Model Ellen Alexander may not be the typical advocate for a women-in-biotech movement: Supermodels have usually moved towards careers such as designers (Kate Moss for Topshop; Gigi Hadid for Tommy Hilfiger), wellness guru such as Gisele and Miranda Kerr or a nurse in the case of Lisa Davies, a former face of Marc Jacobs, after their days on the runway ended. Alexander is unique because she is preparing for her post-modelling career by becoming an entrepreneur now.
In one of her current projects, she is working on a special biotech project based in Russia with a friend who studied bioengineering at Harvard. This is an important project because right now, female chief executives account for just 10% of biotech’s top leaders. A BioPharma Drive analysis in 2019 of 180 leading biotech companies found that only 15 were led by women. The project is called “Create U Future,” that specializes in helping women have brilliant kids and she is also working on a tech project that is kind of an Airbnb for cars.
Never resting on her laurels, Alexander usually has many projects going at one time. Her inspirations for female entrepreneurs are her Instagram idols Gigi Hadid and Kylie Jenner, who she knew before they reached such popularity. They have enjoyed success in promoting their brands in social networks, with very modest start-up investments. Alexander’s projects include partnering with a Chinese company to sell products online and she also started a music company called GDP Music Group.
In another business venture, Alexander said that a friend created a tech company that is basically an Airbnb for cars, so she created a partner firm. “I see a future in technology,” she said and “I can never pass up on opportunities like these. Plus, most of my friends are in tech, so it’s the perfect scenario.”
As a model, Alexander has travelled the world in the past eight years and posed for covers of numerous magazines such as Shape
, Harper’s Bazaar Vietnam
, Maxim Belgium
and appeared on the pages of FHM
. She was also featured in Runway, Product and Fashion events and photoshoots. She has worked with top brands and photographers on both the east and west coasts. Alexander has had success in many different fields—film, television, theatre and modelling—not only in her native Russia, but also in the UK and now the U.S. Her education began at a young age: Alexander trained at the world-renowned Chekhov Moscow Arts theatre school where she developed her skills, becoming a recognizable figure in the Moscow arts world.
After relocating to the UK, she received positive reviews for her performance as Phoebe in “The Catcher in the Rye” at the Edinburgh Fringe festival. Alexander said that she became a world traveller at age 14.
“I was always independent and had my own money so I would fly to a shoot and then fly back five hours to return to Moscow.” After arriving in the U.S., she was hired as the lead role of Tatiana in the series “Gold Diggers.” Alexander is used to flying to many different countries for work, but she has been based in Los Angels since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alexander’s educational background is quite unique for a model. Alexander earned an M.B.A at Moscow’s Plekhanov Russian University of Economics where she majored in International Business and Law. She was an active participant in debates and other competitions. In fact, she was part of a project that looked into the possibility of presenting economic models to government officials. “I studied and applied structure and business plan writing,” Alexander explained that she also gained real-world experience while interning and working for businesses in Moscow.
As a result, Alexander was able to take this experience and education and “apply it to my work in the fashion industry: first in Russia, then in Europe and the U.S.”
From a young age, Alexander was exposed to science and engineering. Her mother has a Ph.D. in electrification of public transportation and is head of the department of Electrotechnics at Polytech University in Moscow. Her father works on a Russian space program that focuses on Mars. Currently, he is also writing a book about it.
Alexander’s grandfather was one of the leaders in the Russian space program and he worked with Sergei Korolev and Yuri Gagarin. Ellen’s grandfather also worked on the Cosmodrome and also on sending Soviet Union cosmonauts and the Moon shuttle to send animals to space. The Soviet Union and Russia launched monkeys between 1983 and 1996. During the 1950s and 1960s, the Soviet space program used a number of dogs for sub-orbital and orbital space flights. Two tortoises and a variety of insects were the first inhabitants of Earth to circle the Moon, on the 1968 Zond 5 mission.
Her parents always let her choose what she wanted to do, but they also desired for her to obtain the best education. They sent her to a school that specialized in physics and mathematics. “That’s how I developed my love of science and technology.” Her dream was to research the human body and find cures for untreatable diseases. “That has not happened yet, but who knows, maybe one day.”
Alexander also stresses that her parents and grandfather taught her to strive to do bigger things to “help humanity.” Her grandfather always aimed to accomplish major things and “not just to stay in a small bubble.”
Now, she is aiming for a major accomplishment by investing $X amount in the “Create U Future” project. The project has several goals and studies in place including one about the human genome and one about three-way parenting which allows parents with genetic issues to have children. This is a new technique called mitochondrial transfer that has recently emerged to prevent the transmission of a certain class of genetic disorders. This technique is controversial, as it combines DNA from three individual to generate a so-called “three-parent baby.” The project also wants to do research to help older parents have children.
Alexander explains that it is not a commercial project for now, but she and her friend are working on an educational portal and further research for now.
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