Inspirational Women In Hollywood: How Ukrainian Film Star and Journalist Nina Podolska Is Helping…

Posted on

Inspirational Women In Hollywood: How Ukrainian Film Star and Journalist Nina Podolska Is Helping To Shake Up The Entertainment Industry

…My heart is with Ukraine right now and I would like to spread awareness about my native country and it’s people worldwide — how talented and kind hearted Ukrainians are and how they deserve peace, support and prosperity.

As a part of our series about Inspirational Women In Hollywood, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Nina Podolska.

Nina Podolska is a Ukrainian-born and Los Angeles-based actress, film producer, and TV presenter. She is а producer and a COO of WonderFilm. Nina was born in Dnipro, Ukraine. She studied economy in KROK University in Kiev before moving to Paris to model. In 2008, she moved to Los Angeles to study filmmaking and acting at The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute. She began working as an independent producer in 2009, a year after moving to the United States. In addition to her film work, Nina has worked on various television and documentary projects, including the Her Own Way, a documentary series about successful self-made women that she created, produced, and hosted herself. She had a small acting role in Oliver Stone’s Snowden and attended the premiere during the BFI London Film Festival. In 2021 Nina executive produced action thriller White Elephant starring Bruce Willis, Michael Rooker and Olga Kurylenko.

Nina loves animals and has two dogs and one cat and supports various animal charities worldwide.

Thank you so much for doing this with us Nina! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up in Dnipropetrovsk (now Dnipro) in the Ukraine right during and after collapse of the Soviet Union in the 90s in a middle-class family. I moved to Kiev when I was 17 to study economy. I spent most of my childhood summers in Yalta, Crimea (currently Russian occupied) where my mother is from and where my grandparents lived. Those were the happiest times of my childhood and I felt very safe growing up in the Ukraine in my family.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I started modeling when I was 18 and then moved to Paris, before moving to Los Angeles. I always wanted to be in entertainment business and when I was accepted to study acting at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute, I sold my car and moved to LA to pursue career in film. I gradually moved to film production as I learned more about the industry and how it all works in Hollywood.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

The most interesting story and project in my career is filming the pilot for Her Own Way documentary series in Munich and Belgrade about fashion designers who are originally from Serbia but established a successful brand in Germany and all over Europe — Mykke Hofmann. We were filming in their factory just outside of Belgrade and I got to meet Serbian women who were through a lot and now help create these beautiful garments because the designers of Mykke Hofmann believe in giving back to their community where they’re from and support women in Serbia. This was the most fulfilling project I’ve ever done.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

My funniest mistake is trying to make a movie about my dog — a Yorkshire terrier named Audrey. They say animals and children are the hardest to film, well I had to give her a ton of treats and even then, she could stop and lay down in the middle of the scene or just completely do the opposite of what I needed her to. So since then I decided not to make movies with pets unless they’re professionally trained — my dog wasn’t ready for the camera angles 😉

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

The biggest help and inspiration I always got from my friend Olga Kurylenko, who I met in 2010 during the production of her film Land of Oblivion about Chernobyl catastrophe. Her self-made success and professional accomplishments in Hollywood are astonishing and one of a kind. She taught me professionalism and how to never give up and believe in myself. Thanks to her I felt supported and able to make it in Hollywood as well.

You have been blessed with great success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?

Mindset and mastering your emotions is everything. Whenever I got discouraged, I missed opportunities. But always when I pushed through and took risks it paid off. Learning from the best and only surrounding yourself with supportive and uplifting people. And being flexible, even though my acting career didn’t bring as much fulfillment and success as I hoped it would — I found myself in production and feel very good and confident being who I am right now. There’re many ways to have a great career in Hollywood and different ways to apply yourself and your skills. Always keep searching for your own way.

What drives you to get up every day and work in TV and Film? What change do you want to see in the industry going forward?

With me — it’s inner motivation and curiosity. I’m always fascinated by movies and new stories. I love to lose myself in the story and create something new and see how it all comes together. Every project is fresh and being surrounded by creative professionals as we work on the same goal of making a movie is the best gift of all. Going forward I want to see more authentic women stories told — everything from motherhood, to women’s friendship, to overcoming your fears as a woman in a modern world — inspires me. I want to see more companies like Hello Sunshine for example, who want to tell women’s stories and I want to have as many female role models from all walks of life as possible.

You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?

Together with our team at WonderFilm we have a slate of all kinds of feature films and documentaries and series. One of my personal favorites one is the limited series about the life and work of Steve Mcqueen that we’ve optioned the rights to — I imagine it will be epic series and his legendary life story will captivate big audiences. I’m also looking for more true story based scripts about heroic and exceptional women as well as more stories about great Ukrainians who brought glory our nation.

We are very interested in looking at diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture and our youth growing up today?

I want everyone to feel included and find someone they can relate to on the screen. It helps us feel not alone and supported and understood. Every story and life matters and we’re all a global community and the more inclusive and open minded we get — the better it is for the humanity and the future. Every time I see someone like me on the screen going through similar challenges — I feel inspired and more hopeful and more positive. That’s what diversity is about for me. If we see and hear everyone’s point of view — we have understanding and compassion, therefore there’s less and less room for conflict.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

I wish they told me: “It is never a straight line and you have to be flexible.” I was too fixated on small things and discouraged by obstacles in my way instead of looking around and finding answers.

“Every project you do — matters” I wish I realized that everything I do and work on will lead me closer and closer to my true self and that it is important work regardless of scale and the way it’s made.

“Learn new skills and don’t get stuck in old ways” I was too narrowminded and focused on the way things were done before, and then the VOD and Netflix and Social media happened and all of a sudden there were tons of new ways of storytelling and getting your project out there. I would’ve been able to do many more projects if only I wasn’t stuck in the old ways.

“Collaborate with people who support your vision and only give constructive criticism” Sometimes I was surrounded by wrong people who were not my tribe and didn’t understand me. They gave me wrong advice and led me on the path that wasn’t mine. I had to unlearn everything they taught me and when I found my people it got much easier to do what I love because I felt supported and guided instead of being mislead.

“Your reputation is important, guard it” I didn’t think in the beginning of my career that there can be fake rumors spread about me and trusted wrong people with my personal information, for whish we pay a dear price in Hollywood. We can only trust people who’ve earned our trust and are worthy to be in our inner circle. Too many young people don’t know this when they’re starting out.

Can you share with our readers any selfcare routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive? Please share a story for each one if you can.

I’m a highly sensitive person so for me selfcare is a must — otherwise I can’t function. I go to breathwork healers, I have therapists to talk things out with and find solutions, I sleep a lot, I don’t smoke and have alcohol very rarely. I listen and read lot’s of Tony Robbins’s books and lectures. I do acupuncture to calm down my nervous system and I do Pilates and stretches regularly.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Your value will be not what you know; it will be what you share.”― Ginni Rometty CEO IBM

It is relevant especially right now because I want to share as much as possible about what I know and feel about Ukraine and it’s people. I want their voices to be heard and I want them to know that they matter.

You are a person of huge influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

My heart is with Ukraine right now and I would like to spread awareness about my native country and it’s people worldwide — how talented and kind hearted Ukrainians are and how they deserve peace, support and prosperity.

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!

I’d love to meet Reese Witherspoon and thank her for what she’s done for women filmmakers and women in general with her projects and her as a role model.

Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?

@ninapodolska on Instagram and Nina Podolska on facebook

This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success and good health.

Inspirational Women In Hollywood: How Ukrainian Film Star and Journalist Nina Podolska Is Helping… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.