Meet Russian-American Model, Actress & Comedian Eugenia Kuzmina

From posing for Yves Saint Laurent to appearing in Bruce Willis’ final movie and racing cars professionally, Kuzmina has done it all.

(Antoine Verglas)

After decades of categorical success, it’s hard to stay hungry. Despite this axiom, top Russian-American model and actress Eugenia Kuzmina’s appetite for accomplishment and new experiences is insatiable. 

The perseverance required to achieve like Kuzmina has no doubt stems from her tumultuous upbringing in post-Soviet Russia. Though her father was a famed nuclear scientist (and first responder to the 1986 Chernobyl accident), the fall of the Iron Curtain and subsequent economic depression relegated even Kuzmina’s esteemed family to Moscow’s bread lines. However she eventually found her way to Paris, and her hard work paid off when she was soon booked for an Yves Saint Laurent fashion show. 

(Antoine Verglas)

An ascension to fashion industry stardom ensued, as Kuzmina walked the runway for other revered designers like Giorgio Armani, Alexander McQueen, and Karl Lagerfeld. Over the years, she’s also appeared in Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and Marie Claire, as well as starred in ad campaigns for the likes of Armani, Dior and L’Oreal.

But make no mistake: Kuzmina is a bona fide renaissance woman. Her sharp sense of humor, hinted at above, has been honed over years of hitting the Comedy Store, Laugh Factory, and other famed venues on the Los Angeles comedy club circuit; and she’s currently working with legendary standup manager Barry Katz to bring a “Models of Comedy” showcase special to Las Vegas.

Then there’s her acting career, which began with a music video appearance for Passion Pit but evolved to include supporting and starring roles across John Turturro in Fading Gigolo, Zac Efron in Dirty Grandpa, Mila Kunis in Bad Moms, and Bruce Willis in his final movie, 2023’s Assassin. Not to mention, she’s also a mother of two children, whom she shares with her husband, Miramax CEO Bill Bock—keep an eye peeled for her Model Moms documentary.

(Antoine Verglas)

Here Kuzmina speaks with Maxim about her greatest modeling experiences, the origins of her standup career, and, oh yeah, her stint as a professional race car driver:

You’ve had a prolific modeling career. What moments stand out?

Meeting Yves Saint Laurent at 15. I started modeling at 13 and was living alone full-time in Paris with the help of Nathalie Cros-Coitton, who was my boss and is the head of Paris’ Women Management. She’s one of the most protective, brilliant women I know. I was very shy and rarely got cast, hiding in corners at auditions.

When I got a request to meet Yves, I remember an almost [theatrical] process. I walked into a room and behind the smoke—a lot of smoke—was Yves. Brilliant, intelligent, sensitive— he reminded me of my father. [Yves] would give you his shoes as a present, no matter the casting decision. He didn’t see me as a hanger; we had an intellectual conversation. It was so rare and special to be seen.

(Antoine Verglas)

Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood also hold dear places in my heart. I met Alexander at a Givenchy fitting at around three a.m. We’d been up since 6 a.m. the past day doing shows and fittings, and all the girls were so exhausted, but we had to keep looking the part—perfect. McQueen, who almost exuded a construction-worker vibe as he was eating a burger, asked each of us if we were doing OK and thanked us for staying so late. I only learned later he was the designer.

Vivienne I met later on. She insisted that I be a bride [in a show] about nature and being a goddess. She blew my mind and heart with her boldness and creativity.

What advice would you give young aspiring models?

It’s a completely different industry from what it was when I started; now it’s all about TikTok and creator content. I always paraphrase Oscar Wilde: Do you [and be yourself] because everyone else is taken.

(Antoine Verglas)

What’s the key to balancing life as a full-time model and mother? Do you have any role models in that realm?

Forget being in perfect balance, unless it’s your brand. We are all so imperfect, and mistakes are to be learned and celebrated as a process…. To be honest, I feel a lot of pressure to be perfect or seen in magazines as being perfect. Every morning, the ritual is to wake up with a gratitude list and just be of service to my kids, family and the world. I created a show, Model Moms, that will hopefully be made on TV, just because I’m inspired by other model moms in and out of the industry. In fashion, it’s Linda Evangelista, Ashley Graham, Naomi Campbell and Chrissy Teigen.

Tell us a little bit about the origins of your standup comedy career and Models of Comedy.

Funny you asked. I did a film in New York called Fading Gigolo with John Turturro and Woody Allen. We shot a scene at The Carlyle, where Woody would play jazz sometimes. He said no one needs you to get permission to perform or say certain lines, so I found standup. Currently I’m working on turning a Models of Comedy show that I’ve created with Barry Katz into a special this year in Las Vegas. It’s not what you think: It’s about breaking stereotypes, giving voice to talent, and supporting amazing charities.

I read that you have an interest in motorsports as well.

Yes, I raced professionally! I partnered with Optima Batteries and Mercedes-Benz a few years ago after shooting with exotic cars for a calendar with photographer Royce Rumsey. We did a street race in Ohio with Mercedes and then they hired me to do a drag race in L.A. I also took lessons on the track and partnered as a spokesperson with Abington Co., who designs watches for women doing extreme sports.

Interview edited for brevity and clarity.