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Woman of Substance: Joanna Krupa, Advocate for Animals

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 Krupa’s goal is to create a therapy sanctuary that can pair children with animals for love, comfort, and inspiration.

Joanna Krupa is a modern-day Brigitte Bardot: frolicking in the American Riviera, working tirelessly for the animals and looking damn sexy while doing it. The Warsaw-born beauty is known as one of the world’s hottest women. She’s repeatedly graced the covers of Playboy and Maxim as a subject for men to admire and on Shape and Fitness as a subject for women to aspire to. But despite being on a global pedestal, Krupa is one of the most down-to-earth subjects around. Following her recent fairy-tale wedding to long-time on and off-again love, Mynt owner Romain Zago, Krupa is utterly at ease even as the 3rd season of Real Housewives of Miami kicks off on Bravo! this month. Krupa worked for years as a lingerie and swimwear model and is now, between Poland’s Next Top Model and Dancing with the Stars, a reality television veteran. She understands the game.

“The reason to do these TV shows is as a platform. It allows me to focus on things I’m passionate about and share [them] with my followers,” says Krupa of her experience. One of those things is Angels for Animals, an animal-rescue organization she started after years of working with PETA.

The operation is small but growing with the help of Krupa’s partner Gabriela Gutierrez. Angles for Animals assists hard-luck specimens in bad situations or on death row, including those with deformities and illnesses. “We’re really in need of foster homes right now,” says Krupa who encourages donors to give food, blankets, and money – and offer foster or permanent homes.

Angels takes on hard cases, like a puppy with a cleft palate, and non traditional pets like goats, pigs, and bunnies. Krupa’s goal is to create a therapy sanctuary that can pair children with animals for love, comfort, and inspiration. “We recued a dog that went through a fire, got badly burned and he had cancer. He can be an inspiration to children who have been burned or are sick.”

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She has already made headway in her native country of Poland where, when she arrived in 2010 to do Poland’s Next Top Model, she was surprised to discover that so many people were uneducated about spaying and neutering their pets. “They would say ‘You want us to cut off their balls?’ and I say, ‘Yeah!’ I’ve already seen an improvement over there in awareness now.”

Krupa, unlike many who have come before her, has managed to avoid the pitfalls of reality shows. “A lot of people warned me it might ruin my relationship with Romain,” says Krupa who did spilt from Zago for a period in 2012. “The crazy part is, I think it had the opposite affect. It saved our relationship.” Seeing themselves on the small screen was an eye-opener, she says. “It was a wake up call to stop taking each other for granted.”

Not much has changed for the newlyweds since the wedding, but Krupa says “We both feel more at ease. We’re more calm. I never thought we really needed that piece of paper, but it proves to you that you can commit.”

And now the honeymoon is over and it’s back to the grind for Krupa, who is constantly busy with photo shoots, interviews and appearances. “It can be a great way to build a brand,” says Krupa of reality television. And she is using it to launch the Joanna Krupa Swimwear Collection, a workout DVD, and a skincare line called “Cellogica,” which are all coming out soon.

“it saved our relationship,” says krupa of the real housewives of miami.

The Real Housewives comes with a dose of drama. Krupa has slugged her way through shifting alliances and even suffered a slap from Adriana DeMoura. “It’s hard being in a crowd of vicious women, [which is] how I felt last season,” which is not surprising considering she suffered a slap at the hand of fellow PETA spokesperson Adriana De Moura. “Some girls were just ready to do battle with me and make it a competition instead of supporting each other and empowering women. Someone is always trying to hurt the other person, which is really sad.”

De Moura continues to be the biggest source of conflict for Krupa on the show. The latest drama is the war of the weddings and the revelation that De Moura has been married. “She acted like a struggling single mother. Lea was setting her up on dates with successful men and here she is married to a guy that she’s obviously living with. It’s like being pregnant, you are or you are not. There is no in between.”

And this coming season? “Adriana and I continue our battle and I try to overcome all the hurtful things she did last season.”

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New York February / March 2014
New York February / March 2014