Eugenia Kuzmina: Life as a Russian-American Actress, Model, and Comedian in Miami
Updated: Mar 17
Eugenia Kuzmina is a multi-talented Russian-American actress, comedian, and model whose journey to success was inspired by her challenging upbringing. In an interview with Miami Living Magazine’s publisher Markin Abras, Eugenia shares her inspirations and connections to the city of Miami.
Blouse by Woolford, brooch by Chanel, hat by Lack of Color, scarf by Hermes, skirt by L’agance, shoes by Tamara Mellon
Born to a renowned nuclear physicist father and a former scientist turned housewife mother, Eugenia discovered her passion for performing at a young age. At just 13 years old, she was handpicked from her school to appear in a Russian version of “SNL” called “Eralash.”
Despite visa issues that prevented her from appearing in a Chuck Norris film, her commercials for top brands like Coca-Cola, L’Oréal, and Wrigleys in Moscow caught the eye of a scout at Nathalie Models Europe, leading to a contract and a move to Paris at 15. There, she modeled for top brands such as Cartier, Dior, Armani, Hermes, and Vogue.
Eugenia’s career took off when her contract was signed by Ford Models and IMG, who brought her to the United States. She was soon cast in Rodrigo Prieto’s directorial debut “Likeness” opposite Elle Fanning, which was well-received at the Tribeca Film Festival. This opened doors for her to appear in films like “Rock The Kasbah,” “Bad Moms,” and Guy Ritchie’s “The Gentlemen.” Her television credits include “Spy City,” “True Blood,” “New Girl,” “Castle,” “The Comeback,” and “Tour De Pharmacy.”
Eugenia’s passion for comedy shines through in her regular stand-up performances at The Comedy Store and The Laugh Factory. In her free time, she enjoys motorcycles, doing her own stunts, speaking multiple languages, and supporting environmental causes globally.
Eugenia currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Bill Block, the CEO of Miramax, and their three children.
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Jacket, pants, blouse by Ralph Lauren, glasses by Chanel, shoes by Prada Coat by Stella McCartney, sweater by Michael Kors, jeans by Celine, hair band by Dior, watch by Abington and Co. Jacket by Dris Van Noten, sweater by Woolford, jeans by Frame, belt by Celine, bag by Chanel. Sweater by Balmain, blouse by Woolford, jeans by Frame, chain by Dolce and Gabbana, shoes by Prada.
Markin Abras: What inspires you about Miami and how has it influenced your career?
Eugenia Kuzmina: Miami is like a luxurious, sensual perfume to me. The city exudes lush colors, a laid-back timeless style, and a tropical allure. I’ve been fortunate enough to shoot editorials for top magazines such as Elle, Glamour, and Marie Claire, as well as campaigns for Neiman Marcus and bikini brands from Brazil. Additionally, I’ve performed stand-up comedy during Swim Fashion Week, with a Lamborghini champagne backdrop - it was a dream come true! I was able to combine my love for modeling and performing, and we even enjoyed a glass of champagne while taking pictures on a boat the next day.
Abras: How does your experience in Miami differ from other cities you’ve worked in?
Kuzmina: My first job in Miami was for Elle UK, and I have my agent, Luiz Mattos, to thank for my US career. He knew how much I loved to travel, and I remember stepping out of Miami airport for the first time and feeling so relaxed. The warm, tropical air was a stark contrast to the freezing Siberian nights I was used to. In Miami, there’s a sense that nothing is rushed and everything gets done. As a model, I’ve shot in challenging weather conditions, but Miami is always a fun and enjoyable experience. The ocean water is warm and inviting, and I always feel welcomed by the people I work with. There’s always an invitation to a party or community event in the evening.
Abras: How does Miami’s cultural diversity impact your creative process and artistic vision?
Kuzmina: Miami is incredibly culturally diverse, and I love the Cuban influence. It brings me back to my roots growing up in post-Soviet Russia and connects me to South American culture through architecture and food. I was invited to perform stand-up comedy during Art Basel a few years ago and was fascinated by the crowd’s reaction to the famous “The Comedian” banana piece by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan. Doing comedy about the piece was a highlight for me. Growing up, I was a huge fan of Miami Vice and loved sneaking peeks at Hollywood films when I was a kid.
Abras: Can you tell us about any exciting projects you have coming up in Miami?
Kuzmina: Next month, my 14-year-old son is moving to Florida to attend IMG Academy and train as a professional tennis player, and I’ll be visiting him every other month.
I hope my visits will bring more opportunities for local film, TV, and commercial work. Last summer, I spent time at IMG Academy and fell in love with golf. I’ve had the idea to co-design a women’s golf wear line for a younger generation who are taking up the sport. I’ve also created a comedy show, “Models of Comedy,” with other model-comedians, and I hope to bring it to Miami soon.
Abras: As a multi-talented actress, model, and comedian, how do you manage to balance and integrate these aspects of your career?
Kuzmina: I am constantly inspired to learn and grow as a person. My father, a nuclear scientist, instilled in me a thirst for knowledge and a desire to never be confined to one specific area. My career as a model has opened many doors for me and allowed me to travel and learn about different cultures, people, and communities. Acting allows me to explore different lives and perspectives, while comedy provides me with a platform to express my own voice. Balancing these careers with parenting can be challenging, but I’ve found that staying curious and sharing my experiences through my blog (www.modelmom.tv), my podcast (Modelmom on Spotify), and my book on Amazon helps me keep everything in perspective.
Abras: How has your experience as a performer evolved since your first acting role?
Kuzmina: My first American acting role was in the film “Likeness” alongside Elle Fanning, directed by Oscar-winning cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto and nominated for the Tribeca Film Festival. The audition was unforgettable, as I was asked to delve into the dark and vulnerable side of being a model. Although playing a model was easy for me, acting requires a different set of skills and the courage to be fully seen. It took me some time to embrace this aspect of acting, but stand-up comedy has helped me break down the fourth wall and be more vulnerable in my performances. At this stage in my career, I am excited to play a diverse range of characters, beyond just stereotypical roles.
Abras: Can you share with us some of the challenges you have faced in your career and how you have overcome them?
Kuzmina: The entertainment industry can be a wild ride, with highs that soar and lows that can be incredibly tough. I was lucky enough to be scouted at the young age of 15 and brought to Paris, but it took me a while to get cast because I was a shy teenager who was also struggling with anorexia. Yves Saint Laurent gave me a chance to perform in a show with all the supermodels when I was on the brink of giving up on my modeling career.
As a teenager, it can be difficult to have a healthy self-image and self-worth, especially when your value is based on your appearance. This is why I developed an alter ego for my modeling editorials. I approached each job as if I was playing a character, considering who she was, what her background was, and why she was wearing her clothes a certain way in a particular moment. Over time, I learned to place my value on my inner qualities, which ultimately attracted more clients to hire me.
I also struggled with finding my voice and yearning to be heard. But when my therapist suggested I try singing, I did, and I ended up being hired for a TV show called “I Can See Your Voice.” Today, I am writing this from a movie set where I am playing a singer. I have had to overcome many obstacles in my career, including being told I would never be able to leave Russia, or that I was too old at 23 to start acting. I also faced limitations like being told that pretty women can’t be funny. But I learned to not react to these limitations and to just keep working and being of service.
Abras: Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring actors and entertainers in Miami who are looking to make a name for themselves in the industry?
Kuzmina: My advice would be to have something unique to offer, a skill or talent that sets you apart. It’s also important to understand your market and your marketing strategy. Have a pitch deck presentation ready to help your agents sell you, and know when to say no to work that doesn’t align with your values. Cultivate your uniqueness, and don’t be afraid to showcase what makes you different.