model turned author, founder of the UMMA bot, and CEO of Forma Model. Born in Stavropol, Russia, Irina first came to the United States when she was 19; she has since worked her way to the top and become a very successful businesswoman. She now uses her wealth of experience to educate aspiring models on how to make it as a model in the United States and to encourage them to never give up on their dreams. We had the opportunity to conduct an interview with Irina Proskurina and ask her a few burning questions about her journey.
How did you get into modeling?
I am from the small town of Stavropol in Russia. There, when I was a student, they asked if I wanted to work as a model at an exhibition. I agreed and earned money from it which was a lot for a student back then. All I had to do was just stand there and smile. I realized that this is how you can earn money. I made a portfolio with a local photographer and flew to New York on a J1 visa for a student exchange program and got a job in a kindergarten. At the same time, I went to auditions and looked for an agency and jobs.
Did you receive any advice or have a role model when you first began modeling?
I knew that there are supermodels like Claudia Schiefer and Naomi Campbell, but I thought these were unattainable peaks. Unfortunately, I didn’t get advice from anyone, so I lost a lot of time on unnecessary people and projects. I would have appreciated even time when I was just starting out to have gotten advice such as I now give to novice models.
What is your favorite thing about your career?
I do what I love and I get paid for it. I get to meet famous people. Each new shoot or show is a new team of creative people. As a result, you get beautiful photos and videos. What else can you dream of!
What is the most rewarding part of your career?
I am always aware of the most fashionable trends since my profession obliges me to look well-groomed and beautiful. It’s not always easy but it’s worth it.
Did you ever want to be anything else or did you always want to model?
Yes, I had a plan B. I graduated from the Faculty of Journalism in Russia. I also received an MBA in New York. I worked in finance for three years, but this was not for me at all. So, I started my own agency and went back to fashion.
Did you ever think about giving up when you began modeling or were you always committed?
Yes, there were such thoughts. When I wasn’t booking jobs and being denied, these thoughts came more often. But what you need to understand is that they refuse you not because you look like that, but because at the moment they are looking for a different type. So, I always tell novice models to never give up.
What inspired you to create the UMMA bot?
First of all, the bot determines your model type. People assume that a model is a tall and thin person. But this is not so. There are more than 30 different types in modeling. There is plus size and children and hair models and adult models and much more. Therefore, before giving up and abandoning your dream, you need to determine your type and just contact the right agency that deals specifically with your type.
What are some of your favorite hobbies?
Reading. I read a lot, I can read two books at once. As soon as I finish I start a new one. Well, just this year my book, “How to Become a Model in America” was published.
What is next for you?
Now, I have decided to launch my agency’s franchise. I want it to be in many cities. So that every person who wants to become a model has such an opportunity.
How has Covid-19 impacted your current/future plans?
I myself was ill myself in March. And of course it was impossible to arrange any photo sessions. So, I launched an online course. Anyone can take it, there are 30 lessons and more speakers. I am very pleased with this project.
We hope you enjoyed this interview with Irina Proskurina and learned more about the modeling industry.