Sunday, May 6, 2012

Arabia's Next Top Model

Photo Credit:  Nada Hakeem Photography
No, there's not a version of the "Top Model" television show here in Saudi Arabia, but if there were, I wouldn't be surprised if this young lady won. I had the pleasure of meeting Daryna Tkachenko in January at the “Evening at Il Villaggio” event I wrote about on this blog. She is a strikingly beautiful young woman who really stands out in a crowd here in Saudi Arabia.

Daryna is a 22-year-old model/banquet coordinator who was transplanted from the Ukraine to Saudi Arabia when she was four years old. Her father, Vladmir Tkachenko, was an Olympic swimmer who was lured to Saudi Arabia by a lucrative job offer in 1993. Daryna’s mother was also a swimmer as well as a model, and both her parents have been working in KSA as personal fitness trainers for the past ten years. Daryna, who has a sister who also lives in Saudi Arabia, says she comes from a traditional Russian Christian family with lots of cats. She is single but hopes to marry one day soon and start her own family. This talented young lady is fluent in English, Russian, Ukranian, Arabic, and French.

Daryna was kind enough to sit down and answer some questions for me.
Salmon Turban by Sotra.
How and when did you get your start in modeling?
WHEN I WAS FOUR YEARS OLD, MY PARENTS’ FRIENDS NEEDED SOMEONE TO ADVERTISE FOR SAUDIA AIRLINES. I WAS ONE OF THE LUCKY NON-ARAB KIDS TO PASS THE CASTING! EVER SINCE, FRIENDS OF FRIENDS HAVE INVITED ME TO HELP PROMOTE THEIR BRANDS AND I AM ALWAYS THERE TO HELP OUT!

Did you take any modeling, makeup, or fashion courses or have special training to be a model?
NO SPECIAL TRAINING – NOTHING BUT LEARNED BEHAVIOR. MOM WAS A PROFESSIONAL MODEL BACK IN THE 1990’S.

Have you ever modeled outside KSA?
NO, I HAVE NEVER HAVE MODELED OUTSIDE OF KSA.

Have you ever thought about acting?
YES, ACTING ALWAYS SOUNDED LIKE AN INTERESTING OPTION.
Photo credit:  Mokhtar Chahine
Do you have to exercise regularly to keep fit for modeling?
NOT AT ALL – I ONLY RECENTLY JOINED THE GYM. THE MAIN REASON FOR THAT WAS MY BLUE-BLOODED STATE – AFTER A 10 HOUR DAY OF ZERO MOVEMENT, ONE LOSES FEELING IN HER LEGS.

Do you watch what you eat or are you one of those lucky people who can eat whatever she wants and not have to worry about gaining weight?
I AM ONE OF THOSE KIDS OF ATHELETES WHO INHERITED GOOD GENES. I EAT NON-STOP :D

Tell me about your education.
FROM KINDERGARDEN TO HIGH SCHOOL I STUDIED IN KSA. I FINISHED UNIVERSITY AND BUSINESS SCHOOL IN UKRAINE.

Photo credit:  The Passionates

How often do you get to visit the Ukraine?
NOW THAT I WORK, I BARELY VISIT. I USED TO TRAVEL THERE EVERY SUMMER WITH FAMILY WHEN I WAS GROWING UP.

What other countries have you visited?
UNFORTUNATELY I HAVEN’T TRAVELED ALL THAT MUCH HONESTLY. I HAVE BEEN TO UKRAINE, RUSSIA, PARIS, TURKEY, AND MOROCCO.

Photo credit:  The Passionates

What countries would you like to visit that you haven’t yet been to?
ENGLAND - EVERYONE SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN & SEEN IT ALREADY.

Tell me about your job at the Movenpick Resort.
I WORK FULL TIME AND AM NOW A COMMUNICATION AND BANQUET COORDINATOR, SO I HANDLE TWO DEPARTMENTS. MY DUTIES INCLUDE MAINLY COORDINATING AND COMMUNICATING THE GUESTS’ REQUESTS TO THE CHEF AND THE BANQUET STAFF FOR MEETINGS AND OUTSIDE CATERING EVENTS, PLUS MEDIA AND PR FOR PRESS RELEASES, ETC.

What are your favorite foods?
UKRAINIAN DISHES ARE MY FAVORITE. WHEN I AM IN SAUDI, I ENJOY ARABIAN DISHES (RICE WITH CHICKEN OR LAMB, HOMMOS.

Photo credit:  Ala'a Kutbi

What do you like to do in your spare time here in Jeddah?
IN MY SPARE TIME I LIKE TO VISIT FRIENDS. OUR GATHERINGS MAINLY TAKE PLACE IN COMPOUNDS, WHERE WE FEEL FREE TO WATCH MOVIES OR SIT & CHAT IN A LIVING ROOM WITH SNACKS, PLAYSTATION, AND NICE MUSIC IN THE BACKGROUND.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you like to live?
I WOULD LIKE TO LIVE IN JEDDAH, MY HOME IN THE DESERT . I DON’T SEE MYSELF BEING AS COMFORTABLE ANYWHERE ELSE.

Do you think that living in KSA has affected the person that you are today? If so, in what ways?
ABSOLUTELY! I WOULD SAY I AM ONLY UKRAINIAN ON THE OUTSIDE. FROM HOW I ACT TO HOW I DRESS TO HOW I SPEAK AT TIMES, GROWING UP IN SAUDI SHAPED ME, AND I AM BLESSED TO HAVE BEEN BROUGHT UP HERE.

Photo credit:  Reem Bajabaa

Women's status in KSA is a frequent topic of news reports - what are your feelings about this and are there changes you would like to see happen in this country?
BEING FEATURED IN THE NEWS MYSELF, I SEE FREEDOM EVOLVE – BUT THE MENTALITY OF MOST WILL ONLY BE PASSED ON TO THE NEXT GENERATIONS. I THEREFORE DON’T FORECAST MUCH CHANGE FOR FEMALES IN KSA.

17 comments:

  1. Salam
    she's very loved isn't she
    she's the valuable one, isn't that wonderful

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    1. Daryna has grown up in Jeddah and considers it her home. She's carved out a very nice life for herself here.

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  2. Mashallah she is stunning and seems like a fun and down to earth person :)

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    Replies
    1. And she is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.

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  3. Stunning for sure! Does she wear traditional dress when she is not modeling? With all of the rules and traditions, I wondered what the point of view would be regarding modeling. Interesting interview.

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    Replies
    1. I'm sure she has some traditional dresses that she wears for certain occasions, but most of the time, she wears normal Western dress. Of course when she is out in public, she is covered with the abaya like all women here are. I would think that most Saudis are proud of Daryna and her modeling, although some in the religious establishment here would probably not be so receptive to it.

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  4. Beauty and Brains!! :)

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    Replies
    1. I've know this beauty since she was a little girl. She was a beautiful child and has grown into a stunning young lady. However beautiful she is on the outside does not even come close to how beautiful she is on the inside. Im very proud of her.

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  5. Wow - she is stunning. Seems like a nice lady too.

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  6. We have a lot of beatifull girls with arabic beauty ,so she is not an exception,and want toknow if she is looking for
    A husband by this probaganda

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    Replies
    1. I have often said how beautiful the Saudi women are - that is not in question. This woman is not Saudi - she is Ukranian. I approached her about doing this interview because I thought her situation is quite unique - not because she is looking for a husband. What is wrong with you? You must be brainwashed from all the "propaganda" you've been fed in school.

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  7. Thank you for sharing this. This woman is very beautiful, and I am glad to see so educated. I never really considered that women were allowed to dress this way in Saudi Arabia. Amazing what one can learn from this awesome website.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you - I'm glad you enjoyed this post. Women in public places here in Saudi Arabia are always fully covered. These modeling photos were taken in private settings.

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  8. great site..Thank you for sharing this. This woman is very beautiful, and I am glad to see so educated.Used Vans

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  9. She is very beautiful lady . What I can't understand just what she likes in KSA.

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