Russian supermodel Victoria Bonya in Dubai
Moscow’s Victoria Bonya tells City Times about being on brand ambassador duty
Recovering from a two-hour photo shoot in the blazing hot Dubai sun, Russian supermodel Victoria Bonya is nothing but composed.
In between mouthfuls of Asian noodle broth and bok choy back in the air-conditioned Dubai Mall Address Hotel, Bonya tells City Times she is happy to be back in one of her favourite holiday destinations, touting the makeup she says she has fallen in love with.
Bonya opened Polish makeup company Inglot’s first ever ‘concept store’ in Dubai Mall last Thursday. If the flawless layer keeping her together in the face of certain exhaustion is anything to go by when we speak with her ahead of the opening, Inglot may well be worth the hype.
If one had been expecting a model from the prima donna school of histrionics, Bonya falls short; any agitation she felt with the rigours of performing outdoors in soaring temperatures is not discernible during our interview.
“It was hot, make up was running, the hair was flat and everything, but you won’t see that in the picture. It doesn’t matter, sometimes I work at cold, minus something (degrees) and I’m wearing high heels and a skirt outside and have to pretend it’s fine and it’s nice outside.”
She reminisces about a music video she once shot in her native Russia in a bikini on the beach during the icy winter weather Moscow is famous for. The temperatures were so low she had to be covered in a blanket in between takes.
“As soon as they were ready to shoot, they would take it away and I would smile…it doesn’t matter if it’s hot or cold, I love it and I try to do my best.”
The 34-year-old worked as a waitress and a receptionist at a plastics factory before playing the fame game. But she is no ordinary model, actually starting out as a journalist and TV presenter, before seguing into modelling, radio presenting and acting.
“I never thought ‘I’m going to be a model’. When I was working because I needed to work to survive, that was one story, but when I had the chance to choose my profession, I went to journalism school.”
But how do you stand out from the crowd in a nation of cobalt blue-eyed beauties?
Bonya credits her skills as a TV presenter for separating her from the masses. “We do have a lot of models, we have beautiful girls (but) in Russia it doesn’t exist as a profession, we have so many models and they never get paid.”
She has gone from strength to strength in a job that has seen her on location around the world, first coming to Dubai in 2002.
“I love Dubai. When I first came, I was like ‘I’ll never come back’, but by chance I came back and then I was like ‘I’m in love’.”
Bonya now comes to Dubai on holiday at least once a year, and more for work. She says she gravitates toward the beach hotels, spending her time swimming and eating.
“My boyfriend and I are really active people and when we go on holidays we love to do different stuff, rafting, cannoning, whatever. But here in Dubai because it’s quite hot…I prefer to spoil myself with the restaurants and shopping.”
But models don’t eat, right?
“Honestly, I’ve never had a problem with weight. Even if I eat a lot and then I feel like I’ve gained weight, as soon as I start working it’s lost...I eat everything, I love food, I love meat, pasta…maybe not sweets, (though) sometimes I spoil myself with a cupcake.”
On to Bonya’s role as the brand ambassador for Inglot. Is this just a commercial relationship, or does she actually stand by the products she’s billing?
“I’m very happy, because working as a model, sometimes you have to promote something because they’re paying you and…you have no idea what it is. But here I discovered my favourite brand, I loved it, and they came up to me and said ‘We want to do a campaign with you’.”
The business partnership came about in an unusual way; Bonya says she was in Dubai when she discovered the brand. She took some makeup back to Russia and “people started asking about my lipstick, where is it from?”.
From this alone, new stocks of the lipstick had to be ordered and it became a best seller in Russia, putting her squarely in the company’s frame of reference – which made her their first ‘brand ambassador’ at the start of this year.
The makeup expert says Inglot makeup does not make her skin peel or face sticky, unlike some other leading brands.
So, what else is on the horizon for this mother-of-one?
Apart from having a few more children, she says she wants to pursue her acting work, having done limited movies and television programmes in Russia in the past.
“I want to focus on acting to be honest, it’s something I was dreaming of as a child. It also gives you a lot of opportunity to learn stuff, to travel, to work with professional people and I hope I can focus in that within the next five years.” (firstname.lastname@example.org)