Behind the Cameras 5

From Modeling to Acting 
to Producing Shows,
local fashionista 
Elena Russo does it all

What started out as trying to model in her teens ended up in a myriad of roles from television spokesperson to show producer to runway and print model.

Elena Russo’s introduction to Baltimore was working as a freelance TV stage manager and attending grad school at Towson University. Home base was Federal Hill while continuing her modeling career. Amtrak’s close proximity made for an easier commute to NYC to her tiny one bedroom apartment on the Upper West Side.

As most things do, one thing led to another. Casting a wide net into the television world, she began reporting traffic in Philadelphia for an NBC affiliate, then into hosting and producing sports and government affairs programs for Comcast. Fast-forward several years and her resumé still boasts the fact that she does it all and loves every minute of it. 

Where did you grow up?

School years were split in two as a kid, growing up in both a suburb of D.C. and in Key West. I am a product of an all-girls Catholic high school and Maryland colleges. I moved to Baltimore city to attend graduate school at Towson University, where I continued on as an adjunct ever since.

How did you get interested in fashion? 

Like many young girls, it was my mom who wanted me to model. During our first trip to see the head of a very reputable agency, she told us that in order to work I would need chin implants. Of course, that never happened. What did happen was that I proved that agency wrong. From then on, it was game on! Today, that same agency has represented me for more than 30 years, booking runway shows, national ad campaigns and magazine covers. From New York to Milan, it’s been a wild ride working for so many of fashion’s most iconic design houses. Now, I get to choose clothes for the models.

Most treasured item?

If I had to take something with me and leave everything else behind, it would have to be my photographs, including my “Big Loud Screaming Blonde,” a gift from renowned Charles Schulz protégé and artist Tom Everhart. From family to travel to every modeling job, I could fill a sea container with photos. Look, you only go around once. How else will you remember all the great people and experiences?

WHAT IS THE QUESTION YOU ARE ASKED MOST OFTEN ABOUT YOUR CAREER?

“Hey, are you the Katz Insurance girl?” That commercial will never die. It’s kinda like fashion repeating itself—pure vintage.

What quality do you admire most in other people? 

Beyond integrity, respect and all those traits the world should embody? I enjoy people who enjoy life and laughter. This is precisely why I love to dress up in costumes no matter what time of year–if there is a reason, of course. There is always a time to be serious, but really, let’s take as much time to laugh!

How have you managed to wear so many hats? 

Modeling provided a great stepping stone for working in other areas. Oh, that sea container? It’s filled with videos too! Producing outrageously fun shows with the Baltimore Orioles and then a golf show to television commercials and live events. Albeit it’s not Hollywood, but I look back and just smile at how blessed I’ve been to work in some aspects of the entertainment industry. Now I get to mentor young people who want to learn the business and provide opportunity for photogs and other artists to work on fashion editorials like the one we did for this issue of Towson Lifestyle. Believe it or not, there is fashion here!