When I tried to interview Zuz, La Modelo del Mes for September, she was in Poland visiting her family. When she arrived back, I was out of Madrid. Summer seems to be a difficult time to do interviews. Fortunately, Zuz was kind enough to do our interview by Skype, even with a temperamental internet connection.
Hello Zuz, how is the summer weather in Madrid treating you?
It’s getting better. The last few weeks have been unbearable in comparison to Poland, but it feels like it’s beginning to cool down. I hope!
How was your trip to Poland?
It was better than I thought it would be. Sometimes when visiting family, it is a little bit of hit or miss. But it was nice to be back home and see my friends and family. I am still happier in Madrid.
For how long have you been living in Madrid?
I have been living here for about 5 years having worked on a variety of jobs. I now work in management and customer service with a vacation apartment company in Madrid.
And how long have you’ve been going to Shimada?
Just recently actually. The first time I went was May of this year, so just a few months ago. Sarah, my very close friend, had been telling me about Shimada for over a year. She was his “La Modelo del Mes” for February. But I was living in Cuatro Caminos north of Madrid. She told me again and again, “You have to meet my hairdresser!” I just thought it was too far away to get my hair cut.
How did you get involved in La Modelo del Mes?
I think it was the first time I went to his salon. We just started chatting about life in general. He’s originally from Los Angeles so we were able to relate as we’re both expats in another country. I felt we really connected and then he asked me if I would like to do this project. I didn’t think I was the right person, but I said okay anyway.
Have you ever worked with a photographer?
I once worked with a painter. It was different because they took photos of me and used the photos to help them paint. My hair and makeup didn’t matter. If I didn't get enough sleep the night before, it was not necessarily going to show in the painting. They were more interested in how my body looked and how it was positioned. I was nervous and didn't know what to do, I honestly think I was just less confident back then. In the end, the finished works turned out really well.
What did you expect for this project?
My friend had already told me that Shimada was very professional. When I showed up, I was relaxed. With that said, if someone tells me that being a model is an easy job, I may just want to punch them in the face after this experience. Turns out it's not an easy job at all. You have to be on it all the time. If you’re tired, you still have to appear super awake. If they need you to smile, you need to really smile because it shows on your face. I was expecting it to be less energy-consuming, but I was really tired by the end.
Did Shimada tell you anything about his plans before the shoot?
He gave me an idea of the project. He told me we were going to do a hair piece in addition to the hair and makeup. My friend Sarah told me to me to eat before, and I didn't. I guess I just didn't realize how long it would take. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to eat before something like this. I survived the day on Coca-Cola and chocolate.
Coca-Cola and chocolate, how did that go?
Not so well. The next day, I felt a bit sick crashing from the sugar high, but it got me through the shoot. When I left, I wasn’t really hungry. And once I had all the makeup on, I didn’t think I could just go and eat a hamburger. There was no time, because I was constantly doing something. We started around 10:30am and finished about 6:30pm.
Were there any issues you ran across during the preparation process?
I thought there would be, but I was really comfortable. This really surprised me because I don't wear a lot of makeup. I wear a little bit of eyeliner but that's about it. I was expecting it to be uncomfortable, but it wasn’t. The airbrush makeup was very light on my face. He just sprinkled the makeup on my face, but it made my skin look gorgeous. The only problem I can think of...for one shoot, Shimada glued little stars on the eyelashes I was wearing and the stars kept falling off. So that took a while, but the result was worth it.
Where did you end up shooting?
Just around the salon. We took the pictures in front of a bar on his street and we also went to this little patio. Somebody opened a gate for us and there we were. It was really funny while we were setting up at each location. It was a super hot that day and I would stand in the sun. Shimada told me multiple times to stand in the shade. Didn't want me to melt I guess.
How many sets did you do?
We ended up doing two. We did one with a beautiful hairpiece. I felt like a movie star from the 60's, I just felt very glamorous. It was my first time wearing a hairpiece. It looked amazing, although it did feel a little bit weird on my head. The other, he covered part of my mohawk in pink. When he first put it on, it was really bright and intense. Somebody told me I look like a tropical bird which was awesome. I just love birds.
During the shoot, were their any issues?
My hair is really short so it made it difficult to clip the hair piece on, I had to focus on not moving my head too much. Not really an issue, but I thought it was funny to look at the other people in the street watching me. I felt like a celebrity.
So you liked the attention?
Yes I did. It’s nice getting attention when you look so glamorous, people’s reactions were very nice. Nothing like the unwanted attention you get sometimes coming back from the gym.
How was it working with Shimada and his assistant?
It was great! While I was focusing on one, the other could take a really good photo. Sometimes they don't want you staring into the camera. What I really liked was their approach. They understand that you don’t do this professionally. Every time Shimada would take a photo, he would continue to encourage me. He said things like, “Perfect! Beautiful! You look Great!” You want to know that you're doing a good job because you're not a professional. It helped just to say these little things. They know what they're doing so all I had to do was worry about me.
What were you wearing?
For the one shoot, I was wearing a white shirt with a design made by Shimada, and the other was just a black top I brought. I think the focus was more on the makeup and hair.
What were you doing while he was taking the photos?
I was in my own little world. It such a great experience when someone makes you feel so glamorous and pretty. I think every woman should get a chance to experience it once in their lives. I just felt incredible.
What do you think he brought out in you in the shoot?
I think my playful side, I am pretty smiley person and I love to laugh. He felt it. I was a little worried thinking I would have to be very serious. Sometimes models in magazine look a little mean, just staring at the camera looking bland. I was trying to be what I thought was professional. When I laughed at something, they kept trying to bring out that aspect of me. I think that's my energy, I like to laugh and smile. Once I started, they encouraged me to do it more.
Your favorite moment?
I think the moment of shooting, when all of the action was happening. I think posing was the best part. Even if I never saw the photos, I would consider it a success.
If you could give advice to the next person, what would it be?
Have breakfast, for God's sake! Do that and you’ll have an amazing experience. Shimada is going to make you feel comfortable and beautiful. You have nothing to worry about.
Did I mention breakfast? In all seriousness, it was amazing. I would absolutely do it again, without a doubt.