Nadja is a 32-year-old German model. In today's interview, she talks about how she started her modeling career late for the fashion industry. Hear how she handled her agencies telling her she needed to lose weight and what she does to maintain her body now. She talks about how it's important to stay grounded and not pay too much attention to what other people think.

Watch the video here or read the transcript below to learn more.



Brittney (00:00):

This is Nadia Clevin. She is a German model. She was one of my roommates in Cape town, just over a year ago, year and a half, I guess it was but she's a lovely human being. She is a breath of fresh air and I'm super excited to have her on today for models who... so how are you?

Nadja (00:23):

I'm good, thanks. I was running around a bit because I just had a test shoot and it was a bit tricky to manage everything today. I have to be like, you know what? Sometimes it's always just the right moment to leave, you know, to be like, I'm leaving.

Brittney (00:36):

Good. I'm good. I got things to do. Well, I know that you started modeling late for a model. 27. It's still very young in general, but that's actually quite old for a model. So why don't you tell me, did your perception of yourself change like before you were modeling and versus now? Especially going into it at that age?

Nadja (01:01):

I was a dancer before I used to dance in a dinner show for Cirque de Solei. So it wasn't that different, I guess because I was already in the industry. So you're already got this focus on your body and you have to be in perfect shape the whole time, but it was still different because you're not only seen for what you are. You also perform, right? So you knew if you would put two kilos and no one would really be that strict. So obviously it was quite new for me when I changed to modeling. It's all about your looks. It's not about your looks and your skill as a dancer. Like really you, you are expected to be all the time in shape and to show up perfect. So that was a bit new for me at that time. I started modeling because I kind of felt my dancing was like, it was very exhausting. So I wanted to do something a bit more stable and a bit more calm. And actually that's why I decided to just start modeling at 27 because I stopped dancing and I needed something else. Like, yeah. So I think it's, I actually want to tell everyone it's never too late. I mean, it sounds silly, you know, but I think you actually, even 40, if you really want to do it, just go for it. I mean like, yeah,

Brittney (02:16):

Nothing to lost to give it a try. Now, what do you say? Cause you said you always need to be in shape to be a model. Obviously you're always expected to be beautiful, to be pretty like... Do you feel like that's a lot of pressure on you to maintain a certain body image or to look perfect at all times?

Nadja (02:36):

Totally. I totally think so because especially me. I mean, I love food and I also like to have a wine every now and then, you know, and I mean, you obviously have different body types. And I think there's always like this one girl that is always skinny and she doesn't need to do the effort. That's not me, you know. When we were in Cape town together, actually I got a bit into struggles with the agency because I probably put it on one or two kilos and you're dieting, you get someone behind you and being like, Oh, can you please come in? You know, like I think we're seeing something, you know, so I kind of had sort of learn to control myself more. Like before I was probably a bit more chilled. And now obviously because of our job, we have to just stick to it. But I try to see it as something positive for myself because it's also. I use it as a motivation to say like I work out regularly and I watch out a bit more about what I do eat and whatnot. So I've tried to stay positive actually. And I mean, we are not or I am not expected from my clients to be a size zero. So a 36 is anyways the size I would like to keep for myself. So I don't feel that anyone is putting external pressure on me. It's just actually, what's my personal goal as well. So yeah.

Brittney (03:52):

I believe the market is changing too. We're not expected to maintain that size zero, like in years past. And I think that's one positive thing. So I feel like at least it's heading in the right direction.

Nadja (04:05):

And especially in Germany, have to tell you. I don't know if it's the same thing in the States, but here we got some brands that were actually obviously produced for a bit older girls and our ladies. And if you were to study fixes, it's 38. So we always shoot these entities as 38. So actually, even our clients, they are kind of happy if you have some sort of shape, you know? Because otherwise... everything else fails, you know?

Brittney (04:32):

So what do you do to maintain your shape? Like fitness-wise?

Nadja (04:39):

I was a dancer, so I kind of had my training all the time. Just going to my dance classes or just performing on stage. Now when I stopped dancing, that was a very tricky moment for myself because you know, because normally I would work out five times a week and suddenly, I was just chilling, so I'd have to go to the gym and I started to go running and I really have to say that both were something that I used to hate when I just tried it when I was around 25, 26. All these people in the gym and running, I couldn't deal with it, but I actually kind of made it work for myself then I started to like it, you know, so was, I was like, how can people enjoy running? It was hell for me, you know, I was the girl like running 500 meters and be like, Oh my God, no, no, no. So I just kept training and training and training. So I really do run quite regularly now and I'm actually liking it. That's the funny thing I finally like. So I think for me it must be a mix. I have to train weights two times a week and I'm running like two or three times a week. So yeah, for me that kind of works,

Brittney (05:52):

That's so funny because I had no idea you didn't like running because you were running in Cape town on the beach and you seemed to really, really, I don't know, you seemed to enjoy it.

Nadja (06:05):

Now it is I do, but when you get started and it's so frustrating, you know, when in the beginning. So I always think like I would like to give other people the advice that even if you hate running, just sometimes it just needs time to actually get into the mode. So, you know, like, and finally enjoy it as well.

Brittney (06:25):

I think you need time for those endorphins to kick in. Those first 10 minutes can be whoo! But then after a little bit, I start, start to feel a little bit better. So what do you do for food then? What do you, what do you do to maintain your body in terms of what you eat on a day to day basis?

Nadja (06:45):

I think it was also when we just met in Cape Town. I actually quit eating meat because I just wanted to give it a try for about a month or something. And then I realized I don't really miss meat at all. So since then, it's like almost been a year and a half now. I think I don't eat meat anymore. And obviously, but I'm not a hundred percent vegan diet. But to keep it as much vegan as I still find it convenient for myself. So I would swap to soya milk and something, but I'm not 100% strict. I do still eat fish. And yeah, I think everyone has to find the right balance, for themselves. Right. So I obviously cut out the whole sugar, fast food, meat thing, but yeah, I mean, I do like my pizza every now and then.

Brittney (07:35):

Yeah, every week we have, we have pizza once a week to switch it up. Gotta live a little bit.

Nadja (07:49):

Yeah. So, but also I always feel like I have times where I honestly, I eat a bit more and I have times where I'm a bit stricter on my diet. And I feel like, for me, it works, you know. I can always go like three weeks, like really clean eating, but then also need a week of just being silly.

Brittney (08:07):

It's important to listen to your body and go with those fluctuations, roll with it.

Nadja (08:13):

I just think the bookers must hate it. Cause they never know if you're like at the beginning or at the end or not.

Brittney (08:21):

It goes back to the pressure we feel of always needing to look a certain way all the time. Now I know that you started doing your own interviews. You're starting to interview all the miss, miss elite?

Nadja (08:39):

Yeah, exactly. It's a new beauty pageant. So to have girls, I think from 25 countries joining in their competition. And actually, I mean, most of the girls were a bit younger than us, obviously, they're normally around early twenties, mid-twenties. But it was so funny to chat with all the girls because you really see the markets are so different in every country. You know, if you want someone from Russia model schools where they learned to do their makeup and to walk and I was like, wow, we don't get that here. Yeah, I think I don't know if you would agree, but I think the German market, I haven't been to the states for modeling, but I think the German market and the market and the states must be similar, right? When it comes to workflows and times, and...

Brittney (09:37):

Very similar, they're both very commercial and friendly. Yeah. There's a lot of similarities. I found that Germany was the closest of all the countries I've been to, to the US market. So that was, that made the transition easy going to Germany.

Nadja (09:55):

Try your luck here for a couple of months. Ah, you remember 'em there, was Andrea and some of the other girls of Cape town, they actually come to Germany as well to do to do a season here, which I find so cute. You know?

Brittney (10:10):

Nice. I mean, I've been to Germany a few times. Just not when I knew you. I loved it there. I stayed in Hamburg and I thought it was wonderful.

Nadja (10:21):

Hamburg is a beautiful city. It's one of my favorite cities, but it's just very cold. So it's not for me.

Brittney (10:29):

Right. It was definitely cold. Now, how do you handle public opinion of yourself? Because your picture is always out there. You're doing all these interviews and your, so your face is always out there and now your voice because you're doing more the interviews and voiceovers and things like that. So how do you handle public opinion of yourself?

Nadja (10:49):

Well, I think I don't really care that much naturally. You know, I think I had a conversation with the photographers today. I had a test shooting and I was just, I mean, I changed in the car and a changed on the streets and you know, like after 10, 15 years in the industry, it just became so normal to get your hair and makeup done. And to have people looking at you finally and I don't really care that much, but I think that's my character. But I can imagine that for some people it's it's a bit more tricky. I think for me, it definitely came through the years, you know, that you just keep worrying less. Cause I feel like every time that you put yourself out there, you give people a chance to attack you. So probably there is always going to be someone that is not really liking what you do or is not sharing your opinion. But I mean the only way to not deal with it is to not put yourself out there. So we kind of have to, and I also enjoy working with different people and in front of the camera. So yeah, I think we just have to live with it. You know, you're just someone who gets annoyed about my opinion. I'm sorry. Not everyone has to like you, you know?

Brittney (11:56):

Right. It's a thing to come to terms within time. So thank you so much for chatting with me. I just have one final question for you before we wrap up. What's next for you after modeling?

Nadja (12:11):

Oh, okay. Yeah. That's a good one actually. I started presenting right now and I'm super happy because I always do like many of us girls, we are kind of looking for something that we want to do afterward. Obviously, you know, I mean you can model quite for a longer time commercially, but you know, there is probably a deadline to it. So you always feel the pressure that you need to find something else. And yeah, I find myself in that struggle. I started to design my own bikinis and this and then that. I tried them and now I started to present and it really makes sense for me. So I'm super happy that I finally feel like I've found what I want to do and I can still work in public somehow. And I can combine it with my modeling career, which is super important for me. So I think just try out as long as you need to until you find the thing that you really want to be doing afterward, and meanwhile. And also to set up your second or third career while you're doing something else, you know. As modeling, I think you should already start because it's not, it probably becomes tricky. I mean, some of the girls just get babies and then they're out of it, they just take a couple of years off, you know. I think it's good to start thinking about your second career as long as you're still modeling already.

Brittney (13:28):

I think that's a good idea too. Well, thank you so much for chatting with me, Nadia. This was a lovely chat and it was so good to see your face and actually get to talk to you again. Hopefully, I'll see you in Cape town soon.

Nadja (13:42):

Have a nice afternoon.

Brittney (13:45):

You too. Buh bye.

Nadja (13:47):



Nadja is currently a 32 years old German model who started modeling quite late. Prior to becoming a model, she worked as an entertainer, a dancer, an event manager, and a marketing manager. When she turned 27 years old, she felt she needed a job she could feel passionate about and allow her to travel. That's when she decided to try out modeling. It started out as a roller coaster but after a couple of years, she knew she made the right decision.

Nadja says, "It’s never too late to go for your dreams!"

Find Nadja on Instagram via @nadja_cleven or on her website here.

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