Despite its obvious drawbacks, modeling is the perfect job to have while pursuing a career in the arts, says Sarah Ruba. They’re mutually beneficial. As a model, Sarah gets to be on camera, an experience that creates a spark in her. And anyway, Sarah doesn’t see herself as just a model or a musician, or even both; she’s a performer. “There is nothing more thrilling to me than performing,” she says. To her, modeling and singing are just different modes of performance.
Sarah is not just another pretty face. Modeling was never the goal; it just sort of happened, and it helps pay the bills. In fact, most of the modeling Sarah does is collaborative. “It usually features me as Sarah Ruba the musician, not just as a nameless model. It’s completely different! Modeling requires fitting into someone else’s mold, not expressing your own individuality. Being able to to that more and more after so many years of being a nameless model is a whole new world and very satisfying.”
It’s also satisfying for us — and refreshing — that Sarah isn’t just getting by on her very good looks. She knows what it means to put in time and effort to make her own career a reality. Hers is the quintessential story of a small-town girl who moved to the big city with big dreams, and, with some determination and a lot of hard work, made them a reality. Dropping out of music school at the tender age of 18, Sarah saved her pennies working in a can factory, moving from the “lovely little town” of Dundas, Ontario to the big city of Toronto. Her plan, or rather, what she refers to as her “lack of a plan,” was to become a singer. A scary proposition, especially when savings start to dwindle. But just when money started to run out, Sarah was scouted by NEXT Canada, one of the biggest modeling agencies in the country, whereupon she moved, yet again, this time to New York City, where she worked as a model, but without losing sight of her first love: music.
As a teenager, Sarah performed in big band jazz, a genre that has had a strong influence on her voice. Listening to a ton of Chet Baker and Jeff Buckley, as well as Sade, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield and arguably her biggest love, Prince, Sarah’s sound is a mix of R&B, pop and jazz, which she honed over the five years she spent with Canadian band New Look. “I’m about to launch a solo career in music for the first time since being part of a group. It’s scary and exciting, and is exactly the path I feel I should be on. I’m writing my own music and collaborating with different producers. Creatively it is super exciting! My debut album is in the baby stages, so my main focus for the next few months will be in studio with some heavy producers, followed closely I hope by a single and music video release! Exciting times! I’m also scoring and starring in a short film for W Magazine, which is a new avenue for me as well. Plus a zillion new creative shoots I’ve been doing! I’m on a huge creativity bender that I hope never ends.”
We can really appreciate a person like Sarah. Her story isn’t so much about luck as it is about hard work. We won’t pretend she doesn’t know she’s a super babe, but what makes her authentic is that she hasn’t thought of her good genetics as a free ride. She put in the work, always with a clear vision of what she wanted to create for herself. And she armed herself with not just a vision, but a plan for how to go and get it. It goes part in parcel with her advice to aspiring creatives like herself: “you bettah werk!”
Photos by Lara Kruzins