Glass meets modelling and acting phenomenon Milla Jovovich

Girl with the golden touch – Glass meets phenomenon Milla Jovovich

THE legendary Herb Ritts discovered you and shot your first cover when you were just 12. How did he come to stumble upon you, and do you remember much about that first shoot?
I had already begun acting and shot my first film for Disney, Night Train to Kathmandu by the time I shot with Herb. I was in need of a new actor’s headshot and while taking the pictures the photographer asked my Russian mother if she would allow him to put some make-up on my face. She agreed, and the result was me looking beyond my eleven years of age. The photographer recommended that my mother take me to visit an agency for models in Los Angeles. My mom, who was my manager at the time, followed his advice and within an hour of walking into the agency I was on a set shooting a test.

That same evening, the photographer, Gene Lemuel, attended a party and by chance Herb Ritts was there. Gene decided to show the polaroids he had taken of me to Herb and the following day Herb’s studio booked a sitting with me. It was quite remarkable really and all moved very fast. After that first sitting, Herb booked me for the cover of Lei Magazine.

At the time the Editor-in-Chief was Franca Sozzani, who now famously helms Vogue Italia. Herb also shot me for the cover of The Face and also a portrait for Interview magazine. From there I was working non-stop. Herb was the kindest man and what I loved most about him is that he never lost sight of the fact that I was a child and shot me as a beauty and NOT as a “Lolita”. He was respectful and protective of me which, as a mother of two daughters now, I appreciate when looking back at my career.

I miss Herb dearly along with his generous spirit. He was an enormous talent of course, but Herb was also an outstanding human being. There are three photographers for whom I feel an enormous amount of love and gratitude. Herb of course, Richard Avedon, who shot me at the age of 12 for the cover of Glamour magazine and also Revlon, and Peter Lindbergh, with whom I started shooting at age 13, and who I still shoot with today. They all saw something and believed in me from a very early age and put me on the road to success.

Milla JovovichMilla Jovovich. Photographer: Bojana Tatarska. Jacket, Alexander Wang. Top, Augustin Teboul. Bra, Isabel Benenato. Earrings, Charlotte Chesnais. Mill’s right hand ring, Maison Martin Marginal. Aura cushion-cut fancy coloured diamond ring, De Beers.

You have daughters now; do you think you would allow her to model at such a young age, and why?
My older daughter who is almost nine is quite interested in acting and modelling and has said as much since the age of three. She has a real talent for acting and is much more of a natural than I ever was. She has a substantial role in the upcoming final chapter of Resident Evil and I was so proud of how poised and prepared she was each day of the two weeks she spent on set. I have allowed her to take part in some shootings with me.

We were shot together for Vogue Italia with Mario Sorrenti, Stern magazine with Peter Lindbergh, and Ellen Von Unwerth shot us together for the cover and inside story for Vs Magazine. I agreed to the shootings because I trust all the photographers and because they shot Ever as the child she is. I would never allow Ever to shoot any stories where she could potentially be objectified and I have already turned down advertising options as I’m not comfortable with her moving into the business of fashion so quickly.

With acting it really is a passion of hers, and it demands a skill set from her in the form of reading and memorising lines. Anything that’s a challenge I see as beneficial to her growth as a person. I don’t want her to work as much as I did as a kid. I want her to enjoy her childhood, have friends her own age, stay in school, continue with her Tae Kwon Do – which she enjoys and excels at – and also continue being the best big sister she’s been since her baby sister came along 17 months ago!

Milla Jovovich

Milla Jovovich. Photographer: Bojana Tatarska. Shirt, See By Chloé. Dress, Acne. Earring, Charlotte Chesnais

You have achieved almost three decades as a supermodel – an incredible feat. How do you feel the fashion industry has changed during this time? Has it become more business oriented? Or perhaps more open and diversified?
I wouldn’t categorise myself as a supermodel at all. I think I have had staying power in this business because of the fact that I am also an actress. I have been a working model who has enjoyed every opportunity that has come my way over the last 27 years. I have been “in” and “out” so many times that by my early 20s I understood that this is a business of revolving doors and it’s up to me to keep myself relevant. The fashion industry has gone through a huge change recently due to the advent of social media. I became involved with social media because it was required of me from the studios who market and distribute my films.

But when you look at a genuine supermodel like Kate Moss who, while permeating the advertising world with her remarkably stunning images over the last twenty-five years, she has also remained somewhat of a mystery, granting very few interviews and having no social media presence whatsoever; Kate has maintained her cool by not submitting to the demands placed upon today’s models and celebrities. She has had the most remarkable career as THE model among models and there will never be another quite like her. There hasn’t been one ad campaign that’s come my way in the last five years that does not require the posting of that campaign on all the social media avenues; Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. It’s become an industry standard.

What are your favourite and least favourite parts of the industry?
Working with wonderfully creative and iconic image makers is quite a privilege, and the benefits that can produce in one’s life are undeniable. Financial security is a blessing in itself but one mustn’t lose sight of the fact that this industry also has an expiration date for many of us so called “beauties” who will always be replaced by younger beauties. It’s the nature of this business and for this undeniable fact it is important for young women to enrich their minds and educate themselves for a future that isn’t completely reliant on our physical beings.

Milla JovovichMilla Jovovich. Photographer: Bojana Tatarska. Jumpsuit and boots, Chloé. Scarf, Redskins.
Milla’s left hand: Aura cushion-cut fancy coloured diamond ring, De Beers

Now that you have daughters, do you have any concerns about the pervasiveness of social media and the pressures on young girls to be “sexy” and “hot”? And what would you say to them to mitigate these pressures?
I was always told by my mother that my looks may open doors for me, but without an education I would have nothing to say once I enter the room. As a parent I encourage my daughter to read, to stretch her mind, to be interested in life, to be curious and empathetic. My husband and I have our older daughter in a bilingual school and we will do the same with our baby girl.

Before our older girl entered primary school she was already speaking English and Russian fluently and she has been in the Lycée since kindergarten and is now fluent in French. The wonderful thing about the Lycée is that the school is culturally diverse and the student body consists of children from all socio-economic backgrounds. That was important for us since neither my husband nor I grew up with great wealth and we are cognizant that our daughters, while extremely fortunate, do not grow up knowing only other wealthy families. We want a better sense of balance for our girls.

For the moment our older daughter is not on social media at all, she doesn’t watch television that has advertising and all of the programmes she does watch are monitored. She does play Minecraft but as parents we do not allow her to enable the chat rooms. Our hope as parents is that by the time she does become involved with social media we will have instilled values in her that will guide her through the emptiness of being perceived as “sexy’ or “hot” as you put it. We have had the great fortune to travel extensively with our children and we believe that all the various cultures they experience are preparing them for a wide world of ideas and influences.

You are model, actress, singer, songwriter, producer, clothing designer and a true power woman. What are the most essential pieces of advice that you would share with anyone wanting to pursue their dreams?
With anything you want to be successful at, it will require great focus and sacrifice. Be prepared to feel lonely at times because pursuing one’s dreams means you also have to spend time on your own preparing for your future.

Milla JovovichMilla Jovovich. Photographer: Bojana Tatarska. Jacket, top and trousers, Céline.
Boots, See by Chloé. Necklace, Kira Lillie. Earring, Eddie Borgo

What are some of your most treasured memories from your career?
Meeting my husband and creating the family we share today.

What is the most valuable thing a person has told you?
Never put your happiness in the hands of others.

How do you start and end each day?
My days begin and end with my children. Being their mother is the role I love most. When my girls’ needs are met, when they are healthy and sleeping well at night, then all is right in my world.

by Nicola Kavanagh

All photographs: Bojana Tatarska
Stylist: Marine Braunschvig

From Glass Issue 27 – Enlightenment

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Credits: Front page image credits: Jacket, Alexander Wang; Top, Augustin Teboul

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