Milana Ivashkina: From Small-Town Girl to Ms. USA World Universe

That’s right, my career started when I was a kid, thanks to my mom who was really supportive. At the beginning, I worked with Chinese agencies doing print and shows for children’s fashion. Things kept growing from there.

My mom always told me, “Do what you like.” For me, that was modeling. It’s given me so many opportunities to meet new people, see new places and practice speaking other languages. It’s been an adventure!

I’m so grateful to my mom now. I didn’t really understand where this path would lead when I was first starting. One of my earliest memories was when I was 7 years old and my mom would say, “Milana, learn how to pose and play with your eyes.” It was actually pretty solid advice and obviously, I still think about it to this day!

I just started using Instagram and have a few thousand followers right now. I like to share about my life as a model and hopefully help other girls who are just starting out since I know exactly what they’re going through. So that means I talk about things like how to build a career from the ground up, how to negotiate and how to work with other industry professionals. I also like to get into really specific topics, like posing. When I’m not sharing about modeling, I like to geek out about nutrition and sports, that’s really fun for me as well.

It’s hard to remember all of them! The first ones that come to mind are Poza, Magblacks, Pump and Swing Magazine.

For me, sports was a great foundation and it prepared me for so much in modeling and in life. But modeling really grabbed me – it felt like the bigger dream for me personally. I still love sports and I enjoy staying as active as I can.

I started practicing yoga at 13 when my mom and I went to India for a 2-month workshop and certification program. Yoga helped me cultivate calmness and the ability to relax even in challenging situations. Before I got into yoga, I didn’t have as many tools to help me let go, to clear my mind and also, I had never meditated. I took another course in Greece and then I started working with a coach from Moscow who studied under Ayengara, who was the creator of the specific type of yoga I now like to practice.

As a model, I’ve learned that being on top of my game depends on how well I’m taking care of myself. Yoga is a big part of my self-care routine. I still practice Ayengara yoga by myself and with teachers.

It’s been great to be able to work in two totally different markets. In China, I did a lot more commercial photo shoots, whereas in the US, I’ve been doing more events and shows. But no matter where I am, I always learn something new and that’s the fun part.

I would say that I’m most proud that modeling has become my life. I’ve built relationships with  photographers, agents, makeup artists and other professionals all around the world. I feel confident and inspired and ready for whatever comes my way.

One recent job that was really exciting was being cast to walk for two designers, Bless By Bless and Demobaza, at Los Angeles Fashion Week. It was an incredible experience!

 – You recently participated in a beauty contest in New York. Tell us more about that experience.

I felt really lucky to be able to take part in the Ms. USA World Universe pageant in New York. It was a 2-day event in March with 37 participants from all over the country. It was a fabulous experience and I was thrilled to receive the Ms. USA World Universe title! I met so many new people and I learned so much from the stylists, photographers and coaches. I’m so grateful to everyone who believed in me and gave me their vote!

If you want to become a model, the main thing is just to start! Remember, everyone has to start somewhere. Keep growing, be purposeful and believe in yourself. Anything is possible.

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