Edmonds-Woodway student Gergana Ivanova is an eternal optimist. Although we never actually spoke in person, as she is currently visiting family in Sofia, Bulgaria, her infectious cheerful nature came through the emails we exchanged, punctuated with more than a few exclamation points. While there is potential for her go-getting attitude and charm to be mistaken for the naïveté of youth, Ivanova has a reason to be happy.
The young woman, who is currently pursuing a career in modeling and acting, recently won a silver medal in the Female Modeling Swimwear category at the World Championship of Performing Arts competition, which was held over the week of July 17-22 in Los Angeles, California. The event features teams from around the globe, with members competing in various performing arts categories such as modeling, drama, singing and other arts such as juggling or magic. But contrary to what it may seem, the competition wasn’t your average beauty pageant.
“You first audition for the team and if you make it, you go through training with one of the certified trainers for the WCOPA in your area,” Ivanova explained. “Then once you get to the WCOPA, you go through one round of auditioning and if you make it you get to the semi-finals. Then you audition again and if you make it through that round as well, you get into the finals, which is what is broadcasted live on the internet every year.”
For the acting category alone, Ivanova had to memorize five different 60-minute monologues, each of which fell into the sub-categories of contemporary, dramatic, open, classical and comedy. According to Ivanova, the experience was priceless, and despite the competitive aspect, she made connections that will last her a lifetime.
“That whole week just went by very fast for me! I still couldn’t believe it that I made it on the team, let alone make it to the finals. The competition was very fierce because there were so many great performers there! The friendships that I made were unforgettable! Even though we were all competing against each other, it didn't feel like that at all! We were all like one big family!”
Ivanova is not new to the showbiz industry. She has been modeling and acting since she was young, and her first paid gig was a commercial for an airline company, Egypt Air. Even with the lucky experiences she’s had, Ivanova is a realist.
“I've always wanted to be in the entertainment industry. I know that it's just where I'm supposed to be. I can feel it in my heart,” the young woman wrote in an email. “I know that the entertainment business is not for everybody and that's why not everybody makes it, but the people that are supposed to be in it are the ones that make it because you're never going to get a role in a movie or a spot on the runway on your first audition, nobody does! But when you get up every time you fall down and when you keep on trying that's how you succeed, just like with every other thing in life.”
Currently, Ivanova is taking a much-deserved vacation to visit her family in Bulgaria, where she lived until she was seven, but will return in September to start her (very busy) senior year at Edmonds Woodway. Aside from taking International Baccalaureate classes, she has been working since she was 14, and is currently employed at PCC Natural Markets. When she isn’t working, doing homework or pursuing her career, Ivanova volunteers at Sunrise Living Center in Edmonds, a senior living community.
“This past school year was definitely the hardest year for me because I took on very challenging classes and also took some classes at my local community college, which resulted in me staying up late every night and not having much time to do things that aren't related to school, but it'll all be worth it in the end,” Ivanova said.
If the modeling doesn’t work out, Ivanova has a backup plan: Medical school.
“The reason I try so hard in school is because I want to be a cardiologist when I grow up," Ivanova said. "Cancer runs in my mom's side of the family, so I have a really strong motivation to help and work with people who have cancer…I think you should always have a back up because you never know what's going to happen.”
That’s quite the backup plan.
Ivanova hasn’t decided if she will continue on the U.S. Performing Arts team next year, but plans to seek out some local agencies when she gets back into the states. After high school, Ivanova will move down to Los Angeles for college, where she hopes her proximity to big agencies will make it easier for her to get work. And while she has a schedule that would make most adults dizzy, Ivanova loves what she does and plans to continue pursuing her dreams with as much passion as it takes.
“You don't have to be like everyone else because nobody's the same," Ivanova said. "Just be yourself. Most people think that to get in the business, you have to be and act like the people that are already in it now but that's not true. If you actually want to be successful in the business, you have to be yourself because that's what they're looking for different people and personalities."