“I’m fluent in many sign languages.” Meet Carola, the deaf Norwegian model who lets her body do the talking

Posted on May 3, 2013

opsehe0236aCarola 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.

CArola 1Your favourite SS13 (Spring / Summer 2013) seasonal trend?
Saint Laurent SS13. If Hedi Slimane were a colour, there’s probably no way to define the colour.

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

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