I have known Amra since we were just teenagers; we met one evening in an aerobics class and have been friends since then. Her beauty struck me even when we were teens. She has these incredibly-stunning-unique looks and a personality that could easily light not just one room but an entire building.
Amra Silajdzic is currently the top model in Bosnia and Herzegovina and is quickly gaining the same reputation around the world. She has been featured in multiple videos including: a campaign for New 2013 LS Lexus, a campaign for Mercedes Benz B class, an Enrique Iglesias's music video “No Me Digas Que No,” Taio Cruz's music video “Dynamite,” Blake Shelton's “Honey Bee” and much more!
Amra Silajdzic ("AS") has a heart of gold. Besides being an incredible woman and a friend (I will attest to both), she is a philanthropist and is the ambassador of Bosana Foundation (www.bosanafoundation.org).
AB: Amra, I would like to thank you for taking the time to do an interview for Club Fashionista. Can you tell me a little bit about your experience when moving to Los Angeles (L.A.) and how has this decision changed your life?
AS: The idea of moving to L.A. happened suddenly. However, I needed about a year to make a decision to do so. I was not psychologically ready to make this big move. My self-esteem was not on the level I wanted it to be so that I would truly feel prepared. I felt that this was an enormous change for my family especially considering that my daughter was still in elementary school. During this time, I was responsible for ensuring the best environment for my daughter, and I was not just able to pack up and leave.
It was not in LA that I gained my first exposure to the U.S.: I had lived briefly in Miami, Florida. However, moving to LA was always a dream. It is a very cosmopolitan city, and it is the center of show business; specifically, it is the center of the film industry.
My current manager and the woman who is responsible for me living in L.A. is Marina Masovjetski. Coincidently, Marina had seen my photos through a mutual friend and had contacted me. As I mentioned before, although I felt my self-esteem was not adequate for me to tackle such an immense change, she believed it would be the right decision for me. Marina spent almost an entire year encouraging me to try and live in L.A. In the end, her efforts were worth it: I flew to the U.S. as soon as my visa was approved. Almost three years have passed since and I am living my dream thanks to this remarkable woman.
Although I did not know anyone when I first arrived, today, I feel right at home in California. I feel like I have grown so much since my first days in the U.S. Living in L.A. has made me become a lot more responsible. For the first time in my life, I was all alone since the beginning. Despite the fact that I left home at quite an early age (I was only 16) to pursue my modeling career, this was the first time I was alone and without the support of my mother and sister. I did not know anyone, and my daughter accompanied me. The whole experience of living on my own has made me more aware of my inner strength.
After my move to California, my work picked up immensely. I was determined, and I knew what I wanted to achieve since the first day I arrived. However, I also feel like I had a lot of luck. Luck is one of the factors in the entertainment business that essentially determines the future of many people. Through my job, I had met a lot of amazingly talented actors, singers, and other entertainers, who didn't have an opportunity to do what they love. They are often incapable of pursuing their passion because there is an enormous amount of competition in this industry. It is very sad to see these people with such an enormous potential often working in coffee shops and restaurants to make ends meet. It is true that in L.A. every other person on the street is an actor in addition to his or her everyday job. Some of them may just be trying out their hand in acting, while others have completed academies in this discipline.
I was blessed to have an opportunity to start and continue working in this tough industry. I am still able to live off modeling and acting. Although I have been a model for many years, I must say that I especially enjoy acting. I feel amazing when I am in front of the camera and making a movie. I love playing different roles and having the freedom to be someone else. I do feel, however, that there is still so much to learn; there is no such thing as having "too much of an education," especially when it comes to acting. Like my acting coach said: "You become a better actor with age. As you gain more experience, you are better capable of depicting your emotions in front of the camera." I am very happy with my work right now, and I feel that it truly fulfills me.
Like with all things, however, there is a negative side to my life in LA as well: I am very far from the people I love the most. Although I do have many friends in L.A., and truly consider them to be some of the closest confidants, I feel like there is still this large part of my life that is missing. In L.A., many people are extremely busy, and this rapid schedule does not allow them to see each other as often as they would like. The size of the city and the rhythm does not let me nurture those friendships in the way I am used to and the way I would like. Although L.A. is one of the most international places I have ever lived, there is also a large cultural barrier.
AB: You are a big supporter of living a healthy and balanced life. You often take trips to mountains and enjoy the amazing hiking trails around L.A. Can you tell us about the importance of fitness (and healthy living habits in general) in your life?
AS: I was lucky that my mom had encouraged me to do sports from my early childhood. I practiced karate, gymnastics, taekwondo, athletics, basketball, and volleyball. In the end, I had seriously started practicing athletics and taekwondo, and earned multiple awards from regional and international competitions. Sports had become a part of my everyday life, and I cannot imagine my life without them. Additionally, my love for sports had aided my career in modeling as well.
I am a huge fan of exercising out in the open, and this is one of the reasons why I love L.A. so much. The place where I am currently residing in West Hollywood is right besides the entrance to the Ranyon Canyon. Although L.A. does not exactly have a city center, West Hollywood could be considered the "center" of the entertainment industry as all of the castings occur there. Also, this is a place where you can find the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one of the busiest places in the city. The Runyon Canyon is where many people go for sports. They go hiking or practice yoga outside. I like running the best; also, I tend to do a lot of hiking in this area. There are many other canyons about 10 minutes driving from where I live, and Malibu beach is not far either. In sum, there are a lot of choices for sport lovers in this area. I suppose it was this healthy lifestyle that had most attracted me to L.A. I might be wrong, but it seems to me that people in show business use every free minute they can spare to engage in different healthy outdoor activities.
I go to the beach very often and run/practice yoga there. Also, I tend to do kickboxing quite often and visit the gym, but I like to keep those visits minimal. I love attending aerobic classes and generally try to be active as much as possible. I feel like without sports I could not survive. Furthermore, the more opportunities I have to exercise, the happier I feel. My belief is that a healthy mind and a healthy body lie at the root of all beauty. I exercise because I primarily love to do so and not because I am obligated! Additionally, I am lucky that California has some of the best weather and feel like this an enormous plus of living in this beautiful city.
AB: Ever since I have know you, you have had a natural beauty that glows (I will attest that Amra’s looks are a gift from mother nature). Can you tell me a little bit about your everyday beauty routine and any tips that you may have?
AS: I don't have a special beauty routine I follow each day. I don't like makeup and special creams/lotions. Although many have told me that I will need to start using anti-wrinkle creams as soon as I turn 30, I currently use only organic or baby lotion. However, I am aware that we live in a world where no matter how much we try to eat healthy and drink a lot of water, we may require some additional skin treatments.
I spend most of my time ensuring that my skin is clean and moisturized, but even then I try and do a minimum amount of treatments and ensure all the ingredients are organic. I drink tons of water. I am not the one to usually eat healthy, and I love to pig out. I adore chocolate as well! I suppose what helps is my enormous love of sports and the ability to spend at least two hours a day exercising. I make sure that whenever I do exercise, it also involves some type of a cardio workout. I suppose I get rid of all the toxins and extra calories by just sweating a lot in the gym.
When it comes to skin, I try and keep all the makeup and creams to the minimum as I spend much of my working day under heavy makeup. Even when working, I make sure that all the brushes used on me are clean and sanitized. I must admit that in the U.S., makeup artists are extremely professional and ensure that all the brushes and sponges are clean and well maintained. In my free time, I try and let my skin breathe and rarely wear makeup.
Additionally, I have never colored my hair. It is entirely natural. I suppose it is a bit easier as I never worry about it too much. I only wash my hair. I don't even own a hair dryer. I try to teach my daughter to do the same and she has hardly used a hair dryer since she was a baby.
AB: We know that you have also worked with some of the biggest names in show business. Can you tell us about your most memorable projects and celebrities that have left a special impression upon you?
AS: In Hollywood, it is quite usual to encounter a celebrity on the street or to work with them. Although I have never been extremely fascinated by big Hollywood stars, I respect many people that have achieved a celebrity status in this industry. I especially admire the ones that have achieved success through their hard work and dedication. I truly believe that many of them have reached this popularity because they were extremely good at their job. I am not, however, the one to get star struck when I meet a big celebrity.
One of the celebrities I worked with is Enrique Iglesias. I did a music video with him and it was a great experience. However, I do not believe that many music videos I recorded assisted me much in my career. This is one of the reasons I had stopped appearing in music videos: they take a lot of time to complete and are not paid that well. Also, I am not able to use them as a part of my "real show" experience, as I usually tend to appear as a model. Currently, I would only accept to appear in a video if there was a scenario and I was able to act. Most of my work now tends to focus on the TV appearances, and I try to minimize my work as a model.
I have to mention that it is quite challenging in Hollywood to transition from the modeling industry into the acting industry. As a model, you have to try and prove yourself even more. Many are very impervious of hiring a model as an actress and tend not to take models seriously. Right now, I am in the process of attending the New York Academy for acting, and I hope that during this time I will be able to strengthen my acting skills further.
Going back to Enrique Iglesias, I had attended a casting and was chosen for a part of the main "heroin" in his video. When I booked the casting, I was originally playing a part on the CSI in New York City. While on the set of CSI, I was booked for seven days and was supposed to star in Enrique's video on the last day of my shooting. I spent the entire day recording before I arrived to the destination where the music video was to be shot. Although the agent had suggested that Enrique and his crew go with another girl, they were insisting on having me: they waited all the way until midnight. Enrique and his crew had begun shooting in the early morning and completed most of the video by the time I arrived. One of the interesting things about recording music videos is that they require long hours: sometimes it takes 20 plus hours to complete the shooting and the crew can even work overnight. It can be quite demanding and exhausting, and it is not one of the most well paid engagements in the modeling industry.
When I arrived finally to the set of Enrique's video, most of the work had already been completed. They had us first record the common scenes, which lasted for about two hours. While taking a break, we had a chance to get to know each other. Once you get to know some of the biggest stars, you truly start to understand what makes them so special: besides being amazingly talented, these individuals have an amazing heart. Enrique was a true star in this sense, and I was taken back by how simple, relaxed, and down to earth he really is. Although there were many extras on the set, Enrique was kind enough to say hello to all of them. One part of the video took place in the club, and many girls were eager to take photos with him. Although I adore Enrique as a person, I must say that I am not that familiar with his music. However, I am a HUGE fan of his father, Julio Iglesias.
Another celebrity that left a lasting impression on me was Angelina Jolie. I met her while in Sarajevo for the Sarajevo Film Festival. Although I don’t have an idol (aside from my mother), she is one of these people that truly inspired me. I adore the movies that she has done and appreciate how she always plays these strong heroines. I hope to play similar roles in the future. Angelina is extremely cool, relaxed, and unbelievably beautiful. She radiates with charisma and internal beauty.
My other major project involved an appearance on the CSI New York City, where I was able to meet some amazing people. In general, I must say that when I am involved in these types of productions, everything is incredibly well put together. From casting to actual recording, everyone maintains a great degree of professionalism and dedication. I very much love work, discipline, and order.
Even when recording a commercial, I always know I am working with highly respected individuals that maintain a degree of professionalism. Generally, models are paid each time the commercial is aired. In this sense, I never have a need to check anything and place my trust fully in my agent and manager. This type of collaboration makes my life a lot easier and allows me focus my energy towards my part of the work.
AB: Finally, you and I are both from the same city, Sarajevo, and tend to always travel there in our free time. Can you tell me what makes this place special for you, and why you think people from around the world should visit Bosnia and Herzegovina? Also, do you have any tips on places that are a “must see” there?
AS: Sarajevo is home. It is a city where I will always return. This is where all my immediate family lives and where they are from. I have spent my entire childhood there and was residing there during the war. No matter what kind of crisis we experience in Bosnia, I will always hope for the better.
I travel to Bosnia and Herzegovina very often and always look for an excuse to stay as long as possible. I am extremely close with my family, and I try to spend as much time as possible in Sarajevo. I also miss the actual city. Although, I get disappointed once in a while, I still believe there is a sense of tradition and family in Bosnia and Herzegovina that is hard to find anywhere else in the world. We have still maintained a sense of morals and ethical principles we call “merhamet.” I feel we are an amazing nation with many talented young individuals, and it is not hard to find many extremely successful Bosnians around the world.
Many people, who visit Bosnia, often yearn to go back. There is something very special about this country: we have an amazing mix of oriental and Austro-Hungarian influences. Also, we have a mix of many religions and are proud to have a Catholic church, a synagogue, an Orthodox church, and a mosque located just five hundred meters of each other.
Bosnia and Herzegovina has a lot of natural resources: we have beautiful mountains ideal for skiing and hiking and some of the BEST water in the world. I would never dare buy bottled water in Sarajevo as the one from the faucet tastes better than Evian. The food is ALL organic. I dare not eat meat while I am in L.A., but in Sarajevo, I am a definite carnivore.
Amra Silajdzic with Amra Beganovich, founder of Club Fashionista