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Nadya Belousova: how a 12 year Siberian model went onto the world stage

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09 November 2012


Model Nadya Belousova pictured aged 11 (left) and after the start of her international career. Pictures: Olga Shvets 

To find the elusive model that no-one before could find... to make a splash in the world. 

Nadya Belousova, aged 12, from Angarsk was a sensational discovery by our agency 'Baikal Stars'.

The career she is now building has started not only thanks to me, but also to her parents. They sent photos of Nadya to the agency. 

Then her height was 168 cm. As soon as I looked at the girl, it became clear that she was a discovery.  According to the traditional methods of promoting a model she would have not start her career until she was 14-to-16 years old.

But I just made some good pictures of the girl and showed them to all my friend agents in Paris, New York, and Milan. 

The response from all of them was the uniform: 'WOW!!!!!', the countless exclamation marks being the highest degree of admiration.

Nadya Belousova

Model Nadya Belousova from Angarsk, Eastern Siberia. Picture: Olga Shvets 

What happened at this original shoot with her has become the talk of agents throughout the world.

Asked to smile, the girl said: 'I can't'. Asked why, she said: 'Because I have no teeth!'

She was so immature at that age that her milk teeth had only just fallen out. 

At that time the fact of her participation in our projects couldn't have been even discussed: she was too young.

During the winter, Nadia stretched up to 174 cm,  the minimum height for professional models. Her teeth had grown. 

Nadya Belousova Nadya Belousova

'I made good pictures of Nadya and showed them to all my friend agents in Paris, New York and Milan. The response was the uniform: 'WOW!!!!!', the countless exclamation marks being the highest degree of admiration'. Model Nadya Belousova from Angarsk, Siberia. Pictures: Olga Shvets 

That's when I realised that it was time to announce that our agency was growing a new world star.

Nadia took part in the competition Young Beauty of Lake Baikal-2009, attended by girls from a number of Siberian regions such as Khakassia, Buryatia, Chita and Irkutsk.

Having won first place, she became the personification of the Siberian beauty.

David Mancuso - agent from Milan 'Women' had travelled all over Russia never being photographed, yet he insisted: 'I cannot resist to be pictured with such a beauty... You really have the most beautiful girls.'

This photo later appeared not only in the local press, but also on a set of web portals about fashion.

And a few weeks after the contest job offers for Nadia came from Japan, Italy and Taiwan.

I cannot say that it was simple to make a decision. Her planned visit to Taiwan was in jeopardy, because I had to send Nadia there through a mediator.

And the mediator did not want to talk about Nadia going with her mother. 

Nadya Belousova

'Nadya... became the personification of the Siberian beauty'.  Picture: Olga Shvets 

Usually agents are ready to take a girl of such age with her mother, they don't mind - but no-one is ready to pay mother's expenses. After all, they are not a travel company providing free flights around the world. 

The situation was extremely complicated.

But I had no choice than to start negotiating Nadya going with her mother, in fact - placing them in a separate room of the models' apartment. Otherwise the child would be separated from her mother. And I was not happy with this option. 

Its ok for a 14 year old girl - if she is independent, can cook, wash clothes and freshen up. But for a 12-year old child, with no-one speaking Russian around her, it would be a heavy stress. So I managed to persuade the agent that Nadya's mother should travel with her at their expense. 

The second problem was to get a work visa for a 12-year-old girl. This one was almost impossible to break through.

It's quite a common problem for russian modeling business: there is no such profession as 'model' in Russian legislation. Each time we have to get around this issue when sending our girls abroad. Eventually we got through the red tape with Nadya's documents.  

Nadya received a work visa and her mother got the visa to accompany her. None of my friends from the Russian State Duma, and other people from Angarsk who now live and work in Moscow and have high positions in this area assisted me. 

Nadya Belousova

'This was how a 12-year-old from Angarsk became the youngest professional model in the world'. Picture: Olga Shvets 

So, on August 16 instead of the originally scheduled June 1, Nadia and her mother went to Taiwan for three months.

The first two weeks were very difficult, despite the fact that Nadia was taught English, not only in school, but also with the tutor.

Arriving in a foreign country, having English sound not the way she is accustomed to hear in the classroom and in the movies confused her, and if it were not for my advice and her mother's help she would not have coped with all the tasks. 

I have to confess: there was a question of Nadia being sent home if she did not improve.

Olga Shvets, Director of Baikal Stars Model Agency

But then I received first letter of gratitude for the work she was doing, and for what I did.

It read: 'Nadia gets better, she smiles more. Thank you for your help! And thanks to her mother, who helps her a lot. She bought her a lot of beautiful clothes for auditions, she looks like a model now!

'Nadya had her first working day today - Gucci fashion show. Another customer has approved her in a directory for work in September, so let her family know!'

This was how a 12-year-old from Angarsk became the youngest professional model in the world.

I am proud she is the first model of such a young age from Angarsk who went on to conquer the world - still holding her mother's hand.

Pictured: Olga Shvets, Director of 'Baikal Stars' Model Agency, Angarsk, Siberia.

Comments (5)

kam, india
03/10/2013 02:50
Lucky Nadya! Wish some agent found when I was young as well. Now they say I'm too old even though I'm still a student.
Oksana, Kyiv/Ukraine
14/11/2012 20:49
William, London
12/11/2012 20:17
poor country where parents have to trade their children like this
Masha, Asia
12/11/2012 11:08
.....this is called abuse, dear Olga - not modelling!
V, Russia
11/11/2012 12:23

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