Interview by Thomas Brightman

Lina, you got swept up in the world of modeling and traveling and shooting internationally as a teenager. How did all that start? Was it a bit of a whirlwind of an experience?
I always knew I wanted to leave San Luis Obispo (where I grew up in California) and see the world. On a trip to New York the famous architect, Carlos Almada discovered me, and through his connections I started shooting. Within a week I was off to Cuba and then Milan to work with Armani. It was amazing! After that I started saving up money so I could move to Paris. That’s where I was able to shoot with so many amazing people, but it really began in NYC where Carlos Almada discovered me. From then on I was off traveling the world as a model.

Pretty early on you were able to shoot with some of the biggest names in the industry, some of the iconic photographers and magazines. What was that like? Do you think it shaped your career direction?
Oh yes for sure. My early experience was different. I shot with Terry Richardson early and he was wild and had no limits. That taught me to be free and live outside of myself. Helmut Newton was amazing. To have the honor to work with a man who made history in fashion. Armani taught me class. All his people helped me to grow and shape who I am today. Vogue gave me the style that no one can learn in school. Also traveling all over the world was a big history lesson in itself. The experience, all the talented and visionary people I was able to work with, was truly a blessing.

You are a self-professed daughter of “hippy” parents, growing up in California. What were your early days like? Did your parents encourage you to pursue a profession of performing, fashion, modeling?
They always told me to follow my dreams. My mother and I did a lot of second hand shopping together because we could not afford new cloths. I would find crazy stuff and wear them to school. I think that shaped my style and appreciation for style and made me appreciate what I have today. My Father and Mother were carefree surfers who let me be who I wanted to be. Almost too much at times, but it certainly shaped my experiences and personality.

You’ve also been able to travel to over 40 countries and lived in something like 10. That’s quite an immersion in different cultures. What was that like? Did you see differences between particular countries and cultures in how they viewed or accepted females models or modeling in general?
Japan was very interesting. No one spoke English so we had a translator. I had no idea what people were saying about me in each casting, which was pretty interesting ;). I think every city and country I went to – Italy, London, France, New York City, was about the same when it comes to how they approach young models. Some people view you as a dumb anorexic model with no substance yet others viewed you as a beautiful individual, a beautiful women with something to share. To give to the world. I think it was not the places that differed as much as the individuals I collaborated with.

What were some of your favorite places to work and live and why?
Some models have those projects in the idyllic locations they will never forget. I will never forget my first job. It was for Cosmopolitan and we went to Cuba. At that time not a lot of Americans could even get into the Country. It was amazing as arrived seeing a big monument to Che Guevara as you entered Cuba. Then to meet and work with Burma Vista Social Club. We also shot in Fidel Castro’s Presidential suite that was restored the same as it looked in the 1950′s. That was quite a trip! During the rip we went to these islands and our van broke down. I visited with some local Cubans that lived in the jungle. It was a life changing experience. I have travels all over but that shoot really sticks in my mind. A special experience for everyone that worked on the project, that those that see the editorial never really know about.

Lina’s Image Gallery

You might also like:
[SlideDeck2 id=6220]

Tags: Lina Oconnor, Lina Oconnor fashion model, lina oconnor lingerie model, fhm, helmut newton, vogue, milan, paris, rome, brussels, europe, international model, los angeles, LA, Hollywood