In the series ‘Models Right Out of Bed’, I go early in the morning to wake up models in their homes, and see if perhaps, without makeup and designer clothes, they seem a little more human and less godly. Spoiler: they are still perfect. Sorry, mortals. ┐(‘～` )┌
Jasmina is the type of person who stands out from the crowd because she is surrounded by an aura of permanent joy. She has that kind of beauty that is not only seen from outside of her, it also comes from within; from her spontaneity and her closeness. When you talk to Jasmina you feel that she is really listening to what you have to tell her, and she shows you real sympathy.
To find out if Jasmina starts smiling when the alarm clock rings; or if she has, like so many of us, a morning Mr. Hyde; I knocked on her door at 8 a.m. at her shared apartment complex in Kichijoji, west of Tokyo. She greeted me with a toothbrush in hand, and her boyfriend Kei still fast asleep sleeping in bed (don’t hate me Kei!).
Jasmina, in addition to being a model, is also a barista. I was lucky that she made me a hand drip coffee to accompany this interview.
Chorareii: Good morning, Jasmina! Now that you’re up, let’s talk about you.
My name is Jasmina Mitrovic, I’m 24 and I’m from Toronto, Canada. I used to live in Australia but I have been living and modeling in Japan for a year. Before that, I also did child modeling when I was a kid!
As I came here very early, I want to know what is your usual morning routine.
The first thing I do is my skincare; I’m really passionate about it! But, I still use products from Canada because I haven’t found the best Japanese products for me yet. It’s difficult when you can’t read kanji! I know there are amazing products here, what with Asian beauty products being so famous back home.
I really enjoy sleeping, so sometimes I have to brush my teeth in the train station to get those extra Z’s! I always carry my toothbrush with me. If I have time, I also drink coffee.
What’s the best about modeling in Japan and what’s not that great?
I love the creativity of Japanese photographers and stylists. They are not snobby, they try to find different people that match their views. The clothes, the makeup … everything is always cool here.
On the bad side, because I’m neither curvy nor sample size, just a regular person, it’s difficult for me to have big opportunities here. I’ve been told that I have potential but maybe it would be easier for me if I tried in Europe or Canada. Still, I have one goal before I leave this country: I have to make it into a Uniqlo campaign!
Your roots are very unique. Can you tell me about them?
My mother was born in Somalia and emigrated to Canada when she was 5. My dad is a second-generation Serbian. They met in Toronto when they were in high school and then I was born! Toronto is the most multicultural city I know.
Growing up being half-black, half-white, half-African, half-European, but also Canadian, was really difficult for me. Being mixed makes it hard to find your identity.
Serbians have a reputation of being nationalistic so when I grew up people could not believe I was half Serbian. ‘You’re Serbian and black? How is that possible?’ they asked. One woman came to my workplace in my University town saying: “You’re the black Serbian girl? I’ve heard about you! Do you know what a Slava is?” A Slava is an orthodox patron saint holiday that Serbian families celebrate; so of course, I know what it is!
It took me a really long time to figure out who I was, probably until after I graduated from high school. I think in countries like Canada and America, there can sometimes be something like a hierarchy on what is a good minority or ethnic community to be from; and I didn’t want to associate myself with any of my cultures when I was young.
Due to both countries having experienced devastating civil wars, there came to be a lot of refugees immigrating to Canada. When a large influx of refugees are entering a country there usually tends to be some sort of stigma and discrimination, and although in Canada we pride ourselves on being an accepting and mosaic-like nation obviously there’s still hurtful stereotyping and outright racism; but it’s just not as publicized as our southern neighbor’s.
As I’ve grown and learned more about the world and myself, I’ve come to really love and be proud of my cultures.
Now that we know you a bit better, tell me, what things do you like?
I love learning languages! Before I came to Japan I was fluent in Portuguese, intermediate in Spanish, and I also grew up learning Serbian. But when I came to Japan and started learning Japanese … everything disappeared!! Now when my Serbian grandparents call me I always accidentally speak to them in Japanese!!
I also enjoy cooking and eating, I’m such a foodie! If Tokyo was not full of stairs and I didn’t have to run all the time to catch the train, I would be very fat here!
I like second-hand shopping, but I find that in Japan it’s expensive! In Toronto, I bought all my second-hand Levi’s jeans for one dollar each!
Ah! I’m usually writing down ideas for TikTok videos that I’ll never make (laughs)!
Back to your modeling, tell me about a project that you especially enjoyed.
I worked on a shooting that was 70s themed. It took place in a Beatles bar and everyone was wearing 70s clothes and makeup. The vibe was so cool!
Although I do enjoy the more commercial and lifestyle projects, my favorites are the ones with crazy clothes and makeup … and Uniqlo of course! 😉 😉 😉
How would you describe your personal style?
I have multiple personalities when it comes to fashion! In high school I went through all the phases; the emo one, the gangsta one … That influenced me, my wardrobe is just a mess of colors and patterns. My boyfriend Kei, thinks I should buy more staple, basic clothing and I tried, but I went back to my tie-dye pants!
What item in your wardrobe makes you feel the most special?
It’s a lime green skirt suit from the Japanese designer Junko Shimada. A while ago I read Haruki Murakami’s novel ‘1Q84’. In the book, the main character is always wearing suits from this designer, so when I found this piece I was really excited. The best part is I got this two-piece suit for 2,000 yen. I wear it at every chance I get!
What’s the thing you miss the most about your country, and the thing that you love the most about living in Japan?
I miss the huge multiculturalism of Toronto. We have many different communities and neighborhoods: Koreantown, Chinatown, Little India, Little Jamaica …
I miss the food that I can’t find here. I also really miss poutine! It’s this mix of french fries with cheese curds and gravy. It’s from Quebec and it’s usually two dollars. I miss that kind of cheap food that is bad for your body!
What I love the most about Japan is that it offers possibilities to creative people. If you have an idea, people will help you to make it happen, someone who has experience might offer to teach you. I think that’s amazing!
In my case, I wanted to travel to figure out who I am. As here you can try so many things, that help you get one step closer to who you are and achieve fulfillment, completion, nirvana!