Paulina Porizkova catapulted into supermodel stardom when she was featured on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue in 1984. Four years later, she signed a reported record-breaking $6 million contract with cosmetics company Estée Lauder, and has since graced the covers of numerous magazines and been featured in multiple fashion campaigns. She’s also acted in several film and television roles and appeared as a judge on America's Next Top Model. Now at age 57, in her recently published collection of personal essays, No Filter: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful, she candidly discusses beauty, aging, fame and her relationship with rock-star husband Ric Ocasek, who died in 2019.
You were quite poor while growing up in the Czech Republic. Then, as a model, you made millions. What was the first thing you bought yourself when you had some money?
Well, I always thought that modeling was temporary, and I was going to be fired when they figured out I wasn’t a model. So I put money aside. I was never a big spender. But there was one thing I wanted badly that I did buy: a baby grand piano.
You are fluent in four languages. Which one do you dream in? And are your sons [Jonathan, 29, and Oliver, 24] multilingual as well?
I dream in English, until I go to the Czech Republic, and then I dream in Czech. My children are not multilingual. Ric did not want them speaking Czech, because he worried that the three of us would have our own secret language.
Given that you were famously married to a musician, was music an important part of your life together? What’s on your playlist?
Well, unfortunately my husband hated when I played classical music. It bored him. Naturally, he had very strong opinions about music, and we often disagreed. Now, I have an extensive playlist of the music he thought was bad. ABBA, Bee Gees … music where words are not important, where you can just sing along and dance.
You tell a wonderful tale in your book about how you got kicked off of dating apps for impersonating Paulina Porizkova.
Yes. I went on a few dates and they shut me down. But then I mentioned it on IG [Instagram] and they reinstated me. My friends tell me, “If you want real love, look for real men.” Well, I’m looking! But it’s hard. I write a chapter about this, about why famous people stick with other famous people. Because when you go out with someone who isn’t famous, they either talk about themselves all night and try to subtly one-up you to balance the scales, or they’re like, “I can’t believe I’m out with a supermodel.” It’s hard to see past the bubble of fame. I’m not doing super well on the dating apps!
You’ve done some acting and directing. Any upcoming roles?
Yes, and I’d love to do more. I just did a small independent film that stars [Borat actress] Maria Bakalova … She plays a young woman who studies the effects of trauma and grief, and then she loses her dad. I am her mother, the grieving widow, which I guess is in my wheelhouse right now … but anyway, I would love to do more films.
You say you have learned to be less judgmental with age. What advice would you give your younger self?
I started modeling at 15, and there was no business more judgmental than the fashion world. So you learn what you see all around you. And in truth, there is nothing I could have told my younger self that I would have listened to. I would have been like, Thanks, old lady, I’ll keep that in my back pocket. But given what I went through when my husband died, I would tell my younger self: Mind your money. Do not hand over the responsibility of yourself to somebody else, no matter how much you love them.
You’ve claimed you never liked modeling, and yet modeling gave you an extraordinary life. If you had to do it all over again, what career would you have chosen?
[Laughs.] I always wished I could be paid for reading. My Kindle keeps sending me medals, which you earn when you read a certain number of books. But … [I] think this may be it — writing. Connecting to people through our words: I hear you and you hear me. I was very grateful I could model, but it’s not an accomplishment. It’s just an accident of nature. I think, for the first time, now, I am proud of my work.
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