By Jim Ruland
Joanna Krupa isn't a household name in the U.S., yet. That's about to change.
If this Eastern European supermodel looks familiar, perhaps you've seen her curves on the covers of national magazines or watched her compete on Dancing with the Stars.
She has also appeared on high-profile ad campaigns for PETA for the past seven years, supporting the animal rights charity since watching an undercover video of animals being skinned alive at fur farms in China.
"I was traumatized," Krupa says. "Even though I never wore fur, I had to do something to raise awareness and stand up for these defenseless animals and fight for them."
The result has been a series of memorable anti-fur and pro-pet-adoption campaigns, one of which showed a nude Krupa obscuring her private parts with a crucifix in the shape of a sword.
"Without shock value, no one will listen," she says. "I don't worry what people think. I am here to save animals and be a voice for the voiceless. I will do whatever it takes to have my voice heard."
When she was five years old, Krupa emigrated from Poland to Chicago with her mother, who had just $200 in her pocket at the time.
"If you're a strong person, you can overcome any obstacles. She was my role model growing up."
It was her mother who encouraged Krupa to move to Los Angeles to pursue her dream of becoming a professional model. Now, Krupa is a role model back in her homeland, where she's the host of Poland's Next Top Model, a reality show inspired by Tyra Banks' America's Next Top Model.
It reminds me of myself when I was younger and had the dream of growing up to be a model. You can see the hunger in their eyes, and it's so inspiring. They're so beautiful, but they don't have the egos or the attitude that girls here in America do."
Just as Poland's Next Top Model has provided opportunities for undiscovered models abroad, Krupa hopes it will open doors for her here in the United States.
"I would love to pursue more hosting in America and follow the footsteps of Tyra and Heidi Klum , and transition from model to TV host and businesswoman."
Now, Krupa is rumored to be a cast member of the upcoming Real Housewives of Miami."The opportunities are endless, but I'm trying to be very realistic about everything. Nothing happens in a snap. You have to work really hard at everything."
Such gumption must benefit not only Krupa's career, but also the animals she champions.
"You can't beat Eastern European women," she says.