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The Journey to Becoming Whole

An Interview with Katarina Van Derham

When we are born, the movie of our life begins. The camera turns on, and the lens comes into focus. What is our role? Do we take the lead in our movie or a supporting part?  

Katarina’s movie started out in Slovakia. Who could have predicted how MTV would change the world? Through the glitz and glamour of the music videos, an arm reached out and pulled her into another movie entirely. Hollywood was calling, and it lit up a fire in her heart. Does she stay with tradition or create a new role? 

What do you believe helps to develop ‘inner beauty’ and make for a complete person?

I think the key in developing inner beauty is finding beauty and appreciation in the simple and small things. I grew up in a one-bedroom house with no running water, which meant no plumbing, nor bathroom. We had an outhouse right by the train tracks in a secluded area near the woods. Often we could not watch our black and white TV because the signal was not strong enough in that area. 

In addition, often we lost the power and had to sit in the dark with candles for days. What this experience gave me was a lot of time on my hands. Lots of time to think, observe, analyze, watch, etc… I knew every flower that grew along the train tracks. I knew all the deer that came down our yard in the middle of the night. I watched our chickens roaming around happy and then napping near my “bunker”. Beauty was everywhere, and I was a happy child. This has defined me. What also helps to develop inner beauty is love. Think, feel, speak, give, and receive love. 

Slovak Actress Katarina Van Derham
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Photo Deja Jordan

You moved from Slovakia when you were 22 years old. What was your first job there? And what was your first job here?

I worked in the marketing department of a French company in Slovakia for four years. When I arrived in California, I passed out flyers for $6 an hour.

When you started out in this country, did you ever imagine you would have accomplished as much as you have by the age of 40?

I never thought about it really. This country is so different from where I grew up, and everything was new to me. I did not even know where I would be the next day, much less at 40.

How were you discovered in your modeling career? Do you think it still happens this way?

Haha. Today girls are discovered on Instagram. I was in the U.S. for about four years when I was discovered in a restaurant where I worked as a server. 

A nice woman came up to me and asked me if I model. I said I did not. Then she said her husband, who was sitting at their table, was a photographer and would like to test shoot me. I had always loved modeling but felt I was too short for it. At that point, I was also well into my 20’s. 

But, it felt good that someone approached me to model and so I gave it a shot. That test shoot got me my first agent. Two months later I shot my first national commercial and three months later I was eligible for SAG (Screen Actors Guild).

Katarina Van Derham modeling shoot
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Photo Deja Jordan

A lot has been written about you and your old rock & roll lifestyle. How do you feel about that part of your life now?

I still live a rock & roll lifestyle. I like to live on the edge, take chances, and give it my all. I am an artist, and I like having friends who are also artists. I like being around rock & roll music because it is close to my heart. I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s when rock and roll was going strong. I like the melancholic side of rock. The music back then was about sad lyrics but upbeat melody. It was very romantic. 

What are some of your biggest disappointments and lessons in life and love?

I think the biggest disappointment to me is people. I have learned there are just too many cruel people in this world who like to cause pain and thrive on it. I will never understand this. 

However, I have also learned there are millions of beyond amazing people, and so I still have faith in humanity. When it comes to love, I have learned you have to love yourself first, be honest with yourself and own who you are. You cannot judge yourself for not being ‘this’ or ‘that.’ Be proud of who you are and if you are not, change it. Work on yourself to be who you want to be. Once you are content with yourself, the right love will find you.

Speaking of love, you have gotten back together with your first husband. How is love different now than it was then?

Well, now he knows what he wants. Haha. I met Deja in 1998, and it was love at the first sight. When we parted, I knew it was not the last time we would see each other. 10 years later, he reached out and although I was in a relationship at that time, a year and a half later, we ended up back together. 

Do you believe that both of you being from the same country helps create a balanced relationship?

I do because I feel that I have the best of the both worlds. I get to be myself on a cultural level while we both are living the American dream together.

Do you believe that women can have it all? 

I believe women can have it all but just not usually at the same time. If you have a clear vision of what you want and get on the road to getting it, it is only a matter of time. There are a few exceptions for when you can have it all at the same time. It has happened to me, and I’m sure has happened to other people, people who know how to manifest. Nevertheless, be careful what you wish for! Sometimes having it all is not the best thing for you. In life, I have learned some things are better left as a dream or an idea.

Having been identified as a sex symbol, what do you feel is the perception that the public has of you?

I have never perceived myself as a sex symbol. Playing the role of a sexy woman on camera is a job. To me, it is acting and it is fun. If anything, I have always felt like that image did not represent me well. I am a very intellectual person and usually the first one to talk politics or world affairs. I am very opinionated. I like debates. However, the industry does not care to see that side of me. Heaven forbid a young girl from Central Europe with platinum hair could be smart!

Katarina Van Derham in St. Tropez
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Photo by Deja Jordan

You have built your brand on your face and body. Now that you are a businesswoman do you feel that it has that helped you or hurt you?

It is more about who I deal with. Some people who know me from my modeling days have a hard time seeing me as anything different than a model. It is not about my looks, so much as the position I held. They just can’t take me seriously. In some cases, they cannot accept that I have outgrown them or became more successful since, at some point in their lives I worked for them. It is almost impossible to do business with those people. On the other hand, people who I meet now are very impressed with how business savvy I am … and well, being attractive certainly doesn’t hurt.

You oversee all aspects of VIVA GLAM Magazine. What skill sets do you have that help you to accomplish your goals?

I am known for wearing many hats. My background is in marketing, business, modeling, PR, graphic design, beauty, and producing shoots, just to name a few. To grow a brand you have to grow yourself, which is perfect for me since I love to learn.

What is a success to you regarding your business and brand? 

Many brands, including magazines, do not make it past the 3-year mark. Success to me is being able to grow. If you feel you keep reaching the next level, that is success. I have big plans for VIVA GLAM and would love to see it as an international brand serving women around the world. This year should be a good year for us.

Do you have a five-year plan?  If yes what? If not, why? 

I do not have a five-year plan. I think in today’s modern world, where technology advances five times faster than just 20 years ago, it is hard to plan that far in advance. Things seem to change overnight. However, I always keep an overall vision of the brand and its end goal in my mind, and the right opportunities keep coming and leading me to it. 

Who is your market? Moreover, why do you feel they are and how do you feel VIVA GLAM serves them?

Our demographic is women who love glam and a glamorous lifestyle. VIVA GLAM is for women who want to stand out and live to their fullest potential. It serves them as a lifestyle guide to achieving the life of their dreams. The ‘VIVA GLAM woman’ does not want to blend in, and she is not afraid to stand up for her beliefs. She inspires others and helps those in need. 

What footprint do you believe you have left and want to leave on the world?   

I like to think that in my daily life, I bring encouragement and compassion to everyone I meet. Now that I have VIVA GLAM, I try to inspire others. There are so many places to look and find darkness. I want to provide something fun and uplifting and celebrate the beauty in this world. 

I also hope that by promoting love, an impression will be left on others to do the same. It is important to get others to understand how crucial it is to not hold grudges in life. Because holding onto that pain prevents you from living the fulfilled life you deserve.

How do you think life has changed for you over the years?

My 20’s were just figuring out love, life, and myself in general. My 30’s were better; I started to understand more and figure out how life and success work. Now at 40, I am ready. I am sure you have heard the saying by Carl Jung “Life begins at 40.” I agree with him 100%.

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Photo Deja Jordan

The advantage of age is that you have more wisdom. What advice would you give to your younger self?

I would tell myself that everything is subjective and in most cases, there is no right and no wrong. Everything is a perception. Believe in yourself, do not worry about what others think about you, and follow your dreams. You can be whoever you want to be.

We all have the potential to be the stars of our own movie. You can sit back and be an extra, be a supporting actor, or challenge yourself to become the STAR. Katarina has become the STAR of her movie and has carved out her own road map. As Jane Fonda said “We are not meant to be perfect, we are meant to be whole.”

Here is to being a work in progress and becoming whole. 

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