Interview by Uriah Young
QFTD: Tell us a little about yourself. Who is Kota Eberhardt?
Kota: To know me is to know the beautiful network of people that gave to me unconditionally. I love and live by words; it's where I get my inspiration for music. I've created a written alphabet, and like a carefully curated museum, each letter was handpicked from someone who poured positivity into me. I feel superhuman, moving and making things happen simultaneously. I love green tea ice cream, all the time.
QFTD: What has your journey through the modeling industry been like?
Kota: I have an appreciation for the evolution of what it means to me, all the while following the constant evolution of the industry itself. This is the nerd bio major in me, but It's kind of like being a scientist trying to figure out a virus as it mutates into something different daily. I've learned not only a lot about the business, but way more about myself and my artistically muddied mind. Seriously, I started off with beginners luck, being discovered walking on the boardwalk of Virginia beach by Bruce Weber, which led to an international Hollister campaign. During college, I did catalogue stuff, which paid the bills. But after college, my journey evolved into a newfound respect for the "business" of modeling, entering into the competitive world of commercials and now print editorial. I've broken down a lot of barriers and faced bitter rejections, from "you're too short," to "you're too black," to "maybe lose some weight and come right back." I guess I've come to the simple conclusion that "no" is just a matter of opinion.
QFTD: How did you land such a strong role advertising for Oil of Olay? How has that experience been?
Kota: The story of how it happened is such an example of how the universe will work in your favor when you're willing to take risk. I had hopped a plane to NYC during Halloween to attend some business meetings and as it would turn out, Hurricane Sandy decided to join me! I was staying on the 14th floor of the Gansevort Hotel swaying in the wind, when my agent called to tell me about a callback for Olay. "I don't care if you have to get on a magic carpet and fly back, get back to LA and make it happen!" Nothing about it was guaranteed, but I had this incredible feeling. Fortunately, through my manager, I somehow managed to catch a flight out after the hurricane. I walked into my audition right on time, and by some miracle of life, I landed it! Subsequently, I've extended the relationship with the brand to social media efforts and a day-in-the-life series. It's been super rad and epic beyond measure.
QFTD: You're a multi-talented person, with the smarts and looks to match, but what do you attribute to the success you've achieved so far?
Kota: It's been a concoction of fortunate and unfortunate events that have both uplifted and humbled me, but truthfully, it's all about the circle of people around you. Next to love, I believe the greatest desire in this world is money, and there's nothing wrong with wanting to wake up and live without the burden of financial scarcity, but people forget where it comes from. In the end, wealth is just a by-product of your network and hard work. There is no gold or silver in this world more valuable than creating an unstoppable crew of kids who dream big and have passion and guts to match.
QFTD: What drives you to be such a positive person and beacon of light in the world?
Kota: Because I'm in touch with my darkness which drives my creative side. My mentor is a crazy awesome dentist/designer in DC that taught me to embrace my weirdness and my darkness. "If you're an artist, chances are, you're dealing with some sort of emotional or physical turmoil." So through my art, be it in modeling, music, or painting I'm able to express this darkness, liberate myself and others. And when I'm empty, all I have left is light.
QFTD: Is there a difference between Kota and Sylvia? Can you explain?
Kota: Have to put the "stage name" questions to rest; technically I've been two people by the books. Throwback, the law in Washington, D.C. was if your father is not present birth, your mother names you. So she named me Sylvia Saunders, and later my dad wanted Dakota Eberhardt. So I had two birth certificates in the system until I was 18. I kept both. They both have their place, friends call me what they feel comfortable with. Kota represents the blooming artist in me, while Sylvia is my scientific structured nature.
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