Cate Underwood, the pulchritudinous Kiev native, has photographed editorials for Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, ELLE , V magazine and a cover of L’Officiel Ukraine in addition to fronting campaigns for All Saints, H&M, Zara, Free People and Rodebjer. When not in front of the camera, or behind it, she can be found spinning the decks at events such as Vogue‘s Fashion Night Out. I spoke with the multi-talented and achingly cool Cate as she talked about what inspires her and where she hopes to be in 20 years.
Tell us about how you got into the fashion industry.
I started taking pictures when I was very young. I used to take pictures of my friends, all those beautifully dressed-up people hanging out in clubs and at parties. I liked how frivolous and bizarrely beautiful they looked. Then I realized I was more interested in their appearance than in the scene itself. I started doing fashion photography, making model test and taking on small independent projects. It was very amateur, very spontaneous but I really loved the process. Then I won a fashion photography contest in Ukraine that led to bigger publications, editorials and covers. I love the new scale, the opportunities and responsibility as well.
What inspires and motivates you?
People, beauty and my daughter Eva. I’ve been very fortunate to work with people who push the envelope and who are passionate about what they do. What I’m trying to do is to show a different kind of beauty, something subversive yet sublime, something that has meaning. I like people and things that have flaws and imperfections. I think that’s what makes them honest and real. Giving birth to my daughter was the biggest motivating force for me; I matured greatly, in an instant. I’m happy to have had her so soon. I am raising Eva and at the same time she gives me strength to build my career, do my photography, create, improve myself and my personality.
How has being a photographer influenced the way you model?
For me, switching from photography to modeling was a rather natural and liberating experience. I like the idea of being on the both sides of the lens, of changing the roles. As a photographer you feel in total control over the situation but as a model you really have to give it up, to let go and do things you don’t normally do, to follow the scenarios you’re offered. You have to have deep trust in people you work with and follow their instincts. I find it fascinating! Being a photographer helped a lot because I understand what I need to do as a model. I sometimes catch myself thinking on set as both model and photographer.
In addition to modeling and photography you also DJ. How do you find balance in your life?
It just all happens and I enjoy living my life the way I do now. Maybe I just love a fast ride.
What do you consider your greatest achievement thus far?
Being able to combine my personal and professional life without giving up anything.
How do you define success?
Success is very relative term. Happiness and love is success to me.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I can easily get into trouble like losing myself somewhere, falling down on my way or any other thing like that which leads me to a big adventure after. Once, I broke my finger doing a handstand right before I went to Paris so I had to go to all of the model agencies with a cast up to my elbow. That happened when I signed my first contract as a model.
What are your plans for the future?
I like women who, at any age, remain true to themselves and know how to be beautiful at every stage of their lives. I hope that in 20 years I will be the best version of myself, wiser and more knowledgeable, but also remain the same Cate as I am now – with camera in my hands, traveling around the world and always open to new experiences.