From politics to fashion from the show business family steeped in both. Tumultuous times in both arenas, yet with some Belafonte star dust sprinkled onto both scenes, excitement is created.
While Malena Belafonte endorses “Style Fashion Week”, the new show producer and game changer of New York and LA Fashion Weeks, her father-in-law Harry Belafonte endorses Bernie Sanders. Historically, the Belafonte’s stamp of approval has added excitement to politics. But likewise, when Malena Belafonte ads her stamp of approval to anything, people also listen. After a long and succesful career as a fashion model living in Paris, Milan, London and New York, she started a family while creating a production company, a fashion platform, co-founded a fashion magazine and raised millions for a charity benefiting children with HIV and Aids.
She was able to blend being behind the scenes and in front, and she danced her way to a silver medal in Dancing with the Stars in Europe, launched a perfume that raised funds for women’s small business initiatives in Africa, fought tigers on her way to the top of the TV show Fort Boyard, as well as dozens of other TV shows and produced hundreds of events. And as if that was not enough, Malena Belafonte co-founded the only private school for gifted children in Manhattan, called The Speyer Legacy School. A project that she has been extremely passionate about and hands on since its inception in 2008. All of this while she was a full-time mother. How can that be done?
“Well, when you ramble it all off like that, it does sound like an awful lot, and there is actually more, you might have missed a few records I recorded, but hey who is counting,” laughs Malena Belafonte. “But it is all about time management, a supportive husband, putting your priorities first, which in my case was always my children and the key to it all is…lack of sleep.”
This year, Malena Belafonte expands her long list of accomplishments and follows her passion for fashion back onto the runway by walking during New York Fashion Week as well as LA Fashion Week for designers such as David Tupaz, Marian Gaitan, Shalini, PopImpressKA and Central Avenue while lending her talent for creative direction and casting.
“It is not like I ever left the stage. I was born into show business, married into show business and have been in front and behind the scenes my whole life. I have always thought creatively in a way that to many seemed impossible and to some totally crazy. People are catching on now and wearing more hats, but I have done that since I was a kid. I learned from my dad who was amazing at both producing and performing, so it is not hard for me to do a million things at the same time and do them well,” says Malena, backstage where she wears many hats, not only the one she is wearing for couture designer David Tupaz.
“I had a great modeling career and did hundreds of shows, but I must admit that when I was asked by PopImpressKA to walk out on the runway in front of the world press, only wearing a Swarovski crystal bikini, I might have just for a moment questioned if my otherwise well-featured “asset” was still ready for primetime. Casting is a huge part of the success of a designer’s show. I am myself super picky about how models walk on the runway, I don’t believe in age, I don’t believe in limiting yourself. But I do believe in keeping fit and I also believe in NOT showing up on a runway if you can’t pull it off. My multifaceted experience on the stage is what gives me a different touch behind the scenes. It might seem crazy to some to mix all of those things together, but that is what makes a show and that is the essence of me. A rock star has 100% involvement in every aspect of their show. Fashion shows are no different. I know what I want to see on the runway, I know how the models should walk differently for one designer compared to another, and I know how it should all flow. Does it always flow the way I want it to? No, but once you are on stage, the craziness from backstage has to be behind you, because you have only 30 seconds on the runway to become the designer’s most photographed piece. That is what all of this is about. You need to show new models how to do that. I know what model needs nurturing, which one will always be late. I take care of people, it is who I am. I don’t really worry about what is done at other shows. The fashion industry is changing and does not have one single real new direction yet, so I am ready to create my own spin on it and show where I think it is going. I had TNT premiere their new hilarious comedy “The Detour” on the runway at the Pacific Design Center in LA, amidst palm trees and models! I mean who does that? But this is what Fashion Week is all about. It cannot stand still. The element of surprise is a must. I am happy to have found a sparring partner in Style Fashion Week who gets the need to be different, innovative, a little bit funky and a little bit rock’n roll,” says Malena, before she speeds off to sit front row with her family, including sister-in-law, actress Shari Belafonte to see the debut of Parisian designer Farah Angsana’s swim suit collection, whose show is exactly that; a little bit funky and a little bit rock’n roll mixed with Haute Couture and showmanship.
It seems that Malena Belafonte and her father-in-law have at-least one thing in common: They are not afraid of drawing outside the lines.