Natalia Mikhailovna Vodianova is a Russian model, philanthropist, and actress. She is one of the highest earning models in the industry and is well known for her Cinderella-like life story. Raised by her single mother, Vodianova grew up in a poor neighborhood in Gorky, Soviet Union.
Before living the glamorous life of a supermodel, she would try to get her family out of poverty by selling fruit on the street with her mother. Vodianova was just a toddler when her father walked out. She has two half sisters named Kristina and Oksana.
At 15, Vodianova enrolled with a modeling agency. Two years later, she had moved to Paris to sign with a more established agency. Her career subsequently took off. She has since achieved notable success on the runway, in editorials, and in advertising campaigns. For example, she has walked in over 175 runway shows for both ready-to-wear and haute couture collections. She graced the cover of British Vogue seven times, as of May 2009. Additionally, she has been featured in advertising campaigns for Givenchy, Louis Vuitton, and Yves Saint Laurent, to name a few.
In 2001, Vodianova appeared in the film CQ, directed by Roman Coppola. Her acting career also included a portrayal of Medusa in the 2010 remake of Clash of the Titans. Later this year, she earned a leading role in the film adaptation of Albert Cohen’s novel Belle du Seigneur, co-starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers. The film was released in 2013.
Vodianova was designated an ambassador of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics in 2009. She became the face and “key advocate” of the Games. Her role brought her to the Vancouver Olympic Closing Ceremony in 2010.
Forbes magazine has estimated this model’s earnings to be $4.5 million between August 2006 and July 2007. Her estimated earnings rose to $4.8 million the following year and to $5.5 million between June 2008 and June 2009. At this time, she was the seventh highest earning model in the world.
Vodianova founded the Naked Heart Foundation. This is a philanthropic organization that works to provide “a safe and inspiring environment… for every child living in urban Russia as well as to give support [to] families raising kids with special needs.” She was inspired to found this organization after the Belsan tragedy. She wanted to distract children who survived the catastrophe with play. Her half sister who suffers from cerebral palsy also likely inspires Vodianova.
Natalia Vodianova is well known for her generosity. She also lends support to the RED campaign, Hear the World, and the Tiger Trade Campaign. She was awarded with the Inspiration of the Year award by Harper’s Bazaar in November 2010 in recognition of her philanthropic efforts. Harper’s Bazaar also awarded Vodianova with the Philanthropist of the Year Award.