Ukrainian Actress: “War Led Me to Hollywood”

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On February 22, in Hollywood, Ukrainian actress Oksana Perepadia clinched the title of Miss & Mrs. European Universe 2024.

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Originally from Kharkiv, Oksana moved to Kyiv to pursue an acting career, aspiring to grace the stage and the silver screen. Her dream of visiting America—and Hollywood—dates back a decade, but visa hurdles thwarted her plans. Time passed, and perhaps she wouldn’t have dared to leave Ukraine, but the eruption of war in her homeland altered her course. Eventually, she resolved to flee to the USA.

Although Oksana’s journey to the United States can hardly be called easy or carefree. With only a backpack, she joined a group of other Ukrainians to travel via Vinnytsia and Chernivtsi in order to reach the Romanian border. Upon crossing, she spent two days in Romania before pondering her next move. Eventually, they opted for Mexico, where Oksana learned about a Ukrainian humanitarian parole program facilitating Ukrainian citizens’ peaceful entry into the US. 

At the Mexico-California border, Oksana presented her passport and details about her sponsors. A new chapter of her life in the US began in San Diego, where she temporarily settled. However, uncertainty loomed over her next steps, as the arduous journey to the U.S. left her both stunned and exhilarated. After spending 10 days in the city, new options emerged, including a move to Los Angeles to pursue acting.

While tens of thousands of Ukrainians have sought refuge in California since the war began in 2022, not all have viewed the forced relocation as a fresh start. As for Oksana, back then she couldn’t even fathom that less than two years later she would emerge victorious in the European Universe beauty contest. Embracing new opportunities, Oksana found it quite easy to decide to participate in the contest. Though no longer in her teens, now 36, she never once considered herself too old or unworthy of the title she ultimately claimed.

While in California, Oksana is enjoying its climate, weather, and people. In Los Angeles, she has been building her life, adhering to a vegetarian lifestyle, meditating for peace of mind, hitting the gym to stay fit, and nurturing her acting career. Of course, she dreams of winning an Oscar. 

During one of the shoots, Oksana crossed paths with producer Gennady Kotlyarchuk, who, upon learning of her talents, invited her to participate in a Hollywood beauty contest, Miss & Mrs. European Universe 2024, preparation for which usually takes four months and has already been in process, but Perepadia joined midway. Girl contestants were taught to walk a runway, donning designer dresses with finesse.

According to Oksana, beauty contests serve as motivation to maintain her appearance, look, and well-being. If these events inspire confidence, why not give it a try?

Apart from acting, Oksana also channels her emotions into poetry, articulating life’s trials and triumphs. 

While abroad, Oksana yearns for her mother, drawing her back to Ukraine, her home. Although she fondly recalls her pre-war homeland, she harbors no desire to return permanently. However, Oksana remains hopeful of regular visits to reconnect with her family. With her mother, 65, finding travel challenging, reunions have been deferred. Oksana’s arrival in America with her sister left their mother alone in Ukraine, but plans are afoot for a reunion.

In the wake of the war, Oksana contributed to various relief efforts, volunteering to distribute food to the homeless. 

Reflecting on the Miss & Mrs. European Universe 2024 beauty contest, Oksana vividly recalls the eventful day: arriving early, brimming with confidence, she weathered bouts of nervousness and anxiety over minor mishaps. Yet, the crown came as a pleasant surprise, although she had entertained thoughts of settling for second or third place. She resolved to learn from the experience, striving to better herself.

Vitaly Ataev TroshinCalifornia Local News Fellowship
Ruslan Gurzhiy, Elena Kuznetsova, SlavicSac.com