Ella Balinska has come full circle. A few years ago, she had a weekend job selling shoes at the men’s footwear department of Selfridges, which Kurt Geiger partially operates. This week, she found herself inviting friends and former Kurt Geiger co-workers into her new world, which includes a starring role in the “Charlie’s Angels” reboot, a Kurt Geiger campaign and a Cartier ambassadorship, by hosting a private screening at the new Selfridges Cinema in London.
Here, she speaks to FN about the endless opportunity to “character study” during her weekend job; how she picked the sturdy combat boots that became one of her character Jane Kano’s trademarks; and the message of empowerment and goodwill she hopes to spread with “Charlie’s Angels.”
FN: What did you take away from the experience of working for Kurt Geiger in Selfridges?
Ella Balinska: “Selfridges is a great place to come and character study. I worked here as a part-time job [for Kurt Geiger] on Saturdays and Sundays. For me, what’s most interesting is how a lot of people will find their character through the shoes that they wear: Heavy shoes give you power and with lighter shoes you have more freedom. I loved being able to identify a customer, traits about their personalities and their lifestyle. It was almost like doing a character analysis and then pairing them with the right shoes. Also, it meant working with people, and I love people. I mean act I people for a living.”
FN: When it came to choosing your character’s shoes in “Charlie’s Angels” how did you pick?
E.B.: “I’m wearing the Sting boots. I used to have the silver ones; they were the shoes that I got when I passed my probation [at Selfridges]. I remembered them as the most comfortable boots I had ever worn, so when I had a meeting with our costume designer, she was asking me what I’d want to wear during all these fight scenes and I immediately thought of those boots because Jane [Kano] is ex-MI6. When you’re doing all the training and drills, you normally do those in boots, so I thought that’s what she’d be comfortable in. They ended up being my character’s hero party boots.”
FN: What did getting ambassadorships for both Kurt Geiger and also more recently, Cartier, mean to you?
E.B.: “Working with Kurt Geiger was really close to my heart. I got that call and I was, like, ‘Man, now that’s full circle.’ The most important thing to me was bringing it back home, hosting this screening at Selfridges and having everyone who worked with me and was with me on my journey. These guys were genuinely in the stockroom with me, running lines.
“Having that platform is incredible. I don’t want to be a poster child for anything but it is one of those ‘You can do anything if you put your mind to it’ stories. Every single day since I was younger I would say I want to wake up every day and do what I love.
Similarly with Cartier, I think the reason why they approached me was that they saw the tenacity of the panther in me.”
FN: How did you approach dressing for the movie’s tour?
E.B.: “What I will say, looking back on my press photos, is that there is no shame in recycling a pair of shoes — comfort is key. We wanted to integrate bits of Jane with my personal style and also be forward-thinking in the fashion sense. Every look is strong, very practical and comfortable, which is what Jane incorporates into her style. For the premiere, I wanted to have my natural hair, it was my first big Hollywood premiere and I wanted to feel my most ‘me.’ “
FN: What do you hope people take away, after watching the new “Charlie’s Angels”?
E.B.: “This film is really fun, and I think there is something so incredible about watching a movie that allows you to let go and go along with the journey. To be an Angel, you gotta be a do-gooder with good intentions and motivation, have a willingness to work hard and fight for the greater good. And hopefully people will leave the film feeling like that and they’ll discover their own Angel. That was cliché, but hey.”
FN: What was the experience? And what’s next?
E.B.: “Elizabeth Banks created such a safe environment for us to work, fail, laugh and cry in, which I always say these characters do because they are real women. The whole time I was excited, and that whole process in itself is empowering: That do-gooder, goodwill, fun-loving energy comes across offscreen because it was present on the set.
As for the future, I’m in a Blumhouse [Productions] feature called ‘Run Sweetheart Run,’ which was a real shift to Jane Kano. I went from playing someone who leans towards the action, to running away from it. And when I say running, I mean it’s in the title twice. I didn’t really anticipate that when I got on set, but I run a lot in that movie. It’s opposite Pilou Asbeak, and it’s a great horror movie directed by Shana Feste.”