Ever crash the L.A. pad of a Swedish model? The Good Times team has! Model Zoi Mantzakanis invited us over one Friday for some one-on-one talk and photoshoot time, and of course, we couldn’t resist. After greeting us at the front door, Zoi welcomed us in with hugs and a fresh pot of Hawaiian coffee. She’d just returned from the island on a work trip and was excited to test a few cups out with us.
As we settled in, the model, originally from Karlskrona, Sweden, gave us a mini house tour. In the entryway of the home she shares with her boyfriend, Zoi has a perfectly collaged wall of fun polaroids (some, NSFW), with another similar photo moment happening in the bedroom next to an Xbox and chicly designed wooden bed. A vanity is home to some of her favorite jewelry pieces–delicate vintage-inspired designs that reflect her appreciation for throwbacks. “I’m always thrifting in any city I go to, and Goodwill is where I get most of my clothes.” We ooo and ahh over her wood floors (that she laid down herself, after ripping up the carpet) and she suggests we head up to the rooftop later to get some shots.
Zoi walks us into her living room, where we sip our caffeine and inquire about every interesting piece we discover. Happy groups of plants are scattered around the room. A sewing machine hangs out next to a record player and ABBA records. Zoi casually slips on a cowboy hat while she chats about this and that, and it looks like a billion bucks on her. With the flick of a camera, we immediately captured the effortless magic that Zoi exudes.
Damn, this girl could totally be the next big Supermodel.
So, when did you first decide to get into the modeling industry and what made you want to do it?
I never actually had that on my mind before, to start, it just happened. A woman, who used to be a model in Paris, that’s from my hometown, saw me and stopped me and took some pictures. I flew to New York when I turned 15, with my whole family. And, every summer break from school high school, I used to go to New York for two, three months, and then moved to Paris around 16, 17, for like three years. I finished high school, though. I was there working and then I came out here to LA, and now I’ve been here for five years. So it’s sort of just happened.
Does it feel natural to you that you would want to keep it up? Does it feel like you’re on the right track?
Yeah, I mean I always had something in my mind, when I was younger, that I wanted to get out of there. I was not, like, very patient with school and stuff. I would skip school all the time. So, I was happy that it came to me, and it was my escape out.
So, what are some of your favorite things about what you do, and what are some of the hardest?
Favorite thing is the freedom, I think. 'Cause with other jobs, you have 9-5 every day, which I don’t. Sometimes I work once a month, or, you know, twice a week. So, I have a lot of freedom and I get to do whatever I want. I don’t need to stick to a certain schedule, which I love, and I like to meet new people on set every time, which is nice, but also, that’s what I don’t like too. Cause I have to adapt myself to new people every single time, you know. Let’s say I have a bad day or whatever it is, it’s not like my colleagues I’ve known for ten years. I always have to be like, "Hey, how are you?" You know?
It’s like you always have to be on.
Always. You know, sometimes I don’t want to. I don’t care. But I really have to, so I guess that’s the sucky part.
So how do you get yourself in that mindset?
I honestly just have to fake it, you know? Or I guess I’ll tell them, but if it’s the first time I work with them, I sorta have to be, like, happy and you know… make a good impression.
Photography by Devon Endsley
I’m always thrifting in any city I go to, and Goodwill is where I get most of my clothes.
So what do you in your downtime?
I guess I’m just chillin’, you know? Like, I just wake up whenever I wake up. We’d probably spend a lot of time at home, and play Xbox or watch movies. Me and my boyfriend take photos together. We just started to go to a ceramics class, so nothing special. Just relaxing.
Describe your personal style…
Oh, my God. This question. I don’t have a personal style to be honest. I wear whatever. Sometimes I go to bed with whatever I wore the day before and I wake up in it and I still wear it. Like, just comfortable.
So what’s something that you look for in your style?
Comfortable stuff. I wear a lot of yoga pants when I don’t work cause I always get dressed up [for work]. So, I can’t be bothered to think about what I have to wear. You know? So, just comfortable stuff and chill stuff. Yeah.
Where is your favorite place in the world and why?
Does it have to be like a city?
Whatever you want!
...or can I say my house?
Yeah, my home I think, 'cause I get to just be myself. You’re always around other people, so I think you’re always putting up with a front wherever you go. So, it’s nice to sometimes, you know, just be home and to be yourself. Get to my apartment!
What’s the last TV show that you guys binge-watched?
True Detective because I’d never seen that. It was really good.
The first season?
First season and third season.
Are you introverted or extroverted?
I’m both. I am super extroverted when I want, and like, I’m not shy at all. Or I’m just super quiet. It depends on the situation. Yeah, where I am and who I’m with. So, I get both.
Photography by Devon Endsley
You just have to tell yourself that, no matter where you go, you can’t let other people’s opinions rule you.
What’s something that nobody knows about you, that you wish that they did?
I don’t know, I think that I’m pretty open with people like I literally could say whatever they wanna hear, and I would give it to them. So, I don’t think there’s something. People maybe, I mean, I guess they make up their own thoughts about me or they see me on Instagram or whatever, but I don’t know actually.
What’s the last thing you were completely obsessed with?
I always get obsessed with a lot of stuff!
(Zoi’s Boyfriend chimes in): Oat milk or turmeric.
Oh, no, wait. No, there’s something else, that I was eating a lot.
So you get obsessed with foods?
Yeah, with foods, but I overdo it. It’ll be like sticky mango rice and I would eat that twice a day for, like, one month. I can’t really remember but probably something food-wise.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
I have no idea. I honestly just take it day by day, how it comes. I don’t have any plans. But, I guess I want to have a house, and maybe live on a farm. If I can. Have some animals.
Would you stay here or go back home?
I would probably stay somewhere in America. For sure not LA, but maybe in the countryside somewhere.
If you could give any advice to someone starting out in the industry, what would you tell them?
I think to separate themselves from being a model and a person, you know? 'Cause I think in the job I’m doing, you get so much criticism… ‘cause other people, they go to work and they go home, but you get…
Yeah, you get caught up. You can’t separate yourself from, “This is my job and this is what I do”, and then, “I’m just a person.” ‘Cause I think everyone sees you as a model, you know? So, I think to just be sure of who you are and that you’re doing this cause you think it’s fun, and there’s more to you than that. I would have told myself that, 'cause I started so early. So…
I think you just have to tell yourself that, no matter where you go, you can’t let other people’s opinions rule you, or you’re just gonna destroy yourself, you know? No matter what you’re doing. Yeah. Wise words from me.
Tag along with Zoi on Instagram