MIAMI BEACH, FL – A combination of beauty, talent and versatility, model/actress Anna Mezentseva is a name many in both the entertainment and modeling world need to keep on their radar in 2022.
A professional voice over and film actress, as well as a fashion model, Mezentseva has put together an impressive list of achievements such as finishing in the Top 25 of “Germany’s Next Top Model”, being a semifinalist in Miss Earth 2008, and a contestant in beauty pageants such as Miss International, Queen of the World and Miss Russia 2005 to winning Miss Moscow Region 2005.
In addition to appearing and walking for brands such as PUMA, L’Oreal, Givenchy and Wella, the St Petersburg-born, Moscow-educated and German-raised Mezentseva has walked in fashion shows for Diane Von Fuerstenberg, Egor Zaitsev and Julia Aali.
When not modeling or walking the runway, Mezentseva has also appeared in TV and film with roles in Burn Notice, Magic City, Charlie’s Angeles (TV) and The Right Stuff. In addition to smaller roles in movies such as Jack and Jill and Rock of Ages, the blue-eyed stunner has also done voiceover work for audiobooks such Angel and Fairy, Voices of Angels and online platforms such as Living Planet.
In an exclusive interview with Kristina Mironova for Russian online publication, MUZMAGAZINE, Mezentseva spoke about studying at Vyacheslav Zaitsev’s school, participating in beauty contests, the example of supermodel Cindy Crawford and the dream of every creative person – to work with Hollywood actors.
(Editor’s Note: Original interview translated from Russian to English)
MUZMAGAZINE: Anna, how did you choose the creative direction of your career?
Anna: Like most children who are predisposed to creativity, I decided very early on my preferences: I remember how, instead of walking and “doing nothing”, I really liked to draw (my parents still have a whole folder of my drawings), play the piano, sing in choir, I could not live without cinema and old (classic) Disney cartoons, later I tried to write.
As a child, it became clear to me that I would connect my life with a creative profession: moreover, I could succeed in absolutely any of the creative fields. I liked music, and visual arts, and cinema, and television, and creating images. Later, I realized that it was acting that united all my hobbies and hobbies and made it possible to travel the world, without this, I simply could not imagine my life. Back in the nineties, when I, a little girl, came across a thick German Quelle catalog with Cindy Crawford on the cover, I immediately knew what I would do when I grew up.
MUZMAGAZINE: Were there moments when you doubted your choice?
Anna: Inside myself, I clearly realized what I wanted. However, being a shy and often insecure person (such, you know, character), I wondered: can I get to the desired level in the profession? The surrounding people and social stereotypes poured fuel on the fire, talking about “poor” actors, “frivolous” models, eternally “hungry” artists… I am very glad that at one time I did not listen to anyone but believed only my inner instinct. At that moment, there was no time to doubt: the choice was simple. Either I try to do what I love most, or I will be content with being in the office for the rest of my life. The last one was unacceptable for me. That is why I ended up at Vyacheslav Zaitsev’s School of Models, and then it started spinning and spinning…
MUZMAGAZINE: What are your future plans in this direction?
Anna: To be honest, I have a lot of plans: I continue to do voiceovers for audio books, poems, and advertisements. If until recently I worked with American authors, then very soon – I can say – I will start working with Russian clients. The immediate plans include work in the film industry, not only with Hollywood, but also in Russian-language projects. As for the modeling business, this is my favorite creative “industry”: I don’t think that I will ever want to “do away” with filming, shows and advertising.
MUZMAGAZINE: You have acted in several films. What are the emotions and impressions? How do you like acting, your own and colleagues in the films?
Anna: My appearance in the film industry turned out to be the most unexpected turn in my life. At that time, it seemed like a dream: my very first film was filmed in Miami – at that time – on the largest cruise ship of the American company Royal Caribbean.
Just imagine: a Russian model and an immigrant for the first time in her life gets on the set (in the ocean) to be shoulder to shoulder with Adam Sandler, Katie Holmes, Al Pacino, and to top it all, even get into the movie trailer! Very good debut! (smiles – ed. note) Filming is always exciting at the very beginning, but what turned out to be the most unexpected thing is that working with American actors is incredibly easy and pleasant.
This is generally inherent in the American mentality: no one tries to stand out, present themselves in some special way, “show off” in front of colleagues, and so on. That is why the first filming experience turned out to be so positive: I realized that I “could” (although I have no acting education), and therefore did not stop at one film.
In the future, I was lucky enough to act in several films and TV shows with such actors as Patrick Adams (Meghan Markle’s partner in Suits), Alec Baldwin, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jeffrey Morgan, Olga Kurylenko, Juliana Huff, Tom Cruise, Diego Bonet and many others.
Watching the acting of professional and eminent actors is the best acting school. This is more productive than any courses and training, I am one hundred percent sure of this. As for my own acting, I would probably answer with the words of my psychologist friend: “A real actress lives in you; unleash your potential… Time will tell if she was right … (smiles – ed.).
MUZMAGAZINE: Are you more of a model or an actress?
Anna: I love it when people ask me this question (smiles again – ed.). In fact, even the professionals themselves do not always understand that both are “of the same field”. That is why so often models become actresses, and actresses, on the contrary, act as models for famous brands. Once upon a time, back in the early 2000s, I Studied at Vyacheslav Zaitsev Model School (Moscow). Vyacheslav Mikhailovich called the staff of his models “The Theater of Fashion”. And for good reason! The shows were organized like real productions: our directors did not skimp on the abundance of complex schemes, ornate choreography, and the couturier himself demanded emotional truthfulness from us.
After all, it was Vyacheslav Mikhailovich who taught us that every costume, every look is a separate story, life and original image. It was necessary to beat each costume, and without acting skills in this matter – nowhere. Most likely, I am both a model and an actress in equal measure.
MUZMAGAZINE: You have an incredibly beautiful appearance. It is not surprising that you have taken part in many beauty contests. What was special for you? In general, what does the competition look like from the inside through the eyes of the model?
Anna: Thank you very much for the appearance! Behind my back, indeed, there is more than one beauty contest – among them were both national and international ones. Each of them, of course, is unique in its own way. Of course, I remember the very first one – “Miss Muscovy”, where I won my very first victory and got the opportunity to represent the Moscow region at the national contest “Miss Russia” in 2005.
Endless workouts, a sea of excitement, the collapse of stereotypes that the contestants cannot stand each other (it was the participants in beauty contests who later became my best friends); the fact that I hid my participation in the competition from the closest people until the last moment. When many of them already learned about my victory on TV, they will never forget all this.
However, the most vivid memories remained after international competitions. Miss Earth was one of them. At that time, I was the only and, perhaps, the first representative of Russia who was fluent in three languages and did not resort to the help of an interpreter at any of the competitions. I was extremely proud of this, I prepared for all international competitions, studied their history in order to adequately represent my country. The education I received at Moscow State University. M.V. Lomonosov, as well as life and travels abroad (and as a result, fluency in foreign languages), of course, helped me in this.
It was in those years that an extraordinary love for travel and other cultures woke up in me. I must say that the modeling industry and beauty contests are two sisters. And although many models will say that beauty contests have nothing to do with modeling at all, they will still turn out to be wrong. The winners of beauty contests are still models most often.
Of course, the very requirements for models and participants in beauty contests differ, but this only applies to the very requirements for appearance, types, the presence of certain talents and skills (at some beauty contests there are talent contests). At first glance, much more is required from the contestants than from the model.
However, these industries are united by common unspoken requirements for girls: good health, punctuality, responsibility, easiness, the ability to survive in far from always “royal” conditions, the ability to perform several tasks at once, goodwill, and, of course, stress resistance.
As a model, I was very comfortable at beauty pageants. Like acting, all competitive practice includes modeling skills. And I am such a person by nature – I like to combine, combine different types of activities into one, special, my own…
MUZMAGAZINE: You have amazing pictures from different photo sessions. Every shoot has its own story. Tell me one or two and what photos are associated with them?
Anna: Thanks! I really love filming. Each of the photo sessions is associated with special memories … I must say that many of them were directed by me. Many ideas are taken, including from the cinema. Perhaps one of the most technically unusual photo sessions was made by a photographer friend of mine many years ago. He, as a physicist and mathematician by education, created his own technology for creating 3D photographs.
I remember how I became his first model, who was not required to pose statically, but on the contrary, to move very slowly in a given direction, fixing in a certain position. At first glance, this may not seem like something special, but physically the process turned out to be so difficult that serious physical preparation was required from me. The slightest movement to the side – and the frame had to be re-shot again. The result was 3d photographs, the likes of which I have not seen to this day.
MUZMAGAZINE: What are the most positive aspects of being an actor?
Anna: I think people who have chosen the path of acting as their profession will agree: first of all, this is one of the most interesting and extraordinary professions in the world, which combines all possible skills, abilities, interests, connecting obviously different people. I have always been attracted to the everyday life of actors: the lack of a schedule from nine to six, the opportunity to work with different people and travel to choose, choose projects to your liking and give yourself to this work entirely and completely.
Especially exciting for me is the process of preparing for the shooting and developing the character, working with unique, talented, often – new – for me professionals in their field. The same applies to voice acting: most of all I appreciate the team with which I work. In addition to what has been said, I do not accept strict and clear limits, restrictions.
This is especially true in the creative workflow. That is why I never liked office work, the monotony of working days, a fixed schedule … I’m not saying that this is bad, but such a life is simply not for me. When you love your job, even the difficulties and seemingly negative aspects of the profession turn out to be its inherent “charm”: for example, filming often takes place under the heading “12 hours +”, which often means an irregular working day, 3-4 hours of sleep and – again to the filming location. It may be hard to believe, but for me these are the positive aspects of the profession.
MUZMAGAZINE: If we talk about the theater, then tours with performances are possible. How do you feel about touring?
Anna: Traveling and moving is a part of life, even a style of my life. Airplanes are my favorite mode of transportation. Waking up in a hotel and not immediately understanding which city or country I am in is the best way to start my day. I’m serious! Therefore, is it necessary to say that touring for me is my favorite “duty” from the acting and modeling profession.
I really like to combine work and leisure, so when I go on my next business trip, I always find time to explore the place where I’m going – whether it’s a new city or another country. You will never find me sleeping in a hotel room, especially if you have a couple of hours left.
I can say with confidence that it was beauty contests, working as a model abroad, touring with the Vyacheslav Zaitsev Fashion Theater, as well as numerous trips that my parents took me and my sister to in childhood, and made me a “citizen of the world.” That is why it was so easy for me to immigrate to the USA, that is why I feel at home in the world (at Home in the World).
MUZMAGAZINE: Which direction is more interesting and closer to you: cinema or commercial shooting?
Anna: Absolutely equivalent: I love both. The difference is only in time. In the first case, there is a significant amount of time allotted to tell a story. It is important to study the character, understanding the role.
As for advertising, this is a completely different task. It is necessary to be able to attract attention, interest, and as a result, sell a certain service or product. For an actor, all this is a task designed for diverse projects. And if an actor loves his job, then it doesn’t matter to him whether he will tell a whole story, designed for 1.5-2 hours, or keep within 1-2 minutes.
MUZMAGAZINE: Is it more interesting to work in live shootings or staged ones are more interesting (photo sessions, video shootings)?
Anna: I confess that I really like to control all those processes, the result of which depends on me. This applies to both life and filming. Therefore, I still prefer staged photo sessions and video shooting. There are people who manage to achieve better results, as they say, on the go. I don’t think I’m very good at improvisation. For me, it is still preferable to think through everything in advance: prepare the material, attributes, costumes; think over the nature of the shooting, possible options, etc. I think here in me speaks more actress and director than a model. That is why it is easy to explain the fact why, for me, modeling and filming are, in fact, the same process.
MUZMAGAZINE: What projects would you like to take part in?
Anna: There are more than one or two such projects… Like any creative person, I like to try myself in something new or more complex. I would very much like to get a leading role or a supporting role in a serious historical or military drama, perhaps a sequel or even a triquel; become a dubbing actress or the voice of a cartoon character, as well as become the face or model of your favorite global brands. Not modest? But honestly (smiles – ed.).
MUZMAGAZINE: What do you think is the main secret of good photography?
Anna: I know that most professionals and amateurs would tell you – mood, lack of complexes and “be yourself”. All this, of course, is important, but in my opinion, not paramount. When I talk about a successful photograph, I still put its technical execution in the first place.
The most important factors in this matter are the light, as well as the geometry of the light and the objects in the photograph. Everything is important here: where and how the light falls, and what kind of light it is, and how this light is located in relation to the photographed objects or people.
The staging of the photo session itself is also very important: here you simply cannot do without stylists and a good director (often the photographer himself). Of course, the acting skills of the model, his or her energy delivery is not the last factor. However, the most unexpected the secret of a successful photo is often unpredictability: yes, yes, that’s it.
Therefore, advice to all photographers – both beginners and experienced ones: keep shooting, do not turn off the camera, even when it seems that you need a break or that the shot has already turned out. The best shots are often taken “in between times,” during a break, behind the scenes, or immediately after the words “cut!”.
MUZMAGAZINE: Is it difficult to convey emotions through photography?
Anna: Like any skill, it requires talent and skill. This is where modeling and acting come together: body language, the ability to physically convey an emotion or feeling, is paramount here. For photography, as well as for video material, the physical presentation is important: a combination of posing and mood or emotion frozen in the face. I always like to say that photography is an act captured in one second.
MUZMAGAZINE: Out of all the projects you’ve been involved in, what was the most special (not necessarily creative)?
Anna: Oh yes, there was and is one project that has a special place in my life. And for various reasons: starting with the uniqueness of the genre, ending with the very process of its execution. This project consists of four parts: four audio books (poetry and prose), united by the titles “Angel and Fairy” and “Voices of Angels”.
The stories from the audio book “Voices of Angels” were translated into English and also read by me. The author of the project is the Russian-American writer Elena Lesnik.
Initially, Elena showed me an unpublished book that she had been writing for many years, saying that she wanted to finally publish it. I read some poems and stories – I really liked it! And that’s when the idea was born that it would be nice to publish an audio book, along with a printed version. Elena had no familiar voice actors, and none of us knew how to create an audio book correctly.
2020 has come, and as a result, a lot of free time (quarantine and pandemic). I remember how Lena said: “Sit down and try to recite a few poems to me … You will succeed!”. And I started reading: first on an iPhone, then professional equipment appeared. I had to study the peculiarities of the scoring process, learn how to use professional computer programs for sound recording, study my own voice, its abilities, search for depth. When the voice was “found” and the books got the desired sound, the process began to spin: I didn’t have time to notice how I got carried away and after a few months we already had our own team of professional sound engineers, an artist who designed covers and worked on illustrations for books, Elena herself acted as a videographer, and I began to work with audiobooks in three languages.
As a result, the project received not only sound, but also video content: each work sounds like a theatrical production, which also has its own video version, like a music video. There are still few artists working in this genre, and this project, in fact, is the beginning of something completely new, uniting literature, music, acting and cinema.
Currently, two-thirds of the project has already been published on the largest platforms: Spotify, Audible, Amazon Music, Ridero, YouTube, and more. others The third part (stories and short stories in Russian and English) will be published on the platforms very soon.
Looking ahead, I can say that the work on the project is not over yet. The plans include the creation of short films based on the works of Elena Lesnik, live performances, concerts in support of the release of her books and participation in the MIFF (Moscow International Book Fair) in 2 months. It is noteworthy that audio books will also be presented at this exhibition.
MUZMAGAZINE: What are your creative plans for the near future?
Anna: Today’s plans are connected, for the most part, with dubbing and acting. The next project is shooting in short films, clips for audio poems by the author Elena Lesnik, whom I talked about earlier. I can’t give away all the secrets yet, but I’m ready to say that this project is the most extraordinary for today. Each poem will turn into a separate script, and a mini-movie will be made for each script.
Thus, each piece will come to life, like a song that comes to life in a music video. In parallel with the filming, work is already underway on live concerts: many poems will “come to life” on the stage, where they will be combined with music and scenery. In addition, various castings are taking place right now for participation in American films, TV series, cinema and advertising, as well as filming and screenings that I am working on.
MUZMAGAZINE: With which of the famous actors would it be interesting to make a joint film project?
Anna: If we are talking about foreign actors, then I have two favorite Britons: Eddie Redmayne and Freddie Highmour – my colleague is a linguist, a graduate of Cambridge. I love these two! From foreign actresses, I would very much like to work with Charlize Theron and Angelina Jolie – female legends and actresses with a capital letter … Ask: What kind of projects would I like to work with one of them? I think in the military drama genre (considering how much I love military and historical dramas). By the way, speaking about this direction in cinema, I also see some Russian actors in it: so, I think that we would be great to “sing along” with Arseny Popov, who, as far as I know, works mainly in the comedy genre, but according to my feelings, is a very talented dramatic actor.
MUZMAGAZINE: Would it be interesting to try your hand at voicing a cartoon?
Anna: Of course! At the same time, it does not matter if it would be the original voice of a Russian-speaking cartoon character or a dubbed voice of an already voiced cartoon. In addition, I already have experience in voicing a cartoon character: once I was lucky enough to become the voice of two drawn characters in a book by an American author at once. It was one of my earliest voice acting experiences.
MUZMAGAZINE: What is your dream role in terms of movie roles or series? Which character is closest to your personality?
Anna: Oh, here we come to my favorite question! On the topic of a movie character or his study, I could talk forever. Yes, there is such a role … And it doesn’t matter at all whether it would be a series, or a short film, or a full meter. There is a category of films that has always been my favorite since childhood: historical/military dramas and biographies.
To realize the fact that what you see on the screen is part of real human life, part of history is an indescribable pleasure. It’s hard to explain, but the experiences of real people immortalized in the cinema are the best monuments of human life for me. That is why I would like to play a real historical character or a collective image of a certain time. I also have a “favorite” historical period – this is the Second World War and the Great Patriotic War.
My dream is to play in a movie or TV series a participant, or a wartime eyewitness, perhaps a prisoner of fascist camps… There is a character and a real historical figure whose life they want to capture again in a big historical drama: Irena Sandler, who saved many Jewish children from the Warsaw ghetto. Now that would be a role!
I am also attracted by the era of the domination of the Greco-Roman Empire. I am sure that the role of Alcestis, the wife of the legendary king Fer Admet, who voluntarily gave her life to save her husband, would be unforgettable in my acting career.
MUZMAGAZINE: What quality are you proud of?
Anna: There are a few that I am especially proud of and – what can I hide? I think it’s extremely rare.
Punctuality bordering on clairvoyance (yes, yes – the ability to manage time, as well as anticipate unforeseen situations); responsibility (when anyone can rely on me and not lose) is too “masculine” a quality, but it always helps me out; and yet modesty. I can’t stand impudent, unscrupulous people who don’t know their place.
And although one can argue about modesty, because assertiveness and self-confidence are valued these days, it is modesty and a slight underestimation of oneself, it seems to me, that are the most significant engines for progress, no matter what this progress may concern. Perfectionism goes hand in hand with modesty – I also really like to notice this quality in myself. I love perfectionists!
MUZMAGAZINE: You live in the USA. Did you fall in love with this country right away or did you gradually conquer it?
Anna: I fell in love with the USA even before I met them… Based on American films, series, reviews of friends… My best friend immediately said after her trip to America: “Anh, you go there… You are even more “American” than the Americans themselves … “. She was not mistaken … (smiles – ed.).
You know, there is some irreplaceable spirit of freedom in it, scope for plans, fantasies, their implementation … This is perhaps the only country where no matter how ardently you speak English, no matter what color your skin is, anyway, you end up at home and you are accepted for who you are.
In this country, they don’t turn to look at you when you speak a different language, they aren’t surprised at your unique style, they don’t stare at you in transport, and if something really attracted you, they openly approach, smile and say directly to your face about what beautiful sneakers you have, or how well your hair is styled, or they just give you a compliment – casually, without a second thought … I know that everyone has their own story, but this is exactly what “my” America has become for me – the country that I have been calling my home for 11 years.
MUZMAGAZINE: Any plans to conquer Hollywood?
Anna: Why not? They say that there are no accidents, and everything that happens inevitably leads to something else. The film industry has fascinated me since I was a child, ever since I can remember. I confess, I think that if I had not been afraid of condemnation from others, then most likely I would have received an acting education.
I didn’t get it just because I began to believe stereotypes. Today the world has changed beyond recognition. 2020 turned everything upside down utterly. Everything is possible today! And master the skill (any) in courses or online and get to know professionals in their field literally on social networks, and change the profession – if you want, and change your life by putting together a new puzzle.
Yes, and there are not enough “ours” in Hollywood, and those who get there do not linger … Why not change this?