OK! continues its ongoing series of interviews with the lovely ladies of the hit NBC show Deal or No Deal with the gorgeous #10 herself, Anya Monzikova, who tells OK! all about the long and bumpy road from the steps of Russia to the stairs of Deal or No Deal.
"When I was 7-and-a-half, my mother and I moved from Russia to Florida," the 23-year-old beauty recalls. "I didn’t speak any English, so it was kind of like being thrown right into it. I was put into an ESL program at school and I got so freaked out because I couldn’t understand what anyone was saying and I started crying. They sent me to the principal’s office and I went home and didn’t return to school for six months."
However, this time away from school actually worked to Anya’s benefit, she explains: "I just stayed home watching TV and learning English by watching Sesame Street!"
Following high school, the 5’9" stunner did what every hopeful model and actress who dreams of Hollywood stardom does. "I packed my car to the top with everything I owned — you couldn’t see out of any of the windows! — and drove across country."
But unlike many who arrive in Tinseltown with nothing but hopes and dream, Anya actually had a solid gig lined up — or at least she thought she did. "I came out here to work on a pilot for a TV show," she explains to OK!. "It was kind of like Trading Spaces where we’d teach kids to make eco-friendly homes." But Anya quickly learned the harsh realities of life as a TV personality. "We worked on the pilot for six months, and then everything just fell through," she tells OK!. "I got kicked out of the house, literally. Everything was just gone within a second. I was left without a house and had to just kind of start from scratch."
The hardship wasn’t enough to discourage Anya from realizing her dream. "I started going to school, doing some theater in college, taking some film production classes," she explains. "And really just hitting the pavement and going to auditions, trying to get a job." And after a few years of looking for a break, along comes Howie Mandel. "Finally Deal or No Deal happened and my career’s just started taking off — it’s a blessing, really."
And now Anya, who admits that her jarring experiences during her early days in Hollywood has her keeping a keen eye on her finances, has her mind set on long-term goals. "Acting and working in the entertainment field is something I’ve just always known I wanted to do," Anya, who tells OK! she’d love to work with Woody Allen, recalls. "Whether I would be directing, producing, acting, or modeling — Hollywood’s a great town and there are so many opportunities. I just love making films and getting into a great character. I love what I do and definitely see myself doing this for quite a long time."
When it comes to talking about behind-the-scenes secrets of the show, Anya, who some the other girls have nicknamed the "Crazy Russian" says she can’t reveal the identity of the mysterious banker, but she does tell OK! that the man in the booth has his own secret entrance and that he is definitely talking to Howie on the phone during the show. " Everyone thinks there’s no one on the other line and Howie’s just making stuff up, that he’s pretending," she says. "But he’s actually there."
She also says she and some of the other girls, who have no idea which case holds the $1,000,000, have tried different methods of figuring out who’s holding those big amounts. "Sometimes I pick up the case and it feels heavier so I think, ‘I have a high amount this time, I know it!’" So does that ever work? "No… It’s really that I’m just weaker than I was the day before!"
For more of Anya, check out her Web site anyamonzikova.net and check out Deal or No Deal tonight at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.