Femme Fatale: Kyra Zagorsky

Actress, writer, director Kyra Zagorsky talks sci-fi and her take on the role of strong women on stage.

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Gown: beaded velvet gown, Blue Isis SS 2014

Written by Alice Chiang

“My family doesn’t necessarily understand what I do. They are very supportive; but I have come to accept that I don’t have to tell my family everything. Just be happy with myself, with what I do.” said Kyra Zagorsky with refreshing candor, recounting her parents’ role throughout her acting career. The Colorado-raised actress, now living in Vancouver, is best known for her lead role as Julia Walker on the SyFy network series, Helix.

Between rehearsals, filming, and performances, Kyra found some time to stop by the studio for this photoshoot. The familiar scent of hairspray and makeup filled the air around her as she quietly rehearsed lines for an audition that she would later dash to immediately after the shoot. I managed to squeeze in my interview between takes.

Accentuated by her dark, mysterious eyes, one could sense a poised beauty that blossoms from a strong, inner quality. There is a stillness in her presence, graceful yet tenacious, as if she was already getting into character for our femme fatale themed couture photo editorial.

It is no surprise, really; this narrative is one familiar to Kyra. Aside from her leading role in Helix, she has starred as a number of strong, female characters, including her roles as Vasquez, a high tech operative from the future on Showcase network’s Continuum, and as Veronica in the sold out stage production, The Motherf**ker with the Hat. In the latter, her character battles a drug addiction against a precarious and turbulent backdrop of change. A reviewer describes her as “a creature of terrifying beauty,” marked by her defiantly expletive temper that is every bit the match to her pent-up drug trafficking lover.

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Dress: ribbon organza dress, Serpentine SS 2016

I wanted to know what drew her to different characters. “There are so many different definitions of strong female roles, but to me, a character needs to be 3-dimensional and have a story, not just a vibe.” Citing her character Veronica as an example, she said, “although she is troubled, she is vivacious… I know people like Veronica!” Her fascination with complexity and layers in the development of a character is evident as she listed off some of her favourites. “One of my all-time favourite sci-fi characters is Ripley (played by Sigourney Weaver) from Alien. She is strong but at the same time vulnerable. She’s more relatable.”

Kyra seems to have found a niche in the sci-fi femme fatale genre, to which she acknowledges with respect, praising its audiences for accepting “someone with my look.” Femme fatales are often morally ambiguous and associated with a sense of mystification and unease. Just the kind of complexity a discerning actor would want to sink her teeth into.

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Top: leather halter blouse, Serpentine SS 2016 | Skirt: checkered knit skirt, AW 2014

“My dad introduced me to Ashland, Oregon where the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is because he knew I loved Shakespeare. That’s where I discovered going to theatre school.” She described her road to a BFA in Theatre and a Masters of Fine Arts in Acting as a happy discovery in high school. “I grew up in a small town. I was athletic, very involved in sports. Then, I joined the choir and theatre in high school.” Once she played the baker’s wife in her school play she was hooked.

As the backdrop is drawn, Kyra took to the set and impressed the crew with her innate talent in channeling these characters. In front of the camera is no longer an earnest actress studying lines; instead, we are served a sensuous, assertive heroine from a dark science fiction, ready to go out and catch some bad guys.

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Dress: checkered knit dress, Pantomime AW 2014 | Coat: melton fur coat, Hieland Flouer AW 2015

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Gown: beaded velvet gown, Blue Isis SS 2014

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Dress | ribbon organza dress, Serpentine SS 2016

Couture Design from Atelier Grandi
Photography | Roberutsu
Styling | Alice Chiang & Iris Woo
Makeup & Hairstyle | Terra French

Read this in our publication | Page 18

A Flair for the Dramatic

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photography by Roberutsu
custom couture gown by Atelier Grandi

This week, the biggest names in the entertainment industry descend on a small, southern French town for the world’s largest, and arguably more prestigeous, film festival.

On the star-studded red carpet, you will see the freshly 23-year old Andrea Wilde. This ambitious and talented Nanaimo-native has been invited to this year’s Cannes Film Festival for a screening of “Generation Y”, a short film she directed and produced.

We had the distinct pleasure of working with her to create her red carpet look – one that reflects her heritage roots and her “flair” for the dramatic.

We also managed to catch her thoughts on her work with a few questions.

Grandi: I hear a rumour you have a “flair for the dramatic”. How does that transpire in your work?

AW: I love to see my characters in situations that push their boundaries, that’s when they really come to life. And most would argue I have an artistic temperament, perhaps I’m an extremist. Drama is becoming a signature in my films so I’d certainly like to think I have a flair for it!

Grandi: The creative industry is, well, creative… and big! How do you carve out your territory?

AW: Like most writers in this industry, I write about the things I know. There’s a piece of me in every script I write. I think it’s important to draw from your own experiences because that gives your characters the chance to relate to everyday people.

Grandi: Movies are big projects. How do you harness the talents around you?

AW: Hiring talented people to work on a project is paramount, if not the most important part of making a movie. To be honest, it’s always the crew trying to harness me! I like to ask for every person’s opinions because it allows me to see from a different perspective and to learn from the awe-inspiring, talented casts and crews I am lucky to work with. People forget that a movie isn’t just the director’s, it’s the artwork of every cast and crew member.

Grandi: Our readers are always curious about lifestyles. How would you describe yours? What’s a day in the life of Andrea like?

AW: If I film that day, then I usually get a wake up call at 5:00AM and call time around 6:30AM. During the fourteen hour shoots, I might get fifteen minutes of time to myself which I use to sit in my trailer and call my Mom and Dad. After the shoot, I attempt to go through my emails, my manager tells me what meetings I have to prep for and then before it’s lights out, I do some writing. On days I don’t film, I religiously go for a run in the morning! I look forward to the days I have time to go for a jog in the sun!

Grandi: How are you feeling about Cannes?

AW: Being invited to Cannes is an honour, whether you’re Spielberg or new to the industry, it’s an invitation you always accept with gratitude. Taking a film to Cannes is something you dream about but assume will never happen. I know the reason Generation Y is at Cannes is because I had the best cast and crew who all worked tirelessly on this film. I owe them everything.

Inspiration + Drive with Sukhi Atwal

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Dress: black-and-white checkered dress, Pantomime Autumn-Winter 2014


written by Alice Chiang

Art Direction & Photography | Roberutsu

Styling | Alice Chiang & Iris Woo

Makeup & Hairstyle | Liling Rachel Ong

Couture Design from Atelier Grandi
 

Two o’clock rolled around all too quickly. The studio was humming with activity, everyone was busy preparing for the afternoon session.

Without much warning, walked in the subject, the statuesque Sukhi Atwal, slender, elegant. With her was her even taller brother Jinder.

Almost immediately, one could sense the close bond between these siblings. Reality television aside, the duo really is a team. Isn’t this a little abnormal how supportive of each other you are? Not exactly the sarcastic quipping between most siblings…

“we really learned how to work together on the show”, said Jinder, “it wouldn’t help our performance if we were constantly pressuring each other, stressing each other out.”

Good point.

As Sukhi sat in the makeup chair, in an Atelier Grandi gown, Jinder casually took behind-the-scenes photographs. The floor-length, tartan gown, with fur-trimmed pockets, was very becoming on the her graceful figure.

Effortlessly, Sukhi pulled off every look our stylists threw her way, commanding each frame with her natural elegance.

She is personable, down-to-earth, and most importantly, she is driven. It is perhaps hard to imagine, as Sukhi and Jinder compete on The Amazing Race, but the pair passionately discussed their career inspirations, rattling off some of the all-time bestsellers they have read. Among these were Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, How to Win Friends and Influence Others by Dale Carnegie; the list went on.

As we talked, her passion for entrepreneurship and world travel shone through.

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Dress: floor-length tartan gown with fur-trimmed pockets, Hieland Flouer Autumn-Winter 2015

What were you doing before The Amazing Race?

Before The Amazing Race, I had a business with my brother, we imported different health care products all across Asia. We decided to leave Canada in 2010, and contacted a friend of ours, “hey, we love the product of your company, we are going to take it into Asia.” And he was like, “Ok.” So we invested all our time, our own money, our own resources and honestly, it was the university of business on wheels. We learned business, literally, on the go. Advertising, marketing, everything. We didn’t make money for a year but we persevered and we didn’t give up. We had a vision and we did it. We brought [the products] into India, traveled around there. We went to Thailand, we started giving conferences, we started motivating people, we got distributors on board. It was a crazy wild ride, seeing the world while we did it. Then we were actually in Malaysia when we heard about The Amazing Race [Canada] the first season but we were in the jungles of Borneo, so we couldn’t send in the video tape. Then the following year we went home for Christmas, just for a week and we saw that they had auditions and we were contacted 5 days later and then we were on the race.

Was there any doubt that the show was right for you?

We wanted to [enter the race] forever, we were like, “dude, there’s no way we can’t win this, like seriously?” So as soon as we saw it, we just knew we would be on the race. It was not rocket science. The timing was perfect. It wasn’t like, “Oh, I hope we get picked.” The show was made for us.

The Amazing Race describes you both as “determined”. I see how they came to that conclusion.

It wasn’t an ego thing, we didn’t think, “we are the best.” We just thought, “we got this. We are going to be on the show.”

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Blouse: high-neck chiffon blouse, Essentials Spring-Summer | Jacket: velvet lapel evening jacket, Essentials Autumn-Winter

So after the Amazing Race, what are you doing now?

We are entrepreneurs, so after the show, we imported from China, we designed a purse and brought that in around Christmas time. We are also really into fitness and we are starting our own fitness website business. We are also doing a lot of commercials, stuff in the media. We are working with a producer right now on a new show, helping the creative aspect of designing it, coming up with the idea of it, something new for us. We are really excited about it. We are also launching our own charity. There are a whole bunch of crazy projects on the go which are set to launch.

What is the most difficult about being someone who is making all these creative decisions?

The most difficult is having your vision and breaking it down into certain actions and steps. What is the next physical thing I can do to get this in motion. It is having the vision and knowing what steps to take.

You don’t want to be a dreamer, you want to be a doer.

I think you should dream crazy dreams. We only have one shot in life, make it crazy. “Get out of your own way” – you have to tell yourself everyday, like taking a shower, you can’t just take it once and never take it again. So to have a healthy mind, you constantly have to do it.

As an entrepreneur, who inspires you?

Richard Branson, Tony Robbins, any of these amazing authors. Robin Sharma, he is a Canadian. All these go-getters. Richard Branson is unbelievable. He is a crazy visionary. He was a poor student, he was like, ‘I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna live a big dream.’ We had the honour of meeting him and a lot of influential people. Like I said, they get out of their own way, out of their own head. Bill and Melinda Gates, we were just at their foundation in Seattle, but to just work with them, and sit on a panel with them, that is our dream. [Our dream] is to have one of the greatest charities and mastermind with these amazing visionaries and amazing thinkers.

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Ensemble: black suit with fur sleeve on equestrian jacket, Pantomime Autumn-Winter 2015

Do you have any books that inspires you?

Of course, classics like, Think and Grow Rich, my brother loves, How to Win Friends and Influence People. I see him mastering those skills every single day.

If you have someone that inspires you, or something that entices something in you, see it, look at it everyday. Keep it inside of you because what inspires me, might be something different for you. So whatever it is, keep it alive. It has to be constantly in your mind.

You an Jinder seem to be an adventurous pair, have you ever gotten into trouble when you two were younger?

One time we were on a bus, trip across Canada, we were the only ones who decided to get off the bus with all of our things on it. I think we went to get french fries. He was 12, and I was 17 and our bus took off. He had to go into a mad sprint because all of our stuff was on the bus! It was on the highway! (Jinder: And I got it.) And he caught up to the bus and we got back on the bus!

(Jinder: One time, we broke our roof! When we were young we were jumping in the attic and we came flying through the roof!)

Well, he did.. But we were pretty good. I was the security guard, monitoring my parents. But not mischievous, well, I don’t know, depending on who you ask.

What is your everyday fashion style?

My favourite style is definitely a pair of jeans. I love boots because they feel comfortable. Maybe a cardigan. Something simple and classic. I like working with makeup, just doing a bold lip or dramatic eye but I love simple staples. Just tank tops and jeans. Because for events and shoots, we are always dressed up, like today! So it feels best to be fit, when you are working out and eating right, it feels sexy no matter what you are wearing.

Living your Dream with Jerrica Santos

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Dress: tartan kilt dress, Hieland Flouer Autumn-Winter 2015


written by Alice Chiang

Art Direction & Photography | Roberutsu

Styling | Alice Chiang & Iris Woo

Makeup & Hairstyle | Liling Rachel Ong

Couture Design from Atelier Grandi
 

Surrounded by the typical photography studio chaos, sat Jerrica Santos, poised, in the makeup chair. Her lips painted red, matching the burgundy dress from Atelier Grandi’s autumn-winter 2015 collection. Then, with the final touch of her hair slicked back, she was ready. Ready to have her arm tangled with a microphone cord, of course, for photographic impact. This kind of styling probably doesn’t occur when she performs live in front of thousands on season 2 of Canadian Idol.

Maybe this is the reason she had no hesitation in front of the camera. Lighting up the deliberately grey set up, she sang her new single, Illuminate. A live performance with every outfit, she eased into the session, captivating the studio. The final outfit was the black and white, graphic jacket with plush, fur sleeves from Atelier Grandi. She pulled it off the edgy look beautifully, with the vibe of a rock-and-roll star.

That was a wrap. She gave everyone hugs, high-fives. Then we sat down, coming full circle, back in the makeup chairs. We started talking about the similarity between a fashion collection and an album; neither would happen without the inspiration that fuel every song, every garment.

Where did her inspiration for her new album, Illuminate, come from?

“I co-wrote it with Trevor Hoffman, a producer in the city. And the inspiration was actually living your dream, living your life the way you want it…”

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Blouse: sheer top with neck tie, Pantomime Autumn-Winter 2014 | Skirt: blue taffeta skirt, Essentials Spring-Summer

An album is similar to a fashion collection where a fashion collection has many different pieces, and an album is made up of many different song. At the heart, there is always an inspiration. Your newest album, Illuminate, first of all, is it out yet?

It is not out quite yet. We have released the one song. The single Illuminate including the music video as well.

Is it on youtube or itune?

Yes, it’s on youtube.

What is your inspiration behind Illuminate?

I co-wrote it with producer Trevor Hoffman here in the city and the inspiration for the album was actually living your dream, living your life the way that you want it. Before we started working on the album, I was working in the optical department to become an optometrist but I was doing music at the same time. I was in this transition point in my life where I was finding out what I wanted to do and music was really my passion. The three electronic dance songs plus the acoustic versions of them on this album and each one play on the certain parts of experiences of wanting to live your life and the way you dream and the way that makes you happy.

The single Illuminate is [as if] I am talking to either myself or to people who feel this way, wanting to illuminate your life.

I can hear that in the song! And I also interpret it as a love song too.

This is the flipside. Where for me, it was the kind of love-hate of reliving my own life, not necessarily with another person, the way Trevor, he saw it more in a relationship sort of way, in previous relationships. But it is all working towards that same illuminating throughout your life and being happy.

Atelier Grandi Jerrica Santos Interview Singer Songwriter

Jacket: fur sleeve checkered jacket, Pantomime Autumn-Winter 2014 | Blouse: sheer top with neck tie, Pantomime Autumn-Winter 2014 | Pants: fitted taffeta capris, Pantomime Autumn-Winter 2014

I saw your video and you talked about being asked to give up singing for this life you were about to go into, this career, and then you changed your mind! You decided not to pursue optometry. Was that a tough decision?

It was over the end of my school year, my fourth year, thinking about the optometrist program. I spent time and money with all these applications to schools and every time I went to an interview, I didn’t feel like I was being true to myself. That really helped me reflect. I was in Boston, visiting this school I would likely have gone to, but once I got there and I realized it wasn’t going to work.

You did a lot of cover songs on youtube and collaborated with a lot of [artists], and this is probably really hard to choose but can you tell me the favourite cover that you have done?

Oh…that’s a hard one. Probably Clarity [by Zedd].

Oh! Me too! My favourite cover by you as well. I really like the song and you sang it so beautifully!

Thank you!

And when you were young, did you have any musical inspirations?

Yes, Alicia Keys was the biggest one for me when I was in my teens. This is when she came out with her first album. I saw her on TV and at the time, I was already playing piano and singing. When I saw her, I realized that this is what I want to do and this is what I want to be. I see so much inspiration.

Anyone else you find inspiring?

Oh…there are a lot…. I really like Mariah Carey, she is a very strong vocalist. I like strong vocalists. Especially with Mariah and Alicia Keys, they are strong songwriters, and that is really important to me. Being a songwriter, that’s how I am able to express myself through my art, through my songs.

Let’s talk style for a bit. You were in a fashion shoot just now! Have you done something like this before?

No. Not really.

How’s the experience for you?

It was so much fun! The makeup and the beautiful outfits and just expressing myself in front of the camera…it was really nice. And collaborating with other people, with their arts and their vision and their work. It is just really inspiring.

Atelier Grandi Jerrica Santos Interview Singer Songwriter

Dress: tartan mermaid dress, Hieland Flouer Autumn-Winter 2015 | Cape: checkered fur cape, Pantomime Autumn-Winter 2014

What is your everyday fashion style?

I guess, simple. Simple classic, I guess.

After Illuminate releases, what are your plans?

I am also working on another project where I am going down to LA to record more songs. We are hoping next year to go to radio with some of the singles that we are planning to launch. I also came back, from Asia on tour, last year. And I am hoping to go back next year with Illuminate. To promote it.

Are you already working on a new album?

Yeah! I am working on a few more songs and I have my EP but right now I am still working on new tracks!

It just never stops, right?

Yeah! No! Exactly!

Jerrica, this has been a pleasure and a real treat talking to you. Thank you for coming out today. We wish you all the best!

Thank you for having me.