Who are you?
My name is Natalia Zurowski. I am born in Germany, I came to Canada when I was a couple of years old. I model and it changed my life for the better.
How long have you been modelling?
Almost 2 years, on and off.
How did this modeling start?
I was scouted at 14 years old my parents didn’t really approve in the beginning. Later on, I got to know Chantale Nadeau, a renowned booker based in Toronto and is known internationally.
In my first year university, I did not think what it was going to be - I had a boy friend and I was in my own bubble. I just decided to contact her, whether she likes me or not, I just wanted to try. She contacted me to come to Toronto for measurements. I did a test shoot, and I was at Weldon when I saw my first photoshoot that they sent me, and I literally screamed. Then, the modelling thing started to appeal to me. Beginning of March 2008, I met some agencies, at this point I am only in for a month. My mothering agency (Chantale Nadeau) suggested going to China. After a contract and final exams, in May, I was off to Shanghai, China.
What kind of work have you done so far?
I am one of the shorter girls, so I do a lot of commercials and campaigns. Runway is not my forte.
When you travel for the first time, it is kind of like the buddy system. My friends Julia and Amber and I went together. Your parent can come with you, once you are 18, but after you have to go alone. Julia is one of my best friends. It’s crazy how close you become with people. It’s like creating a new family. My agency books me with different agencies in other countries.
What is your favourite experience so far ?
One of my favourite works was in Malaysia. It was for a clothing line from India. They paid me to go shopping, for my flight, my accommodations. I got to meet a variety of people from India and Malaysia. I loved it because I got to see a whole new world in a couple of days.
What are some of the cultural shocks you’ve had?
Shanghai, China. It was my first time being in a new environment by myself. I didn’t know what to eat, where to buy stuff.
Just meet the most amazing people in the industry. Getting to see all the exotic places that I would have never gone to. If I ever have kids, I could tell them about all the amazing experiences I had and am proud of.
Some of my best friends, the people I trust, are from HK, South Africa, England and Australia. If I wasn’t modelling I wouldn’t have met these people.
There is a stupid stereotype of models being stupid. In foreign countries, maps are not in English. And you are required to run around from all day from 9am-6pm.
On living overseas and traveling:
When you live in a new country for 2, 3 months, you get the first look of how people live, contrary to a vacation of a week or two. I love the experience of being thrown to a new situation. I feel more at home when I am not home, not knowing the laungage. It’s weird, it’s messed up but I think I have Phobia of routine (chuckles.) I feel more rejuvenated when I am at somewhere new.
I’m never scared of travelling by myself. It made me really open. I feel so different now.
If I didn’t take on modelling, I probably married my boyfriend. If I would have lived in London, I feel like I would have failed my parents, because my parents moved me to Canada to give me a better my life, and I found this opportunity. If I was in Poland, I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am today.
What are some difficult experiences you had?
In Shanghai, they are very critical about body type. Generally there is a constant pressure for model to be thin. In Asia, it’s not even like that...
Once, my friend and I were standing beside each other for casting. The people were pointing at us, laughing…speaking in Chinese…they could have been saying anything. So I feel uncomfortable sometimes, because they are only judging about your appearance - they are just so critical.
But you have to be tough about that in this industry. That’s just Asia, that’s how they are. I just remember not to take it personally. I was also once told too skinny. That's same as being told I am fat. Everybody is looking for something different. You are signed up for this to be criticized. One critique, so what? Next day you’ll go to a different casting and they might like you. Overall, you have to take the good and the bad.
Who are your favourite models?
Hilary Rhoda and Ali Michael
My favourite canadian model is Drea Vujovic
On Asian and European modeling markets in the world:
Europe is good for editorials, breaking out new faces, and for exposure. You don’t make much money.
If you want to make money, you go to Asia. For me I could go to Europe. With my look, I think it’s my advantage to go to Asia. I have baby face, so it works in my favor in Asia. I was offered to go to Greece, but after seeing Asia, it was almost like an obsession. I’m constantly talking about it to friends like I am a spokesperson for Asia. I feel like I can go to Europe anytime, but especially when I am young and offered to go to Asia, that kind of offer is not always there. Vietnam, Thailand and Japan…such a cultural difference, where as in Europe, because tourist industry is developed it is not difficult for me to tackle on. I have family there so it’s always available to me and it doesn’t feel like a big cultural experience to me.
Are you planning on modeling in the future?
I want to do it as long as I can. At the same time, I want to keep up with my education.
Next year, I am going to Singapore. After graduation, hopefully Europe and do my master there. I will never do modelling it as a full time job. It does not provide stable income at all.
I'd love to go back to China, Singapore, Malaysia, HK and maybe Tokyo.
How about modeling in Canada while you are here?
It is too hard to go to castings here, expensive, and time consuming. I wish I did live in Toronto. Toronto Market is tricky. It is a mature market in a sense. They want the girls to be 5’10" and tall. They want older looking models. I am also filled with plans right now.
Have you thought about doing fashion shows at Western?
I thought about it, I’m not really for runways. I think it’s great what they are doing. I think it’s great to expose Western talent. It also gives them a taste of what the industry is like.
Can you give advice to people that may be interested in doing what you do?
If you do modelling, you should be humble about it. You are lucky, because a lot of people don’t get the chance, so be modest about it. Shorter girls, don’t be intimidated by the tall girls on runway. You won’t be doing editorials, runways, you’ll be doing commercials and campaigns. Don’t give up. Just go out there and Do it. You’ll be faced with rejections. Take it as criticism and grow from it. If you are 100% serious about it, do your best to get into it. If agency tells you to change this and that, you have to do it.
Tell me something about you other than your brilliant modelling experience.
I have Black belt in karate. I got 3rd place in Ontario when I was 13 years old. I did almost for 9 years from 3rd grade to 10th grade.