"I never aspired to be a model."

The lovely Syune Arakelyan interviewed me recently for the Armenian News.Am STYLE


"I never aspired to be a model." Kojii Helnwein On Her Career and Participation in Project Runway

CLICK HERE FOR ORIGINAL ARTICLE by Syune Arakelyan January 30, 13:02

The fans of fashion industry have discovered the beautiful model Kojii Helnwein mostly due to the famous TV shows Project Runway and Models Of The Runway.

Kojii was mostly paired with the designer Logan Neitzel. Although she didn’t win the project, she became the model who has admired and inspired a lot of young girls in front of TV.

NEWS.am STYLE has a big surprise for all the fans of Kojii. We did a very interesting interview with her the details of which are presented below:

-Kojii, you were born in the family of a musician. Music has occupied the most part of your childhood I guess… How did you take to modeling?

-My Dad is a musician/songwriter and toured the world with his band for much of my childhood while my Mum, a holistic healer cultivated our interest in the arts from home.

I was 10 years old when I started playing the guitar but I was writing songs with my Dad since I was 4. By the time I was 13, I had formed a band and we performed in venues around Ireland.

I started modeling later than most. I was 20 years old when a friend secretly sent my photos to the top modeling agency in Ireland. The day after I met that agent, I was on the runway for a top Irish Designer (John Rocha), where I met a lot of people in the fashion industry. After that show I was booked solid for the following year so I never really had time to decide if I wanted to become a model or not.

Kojii Helnwein by Brendan Morrissey

Kojii Helnwein by Brendan Morrissey

-You're singing, acting, modeling. Which of these activities is closer to you?

-I am a musician at heart. I feel it is what I was born to do but I love acting. I find it invigorating to step into another person's shoes and experience life as them.

I have never considered myself a model. I approached modeling as a day job, much like one might work in a cafe. It paid the bills and I got to meet and work with a lot of amazing people. I never aspired to be a model but I enjoyed every moment of it.

-Speak about your participation in Project Runway. How that happened?

-We shot that season of Project Runway 10 years ago when I was living in Los Angeles. I had never heard of the show at that time. When I was offered the job I turned it down as I was planning to return to Ireland to see family.

After a few days of talks I was finally convinced to take the job. I had no clue what I was getting myself into and the other girls had to explain each step of the show to me for the first week. I was so engrossed in music and uninterested in the modeling world. To be honest, I didn't even know who Heidi Klum was as I didn't watch TV or read fashion magazines.

Kojii Helnwein by Brendan Morrissey

Kojii Helnwein by Brendan Morrissey

-For TV viewers this project is fun. I wonder, what emotions do the participating models and designers experience during the show?

-I can’t speak for everyone else involved. 10 years have passed but I do recall people missing their families, feeling exhausted by VERY long days of filming. Some days we were woken at 6am with a cameraman standing over our bed and the same night you may still be awake filming at 1 or 2am. It was exhausting so people were very sensitive. I recall many of us falling ill with a terrible flu and working through it as best we could. I took everything lightly but some people took the entire situation very seriously.

-You were mostly paired with the designer Logan Neitzel. Have you worked together after the show?

-No. Unfortunately I haven’t seen Logan since the premiere of the show as we live 1000’s of miles apart.

-You're a Mom and a model. Is it easy to combine Motherhood with modeling?

-It is no easier or more difficult than being a Mom with any job. Every working Mom has a lot to juggle. The struggle between wanting to be home with your babies 24/7, managing a home and the need to work can be tough on everyone. Some days are easier than others but I am fortunate to have a very loving and supportive family who help when needed. It requires a huge amount of planning and patience.

Kojii Helnwein by Lily Flores

Kojii Helnwein by Lily Flores

-It is said that kids usually take after their parents. Do you imagine your daughters being models? As a model, would you advise them to take this profession?

-My kids have all done a small amount of modeling. They are often offered modeling work but I let them decide for themselves and usually they turn it down. It doesn't interest them unless it’s a fun shoot with the whole family or for an artist they know well.

In saying that, they are very talented and beautiful children and take to modeling naturally but I don’t wish for them to enter the world of fashion.

I prefer that they don’t have their attention on their physical looks; I teach them that their creativity and intelligence is more important. My eldest daughter is 10 years old and has started her first business. She sells plush toys that she makes from recycled materials to people all over the world via her website www.croitures.com. My youngest daughter loves to compose songs and dance and our son aspires to build things with wood, play drums and sports.

Kojii Helnwein by Reid Rolls

Kojii Helnwein by Reid Rolls

-It is known, that models usually have a lot of difficulties…

-I had a very positive experience when I modeled and I think this is because it wasn’t my dream job. If I did not book a modeling job, I was still happy as I had my art, my acting and my music. Modeling was just the day job that paid the bills. My world, my happiness and confidence were not invested in wanting to be a famous or successful model.

Any success I had with modeling was a fruitful bonus in my eyes.

-What do you work at in this moment?

Currently I am working as an actress in Europe. I have a couple of movies in film festivals around the world and recently had the happy surprise of winning a Best Actress Award at a film festival in Canada.

-Your advice to all the beginning models.

Be yourself, stay in school. Go to college and hone your other talents and interests. Your personality, intelligence, integrity and creativity will be far more distinguishing qualities than appearance alone. Also, be interestED in the people around you rather than trying to be “interestING”.

-Kojii, did you know anything about Armenia before we did this interview?

-Yes. I have met some lovely people from Armenia throughout my career.

 

Syune Arakelyan

 

Photographers: Brendan Morrissey, Reid Rolls and Lily Flores

Radha Review

A million "Thank You's" to Joseph Perry over at Gruesome Magazine for the very kind review of "Radha".

 

“Radha” (2016): Poetic Horror Short Offers Otherworldly Uneasiness

 ORIGINAL ARTICLE HERE January 28, 2017Joseph Perry

Irish supernatural short Radha is a meditative piece dealing with grief, the search for identity, and the power of transformation through art. Its horror is not graphic or intense; rather, it comes off as a quiet eeriness that pervades the film, offering a chance of hope along with its sense of dread.

Saoirse (Sue Walsh) is a young woman trying to put some troubling incidents behind her as she moves to a new city, using a new name. The past isn’t so easy to escape, she finds, as someone she knows recognizes her at a party and tries to confront her. Saoirse wanders the town a bit, stumbling across a club with a decidedly unusual looking clientele. The audience watches a dancer (Kojii Helnwein as the titular character) in one of the film’s centerpieces, a tightly edited performance piece set to a hypnotic rhythm.

Saoirse (Sue Walsh) tries to escape painful memories in Nicolas Courdouan’s atmospheric horror short Radha.

Saoirse is mesmerized by Radha, though the dancer’s audience members put her off. Radha is a mysterious, alluring presence who invites Saoirse to go to bed with her after some awkward conversation. I will leave the rest of the night’s surprises to viewers to discover for themselves.

Writer/director Nicolas Courdouan has crafted an enigmatic but wholly accessible short that offers up unease and a sense of otherworldliness. He slowly unlocks the secrets of Saoirse’s past while not giving away too much about Radha, and that works well on both counts.

Kojii Helnwein plays the mysterious, seductive title character Radha.

Kojii Helnwein plays the mysterious, seductive title character Radha.

Sue Walsh gives an impactful turn as Saoirse, inhabiting her character with a sense that something is bubbling just under the surface that she refuses to let out. Kojii Helnwein is marvelous as Radha; she gives off a pitch-perfect air of the preternatural and inscrutable, with an underlying sense of menace. Helnwein brings to Radha a commanding presence, making the character as equally captivating in the unconventional dance scene as she is merely sitting and talking. Tess Masero Brioso’s cinematography is splendid, and Colin McKenna’s score works wonderfully with Simon Murphy’s sound design, as the sounds of nature gives way to driving beats and spooky music before returning again.

Radha is currently on the film festival circuit and has been picking up awards along the way. Nicolas Courdouan’s eerie, thought-provoking short is one to watch for when it heads your way.

Radha:  (3.5 stars / 5)

 

 

Kingswood's Kojii...

Kingswood's Kojii Helnwein - star of the screen and stage

By Aideen O'Flaherty

From working as a stage manager in theatres throughout Ireland to securing lucrative modelling contracts and being the frontwoman of her eponymous band, Kojii Helnwein has always been passionate about working in the creative industries.

Growing up in Kingswood in Tallaght, Kojii was always surrounded by music as a result of her father Enda Wyatt songwriting and playing bass in the rock band An Emotional Fish, but now Kojii indulges in a variety of creative pursuits: acting, modelling, making music and photography are just some of her talents.

Married to the artist Cyril Helnwein, Kojii lives in a castle in Tipperary with their three children and divides her time between Los Angeles and Ireland.

Your dad is a musician, so music has always been around you from a young age. Was there a particular moment when you realised you wanted to be a musician too?

I don't recall any one moment, music was like language in our house when I was a kid. In primary school I’d come home to find my Dad in his home studio recording music. He'd stand me up in front of the microphone and let me sing whatever came into my mind.

There are countless tapes of 4-year-old me rambling on about clouds and dragons. I do recall being incredibly impressed by the work that went into being a musician.

The constant practice, the writing, rehearsals, the recording, it all fascinated me. I loved shadowing my Dad when he worked, I would hang out at the Factory Studios back in the day and listen to U2 jam in one rehearsal room and my dad in another.

I was hooked the first time I saw the band on stage and saw thousands of people singing along to songs that I saw the band write. The energy from that crowd was electrifying and I was hooked!

You worked as a stage manager in theatres and also a Parisian circus before you started modelling, what was that experience like?

I enjoyed working in theatre. I studied technical stage training in Tallaght and fell straight into working freelance. I was very lucky and worked non-stop for years in some great venues around Ireland.

I had the pleasure of working on opera festivals in the Gaiety, I toured with Des Bishop on a rap musical, worked the Cat Laughs Comedy festival and so much more.

It was a wild and creative ride but the hours were long, the pay was low and the work was hard. I worked 18-20 hour days and I was on the road a lot.

When I discovered modelling paid more than a week’s wage in just one day I was happy to leave the stage management behind.

How did your work as a stage manager lead into your career in modelling?

Through my work at the Cat Laughs Comedy Festival one year I met the best friend of a famous American comedian and we started dating.

I moved to LA with him and everyone we met assumed I was a model, they were shocked to learn that I wore a tool belt and combats to work instead.

When I returned to Ireland after a few months, I discovered someone had mailed my photos to a top modelling agency in Dublin. I still have no clue who sent them in.

I was home from LA for only a few hours when the agency called to set up a meeting. The next day I was on the runway for John Rocha and was booked solid for the following year thanks to everyone I met at that show.

You've starred in loads of TV commercials and even appeared on Project Runway, what is it like to see yourself on TV?

I don't enjoy seeing myself on TV. I am super critical of my work and see nothing but the points I need to work on.

However, there have been those rare moments where I see a character in a film and realise “Oh wait! That's me! Completely immersed in character.”

Those are the moments I live for. Commercials are fun and easy to shoot though. Just yesterday my daughter jumped up in the cinema during the previews and announced “Mom!!That's you!,” I sank into my seat in mortification but I was also elated to see how proud my little girl is of me.

As for Project Runway, I have yet to see a single episode. I had never seen the show before I took the job and quickly realised that it's not my cup of tea.

 

More recently you've been doing some acting work, how does this compare to being on stage as a musician?

It's a totally different rush. There's an immediate connection with the audience when I'm on stage with my band so I know if we’re doing a good job or not.

I’ve also been making music a lot longer than I’ve been acting so I’m more comfortable with winging it when the crowd want something different.

With film, I have to trust myself and work hard to nail it. It's more challenging to be someone else and delve into their world.

You recently displayed some of your photography at an exhibition for photographers in Tipperary, are there any plans to have a full solo exhibition of your work?

That was a fun show, it was a group exhibit that showcased work from artists based in Tipperary. Photography is more of a hobby for me.

I love film photography and old cameras so when I have some of that rare free time I’ll sneak away with one of my cameras.

The work I recently showed was from a series called ‘Ophelia’ that I photographed while I was working on the role of Ophelia in a feature film of Hamlet.

I used the series to help me capture what the character was going through and to process the role. I never expected to exhibit these photos but the support from my family was the push I needed.

There's talk of a solo show in Dublin next year but no date set in stone yet.

You divide your time between Ireland and LA, what do you think are the biggest differences in pursuing creative work in the US and here?

There are many differences between the work here and in LA, namely the volume and scale of work plus the money. There is so much work out there.

In LA a company might spend millions of dollars shooting a commercial only to shelve the end product and never air it. The work in Ireland may be of a much smaller scale but the quality and creativity in here is stellar.

We have amazing filmmakers here who are pushing some serious boundaries.

You're married to the artist Cyril Helnwein, do you get to collaborate with each other much when working or do you prefer to work separately?

Cyril and I met through our work when I modelled for his ‘Ethereal’ series and I've posed for him a few times since then, but these days we work separately. In saying that, we’re very supportive of each other and always help out as much as possible.

If you had to pick one career out of acting, modelling, writing music and photography, which one would you pick and why?

Acting. It's the one job I have that will eventually allow me to partake in all my interests. In one role I might be a musician, another a photographer, another role I might be a homely mother.

It’s also the most challenging, it forces you to really study people and what drives us.

The process of developing a character is incredible and can open you up to ways of thinking that you may never consider when you're living everyday life as yourself.

I’ve always been pretty empathic and have the ability to see life from the perspective of others, to be able to channel that for work is phenomenal.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in the creative industries?

Be prepared for the business side of art, it’s not all creative. There are taxes, contracts and all sorts of administrative issues that you need to be prepared to handle yourself.

Hire someone you trust to do it, but always be sure you understand what they do for you. I see too many artists scraping the poverty line because they let the business swallow them whole.

Lastly, what is it really like to live in a castle?

It's a magical life. Our kids are living the dream - they have gardens, forest, animals, culture, history and art in their daily lives.

They climb trees, run free with their dogs and imagine amazing adventures with dragons and fairies.

I’m incredibly fortunate and grateful to have this life, it's a far cry from where I came from. As magical as it is though, I'm a city girl.

It took a long time for me to get used to life in the countryside and the slower pace. A castle is a lot of work though, an old building like that requires a lot of upkeep and you can't just run to IKEA for a quick fix.

Sometimes random tourists wander into the garden as they think it's a public place. I often joke that we should charge them €20 and hand them a sweeping brush, a mop and some furniture polish so they can take the ‘Real Life in a Castle’ tour!

You can find out more about Kojii at kojiihelnwein.com, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @kojiihelnwein.

"Photograph More"

A Little Look Back #3

2016 was filled with many "Firsts" for me. As I mentioned in a previous post, I had a list of things I wanted to achieve before the year was out. Most of them were creative challenges that I put before myself, others were personal and family oriented.

One of them was simply to "Photograph More".

We all have our phones on hand to snap away at whatever takes our fancy in the moment but one of my favourite things to do in my spare time is to take one of my old film cameras for a spin.

Over the years I have taken 100's upon 100's of photographs most of which no-one will ever see. However, last October, with the encouragement of my amazing family and friends I framed three photos from my "Ophelia" series and hung them along side some incredibly talented Tipperary based Artists at the jam packed, South Tipperary Arts Anniversary exhibition.

The response and support was overwhelming. To say I am grateful and humbled by the experience doesn't do it all justice.

I think this is a goal that I may have to roll over to 2017 and "Photograph EVEN more".

Winning Awards

A Little Look Back #2

In addition to my immense gratitude that accompanied my last post I also found my self recalling another happy moment in 2016.

another award!!


In October I was in LA for a little work. While I was there I had the honour of accepting an award on behalf of the cast and crew of our Irish Feature Film, "Life Begins Now" at Awareness Film Festival LA.
This was pretty special as I love what Awareness Film Festival stand for. Their mission statement says it better than I could....

The Awareness Film Festival is organized by Heal One World, a non-profit charity serving the community surrounding West Pico blvd in Los Angeles, California.

As well as serving as a fundraiser, the mission of the Awareness Film Festival is to inform and inspire audiences through a program of films on Ecological, Political, Health/Well Being and Spiritual topics. We are honored to have the opportunity to spotlight film-makers committed to making positive change throughout the world.
— https://www.awarenessfestival.org/about-us/

Thank you so much to the awesome guys over at FRO FILMS! :)

A little look back #1

It's the day after my birthday, 9 days into 2017. As I prepare for a trip to Dublin for another day of shooting I find myself thinking about what an incredible year 2016 was for me personally.

In January 2016 I had set out with a list of goals and I worked my ass off to clear that list. Some of those objectives have rolled over to 2017 but others were achieved and came with so many unexpected bonuses.

ONE of those goals came in the guise of a Short Film "Radha" 

This film toured some of the worlds Film Festivals and racked up some great reviews. We even had the insane and unexpected pleasure of winning some awards. Canada's Shiver Film Fest awarded us, not one but FOUR awards.
- Short Film of the Year
- Best Fantasy Film
- Best Female Performance (Kojii Helnwein) {This one had me jumping and screeching in disbelief like a giddy little girl!!}
- Best Director (Nicolas Courdouan)

Winning that award has definitely given me an added drive to get back to that long mission list of mine and work even harder from here on out.

Watch "Little Bear"

"Little Bear" is a short film that I hold close to my heart for many reasons.

It recently completed it's Film Festival run around the world and the film makers, Daire Glynn and Ger Duffy have generously made it available online.


If you have 12 minutes to spare, make yourself a cup of tea, grab some tissues and sit back to drink in this gorgeous little film.
Starring Kieran O'Reilly (Love/Hate), Calum Heath (The Canal) and myself.

I'd love to hear what you think.

The Gloss Mag

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Sarah Breen, writer at The Gloss Magazine, about family, work, love, life and our nomadic ways alongside the wonderful Chloe Arnold who shared her a bit about her own wonderful life. 

The article featured some gorgeous images from our family shoot with Sandals & Greenhouse   a company who specialize in top quality family portraits that capture the unique magic between you and your loved ones. 

 

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LIFE BEGINS NOW

Principal Photography on a new Irish feature film, "Life Begins Now" has just wrapped.

Starring (to name just a few of the incredibly talented cast)

Peter James Melrose

Florence Ordesh

Leah Egan

I had the honour of playing a troubled woman by the name of Lexy Connell

Written and Produced by Fergus Keane

Directed by Fabiano Albuquerque

Director of Photography Erol Mustafov

Feel free to Like their Facebook page HERE for future updates

LITTLE BEAR and the film festival journey

A wonderful short film I mentioned before by the name of Little Bear has begun it's journey through the worlds film festivals.

We are thrilled to share that it has officially been selected by Vancouver International Film Festival 2015 AND by The Monthly Film Festival.
 

URBAN TRAFFIK - sneak a peek

Urban Traffik, coming soon....

*Coming soon* URBAN TRAFFIK

Posted by Bank House Productions on Thursday, August 20, 2015

Irish Life

I recently took the kids to see a movie with their friends.

We were all getting settled in, when one after another they each yelled "MAMA That's YOU!" for the entire, jam packed theatre to hear.

This was one of those quick and fun commercial jobs I love, with the added bonus of cuddling the sweetest, new born baby girl.
You can have a peek at the commercial below to see just how adorable that little squish is.

Thanks for having me Irish Life!

Urban Traffik

Urban Traffik - starring

Claire Blennerhassett , Jemma Nic Lochlainn , Kojii Helnwein, Camila Correa Soya , Clare Murray , Damien Guiden, Anthony Kirwan, Jordan Rennix  and Stevie Greaney

Teasing you with another feature I recently wrapped.

Urban Traffik is a new feature film from October Eleven Pictures and Feature Film Project Ireland which follows Adam, a 28 year old homeless man and his love for Amy that charts dangerous territories and leads to an explosive denouement when Amy disappears.

For those of you who would like a little email to let you know Urban Traffik's release date, please subscribe below.

Urban Traffik teaser trailer. Copyright OEP/BHP/FFP/PTE 2015

Jemma Nic Lochlainn behind the scenes of Urban Traffik photo by Kojii Helnwein

Little Bear

The beginning of 2015 started in the most perfect way.

I had the pleasure of working with actors Kieran O'Reilly (Love/Hate) and Calum Heath (The Canal) on short film "Little Bear" Directed by Daire Glynn and Ger Duffy.

I can't wait to share this creation with everyone!


Be sure to subscribe to the newsletter so you catch this when it's released!

with Kieran O'Reilly and Calum Heath in "Little Bear"

HAMLET - a little tease

For many months I have had the pleasure of working secretly, with an incredible group of cast and crew on a feature film that is very close to my heart. Not to mention our ever patient and encouraging Director, David Scott, who has recently let this little teaser trailer out to play.

HAMLET

Enjoy!

The Cast & Crew
Michael Hough
, David Scott,
Conor Marren, Michael Basil King, Mark Mc Auley, Daphne Lynders, Cid Campbell, Tom Singleton, Fiach Kunz, Eoin McGovern, Kojii Helnwein, Ben Mulligan, Seán Keenan, Jack Dean Shepherd, Damien Holmes, Diarmuid McGuinness, Fernanda Machado, Rodrigo Ternevoy, Enda Connaughton, Kevin Dwan and Eamon McGlone.