Why is Everyone in Hollywood Buzzing About Actress Malgosia Garnys?

March 02, 2019 10:00 PM

Have you ever felt like you were beautiful and powerful and the universe was conspiring in your best interest, and your opportunities were endless because you’ve lost people you loved and nearly lost yourself but you slayed the dragon and saved your soul and you are IN NO UNCERTAIN TERMS going to make an impact on the world as powerful as nuclear fusion but in a purely positive way that benefits humankind? If so, then you understand what it’s like to be Malgosia Garnys. If not, then take a deep breath. Inhale Malgosia and see if you don’t walk away changed. 

 

The first thing you notice about Malgosia is that she is tall. Very tall. 188 centimeters to be exact. She is from Poland where they measure stuff with the metric system, and where director Pawel Pawlikowski (who got an Oscar nod for Cold War) is from. More on that in a minute. The second thing you notice about Malgosia is her style, which is her own proprietary blend of Harajuku Anime Character, Blue Collar Steel Worker and West Coast sk8ter grrrrrl. In other words, she’s kind of a tomboy but in a colorful, artsy way. She was a competitive volleyball player in Poland, and she carries herself with the poise of an athlete. The third thing you notice about Malgosia is that she is dazzlingly and overwhelmingly beauteous, with a heart-shaped face and bright green eyes fringed by dark bangs, like the adventurous sister of 90s Danish supermodel Helena Christensen, but not like that at all because Malgosia is sui generis. She claims to have been the ugly duckling in a family of pretty alpha females, and we have no reason to disbelieve her although we would not be terribly surprised to learn that she arrived from a galaxy far, far away imbedded in a giant crust of amethyst which cracked like an egg when it hit the earth. 

 

What is my assignment? This question is at the heart of everything Malgosia Garnys has in the pipeline. First and foremost, she is an actress, a ravishing presence on the screen, like a modern-day Anna Magnani, and one of the most buzzed-about talents on the rise. But she’s also a producer with several feature films and docuseries in development. And there’s a digital fashion platform focused on sustainability, a sneaker App, a line of unisex streetwear called Soul Lorde (with a limited-edition jumpsuit), and a band called Project Wonderland. There are 27 projects at present. And growing. “I’ve got the next 3-5 years planned out,” Garnys explains. 

 

Her work falls under the aegis of her media platform, Meili Noir (“beautiful darkness”). The website is a secret Members Only club. You’ve got to sign up to see what they’re doing. Hint: it’s where film, fashion, art and tech intersect, creating a conscious, impactful movement. If you count yourself among the following: Socially Awakened, Millennials, Generation Z, Minorities, or Women; there is something for you on Meili Noir. The point is to tell stories about the messy, beautiful truths of authentically-lived life. “People hide that broken thing inside them, but that’s where our strength comes from,” Garnys says. 

 

Looking inward at her broken parts is a habit that Garnys is well accustomed to. “I’m perfectly imperfect,” she explains. She’s been a 12-stepper for 8 years, overcoming a predilection for drugs and alcohol in time to dedicate every breath to caring for her best friend, the photographer and director Cathrine Westergaard who died of colon cancer in 2015 at the age of 46. “She convinced me to live and stop dying,” Garnys says and then she trails off, staring intently at the leg of the coffee table in front of us in the 2nd floor lounge at The Public Hotel. “When I love, I love,” she explains softly. 

 

Garnys’ time of wandering in the desert began at age 17 when her father passed away. He was her grounding force when she was growing up in Poland. “I was not an easy kid,” she recalls. She was bullied in primary school and never felt like she fit in. “I was the ugly, fat kid from a small town who would wait up all hours to watch the Oscars. I made my own red carpet.” And she would dream of life in another realm, a life that’s not so far off from the life she’s living now. She left Poland as a teen and stumbled into work as a model in London. She appeared in Italian Vogue and Kurv. A chance meeting with Questlove (yep, Ahmir Thompson from The Roots, as if there could be another) inspired her to defect to the Big Ugly City on the west side of the Atlantic. She studied acting. She met Westergaard. They shot (R)Evolution, LONG Miracle, Stop Racing. “I didn’t necessarily have it all planned out,” Garnys muses. “You have to be agile in life.” 

 

What is my toolbox? This is the question Garnys asks herself once the matter of her assignment has been sorted out. In other words, once you figure out what you’ve been put on earth to do—both on a given day and over your lifespan—you’ve got to figure out how to go about making it happen. “I’m creative, but I understand business,” Garnys explains. She is now in the fundraising phase for several of her projects which involves “getting in the room with the suits.” She laughed when a fellow director asked her how she landed a major production and distribution deal for her films. “I told him I suck it really well. What do you think? I paid my dues. I did the work.”  She understands how to Get. Shit. Done.

 

Everything Garnys works on includes three components: storytelling, marketability and social good. “I’m from Poland, like Pawlikowski, where we have a great tradition of storytelling.” One of the screenplays Garnys has in development is a love story between a white girl and a black guy in New York City based in part on her own experience with a rapper who shall remain nameless. There is a feature film in the works based on the lives of female strippers in Miami and another about drag queens in New Orleans. There is a docuseries called Velvet Hurricane about how artists in New York City are making an impact and giving back. All of her stories have diversity and strong female characters. Each project has a charitable cause earmarked for it, like a school in Africa for creative kids or an NGO that fights human trafficking. Garnys firmly believes that doing well in business goes hand and hand with doing good in the world. 

 

“I started acting so I could escape my life,” Garnys recalls. “But then I learned that to be a good actor, you have to seek real.” Her toolbox includes her acting skills and her business acumen “yep, I can read a spreadsheet,” she deadpans. But perhaps her most valuable skill of all is her mettle. “I’m an immigrant woman. so I’m not afraid to fail. But failure is not in the cards." I’m living the immigrant’s dream,” she says, with her hands stretched out in front of her for emphasis, palms facing the ceiling as if to say thank you to God, Goddess, Higher Power, Source. “My assignment,” she says, “is to show people that there is goodness in this world.” And there isn’t a doubt in my mind that Garnys has already reached this goal, and yet her greatest achievements still lie ahead.

 

INTERVIEW BY KAREN FRAGALA-SMITH

PHOTOGRAPHY: MAKU LOPEZ @makulopez

STYLING: TIF LUDLOW @tifludlow

HAIR: YOHEY NAKATSUKA @yohey0929

MAKEUP: MAROC CASTO DE LIMA @castromarco

PHOTOT ASSISTANT ALBERT @al.bertfg

PRODUCTION: DIMITRIOS POPPIS @dimitripoppis

 

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