In 2014, she won the world final of the prestigious Schwarzkopf Elite Model Look beauty contest. This secured Barbora Podzimková‘s footing among the Czech top models, although she will has yet to celebrate his twentieth birthday in September. In her interview for LP-Life.cz, the charming model talked about what it is like to change your life completely at the age of 15, move from Příbram to Japan, walk shows all around the world, make big money and have a famous partner.
It's been five years since your victory. What has changed in the meantime?
Many things have changed, I don't know where to start. I‘ve recently moved to Prague together with my boyfriend, I finished high school, I passed my graduation exam...
But one has to go on to further studies after high school…
That‘s true, but I‘ve decided to take a year off and try to devote myself fully to modeling. Then I'll see what next. I would definitely like to go to university, but I‘m not yet sure which one. I want to think it through and open a different kind of door for myself, too.
You must have graduated now in June. How did it go?
Not bad. One B, otherwise straight As.
Was it stressful? How did you manage to study on the go between photoshoots?
I knew it would be very difficult, so I took a half-year break. I was just going to school and devoted myself to it full-time. The studying as such wasn‘t a problem for me, I wasn't panicking unnecessarily, I put myself on a good schedule and I actually enjoyed it.
You seem very stoic, like nothing can shake you.
No, I do stress a lot. It may not be visible, but even small things can throw me off. Of course I was stressed out, but I knew that when I‘d managed to get through five years of school while traveling and building a career in modeling, graduation was just the icing on the cake.
How did your classmates and teachers feel about it?
I was lucky, the teachers were all nice and accommodating to me. My classmates were cool too, but the only negative side is that, naturally, I distanced myself from them and didn‘t create such friendship bonds as they did. That's what I missed out on.
That‘s a pity…
I do regret it in a way, but on the other hand, I believe that what I gained is priceless. I wouldn't change anything.
What did modeling give you?
It gave me a whole lot of opportunities. Whether it was traveling, how many interesting people I‘ve met, various kinds of experience. I think I‘ve grown on a personal level, too.
How about languages?
I certainly got much better in English, and I also met my boyfriend through modeling. Modeling gave me a lot of things. I think every job gives you something and takes something away from you. It does have its downsides, but I try to look at the positives.
When you were applying for Elite as a 14-years old girl, was it your childhood dream, to become model?
Not at all. I was discovered by a scout, one of the people who look for new faces and new models. He suggested that I could try it. I was in competitive swimming at that time, so it was quite unimaginable for me, but the people around me sort of made me give it a chance. Eventually, I got into it. And I enjoy it now.
You‘ve never perceived yourself as more beautiful than other people or special in some way? Have they ever told you what about you did they find so interesting and how did you beat the others?
More than anything else, I believe it is because of my figure, I am very tall. I don't know, it's a very abstract thing what people like about someone.
What do you dislike about yourself? What would you change if you could?
I have quite a problematic skin, it‘s been bothering me for about three years. That's one of the things that, I think, society has yet to accept. I‘m trying to cover it up, everybody rather chooses a model whose skin is perfect and doesn‘t need to be edited in Photoshop or covered by a lot of make-up. That was a bit of a problem, other than that I don't know.
Where did you go first after your victory? What duties did you have?
I didn‘t have any duties, but immediately after the contest, I went to Tokyo for two months. It was kind of a test, if I would enjoy it, my first modeling experience. And then it slowly went from there, I started doing fashion shows in Europe.
At the age of fifteen, alone in Tokyo, without your parents, no one to cook for you or wash your clothes…
It was a pretty rough experience, I was very squirrely at first. Just as you say, I didn't know how to cook or wash my clothes. I didn't know anything about Japanese culture, which is vastly different from ours. It was quite a shock to me, even when it comes to food, because the Japanese have completely different table manners from the Czechs, and I was not used to it at all.
Have you ever had a faux pas, in a restaurant for instance?
I couldn't eat with chopsticks at all. They don‘t typically give everyone a fork with a knife there. I always had to go and ask for those, and more often then not they didn't even have the cutlery. But at least I learned to eat with chopsticks.
vWhat about your mom? She must have been worried sick.
vI think she must have been terrified. But she didn't let it show, and I think it's good she didn't push me. It was easier for me. I believe it must have been difficult for her.
She never told you that?
She told me to be careful, that she was going to miss me and so on. But she never cried much in front of me and rarely let me see her sadness, which I think is good in a way.
How does a 15 year old feel about becoming a model and making money practically overnight? Were you spending money or saving it?
It was a gradual process. It may not seem that way, but there‘s no money involved in winning the Elite, what it brings you is a contract with an agency that ensures you‘ll be making money later. It wasn't that I started getting major contracts for huge amounts of money overnight.
In Tokyo, I received a small weekly allowance, which I had to budget. My parents weren't sending me money anymore, I had to take care of myself. I was really careful what I was spending on. The beginnings are always hard, it's more of an investment. For example, models at a fashion week pay their own hotel and airfare costs.
What was the first big thing you bought for the earned money?
I was expecting a Chanel bag or something like that…
That came gradually. It was also due to my upbringing, I‘d had to work part time jobs before, my parents never gave me anything for free. I‘ve slowly got there, at first it seemed unimaginable to me that I should spend so much money on a bag.
Today I take it differently. (laughs)
How much did your most expensive handbag cost?
About two thousand euros.
The Elite finale is approaching, are you going to be there? Have you seen this year's participants? And do you have any say in it, do they want you as an ambassador?
Not exactly. Ambassador Denisa Dvořáková has more to say about this, but I will definitely be at the finale. I was also at the casting to show them my support, but I have to admit that I did not really look who the finalists were. There was so much going on, graduation, moving, I didn't have much time for it. But I'm looking forward to it, I‘m going with my boyfriend.
What is your opinion on Elite and Czech Miss?
These are two completely different worlds. Elite is a modeling contest, where the girls actually work abroad afterwards, walk shows for prestigious brands throughout Europe, it's all about work. Miss, on the other hand, is a specific competition where these girls become Czech celebrities. They are beautiful and all, but then they don‘t actually work as international models.
Is it difficult, working abroad as a model? Are there things you need to be careful about? Like not having a dinner before a fashion show, avoiding alcohol...
Pretty much every model is careful. Naturally, we have to make sure we look good, because that‘s how we make our living. But I think that modeling abroad is great, there aren‘t many work opportunities in Czech modeling. Working abroad is more of a necessity.
Have you ever thought about moving to Paris, London or New York?
Of course I have thought about it every now and then, but I‘m not really motivated to do so at the moment. We‘ve just got a new apartment, I like living here.
When I was preparing for the interview with your boyfriend Albert, I read that he was looking forward to living with you. Now you are, I suppose, at the stage where nothing can separate you.
It‘s taken over our entire life now, we go together to Ikea, Hornbach and so on.
Can you wield a hammer?
We‘ve learned it together, when assembling some furniture from Ikea together for the first time, but we‘re really enjoying it, it's a nice period of life.
How does Tereza Maxová feel about being responsible for such a wonderful relationship?
I think she's glad. Every time we meet, we tell each other how funny it is that it happened that way.
So how was it exactly? He was singing at a charity event you‘d been invited to?
It was a charity run by Teribear. We‘d both been invited by chance and introduced at the event. Albert (Albert Černý, ed. note) already knew a little about me, the other way round not so much, we got to talk there. Then we didn‘t see each other for about a year and a half, because we were terribly busy. Later, when we were both happened to be in Prague, we met again, and since then we‘ve been together.
Do you go to his concerts? Do you like his music?
I like it, I‘m trying to support him. When he was in Eurovision, I was traveling with him throughout Europe, when he was on tour, I even went to Tel Aviv. I try to go to his concerts in the Czech Republic too, when I have time.
How do his fans react to it? Are they writing you?
It might have happened to me like once that an anonymous girl, whom even Albert didn‘t even know, wrote to me that I should give up, because she was better than me. I take it ligthly, Albert and I trust each other.
You must have your own fans, though. You are a beautiful woman, guys probably can‘t keep their eyes off you...
I hardly ever notice that, we don‘t concern ourselves with it.
No? You don‘t get dating or marriage offers?
Not really, no. Maybe they see that I‘m in a relationship, so they give up on trying.
What do you like to do besides modeling? Albert told me you like surfing. But what „girly things“ do you enjoy?
To tell you the truth, the days that I enjoy most are those when I don‘t have to wear make up, comb my hair, and I can wear sweatpants. I like fashion, but since it‘s my daily bread and a lot of people touch me when they do my makeup and hair, I enjoy the days when I don't have to do it. Otherwise I like going to yoga.
Do you know any modeling icons?
I‘ve met Daniela Peštová and Tereza Maxová, but I don‘t know Karolína Kurková or Eva Herzigová.
There is a generation gap between you, do you have a common topic to talk about?
The generation gap is there, but Tereza is awfully nice, she asks me about my life and tells me all about her children. Obviously, we don‘t have all that much in common, but it‘s always nice to talk to her.
When you‘re traveling for work, do you even have time to explore the destations you‘re at?
It depends, often I don‘t. Perhaps the strongest experience for me was when we went to Cuba for a Chanel show. It was a magical experience, we even had a few days off to look around Havana.
It must have been a strange experience for someone of your age, to experience the regime there...
It was rough, and the contrast was also strange. We were in the most luxurious hotel, presenting luxury clothes next to people who barely have enough to eat. But the atmosphere during the show was pleasant. We were walking along the promenade in the city center, the Cubans gathered on their balconies and roofs and watched us from above. It was a nice experience.
Have you ever posed for photos or walked a show in something really revealing? Or downright exposed? I‘ve seen models with only their nipples covered in fashion show.
I‘ve never been this exposed, but I did find myself in a situation when I was wearing a skirt so short that my underwear was peeking out, and that felt really unpleasant. I couldn't stop thinking about it, it wasn't a good experience.
Where in the Czech Republic and in Prague do you go shopping? To Pařížská?
No, I don't spend so much on fashion. I prefer shopping abroad, I don‘t not have any favorite stores here. Maybe Cos.
What is your dream holiday destination?
We are really into surfing now, so we tend to look for destinations where we can surf. But I‘ve always wanted to go to South America, for example Peru, South Africa, Cape Town and so on. Those places attract me.
Aren't you afraid of surfing? As a model, you have to be careful.
I am pretty afraid of it. I'm trying to overcome it somehow, especially when the waves are higher.
Are you more afraid of injuries or sharks?
I'm not afraid of injuries or sharks. Sometimes the waves can be rough when they pull you under and keep you under the surface for aboout a minute, that scares me.