Subscriber Spotlight: “Being Anya”

Anya Barkin wearing Giorgio Armani and Elsa Peretti
Photo by Dorothy Shi

Reinvention is the name of the game, but clearly, not everyone finds their true calling and hits their stride when they are in their 60’s. Actress/model Anya Barkin (subscriber to Lookonline since 2020) has led a fascinating life, and she is just getting started. The brainy, beautiful Boston born New Yorker began taking acting classes at Stella Adler in 2013 and Peoples Improv from 2013 – 2015. Traces of her Bostonian accent linger, as I found out during several phone conversations.

Anya adores being spontaneous; improvisation is her passion. “I love that every time I have gone for an audition or casting call where improv was involved, I always got the job,” observes Anya, who appeared in Woody Allen’s 2016 movie, “Café Society.”

Anya Barkin wearing Norma Kamali
Photo by Leslie Hassler

She started out wanting to be a dancer. In the late ’60s, Anya went for computer-based training to earn a living and worked as a programmer at Harvard (she shared a computer room with NASA) and took courses there. In the early 70’s Anya was dancing with two companies in Boston and doing dinner theatre while continuing her work.

Ms. Barkin eventually became a programmer for a financial firm in Boston while also dancing professionally. She wanted to travel internationally and landed a job as an international marketing support manager for a company that sold disc systems (a precursor to PC’s). By 1979, she was ensconced in an office in Paris which overlooked the Seine River.

Anya Barkin
Photo: Leslie Hassler

Anya eventually left the company and moved to NYC, “the city of her dreams.” She began working as a programmer at Merrill Lynch and then went to Citigroup as a VP in portfolio management. Anya was able to retire at the age of 60. Because of all those years doing ballet, she needed a hip replacement. In the 90’s Anya took up yoga.

Photo: Catherine Gibbons

Anya’s yoga girlfriend, Debbie Roberts, is a successful “mature” model. She started out as a Wilhelmina model, then later went to Ford. Ms. Roberts encouraged Anya to follow her lead. Debbie also encouraged Anya to go gray naturally. Anya says her hair was always red growing up. When it started getting a little white, she colored it whitish blonde but was ultimately convinced to let her hair grow out “white white like Carmen,” whom she always admired.

Photo: John-Francis Bourke

“I was never going back,” says Anya, and will never take jobs when asked to color her hair. She says that L’Oréal wants you to dye your hair if you are semi gray. She knows women who have done that, and they are so sorry because it ruins their hair. White or silver is the only way Anya will go.

Photo by Dorothy Shi

Anya’s look is strikingly similar to that of the supermodel Carmen Dell’Orefice. Anya actually met Carmen about 4 years ago when she was hailing a cab in NYC. She was struck by her beauty, elegant mannerisms, and gorgeous hands. Anya does not want to be Carmen. She strives to be the best version of herself, but she is aware that her “look’ is in the mode of Carmen. Anya is often hired for jobs seeking a Carmen lookalike (portraying a patrician Upper East Side society lady or philanthropist).

“I don’t want to be Carmen. I want to be the best version of myself that I can be”- Anya Barkin.

Anya is represented by Charlie Winfield at FFT (FunnyFace Today Inc.) & Lauren Green Model Agency. Because of her age (65+), Anya’s agents often send her on jobs for drug companies such as Shingrix (which she calls a “must”). She has also done print and tv commercials for Shiseido Ultimune and 3 Bloomberg Business magazine ads: beauty, masks, watches, and sweaters. When I asked which was the best job she ever had, Anya quickly responded, “SIO Beauty” (www.siobeauty.com)

Anya Barkin as the face of SIO Beauty
Photo: Alana Slutsky

For two years, Anya was hired as the face of SIO Beauty face patches. Those ads are still running. I asked if the medical-grade patches, which are said to minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles in just hours, actually work. Anya says she is a fan of their products.

Town & Country Magazine December 2015
Photo: Christian Ferretti

Another favorite job was a print ad for Town & Country Magazine in 2015. Only her hands showed, but she was wearing incredible jewels from Harry Winston, Chopard, and Graf. Anya portrayed the grandma retrieving jewels from her grandchildren, who had taken them out of her jewelry box. Anya admits that she has long fingers, and her hands are used in most of her jobs.

One rather exciting booking is Anya hired to appear in a commercial, “Behind Closed Doors at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas.” They dressed her in “funky” clothing, wanting her to look like a “Cougar.” She was blindfolded with a much younger man. Anya says it was memorable, fun, and sexy. “Being the older woman can have its perks, blindfolded or otherwise,” she opines.

Anya and husband George Lavenia

Anya resides on the Upper East Side with her husband, George Lavenia. George is a nutritional consultant, financial planner, and author (“What You Think is What You Get”). George has dedicated himself to fostering self-reliance in others and enriching the quality of life on the planet.

She created George’s website, earthfoundation.org. Anya describes her husband of 26 years as a “jack of all trades” who does everything exceptionally well. Anya credits George with teaching her how to be her own best financial advisor. Anya loves fashion, but she spends wisely.

Photo by Dorothy Shi

Anya lives in black. She describes her look as classic, and elegant. There are a few designers she has worn for many years. They include Norma Kamali since the ’80s, and she gravitates to Ralph Lauren’s sweaters and blazers. Jeans by Citizens for Humanity and JBrand are perfection.

Headshot by Dorothy Shi

But she will wear a blue shirt and white pants when they want an older woman who can be “relatable.” Anya joked that she happily never gets those jobs that call for a “relatable, overweight, mid-American” woman.

Although Anya is now living in sweatpants and Yoga pants, she looks to Giorgio Armani when she needs something classic, tailored, and elegant and when casting calls for a “business CEO look.” She also loves hats and owns many by Kokin, Eric Javits, and Ralph Lauren.

She splurged on a Bottega Veneta bag. She bought it when the pandemic hit, and she wanted to treat herself. It’s the “America Gigolo” clutch bag that Lauren Hutton carried in the 1980 movie. She does not plan to use it right now because she doesn’t see herself carrying it just to go grocery shopping.

I replied that she does not need a reason or special occasion and should enjoy it! See more of Anya on her Instagram at anyainnyc .

Marilyn Kirschner
Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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