ELLA BALINSKA

Culture


ELLA BALINSKA



words by Shaday Stewart
images by Teneshia Carr
all fashion by Chanel

'Multiplicity' is a word that continually comes to mind when trying to express what makes Ella Balinska shine. The 26-year-old British actress has the daring tendency to follow her passions wherever they lead, and with her interests being so varied, Balinska's talents (which range from selling shoes to javelin throwing) have taken her down quite a few exciting paths.

Star in two cult-classic franchises? Check. DJ at Burning Man? Check. Establish a scholarship at your alma mater? Check. Brave a bone-chilling Russian snowscape to film a sci-fi flick? We don't envy that last one, but again, check! The enthusiastic West Londoner is only at the beginning of her career, but it's already apparent that she has no intention of limiting herself or shying away from intimidating experiences. "I had an amazing team who always put me in rooms that I wasn't expected to be in," says Balinska, "and I think that built my confidence in terms of sort of pushing the norm."

Some of those metaphorical "rooms" include the 2020 horror film "Run Sweetheart Run," an Amazon Prime original about a date turned deadly, and the 2019 reboot of "Charlie's Angels," in which she starred alongside Elizabeth Banks, Kristen Stewart, and Naomi Scott. Balinska admits she didn't see horror as an obvious choice for herself before auditioning for "Run Sweetheart Run" but was deeply drawn to Shana Feste's vision. "It was such, in my mind, chaos in a script. I needed to speak to the director, the writer, because this isn't just imagination I'm reading. There was a catharsis on paper, and I was like, 'I want to challenge myself and do something like that.'"

And when it came to the famed female spy flick, Balinska just let her creativity run wild. "I did the audition, and I didn't think anybody was going to see it. I was like, 'This is going to remain unopened in some casting associate's inbox,' so I really went for it and had fun. And then when I booked the job in this huge production, it was crazy because everyone's like, 'Oh my god! The pressure must have been insane!' And I'm just like, 'You know what? No.' Because I went so off-the-wall with my audition, the fact that they liked it was like, 'Oh, I'm meant to be here.'"


Most recently, Balinska starred as Jade Wesker in the 2022 Netflix original series "Resident Evil," an adaptation of the popular film, TV, and video game horror franchise. The series follows the timelines of present-day Jade, a rebellious teen who unwisely breaks into a research facility for proof of animal testing, and future Jade, a scientist fighting to end the devastating zombie apocalypse she helped cause 14 years before.

As challenging as diving into such a well-known series steeped in obsessive fan culture and years of high-octane world-building, the choice was easy for Balinska as a lifelong gamer and fan of the franchise. "With Resident Evil, that was a no-brainer. That was my eight-year-old self looking up at me being like, 'If you don't take this job, you and I are no longer associated.'"

"Resident Evil" isn't the only video game-inspired project on her resume. Balinska also snagged the lead role of Frey Holland in "Forspoken," an upcoming action-adventure game that gave her a chance to explore voice and motion-capture acting. "I jumped at the opportunity, but then when I had a second to take a step back, I thought, 'Oh my goodness! There is some kid that is going to look at me the way I looked at Lara Croft or Zoe Saldana in Avatar.'"

Being in the spotlight might seem like a natural calling for Balinska. Her mother, Jamaican-British entertainer Lorraine Pascale, is a former model, cookbook author, and cooking show host who regularly appears on the Food Network, and her father, Count Kaz Balinski-Jundzill, is of Polish nobility. And as a current ambassador for Chanel, and founding patron of the British Fashion Council Foundation Charity, Balinska is making her own name in the fashion world.


Yet, long before she was battling virus-infected undead on screen, Balinska got her start in acting at her all-girls primary school in a rendition of "The Owl and the Pussycat." Soon after, she joined the National Youth Theatre, which encouraged the young actress to hone her emerging talents. A few years later, Balinska attended the prestigious Guildford School of Acting and starred in the 2019 young adult series "The Athena" after graduating. In 2021, the actress even sponsored a scholarship at her alma mater for a first-year student of the global majority.

During her time at GSA, Balinska worked as a shoe salesperson at Selfridges while hunting for roles on rite-of-passage shows like "Midsomer Murders" and "Casualty." Looking back, the actress views her retail days as a great source of character study. Not to mention, it got her recognized – sort of.

"The first time I was ever recognized in public, I was at Joe & the Juice, and I had gotten my normal Serrano sandwich. The dude was like, 'Oh my god! I recognize you!' And at this point my face, for Charlie's Angels, was on buses, on the tube. It was everywhere. And he was like, 'I recognize you! You sold me my size nine runners from Selfridges!'" Not quite the celeb debut moment she was expecting!

Going forward, Balinska won't have any trouble getting recognized for her acting chops. She's next slated to star in a sci-fi thriller, "The Occupant," which pushed her to the limit in every way. Filmed in freezing temperatures amid icy Russian terrain, the project forced the actress to draw upon her athletic background and combat and survival training. Taking the advice of "Revenant" alum Leo DiCaprio, Balinska was ready to "suffer for this movie" to truly sell her performance.

And as she looks toward the future, Balinska is ready for just about anything, unafraid of going outside her comfort zone and embracing new experiences. The actress wants to tell stories that inspire and thrill people, and, most importantly, she wants to have a good time doing it. "In 10 years, I'll be able to properly vocalize how I feel, but all I can say is that I feel so strongly about how excited I am that people are going to have the opportunity to see, not just me as Ella Balinksa, but me as a reflection of real people in society, being able to go, 'Hey, here's someone who's doing their best, succeeding at what they do, and making interesting choices, doing cool shit.' That's all I want, to be honest with you."

The Chemicals Between Us Issue 20

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