Born in Chiba, Japan, Rina Ota has walked innumerable domestic and international collections since her debut as a model in 2001, rising to international prominence as the face of Miu Miu in 2006. The child of a Japanese father and Russian mother, Ota is proficient in English and Russian. She started her acting career in the movie "69" at the age of 15, and has since appeared in television dramas, commercials, and on film.

How old were you when you started modeling? Was it a dream come true?

I was thirteen years old. I wouldn’t call it a dream come true, as my jump into the fashion industry was relatively spontaneous.

How did you grow up? What was your family’s reaction to your modeling career?

I spent my childhood between Russia and Japan. I lived in Moscow until I was nine years old. My parents tell me that they wouldn't say a word about my career; I would start it by myself. They said, "Think carefully before you take action, and take responsibility for your decisions or we will give you the cold shoulder.”

How and when did you experience western culture? What differences do you see in comparison to your own culture?

What I like in eastern culture is that you can assert yourself elegantly in front of people, what I don’t like is that racial discrimination tends to still exist.

Is there a difference between the two fashion worlds?

In my opinion, Japan is still a developing country in terms of the creation of fashion. Fashionable people there yearn for western fashion. However, some Japanese people are skillfully hand-making interesting clothes that incorporate traditional Japanese fashion. At the moment it might be difficult to find high fashion in Japan, but the eastern scene continues to develop in original ways. To be honest, I can’t say that the fashion featured in Japanese animation and Otaku is still seen as interesting. What I can say is that there is no difference between the East and West in terms of approaching the creation of something seriously.

What position do models and actors have in eastern society?

Modeling and acting are thought to be dream jobs. There are so many girls who want to be models or actresses in Japan, and there are countless amateur models, like models selected from magazine readership, for example. I think this might be a Japanese original.

What are your plans for the future?

My life has been formed by lots of small decisions, thus influencing my work. I’m putting my heart into acting at the moment. Making films is one of my dreams. I am planning to complete a script in the near future. You only live once – I would like to keep being active, and not only in Japan!

Interview has been edited and condensed, originally appearing on I Love You