By Paula Rath
Advertiser Staff Writer
The X factor: It's the secret to success as a model, and Anya Rozova of Wai'alae-Kāhala has it.
After graduating from Waipahu High School, then 18-year-old Anya proved herself in front of an international audience, winning runner-up in cycle 10 of the Bravo show "America's Next Top Model." She went on to a busy modeling career in New York, followed by a year of modeling in Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore. She worked in runway (Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Calvin Klein, Roberto Cavalli), catalogues and magazines (Japan Vogue, Chaos).
Her agency wanted her to return to New York, but in December, Rozova decided it was time to come home for a while.
"I didn't feel like I had a purpose so I told them I needed to come home," she explained. In spite of her creative and financial success, she felt something was missing.
Perhaps it was a spiritual connection to her home in Hawai'i. Or maybe just a need to be surrounded by family and friends who loved her for herself. That need caused her to take a break from her careening career.
She has been quietly under the radar this year, gathering physical, mental and emotional strength. Now she's making her way back to the runway as a model in the Chic in the City fashion show, "Cirque du Culture," on May 28.
She got involved because the event is a benefit for breast cancer research and Rozova's grandmother died of breast cancer.
FRIENDS IN INDUSTRY
While Rozova was competing in "America's Next Top Model," she became friends with judge and supermodel Paulina Porizkova, as well as Bryan Magallones, hair stylist to New York and Hollywood celebrities and Porizkova's best friend.
Magallones, who also grew up in Hawai'i, graduating from Mililani High School in 1984, says Rozova has the "X factor" required of models in the top echelon.
"There are so many tall, pretty girls walking around this city but only one in a million ever make it professionally as a model. There's a certain ability that Anya has," Magallones said, by phone from New York — "as well as the right shape and height and body and of course a beautiful face.
"You have to be able to emote and to bring whatever feeling is required at the time to the photograph. She's got that X factor, and she also has a look that's very marketable," Magallones said. "On top of all that, she's a really hard worker."
Porizkova helped Rozova, but he also told her that she needed more self-confidence. She is working on that every day.
She has worked with many professional fashion photographers.
"It feels great when you and the photographer have a connection and have the same energy," she said, adding "When the camera turns on there's a freedom — you can do anything and be anyone you want. You get to express yourself."
RUSSIA TO O'AHU
Rozova was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, and was adopted by her mother, Bal Patterson, and father, Mike Kop, at age 4.
"If it wasn't for my mom having that calling to adopt a child from Russia, I would never have been living here," Rozova said. "I feel peaceful and happy here."
She began modeling at age 15, while still at Waipahu High School. Four years later, her sister, Aja Kop, 30, of Pālolo, chaperoned her to the auditions for "America's Next Top Model" in Los Angeles. Neither sister had ever been to the Mainland before.
Kop said she was not surprised when Rozova took to modeling.
"She had an interest in fashion and beauty from when she was a young girl," Kop said. "We would do dress-up, and she was always into that."
The L.A. auditions were a high-pressure time, but the sisters had fun together in the evenings. They laughed a lot, Kop said, and Rozova, when practicing her walk, would pull a Zoolander look and crack up her sister.
"She was always very artistic, and that translates into the ability to be a good model," Kop explained. "She is seen as an art piece by a good photographer."
On "America's Next Top Model," Rozova said, "I learned a lot about myself. You have to stay true to yourself. It's just hard to try to please everyone — and then you get confused about who you were and who you are."
In spite of all her success, it has not gone to her head:
"Modeling is just a job and doesn't have to define you," she said.