As far as we can tell, tall, bright-eyed blonde Irena Medavoy has it all. Stunning good looks, a loving super-producer hubby, a beautiful home, jetset lifestyle and the heart to support her favorite charities. But as our STEPHEN CHRISTOPHER discovers, her best virtue might be what her friends love most about her—that prodigiously zany sense of humor.
Socialites generally aren’t the sorts to bust an interpretive dance move for our camera. So at our photoshoot when philanthropist Irena Medavoy starts gyrating—arms darting dramatically upward—all the while spinning on her heels and making hysterical Zoolander-like expressions—we relish her crazy antics, and can’t help but fall in love.
Even off-camera, Irena’s not-afraid-to-be-silly realness pulverizes any pretentiousness as she shouts self-deprecating lines that have us all rolling. “Shall we lose the Spanx? Yes! Yes! Let’s lose the Spanx!”
Her friends, like Dr. Cheryl Saban, agree: “Irena is one of the funniest, most spontaneous people I know. Hands down, she is a fiercely loyal friend—a devoted and adoring mother and wife, and honestly, an angel in our midst. I adore her!”
Irena’s an equally funny story-teller, like this one about her first crush: “Mine was Paul McCartney from the Beatles. I freaken’ just loved Paul McCartney. In my home-ec class I made a Paul McCartney doll with his face from Teen Beat magazine plastered on it. I slept with this doll until my mom finally got rid of it, because she thought it was so pathetic. Fast-forward to one night my husband Mike and I are at Mr. Chow’s having dinner after a Paul McCartney concert when guess who walks in the door! Paul…McCartney! Now you have to understand, everyone comes to our house, and I never care. I admire them, but I’m not swooning. So here’s Paul and he walks right up to our table and my husband introduces me to him as his wife, and I shout, ‘Paul, you’re the first man I ever slept with!’ And everybody at the table is shocked and goes ‘What? What?’ Mike says, ‘What?’ Paul must have thought I was a groupie from his past. So I try to explain to him, ‘No, no! There was this doll!’ He looks confused and embarrassed and I’m embarrassed. ‘No! No! There was a doll.’ The next time I ran into Paul, he laughed and joked, ‘Oh, yeah, you’re the only one I didn’t sleep with.’”
Of her early dating life, Irena laughs, “Oh, no, are you kidding me? I never dated—I married everybody. I’ve been married four times. I’m the Elizabeth Taylor of this generation. In my 20s I married just because I thought that’s what you did. I thought if he asked, you said yes. But in my 30s, 40s, and 50s, I’ve been married to Mike.”
Hubby is movie producer Mike Medavoy, who, with over 318 titles under his belt, has touched most of the best American films of the past 40 years. Gems like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Rocky, Annie Hall, Apocalypse Now, Raging Bull, Network, Amadeus, Dances with Wolves, Silence of the Lambs, Black Swan—you get the picture.
The couple have one son together, Nick, 17, who stands 6-foot-8. Irena recalls the day he was born like it was yesterday, “Mike cut the cord, and with baby Nick in his arms, danced and sang “Singin’ in the Rain.” It was a poignant moment because my mother was dying in our house just as my son was born—a juxtaposition of the frailty of life and birth. It was the most amazing moment. My son is just…I have no words. The only thing I ever wanted in life was to be a mom. I only wanted to be a mom.”
The Los Angeles–born beauty twirls on the heels of her Stuart Weitzman 50/50 high boots, “I love these boots—they’re like sexy Uggs!” she exclaims, “I wear them with everything.” By everything, she means everything. Her closet is a showcase of Dolce & Gabanna, YSL, Ralph Lauren, Chanel, and, of course, Louis Vuitton. “I love LV—always have, always will. I just got two of the light roll-on bags for Christmas.”
The luggage came just in time. She’s on her way to Paris for the Chanel and Dior Fall/15 couture shows with fashionable friend Florence Azria. While there, they’ll be hitting the exclusive party of a other BFF, Tania Fares.
Born Irena Gerasimenko, she grew up in Hollywood, attended Hollywood High, and her first gig was, naturally, at the Hollywood Reporter. Irena was inspired by her mentor, publisher Tichi Wilkerson Miles (who later wed Arthur Kassel). A full-ride scholarship took her to USC, but after two years, she left for Sunn Classic Pictures’ PR department. After that, a successful modeling
career, some acting roles and then work on QVC.
It’s been ten years since Irena was at the center of the Beverly Hills Botox case that started with “the most regrettable decision of my life: to allow Botox to be injected in the back of my neck, spine, and all over my head to cure my migraine headaches.” It led to her trial against Allergan, where she alleged that she’d been seriously and life-alteringly harmed by the spread of the formula throughout her body. While she didn’t succeed at trial, the FDA has since “approved the following revisions to the prescribing information of Botox Cosmetic: A Boxed Warning highlighting the possibility of experiencing potentially life-threatening distant spread of toxin effect from the injection site after local injection.”
Irena’s passion lies with her charity efforts—especially those involving children. She was the founder of Team Safe-T and a charity executive and fundraiser for the Industry Task Force. She was the co-chair of Coach for Kids at Cedars-Sinai, and she works with Georgie Smith on a charity that provides a home for foster kids who age-out at 18, A Sense of Home (asenseofhome.org).
It’s only natural that the blonde beauty, who looks twenty-years younger, would get into the skincare game. Along with pals Mareva Georges, Nicole Avant, Laura Dern and Sybil Robson Orr, she’s launching a special Tahitian-formula product. “Going back into business is exciting—especially with these wonderful partners.” If the secret coconut oil concoction has anything to do with Irena’s youthful appearance, she’s on the right track.