Carola Wisny is a deaf fashion model born in Norway – but her career has taken her all over the globe since she broke through as a newcomer in 2011. Carola’s story and philosophical view on life is infectious and truly inspirational.
She describes herself not only as a model but as a ‘chameleonic model character’. She explains the difference between the two: “I don’t want to be like other models. Models pose and let photographers direct them. Like actors, modelling characters are so deep that they study, brainstorm and transform themselves into unique characters that are suitable for different projects.”
In this exclusive interview, she shares her story.
To give readers a better understanding, how would you describe your level of deafness?
I’m profoundly deaf. I communicate visually and physically.
Did deafness affect your childhood or teenage years?
No, absolutely not! Deaf communities are culturally rich and fascinating. Every member of my family is deaf. I attended both deaf schools and hearing schools and played with deaf kids and hearing kids. I am always on an invisible, fantastic bridge between the deaf world and the hearing world. Spending time with people that are either deaf or hearing is great fun. It’s like juggling. I don’t have only just one life – I have many.
Do you use British Sign language, or prefer other methods of communicating?
Yes I can use British Sign Language but I’m fluent in many sign languages. I use sign language to communicate with deaf people, interpreters and hearing people who are able to use sign language. There are many alternative methods of communication when you aren’t able to use sign language – it’s always possible.
What advice would you give a young person who is deaf?
Don’t despair if you are rejected or have a few knock-backs. Limitations are merely opportunities to grow. Use them as stepping stones to success. The more open you are, the safer you are.
A casting director once told you that he wished you could hear. How did you react to that, and why do you think he had this wish?
I smiled and didn’t say anything. Who knows why the casting director wished I could hear?
When did you first decide you wanted to pursue a modelling career?
In October 2010. I didn’t decide. My boyfriend did. My boyfriend introduced me to the fashion industry.
What’s your favourite photo shoot that you’ve worked on, and why?
It was photographed by Diego Indraccolo and styled by Kay Korsh – working with them is always an eye-opening experience for me. They are really wonderful!
Do you find the industry to be quite harsh or friendly?
Well, I think that some agency directors remain more loyal to their business than models.
Your favourite designer?
Vivienne Westwood. She’s just full of love. Her face never stops lighting up. Queen. Angel. Political activist. Innovator. Hey, did you know that she was a primary school teacher?
Who are you inspired by?
Johnny Depp. He’s so versatile.
As a model, Carola is attuned to communicating through her body language, poses and facial expressions in order to capture a photographed moment. So when asked how her deafness has influenced her career, she answered simply, “My visual communication has considerable influence with the industry”…
Carola’s creative portfolio is under the name of Opsehe. Carola explains the meaning behind the name ‘Opsehe’ “As a character, little by little I discovered my hidden talents and named myself Ops-ehe. Later, Opsehe! It means a mixture of ‘oops!’ & ‘hehe!’ – surprise and versatility. Like the tragedy and comedy theatrical masks, my masks are ‘oops!’ and ‘hehe!”
“I don’t really consider myself a model. I’m a character working as a model, an actress, a comedienne, a TV presenter, a circus performer or an artist. For me, versatility is important. Outside the industry, I’m still a character. If I weren’t a character, then there would be no Carola.”
Check out Carola’s website here: www.carolawisny.com
Interview by Laura Jane Turner. Writer of the LJT Fashion Blog
The Limping Chicken is supported by a range of charities and organisations linked to deafness, all of whom offer services that enhance deaf lives. Click on the images on the right-hand side of this site or go to our Supporter’s page to find out all about them!
The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne. Find out how to write for us by clicking here, how to follow us by clicking here, and read our disclaimer here.
The site exists thanks to our supporters. Check them out below:
- Eyewitness Media: TV and film from a Deaf perspective
- Ai-Media: Remote captioning. Find out about 5 funny ways to use captions!
- Bellman & Symfon: home alerting solutions
- Deaf Umbrella: sign language interpreting and communications support
- Appa: Communication services for Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing people
- SignLive: Online video interpreting for Deaf people
- SignVideo: Instant BSL video interpreting online
- 121 Captions: captioning and speech-to-text services
- Signature: Leading awarding body for BSL qualifications
- The National Theatre: Captioned and BSL accessible theatre in London
- Doncaster School for the Deaf: education for Deaf children
- Signworld: Learn BSL online!
- Action Deafness Communications: sign language and Red Dot online video interpreting
- BSLcourses.co.uk: Provider of online BSL courses
- Association of Notetaking Professionals: The professional body representing Electronic and Manual Notetakers
- Sign Solutions: communication support, training and translation
- InterpretersLive: On demand BSL video interpretation
- Hamilton Lodge School in Brighton: education for Deaf children
- Lipspeaker UK: specialist lipspeaking support
- Ozen: Australian hearing aid specialists
- Elmfield School, Bristol: Inclusive education for Deaf pupils
- deafPLUS: BSL advice helpline
- Exeter Deaf Academy: education for Deaf children
- Royal Shakespeare Company: Captioned and BSL interpreted performances (see dates here)
- Royal School for the Deaf, Derby: Residential education for deaf children
- RAD Tax Advice: Tax and Tax Credit info for Deaf people
- Performance Interpreting: BSL interpreting at concerts
- National Deaf Children's Society: The leading charity for deaf children
- Signed Culture: Advocating for BSL access to arts and culture
- SignHealth: healthcare charity for Deaf people
- CJ Interpreting: communication support in BSL
- British Society for Mental Health and Deafness: Promoting positive mental health for deaf people