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Olga Kurylenko, a Ukrainian-born actress and model, went from sharing a cramped flat with her aunt, uncle, grandparents and cousin to starring as a Bond girl opposite Daniel Craig.
She was born Olga Konstantinovna Kurylenko on November 14, 1979, in Berdyansk, Ukraine, Soviet Union. Her mother, Marina Alyabysheva, divorced her father, Konstantin Kurylenko, soon after her birth. After the divorce her mother struggled to survive as an art teacher. Young Olga was brought up by her mother and her grandmother, Raisa. During her youth Olga had the humbling experience of living in poverty; she had no choice but to wear rags and had to darn the holes on her sweater. During her years in Ukraine she studied art and languages and spent seven years studying piano at a local school of music in Berdyansk. She also went to a ballet studio until 13.
At age 13 Olga and her mother made a trip to Moscow. There she was spotted by an agent, who approached her at a subway station and offered her a job as a model. Initially Olga's mother was suspicious, but she checked the agent's credentials and eventually allowed Olga to accept training as a model in Moscow, which turned out to be a good career choice.
By age 16 she was ready for the next step. She moved to Paris, learned French in six months and was signed by the Madison agency. At age 18 she appeared on the cover of Glamour, and in short order graced the covers of Elle, Madame Figaro, Marie Claire, and Vogue. She also became the face of Lejaby lingerie, Bebe clothing, Clarins and Helena Rubinstein cosmetic companies.
In 1999 Olga married French photographer Cedric Van Mol, but divorced him 3-1/2 years later. One day Olga presented herself to an acting agency. Eventually she swapped the catwalk for the movie screen, and her acting career took off. In 2005 she made her film debut as "Iris", a sensual beauty, in The Ring Finger (2005), by director Diane Bertrand.