Photography by: Kristen Honey
You’re from Wisconsin, right? How did you find your way from there to LA?
There’s no question that Katrina Amato is alluring. She’s graceful, poised. I first encountered Katrina in choreography class while studying dance in college, and immediately found her intriguing–her sincere eyes, kind demeanor, incredible dance ability. Beyond Katrina’s earthly talents lies a woman who’s grounded and level-headed. Yes, she’s a working fashion model, but as a practiced Yogi, she has a true passion for bettering the world around her. Currently mentoring young girls interested in careers in the modeling industry, she offers guidance on how to navigate the uglier side of beauty. Also a gifted yoga instructor, Katrina teaches private and small group classes in her sanctuary-like home studio. Committed to empowering women of all ages and sizes in a safe and comfortable environment, Katrina aims to help women relax, find their inner light and leave class feeling like a goddess. Katrina is true inspiration, inside and out.
Yes, I grew up in Madison, WI. The summer before my senior year of high school, I attended a dance camp at CSULB. I immediately fell in love with the dance facilities. I could not believe my eyes! It was literally a dream come true. I knew nothing about the school, the dance department, or the location. I just felt in my heart that I belonged in that space. After making it through the auditions and getting accepted into the school, I arrived for my first semester of college the following year. Four years later, I graduated with my BFA in Dance and moved up to LA.
The director, Max Joseph, had the genius idea of making a human piano. As soon as he presented me with the project, I knew I could make it come to life. I began looking at the sheet music to the theme song, and watching the movement of the piano keys. What started out as rather static and linear leg kicks quickly became more fun and playful. I couldn’t have done it without the help of my lovely assistant and childhood friend, Carlin Daley. She kept me out of my head and in my body; reminding me to do what felt good, rather than being so literal. As we laid on my family room floor, laughing, clapping, kicking, and shaking, the Toms Piano Dance was born.
What first drew you to yoga, and how does it play a role in your daily life?
During my last two years of college I struggled with a serious back injury. The doctors believed I had a stress fracture on my lower spine. I could hardly walk, let alone dance. I was devastated. However, I was not going to let it stop me. I began taking hours of intense physical therapy each day to strengthen my core, which is when I was first introduced to Pilates. Not only did it make me stronger, but it improved my dance technique. I am constantly reminding myself to not take things so seriously, to laugh often, to accept where I am, and to always be presentI was unstoppable.
It wasn’t until after I graduated college, that my good friend, fellow dancer, and roommate, Annie Lynch, introduced me to yoga. It changed my life completely! I couldn’t believe that I could stretch and strengthen my body in a way that not only felt good but was actually healing me both physically and mentally. I knew immediately that I wanted to become a yoga teacher. The music, the flow, the sweat, and challenge all clicked with my “dancer” mindset. I would always leave class with a natural high, and a strong craving for healthy food. For the first time I felt fully connected with my mind and body, allowing me to feel extremely grounded and calm.
My ego, however, destroyed me in my first yoga class. I literally ended up passing out because I was trying to perfect each move. I had a difficult time accepting that it was totally kicking my butt! It wasn’t until I went through my teacher certification program that my perspective of myself shifted. I soon realized that my ego was still present and that I was an extreme perfectionist. I had to let that go, and once I did, I was ready. The lessons I learn on my yoga mat, have easily transitioned into my daily life. I am constantly reminding myself to not take things so seriously, to laugh often, to accept where I am, and to always be present. To this day yoga keeps my pain away.
When did you begin your modeling career?
I began modeling at age 14, in NYC with Next Models. Seeing that I hadn’t even hit puberty yet, I was extremely shy and uncomfortable with my body. I didn’t really know what it meant to be sexy, yet I was expected to act and model like a woman. This was a problematic for me, however they still wanted to send me off to work Milan! Luckily, at that point, my parents stepped in and took me back to Wisconsin. I then signed with Arlene Wilson in Chicago, only a few hours south of home. It was a much smaller market where I was able to be myself and still attend high school.
Does modeling change your perspective on female image?
Abso-frickin-lutely! Through all my ups and downs in the industry, It makes me sad that women of all ages, shapes, and sizes feel the need to fit into one mold, while it’s their individuality that makes them specialthe number one thing it has taught me is that everything I do is all an illusion. The images being published are a false representation of what men and woman naturally look like, yet we are forced to believe that they are real. NO ONE IS PERFECT, yet that is how the female image continues to be portrayed. It makes me sad that women of all ages, shapes, and sizes feel the need to fit into one mold, while it’s their individuality that makes them special. I believe that as long as you are healthy, happy, and being you, that is all that matters. That is what true beauty is all about.
What’s the most outrageous shoot you’ve ever been on?
I did a shoot in Hawaii for an LA nightlife magazine. I was actually flown in to be the make-up artist’s assistant because the photographer felt I was too curvy for swimwear. Determined to shoot, however, I made sure to get in front of the camera whenever I had the opportunity. Each day I would prep the girls, as well as myself, (just in case they decided to photograph me), which included hair extensions, make-up, and a full body bronzing spray that made all of us eight shades darker. Sure enough, on day one, I began shooting and continued to shoot for the entire week. I was thrilled until I got the flu on the third day, but I didn’t let that stop me. For five days we were covered from head to toe in toxic chemicals, while we baked in the sun for hours. I was committed to getting my images in the magazine, so I sucked it up and kept going. As outrageous as it was, I ended up getting seven pages in the magazine, including the main shot for the opening story.
How would you describe your style and what role does fashion play in your life?
Believe it or not, I never really enjoyed shopping until recently. Dressing myself always felt like a chore. For years, I was happy living in athletic clothes–leotards, tights, and yoga pants–so I tend to wear clothes that are comfortable, flowy, and free. I like to layer, too, so I’m never cold. My closet is filled with neutral and jewel tone pieces that are simple, clean, and classy. However, being a model, I’ve learned to have a little more fun with my wardrobe. Fashion is still not a huge part of my life, but I’ve always admired those who freely express themselves in this way. As long as I’m comfortable and feeling beautiful, I think that’s all that matters.
Do you have a favorite quote you live by?
Yes! I have two:
“A goal without a plan is only a wish”-Antoine de Saint-Exupery
“For you are the creator of your own reality, and life can show up in no other way for you than the way in which you think it will.” -CWG
What are your best go-to beauty products?
Face: A good face wash is a must. I always use products that make me feel like a goddess when I apply them. I think its an important way to start and end your day! I am currently using Clarins Gental Foaming Cleanser with Cottenseed. Body: Lemongrass Body Scrub by Ole Hedrickson. It is a bit expensive, but it will last you awhile. The smell and texture always wakes me up and makes my skin super smooth. All Over: Vitamin E capsules! They’re super cheap and very useful. Just break them open and use them anywhere on your body. They help heal dry lips, hair, and skin. Make-up: I hardly wear make-up, but when I do it’s usually mascara. Any mascara will do, it’s all on how you apply it!
I know you travel often for work– do you have any essential travel tips?
A few years back, I started bringing pouches of oatmeal in my carry-on. That way, wherever I am, I have a rather filling and healthy snack– all I need is water! I also always travel with my large cotton scarf by Fluxus. Its lightweight and can scrunch down to a small ball. Besides wearing it around my neck, I’ve used it for a blanket, a pillow, and a cover-up. I also like to travel with a small bottle of rose water to mist on my face whenever I need a little wake-me-up.
What do you consider to be your hardest won or most treasured life lesson?
The most treasured life lesson I’ve learned is to love, honor, and respect myself. This came at a hard price when I was 24. After graduating college I signed with one of the top fashion agencies in LA. I started getting pressured by my agent to take drugs in order to lose my muscles. After having several friends battle with crystal meth and coke, I refused to go down that path. Instead, I started watching what I ate. It began with what I thought was a healthy diet, but then led into an extreme obsession with counting calories. I rediscovered what it was that made me happy, and I followed those things instead of the money. Ever since then I’ve continued to stay true to myselfIt was the one thing I was able to control. The more weight I lost, the more attention I received, the more money I would make. It was a horrible cycle. I stopped being me and became a product of my agents. The real Katrina was slowly dying, literally. I was making tons of money and getting the opportunity to travel the world, but I was depressed. My hair was falling out and I could hardly think straight. It wasn’t until I moved to Miami, where I was surrounded by girls who were behaving similarly, that I realized I needed to get out. Eventually I headed back to CA, chopped my hair off, and began working at Sprinkles Cupcakes. I rediscovered what it was that makes me happy, and I follow those things instead of money. Ever since then I’ve continued to stay true to myself, and because of that, I am working more than ever.
What are you most enjoying learning about yourself lately?
I’m enjoying learning that there is no wrong path in life. All the obstacles and accomplishments are here to teach me a lesson. Every day I’m reminded to follow my intuition and to trust myself; to be open to everyone and everything around me, and to be completely present at all times.
What advice do you have for younger women who may be following in your footsteps?
Be open to new possibilities, but always honor and respect you heart and soul’s desires. Stay true to yourself and trust your intuition. You can do anything you put your mind to. Never stop being you!
Girl Friday is a phrase more common to the 1940s and 50s, defined as “a female employee who has a wide range of duties,” and is most recognizable from the film His Girl Friday. Here at Move LifeStyle, we’re resurrecting its saucy vibe for the title of our last column of the week which profiles inspiring women in the workforce.