An avid reader, activist, mother, radio host and actress who has featured in dozens of Wan Smolbag’s films and plays, Helen Kailo is one of the country’s best actresses and is someone who is committed to contributing to Vanuatu. Although Helen works primarily in theatre and filming, she also engages in community development workshops, team building, promotion of social and political ethics through community awareness work, including gender equality, empowerment of minority groups and human rights.
This photo shoot was taken at Dunstan’s Nakamal where Helen and her gang often hang out after a hard day’s work.
#PNGNiVanQueen #AelanGoddess #KeepingItReal
Helen Kailo (Len)
Where are you from?
My father is from the island of Aniwa and my mother is from Manus Province, Papua New Guinea.
Tell us about your family?
I have a pretty big family. My father passed away about 11 years ago, leaving my 4 brothers, my mother, my daughter and myself. But now my family has grown and I have my step dad and 6 stepsiblings that I love dearly. My brothers dubbed us the ‘Paradise Family’.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I enjoy the usual stuff like watching movies or reading a good book. I like listening to music by Childish Gambino, the Internet, anything of the RnB genre, some Pacific music and anything that’s trending. I enjoy hanging out with the gang at the nakamal after work. I am also obsessed with True Crime stories and Greek Mythology.
What do you do for work?
I am an actress at Wan Smolbag Theatre. I joined when I was 18 years old and this year marks a decade of me being in the theatre group. My job description consists of us raising awareness on social issues through plays, films and community-engaged workshops. I absolutely 100% love my job! I get to travel, meet new people, act and talk about social issues in communities.
What do you aspire to do in the future?
To carry on the work that we are doing now by using theatre and film as a tool to encourage discussions in communities. Hopefully write a film or direct a play one day.
What is a quote that you live by?
“A day without laughter is a day wasted” – Charlie Chaplin
How would you describe your style?
I think you create your own individual style. I like to wear what is comfortable for me, which are primarily jeans and a t-shirt. I’m into the disheveled look. I don’t like when things are too neat and that is sort of reflected in my style of clothing. I will throw on a dress once or twice but for everyday wear, it’s my trusty jeans and t-shirt.
Who influences your style?
Comfort influences my style.
What beauty products do you use?
I grew up loving my mom’s scent, which is the Red Door Perfume by Elizabeth Arden.
Any fashion tips?
Find what suits you best and rock it!
What is the most difficult thing you have had to face?
The most difficult thing I faced was not being able to complete my high school education and move on to university. But one thing I’ve learnt about challenges is that they help shape you and make you stronger. I am happy where I am. It was the difficult things that shaped me into the person I am today and had I taken a different path, I would not be this version of myself.
What is one thing you wish you could tell your younger self?
To have more confidence in myself.
What are three words you would use to describe yourself?
Funny, Sarcastic and Caring.
Assistant: Umi Nompavos
Photographer: Nicky Kuautonga
Hair, makeup, nails by Lotus Day Spa
This article was originally published in the September edition of the Vanuatu Daily Post Life and Style magazine.