Loving parents and a strong family upbringing have encouraged Luka Raco to follow his dreams. As testament to the positive influence of his family, Luka’s dreams have led him to Bangkok, where he will represent Serbia at the Mister International contest, this weekend. “I can proudly say that I have amazing parents and we are a very loving family,’ Luka told Wild Rooster.
“Without their help and good will I couldn’t achieve anything. My father is the greatest man I know. He is a man who does everything for his family. He is the man I would like to become.”
Luka is an only child who lives at home with his parents, Rista and Radmila. Thoughts of them will be with Luka when he competes on Saturday night. “When I walk out at the final, I will think about my family, my friends and try to picture the look on their faces, their happiness for me. That will motivate me to do my best,’ he said.
Strong Serbian Family Bonds
“I do miss my parents and friends, but we talk everyday on Skype, so that makes it much better. It is very good to feel the support of people back home, writing to me on Facebook and emails.”
Luka, aged 21, has seen that to compete at this level does not come easily. While he maintains a high level of fitness, he wanted to go that bit further to prepare to stand up alongside nearly forty other young men from across the world. “Before I came to Thailand, I trained every day, went running, to the gym, bike riding, and all kinds of physical activity,’ he said. “I was careful about my food, what I ate, too. I had a nutritionist who gave me some advice.”
Unlike some contestants who competed in other well-known pageants before Mister International, this is a first for Luka, who is in his third year of study at the Belgrade Banking Academy. “I only started in modelling a few years ago,’ he said. “Because of my love of fashion, photography and style, I thought I might be good at it – and I have made a good job of it so far, so that is good.” Indeed, while competing at Mister International, Luka has won the award for being the Most Stylish Contestant.
Male Models in Serbia
Being a male model in Serbia has not come without its pressures, though, as Luka explained. “Yeah, of course it has. It is quite common for our people not to appreciate male modelling, because of our lack of perception. But every year male modelling is beginning to get bigger and much more famous with the younger crowd. It is good for the Balkan part to spread the male modelling. We have beautiful girls but we also have handsome men. We must show to the world all of our best.”
Even when Luka won his place to compete, it was not always a smooth ride. There was the challenge of sourcing the necessary funds and sponsorship to enable Luka to travel to Thailand for two weeks. “Yeah, I had a few sponsors that made my trip possible,’ he said. “It was quite a challenge. It was hard to find them but there are still good people around. Without them this would not be possible.”
“This has been an experience you get once in a lifetime,’ Luka said. “These are great guys. It really is the best time of my life. I really enjoyed doing a photo shoot for Thailand magazine,’ said Luka. “They choose six countries to take part in the photo shoot and I was very proud to be one of them. And, of course, it has been great to have some free time to visit local tourist attractions. And I have only been here ten days – I am going to stay ten more.”
Serbia, Slovenia & Macedonia Stand Together
True to form, the contestants have formed their own cliques of familiarity, with the guys from Serbia, Slovenia (shown together in photo) and Macedonia sticking close to each other. “I must say that I am the most friendly with people from the Balkans: You know how we are and our mentality,’ he said. “But I am also very good with the other contestants, like Bahamas, France, Indonesia, Philippines, and my roommate Singapore. I am very communicative and so I found a common language with all of the contestants.”
During his stay in Bangkok, Luka is sharing a room with the representative from Singapore, which has thrown up some surprising discoveries. “That is one of the greatest things,’ Luka said. “I have learned a lot from being here, mixing with other contestants. For example, I now know that in Singapore you cannot buy chewing gum. It is forbidden by law, because it is thought to be cleaner not to eat gum. They think that if you ate it you are going to throw it on the streets or some place and it will get dirty.”
Making the most of his warm personality, Luka had chance to share some basic knowledge about his country, Serbia. “Some of the contestants hadn’t even heard about Serbia,’ he said. “That surprised me a bit, but they had all heard about Yugoslavia, so when I explained it to them they understood. Balkan people are very religious so I hope that people can learn from us how to respect God and see the way that religion bring people together.”
To bear the flag of your country can be a daunting experience, as the eyes of a nation are on your back, said Luka: “It is a feeling I can’t describe. To be here representing Serbia is very amazing. I was so thrilled, so very excited, when I heard that I was through to Mister International.
“It is amazing to represent your country in any competition. The hopes from my country only encourage me to do the best I can. I hope that, when I return home, I will hear good compliments about my time here, so I can know that I done a great job representing my country. Even if I don’t win, I want to be the winner in the eyes of my country.”