“Tragic Fairytale”. An Interview With Angelena Bonet


We discuss today with Angelena Bonet. Angelena Bonet was a world-class supermodel. She spent years working in television as an actress and TV show host, and she modelled for top brands known around the world. However, Angelena’s life changed forever in 2012. The victim of a violent crime, Angelena was forced to pick up the pieces of her life after a traumatic attack by a group of men. Using her experience, Angelena created a documentary to tell her story. In doing so, it helped the former supermodel to cope with the effects of her attack. She recently released a new single, “Tragic Fairytale” to streaming platforms. Angelena is the Founder and CEO of Crystal Heart Productions

Angelena, your autobiographical documentary, Angelena: Change the World, was released in 2017. Since its release, you have seen tremendous amounts of international film festival success. Start by telling us about the film and the reaction from viewers.


I began producing this film in 2016 after attending a women’s rights event for the One Billion Rising organization. I gave a public speech and interviewed attendees for my talk show Heart Of The Matter. A dear friend of mine suggested that I create a short film documenting my unique life experiences to help other people. I was reluctant at first as I was frightened to share my personal tragedies. However, the more I thought about it over the next few weeks the more I began to consider it and decided I would just make a 10 minute short film with footage of my speech and interviews and that would be it. Little did I know at that time what I was actually embarking on because that short film idea became a documentary feature film, Angelena: Change The World, and the first of my tetralogy and the catalyst for my documentary short film Change The World. The process was completely organic from the get-go and so cathartic. I knew that in order for the audience to understand what was driving my passion for aligning myself with non-profit organizations for violence against women and the story behind the music I had to explain what I have survived. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with the film once I had completed it because I was so focused on the work itself. My aim was purely on telling my story and was something that I had to do for myself. Putting the pieces of my life back together and using my voice to speak up against injustice was my sole intent. By reliving it and going right back to the beginning of my life was very healing indeed. It freed me because I had found my courage and couldn’t remain silent and I also got to remember all the magical experiences I have had and how wonderful my life has been. Once I had finished the film I then decided to submit it to a film festival in Los Angeles and it won ‘Best Inspirational Film’! It continued to win awards on the international film festival circuit and I could not have imagined it would be so well received around the world. This has been the most surprising aspect for me and it has brought me so much joy to know it has resonated in all cultures. I then got to work on my next film Angelena: Heart Of The Matter which is all about my talk show and features interviews with high profile women around the world inspiring change in their own right. That film also went on the international film festival circuit and won numerous awards. I then wanted to create a documentary short film to tell my story in under 40 minutes and that is how Change The World was born. This has been the film that has won in nearly every country and is still on the festival circuit because I am constantly receiving invitations. I then produced Angelena: Light At The End of the Tunnel and the fourth and final film of the tetralogy series is Angelena: Warrior Woman. Collectively, my films have won over 300 film festival awards including the ‘Humanitarian Award’ and the ‘Human Spirit Award’, numerous ‘Best Inspirational Film’, ‘Best Social Justice’, ‘Best Director, and “Best Original Soundtrack’ awards. I cannot express how grateful I am to all the festivals for their support. Telling my story was important for my soul and I hoped that if I could help just one woman then my suffering wouldn’t be in vain. These incredible awards are an absolute honor and bring me so much joy knowing I have been heard and touched others’ hearts. I always say that I have turned tragic into magic and I am so thankful to everyone for the support and kindness.


You did everything for the film from directing to editing to the music. What influenced and inspired the music for Angelena: Change the World?

These projects have definitely been a labor of love! The music actually began back in 2005 after I returned to Australia from modeling in Milan. My partner, Erick Deeby, was a record producer and musician who had written songs for bands and had songs in Hollywood soundtracks, including Marvel Comics. He wanted to collaborate on my solo debut album and dedicate time to developing my sound. Over the next couple of years he wrote instrumental pieces of music for me and recorded the tracks in his recording studio. Even though we were together for the whole writing process, he was adamant I wait to write the lyrics and melody until he was completely finished so I could hear the finished tracks and then write from my heart. We were living in Sydney’s red light district, Kings Cross, and the bohemian vibe really fuelled the album. We both loved 80s music and artists like David Bowie, Stevie Nicks and Annie Lennox and wanted create something new but with that influence. He had just finished the recordings, we got engaged and three days later he suffered a major heart attack at our home. I performed CPR and he was in the Intensive Care Unit on life support for a week but tragically it had to be turned off. I promised him at his bedside that someday, somehow I would finish our special project. During my time of deep grief I moved to the country and began writing the lyrics to the instrumentals he had written for me. I never imagined I would be writing the songs without him here and it was so surreal. I got to channel all my emotions into the songs and having that outlet was what saved me. Each song is like a chapter of a book and is such a unique way of an album coming to be. It has been a natural process from day one and is now the soundtrack to my films. I recorded the vocals at Fox Studios, Australia and then produced the music videos in Sydney. Every component of the creative process has been magical and at times very difficult. In the period after his passing it was very hard for me to listen to the instrumentals or sing them without crying but now it is a real joy and I know I am making him proud.

You wrote the protest song, “Change the World” with your partner, the late Erick Deeby. Please tell us about your experience writing music with Erick.

“Change The World” is the only song from the soundtrack that we actually co-wrote at the same time. All the other songs were written with him writing the instrumentals before he passed and me writing the lyrics and melody after he died. I will never forget that particular evening we were in our lounge room watching the nightly news. I was so upset with all the shocking news from around the world and I started crying. I just couldn’t believe the amount of violence human beings inflict on each other, animals and the planet. I was talking to Erick about it and expressing my disappointment in humanity when he picked up my acoustic guitar and started playing a tune. I began singing along with him, the lyrics just flowed and the melody came naturally from there. We were on the same wavelength so the music was very natural for us. We were merely expressing our hearts and what we had just seen on TV and the song was written in a matter of minutes. It has been a magical process from the moment we wrote it. When I decided to produce the music video for it, performing it to camera that day was another special experience for me. I was taken back to that night when we wrote it and how much it meant to both of us. Then editing the clip and bringing my vision to life was incredible and also bittersweet without Erick here. He wrote all the instrumentals on my acoustic guitar that I play in the film and I was his muse and inspiration. He wrote my spirit into each song and to have my soul mate give me such a gift is something I will be forever grateful for. Some people value diamond rings but for me, having true love and create art that is pure and intangible is priceless. He didn’t want me to write the lyrics to any of the songs until he had finished recording them so I could really feel the essence and then write from my heart and soul like he had. He always said I was a solo artist but our album was a joint project of us both giving 100%. Working with Erick was a sacred experience because he was a genius and a brilliant musician and producer who had the ability to write orchestral music and hear each instrument in his head. He knew my potential and knew how to bring the best out of me. We had already been living together for two years before we even considered collaborating on an album and we had that level of trust and respect so it really was a perfect union.


How did Erick’s passing affect and how has it changed you?

Erick’s passing was a life changing experience to say the least. It was sudden and unexpected and three days after we got engaged and two weeks after he had finishing recording our instrumentals. Being so young and healthy meant I was completely blindsided and instead of organizing our wedding, I was organizing his funeral. It was surreal and extremely painful that took time to heal from. I gave the eulogy at his funeral, which I’ve included in Angelena: Change The World and I can still remember the hundreds of people there. It’s something I wouldn’t wish upon anyone but it has brought many gifts and blessings. In the wake of his passing it put life into perspective and you get a sense of clarity that you didn’t have beforehand. Little things seem insignificant once you see the fragility of life. Having gone through this tragedy at such a young age was a gift for me in the way that I learnt to appreciate and grab life and make the most of it. It fuelled my passion even more and I was determined to finish our album. The music wouldn’t be what it is as I would not have had this subject matter, nor the emotional depth. I gained wisdom and saw life with new eyes and that to me is such a gift. His passing has also made me more empathetic and compassionate to others’ pain and suffering. I love nothing more than seeing people in love get engaged and married and I wish them a long and happy life together. It has made me see the beauty of our world and the human experience.

Having lost someone you love, what motivates you in the wake of tragedy?

Having lost someone I love makes me appreciate life so much more. The old adage “it’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all” definitely rings true for me. Erick has enriched my life in so many ways and helped my soul to evolve and for that I am very grateful. He may not be here physically but we are still connected in our hearts and he lives on in our music and memories. Not everyone gets to experience true love and meet their soul mate so I know how lucky I am and my life is full for having had five magical years with him. He also gave me the gift to express my heart and soul and find new creative avenues like filmmaking, music producing and editing that I may never have found had he still been alive. Our love gives me strength and I strive to make him proud of me. And in my heart I know he is and that brings me peace and the motivation to continue to have a happy life. Having the promise I made to Erick to keep gave me the impetus to keep going. Surviving a tragedy, you understand each day is precious and the importance of staying in the present and enjoying each moment.

You recently released a new single, “Tragic Fairytale” to streaming platforms. Tell us about the new single, its meaning, and the message behind it.

It has been so exciting to release Tragic Fairytale to streaming platforms. It was the first track I wrote six weeks after Erick passed while I was on the way to my twin brother’s wedding. I had the tune in my mind so I grabbed a pen and paper and had it written in about fifteen minutes. The message of this song is that true love can never die. I tell the story of how we met, what happened and my experience of being with him in ICU before I had to say goodbye. This song really is my heart and I hope it brings other people comfort in their time of grief. Losing someone dear is universal and part of being human and I often have people say to me that this song touched their heart or they shed a tear for a loved one. I love that people can relate to it and that they feel something. I wrote all the lyrics and melody over the next few months with my emotions so raw. As I wrote each song I could feel my heart healing and it was the gift that saved my life. Without these songs I don’t think I would be here. Our album sat on the shelf for years and to be honest, I was so proud of myself for completing them and keeping my promise but I wasn’t sure if I would ever release them. Then when I began producing my first documentary, I decided to include them, and in subsequent films, to tell my whole story. I know he would be so proud of me for completing our album and all that I am achieving. To have our songs win “Best Music Video’, ‘Best Original Song’ and ‘Best Original Soundtrack’ at film festivals around the world brings me immense joy and I know Erick would be so excited also! It really is the icing on the cake for me because I never expected accolades and we only ever did this project for the love of each other and the music.


Angelena, you are extremely busy in the world of media. You have a talk show called Heart of the Matter. Firstly, how do you find the time for so many projects and secondly, what topics do you cover on the new talk show?

How do I find the time? That is a good question! Let’s just say it has been a labor of love and around the clock for many years getting this work done. I guess when you are as passionate as I am you find the time. My projects give me energy and I am thriving doing what I love and also knowing I am contributing to society in a positive and meaningful way. Before the #MeToo movement had begun, I decided to launch my own production company, Crystal Heart Productions, in Toronto in 2014 with the intention of interviewing women and girls all around the world and from all walks of life, thus allowing women’s voices to be heard. I have interviewed women’s rights leaders such as President Obama’s Women’s Equality Advisor Tina Tchen, Tony award-winning playwright and activist Eve Ensler, CEO of Canadian Women’s Foundation, Paulette Senior and Australian Journalist and author, Tracey Spicer, to name but a few. I also cover red carpet events and interview documentary filmmakers and celebrities and community events and talk to people that are doing incredible work to try and change the world for the better. I cover topics such as motherhood and pregnancy, politics, film and music, gender equality and pay equity and any other topic that relates to women’s issues and empowerment. It is something that is really important to me and I feel so lucky to have met so many amazing women that inspire me. I love seeing women step into their power and use their voice and talents with purpose and be a beacon of hope for others. Essentially, that is what my talk show is all about.


You have long been an advocate for women who have experienced sexual violence. Tell us about your work as a humanitarian working with non-profits to help women overcome their experiences.

I have aligned myself with numerous non-profit organizations that support women and girls. After miraculously surviving the violent crime and attempted murder in 2012 I knew I wanted to ease other’s pain and help empower other women and protect girls and our future generations. I have served as the Australian Ambassador for World Mental Health Day, and official blogger for OXFAM and a current member of the RAINN Organization Speaker Bureau in Washington D.C. I have been public speaking at events to raise awareness and inspire others to find their voice and not remain silent. I have covered many events both in Australia and Canada with my web series, The Angelena Bonet Show, to shine a light on important issues that humanity is yet to resolve. I love attending community grassroots events and speaking with people from all backgrounds. Afterwards many women approach me to thank me or tell me I inspired them to report their own abuse to police or seek help. Sometimes they share their own suffering and let me know I am the first person they have told because they I know I will understand and believe them. I’m so passionate about being an advocate and had I not been through what I have then I wouldn’t have met so many incredible people along this path. It fills me with hope when I am at a rally or women’s rights event, standing in solidarity and being part of this global sisterhood. We have seen so much positive change in the past few years but some issues such as the U.S. abortion laws and pay equity still need addressing and be brought up to the current century. We are definitely still coming out of the dark ages and violence against women is so prevalent but with amazing non-profits and volunteers that work tirelessly, this global epidemic is no longer swept under the carpet nor a taboo subject. There is much more talk about domestic and family violence and mental health. I feel honored to lend my voice and connect with kind-hearted people that want to create a safer and fairer world for women and girls.


You recently launched The Dragonfly Dreaming Project to support young women and girls who are victims of gender-based violence and assist in their healing. How did the creation of the organization come about?

I’ve been planning to start my own organization to support young women and girls for a while now but as you can see with my schedule it has been difficult to find the extra time! This year I began brainstorming ideas again and came up with the name. During Covid-19 I kept seeing dragonflies in my backyard during lockdown and I absolutely love them and find them magical. They symbolize change, transformation, adaptability and self-realization. The change that is often referred to has its source in mental and emotional maturity and understanding the deeper meaning of life. I wanted to create an online healing sanctuary and a safe space to help young women and girls heal, restore and rejuvenate. The Dragonfly Dreaming Project includes a podcast show, blog, tools for self-care and a shop. I also envisage speaking at high schools and mentoring teen girls about self-esteem, self worth and confidence and navigating social media safely. I am very excited about this next chapter and putting my energy into supporting and empowering the next generation. I want to leave this world a better place than I found it and this project is one way I can do my bit to help.

Angelena, what are some of the projects you are working on for the future?

I am busy working on The Dragonfly Dreaming Project and I will also be creating a documentary film about it at the same time. I recently released Tragic Fairytale and have upcoming radio interviews booked. I also have new songs written so I will be back in the recording studio later this year to lay the vocal tracks. I recently interviewed American author, Bailey Gaddis, for Heart Of The Matter and have some exciting international guests lined up. I’m in the midst of wrapping Change The World up on the film festival circuit and releasing the “Angelena” tetralogy feature film series on Vimeo On Demand in July. There’s never a dull moment and lots of creative projects on the go and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

To learn more about Angelena Bonet please visit https://www.angelenabonet.com





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