Peter Smith’s guest on One on One this week is Iva Frühlingová – model, singer, actress and author. Born in the town of Litvínov, with a French grandfather Iva dreamed of going places and most of all of seeing Paris – the city she’d heard so much about as a child. Her dream came true at the age of 14 when she first travelled to Paris as a budding model. Today she divides her time between Prague and Paris, engaging in modeling, singing, writing and most recently acting. Peter began by asking her which of those “skins” she felt most at home in.
“Well, lately I have been moving in the field of business management because we are setting up a school for talented children, but I also feel a lot like an author because I am in the middle of writing my second book that will come out in two months, a singer as well because I have just spent six months in Paris where I recorded a little album –six songs only – and it was very different from what I did up till now, much more dance, something like deaf punk. ”
Could we go back to your childhood –because your CV goes back a long way. You are now 29 right?
“Yes, I’ll soon be thirty.”
So tell me about your home town –Litvínov – what was it like growing up there? I imagine it was very different from Paris…
“Well, it’s boring there. There is nothing much happening there. I mean –it will always be my home and I always feel a certain nostalgia when I go there –drive through or go to see my parents. So it will always be in me, but the fact is that it is boring and there is nothing much to do. That may be why a lot of young people from there are models or famous hockey players who travel around the world – they all wanted to escape small-town life and I was the same –I thought I have to get out of here.”
The town is famous for its chemical works isn’t it?
“Oh yes. We didn’t go to school when there was too much smog and we had to wear masks outside.”
“I do, because it was my home. When you are small and live in this environment it is all you know-so of course it is home.”
Was your dad involved in the chemical plant?
“Yes, yes, he still works there. He has been working there for I don’t know –like 30 years. But at the same time he plays the guitar and draws amazing pictures, he writes poems and stuff like that. And my mum, she’s into writing and dance –so they both had an artistic soul and I guess I inherited that from them.”
And you did what many girls just dream of – you became a model.
“Well, my paternal grandfather was born in France and when he visited the Czech Republic he fell in love with my grandmother but then borders closed and he couldn’t go back. So he stayed here and was always talking to us about France with great nostalgia a very strong French accent. He talked about Paris, Edit Piaf, the Eiffel Tower, about French architecture, about French food… For me it was like a fairytale and especially living in Litvínov it made me feeI like – My God I simply have to go there. It sounds so beautiful”. So when I was 14 I went to see my sister in Prague and saw some ad for a casting for some French model agency. I didn’t so much want to be a model it was more the urge to see Paris. So I gave it a go and they chose me. And I had my ticket to Paris.”
You were 14 at the time? A lot of people would think that is really, really young to be on your own. Was there anyone looking after you? How did the system work?
So you did receive some kind of standard education… Would you advise a fourteen year old girl to do the same now?
“No, I wouldn’t. It changes your perspective on everything. If I had a 14-year-old daughter I would probably go with her and support her a bit more. I know my mum couldn’t do that because we did not have money back then…”
So you were too young?
“Yes, I think so now.”
And you say it changed your perspective on life – was it in a positive way? Every experience is good as they say…
“I also agree that there is a reason for everything and it taught me a lot and opened many doors and gave me amazing possibilities in my work life. but sometimes when you are young some things are really hard to handle– I do not want to go into details – but some things are really very hard.”
Let’s move on to musical influences –what were yours?
“As a child I would listen to Gainsbourg and Edit Piaf –my gradfather’s influence – and Suzanne Vega and the kind of things my friends listened to at the time and some Czech bands that my father listened to. Now when I talk about it it sounds really stupid, you know I was listening to Žentour, Janek Ledecký and Karel Kryl and stuff like that. So a very mixed group –and no connection. But I think it is all this together that made my first album original and different from other artists –which was great.”
You got a four album deal with Virgin Records is that right?
“A three album deal.”
That’s pretty big at such a young age.
“Yes, but I didn’t realize it then. When you are a child things happen and you go with the flow and so it was like –Oh, all right….when things like that happen at an older age you appreciate them so much more –but back then I didn’t think too much about it.”
So you came back to Prague in 2004 –what happened – did you get tired of Paris?
“No, no I was doing a lot of interviews, my first single was a success in Paris and Belgium and the Czech EMI asked could I come over for some interviews for a week or so. And I though great, I’ll see my mum and everyone and then go back to Paris. But it turned out that I came here and met someone and fell in love. That changed all my plans –but I do not regret it at all.”
And you had a big break that year – the film Román pro ženy.
“Yes, that helped me a lot. People still remember my music from that film. Often they’ll say - can you play something from Román pro ženy – which can even be a bit annoying when you really want to play something new.”
Now you are working again with the director Filip Renč – on the new TV drama “Cruel Infidelity“. What fresh challenges did you face?
“I felt like an alien among all those people. I felt like - I don’t belong here – but I was very grateful to Filip Renč for giving me the opportunity.”
“Yes, we are working on that with my manager. Because I want to share my experience with children who would like to pursue an artistic career –be actors, singers and so on… I can prepare them for the harsh reality, explain what it entails. Because kids dream of becoming an actor or singer or model but they do not realize the downside, the tough part of that life. So we are arranging weekend courses for talented children. The teachers are all well-known personalities who teach them how to sing or how to get ready for this or that. So it is very interesting and new for me.”
Don’t make the same mistakes I made – is that what you are telling them?
“Kind of, yes.”