Updated: Jun 9, 2019
On Friday, May 24th, sweating my ass off after trekking through Manhattan, I sat across from Linda Vojtova. Linda came into my life earlier this year, when she began dating my cousin. She made her debut at our family Hannukah party, and I was absolutely stunned by her presence. Linda is the type of person who’s beauty, kindness, and sheer confidence immediately blows you away.
Soon after I arrived to the apartment, we grabbed a bottle of Rose´, some Poland Springs, and took refuge on her sunny, Tribeca terrace. Teddy, her shih tzu, and Mr. Chow, my cousin’s frenchie, joined us outside.
To be completely honest, I was a bit nervous for this interview. How will I ever amount to even a FRACTION of the success of this 33 year old, supermodel? She sat upright with confidence and nonchalance that I didn’t know was possible. Even her plain, loose tee and distressed jean shorts looked chic!
Linda handed me a glass of wine, and we chatted for a bit about what was going on in our lives. “When I was younger, I wanted to be the owner of a hotel.” She said, laughing. “I don’t even know how I came up with that.” Linda never saw herself as breaking into the modeling industry. It just wasn’t something she ever thought about. It was her mom who realized her potential.
Linda’s mother was a ballet dancer for the national theatre in Prague, but was kicked out when she grew too tall. This, most likely, encouraged her to send 14-year-old Linda off to modeling camp. She saw potential that Linda didn’t see in herself, as mothers often do. Although this idea wasn’t particularly attractive to Linda at the time, she went anyway. It was at this camp that her life changed forever.
In 2000, Linda was recruited to represent the Czech Republic in Elite Model Look, one of the most prestigious, worldwide competitions in the industry. Cindy Crawford, Stephanie Seymore and Gisele, who she is often compared to, were discovered here.
At 15 years old, Linda won the Elite Model Look WORLD finals.
“When I returned home, I had to switch schools. I was being bullied by the faculty. I had this one male teacher who would read articles in front of the class, and critique my photos.” This was a complete shock to me, but Linda explained that she was only four when Prague got rid of communism, and the country was still trying to shake some of its ugly qualities. “If you’re doing something different than everyone else, you’re not being celebrated. But that’s life, it gives you challenges that make you face exactly what is out of your comfort zone, and that is how you grow."
After Linda won the world title, her career took off. She traveled all over Asia, South America and Europe. But she still didn’t care. She hated being alone and traveling. “I had a Nokia phone and would fax my mother that I arrived to whatever country. We would get $150 a week for EVERYTHING from the agency. I would hop from Paris to Milan to Tokyo and to Buenos Aires. They would throw me a map and say ‘good luck!’”
At 17, Linda made the big move to New York. She lived on 48th and 3rd in a “models apartment” with 10 other girls. “Some people loved it, but it was a horrible atmosphere for me. Everyone was so competitive and would always compare their work for the week.” Since Linda was still in High School at the time, she had to travel back to Prague every two weeks for exams. “My diet was exclusively Doritos and Ben & Jerrys Chubby Hubby.”
One of the biggest challenges Linda faced after moving, was hiding how she felt on set. She was still with Elite at the time, and landed a huge campaign with American Vogue. “In Prague, when someone asks you how you are, you tell the truth. I was on set and one of the head directors asked how I was. I told him that I wasn’t feeling too great, because I was homesick.” The next day, Linda got a frantic call from her agency. They were contacted about her poor behavior on set. Vogue gave a warning, and said that if she didn’t show up with a better attitude, she would be replaced. “The next day I showed up on set smiling ear to ear” She said, laughing at the memory. Eventually Linda made the switch to One Management and has been with them for 14 years now.
As Linda became more established in her career, the type of modelling work evolved with her. “You want to be doing the advertising gigs, because that is where you make the most money. Beauty and cosmetics are huge. I love making TV commercials. It’s a bit nerve wracking, because everyone is watching you, but it is such a creative process.” Victoria Secret, Garnier, L’oreal, and Pantene are some of the brands she’s worked with along the way.
One of the biggest questions I had for Linda, was how she dealt with the constant pressure to perform in public, and look good while doing it. “It took a while for me to get here, but ultimately, you’re judged as a product. Not a person. That’s why I was able to not take it personally. There was one job where I was putting this shirt on my head, and the hole was too small. They were like, OH MY GOD your head is SO big, and I laughed about it, because there is nothing you can do with your SKULL. Your head is your head, you know?”
Confidence and a sense of humor isn’t the only thing Linda has figured out. In 2004, she invested in two apartments in Tribeca and several Warhol pieces. “An important thing I’ve done for myself, financially, is investing in property and art. I learned this growing up with a single mother. Another thing I’ve learned, is to surround yourself with people educated on what you are interested in. For me, that was art.”
Linda was honest about her feelings towards her modelling career throughout our entire conversation, which is something I respect deeply. She wasn’t afraid to admit that it maybe wasn’t the lifestyle she would have originally signed up for. “I’m still looking for my thing. Unless you try things, you don’t know. I took a 2 year jewelry making class and LOVED sitting at the bench for 12 hours a day. I also love ceramics and knitting. I just need to figure out how to make it a business.”
Another big take away from my conversation with Linda, is that no matter your level of success, you are not immune to everyone’s favorite question: “So what’s next?”
“I’ve been stressing since I was 22 about what the next thing is. Every single person back home would ask. I’m 33 now and I’m still working, A LOT. When you let go, things come into your life, and they come when you least expect them. If you’re not afraid, things will come. You have to be open to everything and just go with it.”