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Life & Work with Katja Schmolka

Today we’d like to introduce you to Katja Schmolka.

Hi Katja, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I was born and raised in Vienna, Austria. I studied Fashion Design & Garment Engineering at the Public Highschool, Palace of Hetzendorf in Vienna for five years. This education gave me the basis to pursue my career as a Fashion Stylist / Editor/ Journalist working for European womens and fashion magazines in Vienna, Milan, New York City, and Los Angeles. As a child, I was always very creative. I loved drawing. I would also play with my Barbie dolls for hours, dressing them up in all kinds of different styles. After seeing the musical CATS at the Vienna Opera House, I also started to become interested in the performing arts like acting, singing, and dancing. However, in order to attend a Performing Arts Conservatory in Vienna, I needed a background in ballet which I didnt have. Some years ago, when I still lived in NYC I was finally able to take my first acting classes and started participating in short films. Since this past summer, I had the time to focus more on my acting career and put myself out there via self-tape auditions participating in really great Independent Film Projects. I am totally intrigued and passionate about storytelling whether in film, fashion, or art. To me, it´s all intertwined. What I love about being creative is to have a vision and then go out there and do it with a lovely, talented team and the right skill set which you can learn through classes and workshops. It´s really hands-on and you see the results pretty fast in its most striking way.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
When you embark on your journey, there are always struggles you have to overcome. The key is to continue and to stay positive, also to allow yourself to take short breaks. For me, preparation has always been very important. When I went to live in Milan, I knew had to study Italian, otherwise I could not have been able to work there. As a storyteller living in the USA, I have to work on my accent, speech, and melody even more so because I am not a native English speaker. I do a lot of research to learn as much about a specific subject I can, so I am able to take my journey step by step and stay focused on my goal. I also ask friends for help and seek coaches who can train me in specific areas. I always focus on the solution and not the problem. The most important thing to find out is where your specific niche is as an actor.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I am a storyteller for film and fashion, I tell stories by portraying different characters – right now for Independent Film projects with young filmmakers. This is really my true passion and love. I have been learning a lot. There are so many different layers that want to be explored. It´s deep – with all the humanity that comes with it. I have always loved humans and their life stories. I am also intrigued by SciFi and otherwordly things, and the idea that my body is my instrument to tell the story is just so fascinating. My first career though is in fashion where I have been doing styling for over two decades for fashion and womens magazines, putting together fashion editorials with the latest fashion trends which is really exciting too. I love fabrics, textures, colors, and composition in a picture. The moods and allure you can create through a certain style, time period, hair, and makeup, and set design are exhilarating. Both film and fashion are mirrors of our time – vehicles to enchant people but also to bring awareness into social, political, and environmental drawbacks. I´m really proud that I have been managing to work in these amazing creative fields since no other person in my family has worked in the creative industry before. It´s almost a miracle to me how I got into these creative worlds because unlike in America – in Austria there is no theatrical or creative department at the public elementary or middle schools.

If you had to, what characteristic of yours would you give the most credit to?
First of all, the love and passion that I have been pouring in into every project I have been working on whether it´s for film or fashion. I go to the library and check out certain books or old magazines, I go to exhibitions, read poetry and watch great movies by amazing filmmakers. I love film and fashion history which again is pure inspiration for me which I then add to my projects. I always ask lots of questions and I make notes tons of notes. And I have lots of endurance – and that is really important. There is no shortcut – it´s a huge process to get to the essence of something. I also ask friends and colleagues for help when I am stuck. Supporting others, and being supported is a huge part of the process.

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