Cynthia Kirchner is quite literally the world’s smartest supermodel. And there isn’t a punchline. With a master’s degree from Columbia University – a pillar of the famed Ivy League – a doctorate on the way, and an IQ that outclasses Albert Einstein along with the kind of looks that have won her magazine covers and advertising contracts, she’s a grand prize winner in the genetic lottery to be sure. She’s also an actress and a writer, and has starred in music videos for Enrique Iglesias and Justin Timberlake (“Like I Love You”) as well as various movies, commercials and TV shows.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, she was living in Los Angeles when she was “discovered” at the age of 15 and booked modeling jobs for Guess and Abercrombie and Fitch in her first week. Covers of WWD and Cosmopolitan would follow along with campaigns for Victoria’s Secret, Intimissimi, Nautica, Redken, L’Oréal, Pantene and Christian Lacroix. In addition to her studies at NYU and Columbia she graduated from the Hollywood Film Institute in 2013, where she focused on producing, writing and directing, and has racked up several screen credits including a recurring role on The Bold and the Beautiful.
In her first feature for Luxury Life Kirchner discusses her challenging upbringing, rise to fame, fleet of luxury cars, academic pursuits and the worthy causes that despite everything she always finds time for:
What would you say have been the biggest influences on your life and career? Is there anyone in particular who inspires you?
My upbringing has had the biggest influence on my life and career. My sister and I were raised by a single dad. We had very little money and all lived together with my great aunt in a 400-square foot Brooklyn apartment. I have worked so hard my whole life to be the first member of my family to graduate college and to earn a substantial living. My parents are my inspiration. My father inspires me to work hard and never quit. My step-mother inspires me to be a strong woman who carries herself with grace, confidence and dignity. My mother inspires me to respect the universe and everything in it.
How would you describe your personal style? How about your personal brand?
I am a t-shirt and jeans girl during the day, while at night, I love to rock high fashion runway looks, and red-carpet dresses. I am fond of interesting and asymmetrical pieces. I especially love dresses with pockets and long sleeve tops with thumb holes. When choosing brands, I always take quality over a “name”, I look for exceptional fabric, fit and color. When I make fashion choices, I always dress for myself and not to keep up with trends. I like to be original and not “cookie cutter”.
I also have a thing for comfy pj’s and glamorous vintage nightgowns. I love long dangly earrings and high heels (the higher, the better). I always finish off my look with what I call “perfumology”. I have a signature scent trifecta: Burberry Weekend on my clothes and body, Michael Kors Rose Gold on my neck and wrists, and Versace Bright Crystal on my hair.
What are three things that no one knows about you?
I am a techie, I’m obsessed with Judge Judy, and I am a video game nerd.
Is it true that you have an IQ of 170 – higher than Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking?
Yes, it is true. I was a child genius and autodidact who taught myself to read at age three, and I have a photographic memory. This is a gift and a curse, as it’s difficult to shut my mind off. I am always thinking and thinking and over-thinking.
What did you study at Columbia University and what degree did you get?
I studied Early Childhood Education. I received a Master’s degree. I am currently working towards my doctorate in Human Development.
Tell us about how and why you founded the Supermodel University and Hollywood Academy of the Arts.
I founded both of these organizations to help aspiring models, actors, hosts and writers navigate the entertainment industry with knowledge and confidence. I also created an outreach program designed to help those who cannot afford these types of classes, in hopes they would further explore the arts and entertainment industry.
What first got you interested in animal rights and how is their cause part of your everyday life?
I cannot pinpoint the moment I became interested in animal rights because I think I was born with this innate respect for all the Earth’s creatures and organisms. Animal rights are important to me because they are our voiceless cousins and neighbors on this beautiful planet. They deserve respect and dignity and each species should be revered for their unique qualities. We are all part of the circle of life that keeps the earth stunning and plentiful.
What appealed to you about World Animal Day and The Animal Hope & Wellness Foundation?
World Animal Day appealed to me because it was a day to recognize animals and to raise awareness about the abuses they incur all too often. The Animal Hope & Wellness Foundation (animalhopeandwellness.org) was introduced to me by Meg & Komie Vora of Delikate Rayne, vegan designers and animal activists. The Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation is a non-profit organization focused solely on rescuing abused and neglected animals. They rescue them, provide full rehabilitation services, and then work to find them their “fur-ever” families. What sets them apart from other rescues is that the animals they take in are not only shelter animals or strays.
They are animals that have been beaten, kicked, shot, run over, used for gang initiations and have been waiting for the day that someone would come to save them. Recently they have also been rescuing dogs from the Asian Dog Meat Trade. I also wholeheartedly support the non-profit international animal advocacy organization Friends of Animals (FoA), friendsofanimals.org. It was established in New York City in 1957, working to free animals around the world from cruelty and institutionalized exploitation. I shot a comedic PSA for them recently with Danny Trejo and Jaleel White.
Was it difficult losing your dog Bella who used to travel everywhere with you? Have you adopted another pet or do you plan to?
Yes, it was very difficult, Bella was truly my best friend. I have still not completely mourned her departure, but I find comfort in the fact that I know she had an amazing life jet-setting across the world and eating fine doggie cuisine. TMZ did a feature on Bella about a year before she crossed over to the rainbow bridge, so besides joining me in numerous advertisements, editorial and on the red carpet, she also had her own moment to shine in the spotlight. I do not have plans to adopt another pet at this time. I believe when the time is right, my future pet will find me.
What can you tell about someone by the way they treat animals?
The way someone treats animals is usually indicative of how they feel about the hierarchy of the animal kingdom, either they respect it and all the creatures in it or they don’t. This is usually a reflection of how they feel about and treat themselves and others. I don’t fully trust non-animal lovers.
What other causes are close to your heart?
I support several causes. I support Women Like Us, which is committed to sustaining women’s leadership through creating awareness of women-led initiatives. Last year I joined them to build homes in the Dominican Republic. This year they are fighting sex trafficking through funds from women-led initiatives in our communities. The Edeyo Foundation is a group of professionals from various backgrounds with a common interest to empower disadvantaged children in Haiti.
I have joined them and their founder Unik Ernst in Haiti during Thanksgiving to visit the schools they built and educate and encourage the parents and students to keep excelling in their studies. The Red Cross helped my family when we lost everything in a home fire, so I am a huge supporter of theirs. I also support Habitat for Humanity with building homes for those in need. I support the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation as a teacher of mine suffers from the condition. I also support Alzheimers as my late step-grandmother suffered from the disease.
What was it like studying at the famous Neighborhood Playhouse where Steve McQueen, Gregory Peck and Diane Keaton are all alums?
It was amazing, full of history and stellar acting talent. I studied the Meisner technique under Richard Pinter
What do you like to write and what is it about writing that you enjoy? Describe your writing process.
I like to write comedies. What I like about writing is seeing something from my imagination become something that entertains and inspires others. I start my writing process first with free thinking and idea webs. Then I make an outline, then a rough draft. Then I sleep on it and let it simmer a few days and revise it on a clear head. Then I let it sit another few days and then I revise it again. Then I sleep on it and write my final draft.
Who are your favorite authors and are there any books that have changed your life?
My favorite author is Edgar Alan Poe and I absolutely love his short stories, the “Tell Tale Heart”, “The Raven” and his poem “Anabel Lee”. There are three books that have deeply affected the way I live my life, and which I believe are responsible for my success and happiness. The first book is The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle. The book is intended to be a guide for day-to-day living, and stresses the importance of living in the present moment and avoiding thoughts of the past or future.
I was introduced to Success Through Stillness: Meditation Made Simple and also to the incredible power of meditation. This book shares meditation as the most fundamental key to success and guides readers to use stillness as a powerful tool to access their potential. Lastly, a book that changed my life in regard to diet and exercise is Fitonics For Life by Marilyn Diamond.
I hear you are a music lover, what kind of music do you listen to? Do you have any current favorites?
I love hip hop, R&B, rap and alternative. I currently have Bishop Briggs “Dream” on repeat. I got to see her live when she opened for Coldplay at the Rose Bowl and I also saw her live at Coachella. She’s amazing!
Would you like to do another Shakespeare play? And if so which one?
Yes, I would love to be Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. Acting Shakespeare, in many ways, is like acting any other style or genre. However, due to the intricacy and complexity of the text it requires more investigation by the actor. It is almost another language, yet it cannot be performed as such. It must fall onto the ears of the audience with absolute clarity. I studied Shakespeare under Ellen Geer and Susan Angelo at the legendary Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga Canyon, CA.
What was it like working with Hugh Laurie on a L’Oréal commercial?
Working with Hugh Laurie was an honor, he is such an incredible talent. He was also so generous and forthcoming with work advice during and after filming. I was playing his love interest in the commercial, so we also got to share a fun onset kiss. I have been a part of the L’Oréal family since my first job with them in 2003 in the Garnier Fructis commercials.
Which other actors and directors would you like to work with?
The actors I would like to work with the most are Meryl Streep, Jessica Lange, Johnny Depp, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Cate Blanchett. The directors I would like to work with are Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino.
You’ve worked with legendary photographers like Ellen von Unwerth and Bruce Weber. Do you have any particular favorites?
It was an honor to work with Ellen and Bruce and they are fabulous, some other photographers that I really enjoyed working with are Raphael Menezuco, Howard Schatz, Terry Richardson, Vincent Peters, Patrick Demarchelier, and Steve Heitt. I was recently blessed with the opportunity to work with Peter Svenson, he’s a phenomenal talent, he shot my spread and cover for your magazine.
You have amazing skin and hair, and have been called one of the most “bankable faces” in the industry. What is your beauty regimen?
My skin regimen is to cleanse, tone, moisturize daily and exfoliate weekly. My “scientific secret”, is less is more, I limit face washing and showers to the evening and I wash my hair about every two weeks or longer. I manage my hair and its natural oils with Batiste blush dry shampoo during the day and using a boar bristle brush at night to spread the natural oils throughout. If I do wash my face and hair outside of this routine, I use lotion or cold cream for cleansing my face (never soap) and just conditioner on my hair. The reasoning behind this is that while you are sleeping, your sebaceous glands secrete an oily, waxy substance called sebum, it is comprised of wax esters, triglycerides, metabolites of fat-producing cells, and squalene.
Sebum lubricates the skin and hair. When you wash your skin and/or hair in the morning, you strip your face of this natural protection, which fights free radicals and environmental toxins. So, I just splash cold water on my face and neck. My number one secret is a minimum of three to four liters of alkaline water per day and a nutritious diet. My water of choice is Essence pH10, it’s a premium water that contains the daily recommended allowance of calcium, magnesium, and zinc acetate. Additionally, they add organic hibiscus making it a “nutritional water”.
What are your health, fitness and nutrition routines?
I practice yoga daily, my favorite class is at the famous Tantric Center for Yogic Science in West Hollywood, CA. The class I take is Tantris Flow yoga, which is a vinyasa inspired sequence in a 98-degree infrared heated room. I participate in cardio barre three times per week and twice a week I do interval training along with light weight training with high repetitions.
My nutrition routine involves lots of organic foods. Because of my busy schedule, I don’t really have time to cook and don’t want to succumb to fast food or take-out, so I currently have daily farm-to-table organic chef delivery from Paleta and organic and superfood packed smoothies, soups and chia from Daily Harvest. I keep healthy through daily meditation (stress causes illness and wrinkles), and drinking at least three liters of alkaline water a day.
What is your definition of luxury? What are your favorite luxury brands?
I define luxury as something that is high quality and brings extreme comfort and pleasure. My top luxuries are flying first class or privately, five-star hotels, valet, and high-end sushi. My favorite luxury clothing brands are Dolce Gabbana, Ralph Lauren, Chanel and Christian Dior.
What kind of car do you drive and why? Is there any car that you’ve love to own?
I have four vehicles, a Mercedes convertible for fun and sun during the day (I love feeling the wind in my hair), the self-driving Tesla Model S for technologically advanced and environmentally responsible driving, a Porsche Cayenne as a sexy sport utility vehicle for when I need more space, and a Maserati for exciting nighttime fun.
I would love to own a Lykan Hypersport, they only made seven and it’s one of the speediest cars on the planet with 780 horsepower and speeds up to 240 mph. It has LED headlamps encrusted with 220 diamonds (or other precious stone of one’s choosing) and it comes with the first holographic mid-air display system with interactive motion. Allowing the driver and passenger to interact with the multimedia interface as well to access other vehicle control systems. It’s priced at $3.4 million.
Where are your favorite places to travel and why? What is your favorite hotel?
I absolutely love Paris it is my favorite city because of its art, food, fashion, beauty products, and its walkability factor. I have two favorite hotels there. I love the Ritz Paris for relaxation and regal luxury and the Hôtel Costes for hip fun and excitement.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to have a career like yours?
First, I would suggest that they visit models.com and research the major agencies in their area and attend the agency open calls. They should pick the agency that is most excited about them. Having an agent who adores you is super important because they are the ones who will market you to the clients. This agency will typically become their mother agency and usually will represent the model throughout their entire career. They will guide the model in many decisions and help him or her build their book, navigate the modeling world, determine what looks and jobs suit them and connect them with other agencies around the world for representation.
Next, they should travel to Europe, especially Milan, London, and Paris, to shoot editorial and tests to build their portfolio. After they have built a strong enough book from jobs abroad and at home, they can head to New York, which is the mecca for modeling and where they can book the best clients and “money jobs.” Lastly, knowledge is power and knowing the industry is extremely important to becoming a successful model. I would also suggest that they study high fashion magazines to learn how to pose and familiarize themselves with the major photographers and models.
Do you have any new projects in the works?
Yes, I have two new projects. I play the lead role of Bardot alongside Anthony Anderson, Angela Kinsey, Donald Faison and Larry Miller In the Polish Brother’s film _Hot Bot _available now on Netflix, iTunes and Amazon. And I guest star alongside Rob Schneider in “Real Rob” Season Two, Episode Three, streaming now on Netflix.