The Girl Behind the Mask – By Zatasha Kiran


High school student, Katherine Tkachenko who will be turning 16 in a few days, was born and raised in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia but is originally from the Ukraine. Coming from a family of models Katherine got into modelling from a young age. In three years she has managed to establish a name in the modelling field in Jeddah by modelling for numerous people including big salons like Rima Centre and Lina Beauty Centre as well as famous local Arab designers such as Shehana, Reem Faisal Couture, Sofinaza Boutique, Sara Mazhar, Orange Blossom and many more. Katherine talks to us about juggling studying with freelance modelling and life in front of the lens.

Q: Tell us a little about your life growing up and your interests.
A: My parents moved to Jeddah from the Ukraine in 1994 when my dad got a good job offer. I was born and raised in an apartment in Jeddah with my only sister Daryna. Growing up I was a very outgoing type of girl and loved to model, take pictures and dress up. I went to an international school and speak four languages, English, Russian, Ukrainian, Arabic and I’m currently learning French. My life has been full of adventures I’d say. With each year I’ve gained more experience, learnt more things, improved myself and helped others improve themselves as well. I’m the kind of person that really can’t stand to watch someone who needs help just walk away, I have to at least offer to help them. I’ve helped a few people with various things and I like to keep my door open for anyone who’s interested. Just ask!

Q: How and when did you get into modelling?
A: Modelling actually runs in my family. My mother, Marina, was once a model, my sister, Daryna, decided to become one too and I finally got my big break around three years ago. My sister was due to attend a photo-shoot one day but had to cancel for some reason so she gave them my number and that’s how it all started.

Katherine and her sister Daryna
Katherine and her sister Daryna

Q: Was your first photo-shoot nerve wrecking?
A: Whenever I think of the first day I modelled I’m not able to count the emotions. I was nervous, excited, worried, happy – everything at once.
But I aced it and it worked out pretty well.

Q: What has been you most memorable shoot?
A: One of the best shoots I’ve done is with TheLoft, we were shooting for Shehana Designs showcasing some beautiful abayas. TheLoft’s creativity always seems to surprise me – on that particular day, after they had done my hair and makeup, they sat me down and brought a henna artist who started to draw amazing designs all over my face, hands and legs with a makeup art pen. It was my first time ever I was able to feel like a masterpiece and I loved it.
I really had fun that day, especially seeing my mother’s reaction when I came back home!

Q: How do you feel in front of the camera? Are you a natural?
A: When the camera’s on, I put in mind a thought or a person depending on the theme. If the theme is fierce then I’d think of revenge. If it’s a happy theme , I’d think of how lucky I am, or maybe a moment in life that made me the happiest. So, yes I believe I’m a natural as I’ve never faked a look, I
in fact that’s quite hard to do.

Q: Have you worked with any well known photographers in the kingdom?
A: Yes, I’ve worked with a renowned local Lebanese photographer, Mokhtar Chahine (Moko photography), Rawan Turky from the Clickers duo, TheLoft, and more.

Q: How would you describe your style?
A: I’m really picky with that one, I’m crazy about my style but it changes with my mood so I don’t have anything specific that I stick to and I don’t really have a signature look. I let my mood dictate.

Q: Beauty experts always say it’s important to keep a routine, do you have a specific beauty regime?
A: My routine is sleeping for minimum 7 hours a day, drinking as much water as possible and having to be under the sun for at least half an hour a day for vitamin D that makes skin have a nice healthy tone. I believe these three things really help with inner beauty as well as outer, and they don’t cost a thing!

Q: What three beauty items could you not live without?
A: 1 – Eyebrow pencil, since I don’t really have full eyebrows.
2 – Matt light pink lip liner by Makeup Forever, one of my favorites.
3 – Last, but not least, Johnson’s Baby Wet Wipes! That’s one thing I can’t live without. Having to come back home sometimes late at night with all that heavy makeup from a photo-shoot is a nightmare so that’s my little life saviour.

Q: What’s the best skin care advice you have been given?
A: Drink a lot of water. Include vegetables in your meals. Walk under the sun for a little while to obtain vitamin D. One of my favourite detox drinks also helps a lot too – freshly squeezed lemon juice mixed with cool water and a sprinkle of cinnamon powder. Yummy!

Q: Have you ever had any beauty disasters?
A: Everyday, my first look in the mirror, feels like a disaster! Whoever out there thinks that models wake up in the morning and look amazingly perfect as soon as they open their eyes can stop thinking Disney! We all have our days where we feel a little off, it’s just about how we move forward from there.

Q: What does beauty mean to you?
A: Beauty to me really has more meaning than just what’s on the outside. What most people see beauty as is, makeup,being all trendy, trying to imitate celebrity looks and that’s just not right. It’s true that beauty means more than just what’s on the outside. Like the popular saying goes, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”,  I’d say, “Don’t judge a heart by the persons mask(or makeup)”.

Q: We all have those days where we don’t feel great, what makes you feel beautiful?
A: The presence of loved ones, my family, my boyfriend Hani and my little puppy, Coco.They always know how to make me feel beautiful, they give me positive energy and positive thoughts.

Q: We believe beauty on the inside is just as important as on the outside, what do you do to maintain them both?
A: I rely a lot on positive energy and attitude, inner peace, self confidence and last but not least maintaining my health because outer beauty is brought from inner peace and health of course.

Q: Who or what inspires you?
A: My mother, Marina Tkachenko.
She’s a real woman, she’s the one I look up to, love and who inspires me the most in life.

Katherine’s mother Marina Tkachenko

Q: As we can see you are into fitness, what’s your typical fitness routine like?
A: Exercise is everything to me but to be honest I don’t always find the time. Three times a week is my minimum. I Iove to keep myself in good shape on the inside and out.

Q: We believe fitness goes hand in hand with diet, do you follow a healthy diet?
A: They say in fitness, food takes up 70% and exercise take up only 30%.
But if you really think that I, as a model and a fitness freak, am always on strict diet and only eat salads then I’m here to tell you the truth!
I’m in love with McDonald’s, Subway, Wingzone and the rest of the delicious junk out there as I’m sure most of you are. My favorite food at home is indomie (instant packet noodles), since I’m always in a hurry. I guess I should just give a big thanks to my fast metabolism that allows me to eat whatever comes to mind however, I try to maintain as healthy a diet as possible.

3hood makeup and Dar Al Hanoof designs

Q: Is modelling a career you want to peruse or is it just a hobby?
A: It’s more of a hobby really, although I do love it but for now, as a student, I consider it a hobby. Who knows maybe later on in life I’ll decide to make it a career.

Q: What helpful advice can you share with other aspiring models out there?
A: Don’t forget to shine!

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