Nastasya Generalova is an accomplished American individual rhythmic gymnast and model who uses her platform to inspire others that nothing can stop them.
Where did your love for Gymnastics come from?
NG: “It all started from my mom who is an immigrant from Moscow, Russia. When my mom immigrated to the US a side of my nationality and culture she wanted me to have another Russian aspect to me so she put me into rhythmic gymnastics as well as several other sports. She added that she fell for rhythmic gymnastics more because as a timid shy child, that sport brought her out of her shell. “It made me feel like I could bring out the true fire and power I have within myself”.
She went on to become the first gymnast of color in her sport to win a World Cup medal. She won one in 2011 and one in 2017.
NG: “To be the only black athlete to make it to finals and to make it to the podium and win a medal for the country was not only so honorable, but it was also a great symbol for all gymnasts of color. It was not just for me it was for all the little girls and boys who don’t have anybody to look up to who don’t look like them. “, she stated.
What is your advice for newbies wanting to get in your field or gymnastics in general?
NG: “My advice would be to always stick to what your gut is feeling. As I got older I voiced my opinion more and I wish I would have done so when I was younger, but another thing that is very helpful in any sport is to always be humble. There are many athletes who are very boastful and are not humble with themselves and that in my opinion is not the best sportsmanship. I always went by this one phrase “always battle royal” which men always be fair be humble and be respectable. There will be many instances in any sport where other people would knock you down, but that’s the mentality of a strong athlete where you cannot let other people knock you down and if they do, always stand back up. You are you, and you are unique for you. There’s only one of you in this entire world. That’s very special.”
You were eventually signed to Wilhelmina Models. How did that opportunity come about?
NG: “In 2015 I was the sports ambassador at the Special Olympics for rhythmic gymnastics supporting all the athletes and And helping out with metals and meeting their families and more. I believe I caught Wilhelmina’s attention there and they signed me since I was 15 and ever since I’ve been storing with them. I love them very much they’ve done an amazing job with me always make sure I’m safe and the opportunities that I’ve had started from 15 years old to now have been unbelievable.
Manifest what you want because the universe will hear you because you are the universe.Nastasya Generalova
What was your favorite project to work on?
NG: “I have had so many projects that I love but I would say that my favorite was probably Stewart Weizman with Kendall Jenner, Maybelline with Adriana Lima, or Good American Khloe Kardashian. What I loved about these projects were how humble the stars were. Many people do not think that celebrities can be down to earth people but being in an intimate environment with these people madme realize that they’re just like you and me, they have hearts they have morals and they realize that I’m human too and it was just such an amazingly incredible experience working with such people whom I would look up to when I was younger and even now.”
Have you met anyone you have always wanted to meet while in the industry?
NG: “Yes!!! Adriana Lima is my favorite Victoria’s Secret model an angel. When I met her onset of Maybelline she is even more gorgeous than I envisioned. In addition, she was so humble and so grounded her voice is so soothing. I absolutely loved having conversations with her and modeling with her and walking the streets with her in New York. She made me feel so comfortable and warm when I was with her. Definitely, somebody, I’ve always wanted to meet as a child watching her in all of the Victoria’s Secret shows and I cannot believe this day that I really got to work with her on the set of Maybelline.”
As a model, what do you think of the beauty standards in the industry, and has it affected the way you feel about yourself at all?
NG: “When I first began modeling the industry was definitely not very open in all aspects. Aspects include body type skin type hair type… The list may go on. As time went on we can now see especially with the power of social media how much the modeling world has evolved. I am so happy that there’s so much more body positivity and body inclusivity in addition I am so glad that there are no more variety of models with the skin type and hair type. Even though we have made progress, there is still truly so much more to do. This is regarding extreme Photoshop and the lack of diversity in the staff on set.
I feel even though we have gotten more open to several aspects of the beauty standard, in the back of our minds, the European beauty standard is still pushed upon, causing a lot of miscommunication between the client and the models. Even on social media we still see the European beauty standard is pushed to everybody so I do wish that we could work more on inclusivity of all cultures in that all beauty is beautiful not just one specific culture.”
What would you say to a young girl or boy who hopes to become a model like you?
NG: “The first thing I would say is for sure know that you are one of a kind. When I started I was extremely insecure, I still am and I am still working on it but I noticed that I am the one getting hired for all these big name brands, I am the one whom people look at. This means that people do love me for me. And I need to realize that. This is what any young girl or boy would need to understand and getting into this industry. In addition, rejection is totally normal. That is something that many models cannot handle, but once you reach this level of working you realize that rejection is totally normal and it’s nothing against you particularly so do not take it to heart. What I do know is whenever I am on set about to shoot your energy completely transpires through the lens. It might not seem like that it may seem cliché, but the energy is completely seen through the photos so when your own set make sure that you’re really speaking to the camera through your eyes and through your body.”
You were accepted into Columbia which is freaking impressive. What made you still want to go to college aside from your already established career?
NG: My mom has taught me something that stuck with me for the rest of my life. Knowledge is forever. Beauty, body, luxe… It’ll all fade away eventually. That is not going to last forever but what will last is one soul, one’s morals, one’s personality, one’s knowledge. So for me, it’s very important to be a knowledgeable powerful woman and I think I am on that road. It’s a great honor to go to one of the top universities in the entire world and to be able to study and be with kids who are literally the future. All of these kids who are with me in these institutions, we are the ones who create the future and it is crazy to see what goes on in these universities. It’s a great honor and it was extremely hard work for me to get into these universities but I made it. I do want to go into the field of If political science and I’m a very helping person. I want to be in the political world to help others and to make a change because this world needs a lot of change in the rigged and corrupt systems we live in. I want to be even the slightest change in anyone’s life.”
My mom has taught me something that stuck with me for the rest of my life. Knowledge is forever. Beauty, body, luxe… It’ll all fade away eventually.Nastasya Generalova
Noticed recently you’ve been painting. Are most of your creations emotionally or aesthetically driven? Painting is also a longer creative process, how do you choose your subjects, knowing you’ll be spending a good deal of time in that world?
NG: “I am definitely more familiar with drawing over a painting I recently started it. Ever since I was a kid I’ve always been into art, it was very therapeutic for me. Art makes me feel like I’m free. I know nobody can judge it nobody can criticize it nobody can say anything about it except for myself. It’s my own vision and it’s like an extension of me because I created it. Are usually like to draw/paint when I am in a more mellow and call mood. Almost as if I am like the moonlight shining at night. This is when I like to draw/paint. Personally, for me, painting and drawing are when I am more emotional. I like to draw how I feel with my emotions rather than aesthetic or as a job/duty. Growing up, I was not the best at expressing my emotions. I was kind of like a crab show. But for sure art and music half helped me express my closed-off feelings onto something which let me release this tension within myself.”
If life & situations are constantly sculpting us, what’s your approach to creating that environment that you desire or do you believe it’s more how we react to what happens in our environment rather than placing ourselves in an ideal one?
NG: I believe that everything in life happens for a reason. Nothing is random in this life we live in. In addition, something that stuck with me forever is don’t take this life game too seriously because nobody makes it out alive. You only have one chance in this life that you were born into, and do whatever you want. If you want to go run in the middle of the road barefoot, go do so. If you want to wake up at five I am with your friends to watch the sunrise just because do it. If you want to go dye your hair rainbow color, go do it. I’m a strong believer in manifestation. Of course, it varies for different people but you have to realize that the way the universe is the way the stars are aligned the way the moon and the sun is… it’s not random. We are merely an extension of the universe.
That’s something that many people do not understand. We are all one. So go and manifest what you want because the universe will hear you because you are the universe.”
What are a few small things that you’ve noticed and appreciate that weren’t on your radar before?
NG: “I want to say I have been very into crystals recently. For people who do not know, crystals and stones have powers and high energy. When you hold these crystals/stones you elude this power that they have depending on which crystal stone you have. That’s something I’ve been very into starting at the beginning of this year and I am obsessed. In addition aside of my manifestations and my love for the stars in the moon, I began to Go out at night when it’s a full moon and manifest things to the moon with my crystals. It’s not for everybody but for me it really works and it’s something that’s very calming to me and makes me feel more connected to the universe itself.”
If there was one change you could make in the next couple of years what would it be?
NG: “Although this is a very difficult task to happen. I just want world peace. It is so sad how by nature man is greedy, selfish, and jealous. Everybody is out for themselves which is completely understandable. That is the way human nature was made but I wish sometimes more people would be more considerate of other people’s feelings. Give somebody a complement to help each other out be fairer. But this is a task that can definitely not be done anytime soon, unfortunately. One step at a time. But what I can probably say is that each person whom I have entered into their life, I have for sure impacted and they will for sure remember me for my kindness and for my positive auras. This is something that not all people can acquire but I really do hope that in the future, people become more awakening of themselves and others, and how beautiful life can really be.”
See the full spread in issue 44 out now > https://issuu.com/goldcrownmag/docs/letter_saunter_magazine.indd__5_
You can find her online here:
Instagram / @nastasya_generalova
Twitter / @nastasyageneral
Written by Ella Rae
Photography by Keitaro Cloward