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Worries of the Parent.

Evnika’s appearance was great! But how long will she be able to continue doing this?..

We are very happy to have caused such a surge of interest to us from the Kazakhstani media.Everybody wants to hear the whole story of how we ended up in Hollywood and appeared in the Little Big Shots show which was the first event to bring together the children with the most unique talents. As recently as a year ago, the Kazakhstani showed little interest in what we were doing and, according to the Youtube statistics, our nation was ranked ranked the 68th among the other countries in the world. We are very glad that today, based on the same Youtube statistics, we’re surpassed only by Russia and the US and hold the remarkable third place in the viewing ratings of our videos having edged ahead of Brazil, Poland, Germany, Japan, and even China where we are highly popular. This makes us very happy as we would very much like the child to feel the support of her nation, especially when Evnika faces very hard times. The Russians are another native and, I should say, dearly beloved nation, and they have always supported us, but here we’d like to emphasize the historical connection between us and the land itself, as well as the nation.

Evnika is doing all she can to become a little champion of our nation. She has had the honor to remind, by the virtue of her talent, the whole world about us and to introduce our culture to people. Many people must have heard already that even Mike Tyson is one of Evnika’s fans, while Ronda Rousey, the most popular mixed martial arts fighter in the world, has said that Evnika is “a revolution in sports” and added: “Evnika has shown us that a woman’s capabilities are limitless!” Just imagine that the will and the power of a Kazakhstani girl is appreciated by the whole world, and we all have contributed to this achievement that wouldn’t be possible without the deeds of our ancestors.

We are a nation of the steppes. Fighting instincts are in our blood. But we are also humble and tolerant, capable of mastering our power and channeling it in the right direction, which is partly demonstrated by Evnika. We have many powerful qualities and we must tell the world about them. If you keep silent about them, the world will never ever know they exist. In her turn, Evnika, as all our champions and eminent people, reveals “one” of the features of our national character, displays the spirit of the potential of our country, and, as far as I’m concerned, she’s doing an excellent job. At the age of eight she is successfully overcoming all the obstacles that she faces, and I would want that her native people remind her of her roots saying: “Hey, Evnika, we remember you and always support you no matter how far apart we may be. Be strong and never give up. You have our spirit, the spirit of the strong nomad”. Today I would like to show two sides of the same medal and say that tomorrow we might not be able to do what we have been doing so far.

And many of you, dear readers, may not have the chance to say these words of valediction to Evnika at the height of her success. Nothing of what Evnika is doing comes easy to her, and our last travel resulted in Evnika coming down with pneumonia. But, perhaps, I would like to start from the very beginning and tell about everything as it happened, how we received an invitation to America, the difficulties that we faced and how it happened that Evnika stayed ill for 60 days while continuing to appear in various events and eventually ended up in a hospital in a foreign country without her parents by her side.

The Beginning. Despite her illness, Evnika goes to the show that can’t be cancelled, you can only refuse to go. Evnika’s own sister, Selyavira Saadvakass always sees Evnika off before her journey.

За In the course of 60 days Evnika made 14 flights, having visited 5 countries.ах.

When the travelling was over, the kid ended up in a hospital diagnosed with pneumonia with a risk of severe complications, in a foreign country without her parents by her side.

Who’s talking, - Hollywood...? Are you sure you haven’t got the wrong number?!! It all began with an unexpected phone call. My sister Raigul Sadvakasova picked up the phone while I was sitting next to her, and, much to my surprise, Raigul started speaking English. The fact is that she can’t speak English, but it seems that she was so frightened that her survival instincts came to the surface and she recalled the entire school curriculum for English… It was fun. That was the first international phone call we had received and, sure enough, it made us stir stumps With great difficulty we could finally figure out that it was someone from Hollywood and they wanted something from us. And that was the outcome of our first conversation. Then the long and lengthy negotiations began. That’s how we came to know the wonderful Kat Erangey, Little Big Shots casting director at the CBS Studio, who worked with the legendary Steve Harvey and Ellen DeGeneres. The renowned Steve Harvey and the immaculate Ellen DeGeneres are two of the most famous TV hosts in the USA.

As the experts explained to me, “Evnika represents a powerful image, vivid and lasting. This small and strong boxer girl is like a comic strip or a cartoon character whose image sticks in the memory and creates a long-lasting impression due to the emotions associated with it. And the very fact that she is not fiction, but a real person, an eight year old kid, makes us (meaning the US audiences) admire her.

Kat Erangey told us that she had been working with child prodigies all her life and that Evnika was the most unique little girl she had ever seen. Of course, we all got inspired by these words and agreed to come without too much of thinking.However, it turned out that it was not such an easy thing to do. To begin with, we had to obtain a US visa, but Evnika had no foreign passport to do that. That was when I first discovered that a child could get a foreign passport: so much for my intelligence… How would I ever know that someone from another country might want us and the passport could become a problem. We had to get the passport as soon as possible. But as we live in a Russian city, Voronezh, first, we had to go to Pavlodar, which is over 3,000 kilometers away! In short, a long, time-consuming and expensive journey! We started to worry that we might not be able to make it, because the main problem was that we would be beaten by the clock: travel to Kazakhstan to get the passport, return travel, getting the visa, which takes, at least, 60 days, and only after that we could go to the USA.

We’ve met our match. I had to decide who of my children would get most of my time, Evnika, my fourth child, or my eighth “child” that is yet to be born – the SAAD`VAKASS company? On top of that, such a great loss of time would undermine my main business – manufacturing the Evnik simulators and the timely introduction of the long-awaited innovation to the market. You may remember that in one of my interviews I told about a cutting-edge simulator that I had invented and which Evnika uses in her training sessions.

My sister Raigul (pictured left), wife Aniya (next to her) and myself, Rustam, in the office of the SAADVAKASS start-up company designing the packing of the Evnik simulator.

In the end, we decided to use our own family resources to launch the production of the simulator without, so to say, too much time on our hands.. . And that’s where “we met our match”! The Evnik simulator and the SAAD`VAKASS company is our pet project, the eighth child in our family, that is yet “to be born”, trying to do so for quite a while, in fact. The nagging bureaucratic, financial and other challenges which an inventor faces in our country have been anything but helpful for the successful birth of the company no matter how promising its international growth might be. (This is a different story of how an unprecedented innovation that has fascinated the entire world of sports abroad, begat in Kazakhstan, can remain unnoticed for years in the country of its origin).

On the other hand, Evnika is a child that is already born, and quite a real one, with a promising future paved by her appearance in Little Big Shots. This show is unique in many ways: first, the new format of the show itself; second, this is the first time in history when two mega-popular TV hosts joined forces creating a virtual “explosion” in the US; third, as far as I gathered, the show is a co-production involving the four leading TV channels in America: CBS, ABC, NBC, and Fox! And, most importantly, this is the first time when all of the child prodigies from around the world have taken part in one TV show, and, incredible as it might be, we were included in that list!

We could not have missed such a chance now, could we?! Will they ever again invite us, the Kazakhstani, to the US?.. I couldn’t have deprived my family and my daughter of the joy of appearing in such a show, travel to the USA and the feeling what it’s like to be a little Hollywood star. I made the plans for the preparations to the show and postponed a number of important appointments and events. Children do not always fully understand what is going on, especially when fortune is smiling upon them. But we, as adults, understand that it cannot last and that it might be the only chance to show oneself to the whole world. In other words, I had to try to hit two goals with one try…

What happened to the company and the Evnik simulator? It, sure, was hard, but by today we have dealt with the major hurdles on our way and now we’re on the final straight. Soon, sportsmen of the whole world will be able to try this unprecedented innovation – the Evnik simulator that helped our Evnika pave her way to success. The Evnik simulator and Evnika are the best friends in training! This is friendship between a girl and an innovation, both of which equally help each other reach the top… Our entire family are inspired by this friendship. It’s an amazing relationship, and that’s why we named our simulator Evnik – after Evnika!

As a father, I was pleased to find out that someone was willing to pay around 20,000$ for the appearance of my daughter.

But the decision to go was only the first step towards the journey. Now we had to deal with the financial problems of the matter. All my funds and savings had been invested in the SAAD`VAKASS start-up company, we had sold two old and decrepit cars and everything we could to produce the first prototype Evnik simulators, I could not pay the expenses of the flight to Kazakhstan, obtaining of the passport and a visa. The US people are the nation that can relate to people’s problems and are serious about their intentions, they didn’t think twice before they said that they would pay all the bills and told us not to worry, but rather solve these problems as soon as possible. Incidentally, there was one invitation to a scientific program in France but when the producers counted the flight costs they refused to have us and found some boxers in their own country. But in this case everything was different, the Little Big Shots producers were serious about their plans. On the whole, to the best of my estimates, they spent around 20,000 US Dollars on us! – the flights, a hotel in downtown Hollywood, meals, interpreters’ services, visa, etc…

The financial issue settled, we came to Pavlodar and submitted the documents required for the passport application. We paid the expenses for the short notice and they made the passport in seven days. Now we had to get the visa. We decided to get one in the US embassy in Moscow, which is closer to Voronezh. The three trips we made to Moscow and back were quite an ordeal! As you can see, it took us three times to go there to obtain a flight clearance to go to the US. If we hadn’t had the permission for the third time, we wouldn’t have made it to the show in time. All in all, it took us 40 days to get the visa. It happened so that after each refusal we had to start the application process all over again which is by no means easy. It was in October, Evnika caught a cold in one of the hotels when we were in Moscow. That’s how her series of illnesses began. Before we were off to Los Angeles Evnika had nearly recovered, but the 12-hour plus flight with air conditioning working in the airplane made her cold again and toned down our arrival a bit.

Evnika stunned the American audiences.

Oh, the first feeling of flying above the ocean, the first moments in the US will linger in our memory for a long time. Now we were in Hollywood, we were staying in the Universal Studios Hollywood Hotels while the shooting took place in a CBS studio. The first day of the shooting, we are in the studio, in the heart of show-business in the “workshop” where the stars are created and lit up and many a people’s dreams become reality. The whole story of everything we saw would take a long time to tell. Whoever has seen the extracts from the show must have had the idea of the grandeur and the emotions that those walls witnessed right from the beginning of our staying there and until the very end.

We were in a whirlwind of emotions. Everyone was very nice to us, and we would like to thank everybody for that.

The only thing that clouded our trip was the fact that Evnika did't recover from her illness. Los Angeles is full of air conditioning: it is in each store, café; each place that has a door welcomes you with a draft of cold air, and, as you know, it does take some getting used to. It was very cold indeed in the studio, even the Americans who are used to this were freezing… We were wearing jackets and sweaters, and when it was shooting time we would undress and Evnika had only a sleeveless shirt and a skirt. When the last day of the shooting came, we got up at 6 a.m. as usual to be at the studio by 8 o’clock. Photo sessions, fittings, rehearsals all day long, the actual shooting began only at 16.00. I was afraid it would be a disaster, because it cost Evnika great physical effort despite the cold temperature, overall fatigue and illness.

On the other hand, Mr. Steve Harvey’s working schedule is planned down to the last minute, and everything had to be done in one take and without mistakes – no one was going over the shooting routine again. But Evnika surpassed her own self, did everything perfectly and flawlessly, and beat her own punching bag speed record! I wouldn’t have thought she would have done half of what she did that day. Evnika showed the stuff she’s made of, because in that situation there was little I could do to help her. The people in the studio were moved to tears, imagine how emotional the whole thing was… Later, after the shooting was over, they kept hugging and congratulating us which seemed like a long time as we walked down the endless corridors of the studio.

A vast, 3 meter tall shadow of Evnika gives courage and a sense of being protected.

Back into action – round 12… Now, when the final day of shooting was over, it was time for us to leave. We are asked to stay for 4 more days. As it turned out, the producers had found out that during our stay in America we never had the chance to go to Walt Disney. It was very nice of them to do that. But unfortunately, we had to decline the offer with thanks. The fact was that we were not going home from Los Angeles, but, rather, to Kiev where the shooting of a fantasy movie was about to get under way, for which an outstanding contemporary director, maitre Olias Barco had kindly invited Evnika to appear as one of the main heroines of his feature film Polina."

This picture was taken in a Viking village, myself with maitre Olias Barco (award winner of the International Odessa Film Festival, winner of the Grand Prix of the Rome Film Festival for the motion picture Kill Me, Please, award winner of the Cannes International Film Fetsival (the International Critics’ Week prize for his short film Poubelles) with one of the most famous people in the world behind us, Vasyl Virastyuk, multiple champion of the strongman competitions.

The film was made in the English language, it is due to be released later this year. Don’t miss it, Evnika stars as herself – a reckless boxer girl.So we leave Los Angeles and head to the equally spectacular city of Kiev.

Pictured left in a green jersey is Thierry Arbogast and his assistant, pictured right is Evnika’s assistant, helping Evnika and keeping her warm between the takes..

In Kiev Evnika had good fortune of working on the same stage with equally distinguished professionals, such as Thierry Arbogast, a French director of photography known for his frequent recent collaborations with Luc Besson (director of: Leon, The Professional, The Fifth Element, Nikita, Lucy, and others), as well as Vasyl Virastyuk, Virginie Ledoyen, Saul Rubinek, Denis Ivanov, Olena Prilipko, Aleksandra Kravchenko and many other interesting and truly outstanding persons. Well, what can I say, Evnika and me were fascinated by Kiev. The Kievans are wonderful people. But in spite of all the warmth of the human touch, November is not a very sunny month, and the last days of the shooting occurred in the open air in the “Viking village” under pouring rain. Evnika was ill all the time.

Here you can see Vasyl Virastyuk as Goliath and Evnika as a fantastic boxer girl who ended up in a magic world of the Vikings. These two characters first fought against each other as rivals but eventually came to be best friends!Evnika and Goliath having rest between the takes in the Viking village.

As I was away from home all the time, a lot of urgent issues had accumulated in Russia, and I was forced to leave Evnika in Ukraine with my sister Raigul, who came to Kiev to replace me. And within a few days me and my wife Aniya receive the news that Evnika has been put in a hospital with pneumonia. In moments like these the worst thing is to be separated from your child..

We were lucky in that Denis Ivanov, producer of Polina turned out to be such a man of care and determination. He immediately stopped the shooting and put Evnika in the best hospital. But even in such condition we had to bother the child not letting Evnika lay and rest and recover because now we had to go home. Denis and his wonderful family didn’t want us to leave as fast as that, they asked us to stay, be their guest and complete the treatment in the hospital. But we had to politely refuse because our travels were not over yet… Evnika had to recover in the shortest period of time to get back in action, as we, boxers, say among ourselves: Pull yourself together, you got round 12 ahead”…

What should we do next?..

I think, by now you understand what my parental worries are about. Should Evnika go on with this survival marathon? Why do we move forward? What do I say to Evnika when she’s in trouble, when she’s ill and I am forced to leave her alone in the hospital in a foreign country? I’m totally at a loss: on the one hand, I’m fully aware of all the future prospects for my child, on the other hand, I understand that such a lifestyle is taking its toll. For an eight year old kid, constant travelling, shooting and training is neither entertainment nor adventure, but hard work and psychological pressure. And if any of you, dear readers, have any advice for me, I’d be happy to listen. An outside view may be more conducive to getting a better idea of what we should do and which path to choose.

We can only guess what children face in pursuit of fame. I assure you, every parent knows what the risks and consequences are, and yet it remains unclear what we lose and what we get in the end. Rejecting the life of a “star” does not mean the risks will disappear, nor accepting it is a guarantee of happiness. I haven’t got a clue what to do…

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