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

Living your Dream with Jerrica Santos

Atelier Grandi Jerrica Santos Interview Singer Songwriter

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…”

Atelier Grandi Jerrica Santos Interview Singer Songwriter

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.