Born in the Romanian city of Focsani – where wine is a quintessential quencher, where having a vineyard is the enchanting trademark of every house and where family bonds have their roots tied to tradition comes a woman of wisdom, wonder and work, Andreea Zoia.
With the memory of her late Father, the silent, the sturdy and strong Gheorghe, her mother Mioara and her younger sister Alexandria, she has had a journey of the unexpected. After losing her father to an unfortunate car accident, Andreea at the innocence of 6, undertook upon herself the role of being the mother in the house, while her mother took the role of a bread earner as a government employee.
From changing diapers of her baby sister, to cooking food in the house, to completing her own studies on time Andreea Zoia endured and accepted what life put forth before her.
But what stood out, was her remarkable tenacity to want to do better.
While at school, Andreea sought ways and means add value to her difficult existence. This intense desire lead her to the entrepreneur road of being a young sales girl at her own school even while studying. During the recess where other girls would hop, skip and jump around playfully, she would shoulder a big heavy bag of cosmetics and walk around persuading other kids to purchase a few items.
And in order to be more convincing, she even took upon herself to read more about what was in fashion, who was wearing what and which make up set which artist preferred. This intelligent approach not only gave her a lot of respect among her peers, but unknowingly her deeper into the world of fashion.
While on this ritual, one day she accidentally came across a flyer – an invitation for students to enroll themselves and learn about the fundamentals of fashion and modeling. The cost – a staggering 350 Euros – a huge amount in those days.
Even though she was aware of the financial challenges that burdened her, she wasn’t ready to give up. After asking everyone she knew for help, she finally did something not many of us would dare consider. She walked right into the offices of the academy and asked them to consider her for a free scholarship.
Imagine a 14 year old girl, barging into your office, head strong and asking to be considered for a scholarship to want to learn. Such was the unbreakable will of little Andreea Zoia. Guess what? They approved the request of this tiny little girl.
And so if you thought this was how she got into fashion – well get ready to be surprised.
It was one of those moments you call ‘twist of fate’ that revealed Andreea Zoia to the Fashion world. One day out quite unexpectedly, some stole 1000 Euros from her bag – and it was the money she had earned selling the cosmetics.
Now the problem here was simply this – If she couldn’t get the money, she would have to pay for it from her own pocket. And by no means did she have this money. Either she could ask her mother – an option that was not even existent in her mind or she could earn it.
But now, who would give her a job to earn this kind of money?
She needed money and she needed it to be repaid fast.
Albert Einstein was believed to have said “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” And that is exactly what happened.
Andreea found out there was a Local Beauty Pageant Contest. People laughed at her for wanting to even consider it. She was told she was ugly, not smart and not good enough. Not ready to take no for an answer and without any training of any sort but with only sheer will and focus, Andreea jumped right in. She gave her name, borrowed a few clothes and then took part in the contest.
She not just won it – she won the first place overall.
Not only that – She won the prize money.
Today, she is a self made woman who has the following profile:
As a model, she specializes in
• Beauty shoots
• Editorial shoots
• TVC – Television commercials
• Trade Shows profiles to promote products
As a Trainer / Coach / Mentor
• Teaching youngsters the art of photography – how to pose in front of a camera
• Creative direction / assistance in helping and accommodating anyone to a photo-shoot
• How to Cat-walk
• Helping young models help themselves find their niche
• Self Branding Consultant
• Basic Tips on Make up / Hair
As a Host for events
• Formal Events which follow a scripted presentation.
• Informal Events which take a rather casual or relaxed style of speaking
• Introducer for Events
As a Speaker for functions
• Opening speaker
• Motivational / Inspirational Speaker
• Key Note speaker
So ladies and gentlemen, let us have the honor of interviewing and getting to know a woman who came to Dubai with nothing but sheer faith, who struggled for 3 years from scratch to pursue a dream she believed in, and today is among the top names in the Fashion World.
In fact let it not surprise you that 27 year old woman is..….
• 2002 Romanian Beauty Pageant Queen
• The face of Emirates Airlines for the next 2 years (Her picture is at Terminal 3 Dubai International Airport)
• The face of Hillal Bank, Emirates NBD, RAK Freezone and Motorolla
• The exclusive model for a Huge Oil Company TV commercial in Prague (confidential clause)
• The featured presenter for Dubai Fashion Week, India Fashion Week & Romanian Fashion Week
• 2008 – Official TV presenter for Fashion TV
• 2009 – Key note speaker for Toastmasters Leadership Seminar
• 2010 – Exclusive Interviewer invited by Steve Beck ( Director of Indiana Jones)
• 2010 – Only Romanian Model from the Middle East to be invited to shoot a dance sequence with Indian Megastar Amithab Bachan (sadly was later omitted in the final version)
• 2011 – The 1st Model featured in the official corporate video clip for Burj Khalifa
• 2011 – Exclusive Interviewer invited by BBC International Presenter Peter Purves
• 2011 – Hosting for Oktoberfest 2011 for 3000 people
• 2011 – Opening Speaker / Introducer Komicsutra
Loy Machedo (LM): So Andreea Zoia, welcome and hello to a small interview.
Andreea Zoia (AZ): Pleasure is all mine.
LM: So Andreea, quite an amazing bio you have got there.
AZ: Thank you Loy.
LM: Don’t you feel like bragging about it?
AZ: (laughing) Why should I? It is my past. When I consider how many people have been kind to me and how many have achieved much more than what I have, I know I have a long way to go.
LM: So Andy, Let’s get this straight. You came to the UAE and you immediately got offers for modeling or how was it?
AZ: No, no, absolutely not. When I came to the UAE, I didn’t have a job, I didn’t have money, I didn’t even know anyone. I had to work from scratch – at times 2 or 3 meager jobs a day just to make ends meet. But I did this just to realize my dream.
LM: And your dream was?
AZ: And still is what I am doing today – Pursing the goal of a Professional Model, Movie Actress and TV Presenter.
LM: Hey, but haven’t you achieved it already? I mean your credentials speak for itself?
AZ: Yeah, that is what people think. See Loy, what other people may consider glamorous or amazing, is in fact in the Media world – an everyday job. We do it because we are passionate about it and we get paid for it. At least for me, it’s not all just about being famous or glamorous. It is about earning my daily bread and yes, being able to support my family and yes taking care of the unexpected future.
LM: Come on…you expect me to believe the money is not good? You models must be getting paid in millions!
AZ: (laughing)…Oh how I wish! Yes, I will admit that sometimes I have been paid good money.
LM: Like how much?
AZ: Loy! Come on….as if I would tell you…
LM: At least give me something…
AZ: But it is confidential….
LM: Okay…at least in the range….a small range….
AZ: Will it be confidential?
LM: Yes….Only with me (crossing my fingers)
AZ:…..Loy, I know you too well….
LM: Just the readers of my blog…that’s it….You know one should never be ashamed of what they earn…
AZ: I understand….I will not specify the client. No names.
AZ: The highest I have been paid is in the range of $11,500 for a complete project – but that was only one which took quite sometime to complete. And the lowest – well quite a number of free ‘no-charge’ shows.
LM: So how do you know where to charge and how much to charge or when to do it for free?
AZ: Experience and lots of bad judgments.
LM: So tell me this, in order to be as good as you are today, what did you have to do?
AZ: I had to teach myself English, Read all the fashion books possible, learn the art of makeup, network with people on an everyday basis, employ the services of speaking coaches and yes keep myself fit every day.
LM: According to you, can anyone become a model or is modeling a ‘either-you-have-it-or-you-don’t’
AZ: One needs to be very realistic and practical when entering into an industry which is predominately dominated by how your external appearance. You definitely need the following 7 points:
1. Standard looks
2. An athletic body
3. Minimum height of 176 cm
4. Body measurement of 90-60-90 ratio
5. Symmetrical facial features
6. Photogenic face.
7. Good network of contact
LM: Isn’t being beautiful good enough? I mean what is the difference between beautiful and photogenic face?
AZ: Even if you are beautiful, you need to find out if you are photogenic or not. You need to know if you can you appear beautiful in front of camera or not. It is always important like they say, the ‘Camera should love you’. One must remember this is an industry that demands time, money, discipline, a strong mind, heart and a lot of money. It is not about looking good, smiling, taking a few snaps and getting paid easy money.
LM: Can’t you get your pictures ‘photo-shopped’
AZ: There are limits to what you can do, especially with regards to technology. Agreed, may be you can digitally enhance your features by photo-shop. But when the client calls you for a face to face review, you cannot hide behind technology.
LM: Have you met ugly people who wanted to be models?
AZ: I wouldn’t be so rude as to call them ugly but yes, there were people whom I definitely believe should not consider this as a career for them. There are so many youngsters who come to me whom I have to be brutally honest with.
LM: Don’t they hate you for it?
AZ: Yes, I would rather tell them the truth up front than play the diplomatic game with them. They always come back to me later on and thank me for my honesty. In fact, we become better friends that way.
LM: Have you been wrong? I mean, did you ever have any Hollywood type of a comeback, like Marilyn Monroe did?
AZ: Not in this life as yet.
LM: Who are the fashion designers you get inspired by:
• Fashion house and designer Valentino for its simplicity
• Vivian Westwood – for its revolutionary outlook after digging deep into its etymology
• Dolce Gabbana – For branding & rebranding themselves in a dynamic fashion
LM: Who do you look upto in the fashion industry?
AZ: That’s easy…..
• Cindy Crawford – For the balanced and gracious manner she carried herself
• Naomi Campbell – For being able to position herself in a very tough career – even at 41
• Diana Dondoe – For being an inspiration to the Romanian models
LM: Coming to your career, you are an expert in what now? Modeling only or something more?
AZ: I consider myself an expert on the following:
• Host for events
• Speaker for functions
• Production management
• Model chorographer
• Mentoring in terms of modeling
• Creative director for portfolios
• Make up artist
• Image / brand consultant
• Speaking Coach
LM: Give me something bad about your line or say something that you do not like about your career…….can be anything.
AZ: Well, I do have a few low points in my career. Like completing a dance sequence for a shooting for Amithab Bachaan 2010 which was later on omitted due to various reasons in film editing. That was disappointing. Also, modeling as a career is very stressful and demanding. Added to that you have people undercutting the market with ridiculously low prices, people who don’t know anything but brag their way into getting a project and the most painful bit, being criticized even after doing your best.
LM: Tell me more about the undercutting the market. I mean haven’t you done projects for free?
AZ: I don’t mind considering a project say with a famous movie star or director because the experience one gains and the mileage in terms of a career boost is pretty incredible. But it is ridiculous when someone calls you as tells you, I will pay you 400 Dirhams if you can come now for a photo-shoot or for a make up. And that too in a rude fashion. It is more like ‘I’m doing you a favor’ tone.
LM: Andy, Finally, tell me, this industry being a short span life, what does the future hold for you?
AZ: Yes, modeling does have a short life span. One cannot expect to be in the lime-light forever. So after taking stock of what I can and cannot do, communication seemed to be the only next best logical move. Today I am moving more towards communicating myself, my ideas and my brand to others – be it on a large stage or in the case of training – on a one to one basis. It can be even as a TV Presenter or as a Trainer or who knows…
LM: A few one liners….Give me the answer that comes to your mind the fastest….
AZ: Go ahead…..
LM: Qualities that describe you
AZ: Practical, Persistent, Professional
LM: Things that you love
AZ: Reading, Reflecting & Reviewing
LM: Things that you hate
AZ: Insincerity, Imperfection, Illogical thinking
LM: What you love about in a man
AZ: Connectivity, Chemistry, Charisma
LM: Hate about in a man
AZ: Arrogance, Ignorance and lack of Benevolence.
LM: Love about in a woman
AZ: Character, Courage, Composure
LM: Hate about in a woman
AZ: Lack of Integrity, Humility and Simplicity
LM: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
AZ: Self Sufficiency & Self Realization
LM: What is your dream?
AZ: To be happy.
LM: Your favorite dream car
AZ: Red Color Maserati Quattroporte Sport GT S
LM: Favorite color
LM: What you love about this career?
AZ: Freedom – Personal & well as Professional
LM: Hate about this career?
AZ: Short life span, Addictive Pleasures, Highly competitive.
LM: What does the brand Andreea stand for?
AZ: Elegance, Enchantment and Emotion
LM: Last question – How do you want to be remembered?
AZ: As good daughter to her mother, a good friend to her sister and a good human being whom I can look at in the mirror and respect.