There is a small, nondescript office in Old Riga, on the east side of Daugava River, not far from St. Peter’s Church.
Walk briskly past the House of Blackheads and a tangle of Kafkaesque medieval streets will lead you to an equally nondescript door, with a number of hard-to-read names above a single, dented intercom.
Upstairs in 2C, you’ll find a man in his late 40s, sitting behind a desk at a slightly antiquated computer. Regarding you with bored eyes, he’ll wave you in as he presses a sensor on the desk lamp, which reads his fingerprint and slides open the bookshelf. Follow the passageway to the hidden underground complex, and mind the final step. That’s where you’ll find Julia Lescova, who smiles at you wanly as she reviews her latest briefing, a Beretta 418 in her boot.
Hailing from Latvia, she was even voted “Best Model in the World” in Turkey.
But this thoughtful, soft-spoken model shows her friendly public persona disguises a mindset that remains ever aware of painful, humble origins.
Q: You started learning ballet beginning at age of 5, and piano at age 7. Do you miss dance and music? Are there other forms of self-expression you plan to pursue, or does modeling provide you with all the self-expression you need?
Yes, I do miss dance, but I’m continuing to follow my passions and work on music. I recorded a few songs and am looking forward to releasing them. Dance was always my passion as well, and I hope that soon I’ll be pursuing more of that. I’m going to be taking sessions with a dance coach, so I can make better music videos and just to enjoy what I love doing. : )
Q: One of the best parts of being a successful model has been the ability to help your mother. Do you want to share any other details about your upbringing in Latvia? It must be a pretty different world from Los Angeles.
Yes, I had a challenging upbringing and it wasn’t easy to grow up with what I had, and what I lacked. Being independent at 15 years old was not easy, but it made me so strong today. I was definitely missing so much of what other kids had, but I don’t regret the way I grew up. Quite the opposite: I’m happy about it because it made me a person I am today, and it made me appreciate every single day and everything I have gained in life on my own.
My teenage years were very difficult but life definitely repays me daily, for everything I missed. And I’m so grateful for that. And I’m beyond grateful that I’ve been able to help my mom since 15, and to never ask for anything since then, just give. I went through the world to come to Los Angeles, and it can be quite a spoiling city, because it has so much to offer. But because of I’ve seen so much of “not having,” it helps me stay grounded and appreciative.
I don’t forget where I came from, and I’m grateful where life has brought me. And I’m still going : )
Q: You’ve been all over the world as a model, from Milan, London and Paris, to Istanbul, Athens, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Singapore. What was your favorite place (and why)?
There is something I love in each one of the cities I’ve worked in, but one of my favorites would be Milan, because it was fun and interesting living there, and that’s where I started modeling abroad in the first place.
It was a bit tough, but that’s what gave me the strength I needed later in life, and it taught me a new beautiful language. Another place I loved was Singapore, a very popular tourist destination, with a very warm and beautiful climate. Living there was very enjoyable, in addition to a lot of modeling work.
In each of those cities I had a lot of fun working, though. I just love my job. It’s always given me pleasure. : )
Q: What made you decide to settle in Los Angeles?
It happened accidentally, when I came here for a job with a little suitcase.
I was supposed to stay a week, then I came back for another week. A week became two weeks, then a month, then two months. The next thing I knew, I had a contract with the best agency here and started to work a lot right away. One assignment after another. Then my O1 visa was approved, and I just thought it was a great place to live.
At the same time I was traveling all over the US, working in New York and Miami a lot, as well. A few months ago I got my Green Card, which I’m so proud of. So I guess I’m staying. : )
I settled in LA by accident. A week became two weeks, then a month. Then it became two months. Then I just thought it was a great place to live.
Q: You’ve modeled for an amazing list: Valentino, Michael Kors, Pierre Cardin, Giambatista Valli, Mark Jacobs, Bvlgari, Armani, Vivienne Westwood. Who are your favorite designers (to work with or to wear)?
I love all these great names, but one of my favorite designers is Michael Kors. I always find something to wear in his collection, for any occasion, evening or day. Gorgeous. I always feel beautiful, elegant and classy in his clothes.
Yes it can, but I would never let success go to my head. It won’t help anything. A big head can be destructive. Maybe because I came from nothing, I take every bit of success as a huge blessing, whether it’s a small job or a big brand campaign. If you want success, I think staying grounded and appreciative is key. Of course, along with hard work.
I take every bit of success as a huge blessing, whether it’s a small job or a top brand campaign. If you want success, I think staying grounded and appreciative is key.
Q: You’ve also had some acting jobs. Is more acting something you’d like to pursue, or is it just for fun?
For now it’s just been for fun, because I haven’t had enough time to dedicate myself to it and to focus on it. But I’m looking forward to taking some training first, and then have more fun with it : )
Q: What made you decide to get your degree in Sociology?
I just wanted to find out more about human social activity. It’s something that really interests me. Social life and human behavior. Why people do certain things, what’s the result of certain human behavior, how society has developed in different ways. And to see if I can help somehow by knowing that. And so on.
Q: Do you think it’s more important to accept the things we cannot change, or to change the things we can? And each to what degree?
I think it’s more important to change things that we can. If we can change it, let’s go ahead and change it. We have so much power that we’re not even aware of, to change the world into a better place. So many parts of the world need so much attention from us. We need to make a difference. I think everything can change. We should focus not on what we can’t change, but on what we can, to the better.
We have so much power that we’re not even aware of, to change the world into a better place.
Q: If you were an animal, what animal would you be? And why?
I’d choose to be a white tiger with fascinating blue eyes. : ) I love those and can look at them for hours. Strong, beautiful, charismatic, elegant, powerful, and when little – so cute..