Serbian export Bo Krsmanovic is thankfully forgiving when you inevitably butcher her name. Bo, she says, "is short for Bojana, actually." Then she patiently gives you the phonetic version of her surname: "Kras-MAN-o-vich." She laughs before adding, "Nobody knows how to pronounce it. It's a little bit annoying."
Be that as it may, Bo's name is sure to become more familiar. In February of last year, the 25-year-old was a rookie in Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Issue; like beauties Claudia Schiffer, Laetitia Casta, and Alessandra Ambrosio before her, she's landed major campaigns with Guess.
And she's prepared to be strategic about her assets. This winter, Bo graduated with a B.A. in economics from the Univerzitet of Džon Nezbit in her hometown of Belgrade.
It's been a whirlwind few years since the exotic beauty first landed in Los Angeles to shoot her first Guess ad. "Since I was a little girl, 14 or 15, I'd wanted to shoot for Guess. I was looking in the window in the shopping centers."
At 21, when she first landed in L.A., "I thought I was in a movie. It's the same in real life," she says. The break with Guess, which came after she had walked runway shows in Europe, gave her some confidence. "Before that I was thinking maybe I'm not going to succeed, but [when I got to the U.S.] I was more motivated than ever. The more successful I am, the more I see that everything is possible."
Describing her upbringing as strict, with an emphasis on academics,
Bo says she nonetheless had a wild streak that manifested itself in a love
"I was a really active kid. I liked to play football, soccer with boys. I was hanging out with boys all the time; I was driving a motorcycle at 12, a boy's motorcycle." Her older sister, Maja, a fashion designer, ultimately took the then teenager on a casting call and the 5'11" showstopper's fate was sealed.
For now, she says, she's had to put her adrenaline-junkie tendencies to the side. Since her career depends on her flawless physique, the motorcycle has been relegated to the garage. "Well, now I get to do it less. I'm scared to break my legs or something because of my job…In two to three years, maybe I'll get back to it."
Today, she splits her time between Belgrade and New York, which makes it hard to sustain a relationship. "The problem is I fall in love quickly, and I travel a lot, and that's a problem. My relationships have always finished with breakups, or you meet a person and it's painful because you are away all the time, or there is jealousy and you fight every day.
"I like to be in a relationship; I like to be in love. I think European women are a little more traditional. Where I come from, it's a little more family-oriented. Women are very focused on finding their true love."
For now, she says, her focus is on work, and she is sanguine about her journey from Europe to the bright lights of Manhattan. "A lot of things changed for me, but that glamorous life…famous people are all just people. A successful businessman is the same as a successful actor; they all started from zero. I don't get intimidated."
She has also gotten accustomed to another job requirement: appearing totally at ease in very little clothing. "In the past I was shy, but I got used to it. I got so comfortable…it's part of the job. I'm used to being surrounded by a big group of people while I'm in a bikini.
"Now it's normal...now I can be more free with myself. I can change clothes in front of my girlfriends. I am like, I am fine with it; people see me naked all the time."
Pick up our April issue, on sale March 28, to see all of Bo's glorious Maxim photos, and be sure to subscribe so you never miss an issue.