She took a break from a dental hygienist education, and a friend suggested getting into modeling. Following this brilliant piece of advice, Kirsten Hede-Brierley signed with the Danish “Modelbureauet” in 1984 and was very succesful. The owner from a New York based modeling agency, Bonnie Kay/Select Models, came to Denmark and asked her to come to New York City for three weeks. She stayed with them in their townhouse and, later, in a models’ apartment on Park Avenue and the rest as they say, is history.
TS: How long have you been acting/modeling?
KB: 15 years – before I had my kids. Then I came out of retirement in 2005, after seven years, when the kids were older.
TS: How did you get started?
KB: I met my American Prince Charming and future husband Andrew on Cape Cod, and I moved in with him in Boston. I signed with the Candy Ford modeling agency on Newbury Street. I was highly succesful and loved it!
But then she wanted a family and retired after her first child, a son, was born in 1990. Three years later, she had a daughter in 1993. Hede-Brierley loved being a stay at home mother and seeing her kids grow up. “In 2005, I decided to return to the modeling industry as I noticed that older models were very much in focus,” she explains.
Signed with seven agencies – one in each New England state, New York and New Jersey, Hede-Brierley does print, commercials, industrials, and numerous runway shows. “I am also a scout for one of my agencies, and I do Danish voice-overs, for Danish language programs. Still going strong!”
TS: What has been your most memorable modeling/acting job so far?
KB: I was a featured extra in a German television film – Katie Fjorde: “Family Ties” – and the director heard that I understood and spoke a bit of German. Voila – a few German sentences were added for me to speak to the star. I had to smoke a cigarette, which I had never done before. Also being featured as a baby boomer on the front cover of the Boston Globe Magazine (in my underwear) next to a male model. That brought me quite a lot of fame and comments from so many people- all good!
KB: Christie Brinkley; a true classic beauty, still, at age 61, and a great humantiarian and animal advocate, especially for elephants and the environment. I met her after her performance in the musical “Chicago” in Boston. She was so kind and graceful even when, before we could take a photo together, the batteries in the camera had to be changed. She just smiled and talked, and was patient.
TS: What has been your most embarrassing moment?
KB: I was booked for Boston Magazine – the cover and lead article. I woke up feeling not so well, but went for the shoot anyway. Afterwards on the set, I fainted and my husband was called to come pick me up. I was diagnosed with the mumps!
When asked about fashion trends that she might like or dislike, Hede-Brierley responds, “I really like classic and timeless styled clothes like Levis jeans, wrap dresses, pencil skirts, wool and cashmere sweaters, coats and western boots.” She also loves suede, leather and fur, “added with some nice jewelry, neutral make up and hair not overdone. My favorite colors are jewel toned,” she continues, “I dislike anything too short or heels too high or colors that are too loud.
Born on September 18, 1953, this 51 year-old says she always tries to “…dress my age (and I am not shy about my age) and not wanting to look age 20! Wearing the right outfit for the occassion is very important, especially as a model/actor going to an audition.”
TS: What’s your favorite comedy show?
KB: Oh, so many! “Seinfeld” was truly my first encounter with American and New York life and sitcom humor. “All in the Family” was a bit shocking to watch as a newcomer to the United States in 1985, but besides its call of awarness to racism, bigotry and prejudice, it was fun to watch. Not to forget Robin Williams who we lost recently – such a multi talented actor and comedian.
TS: What do you enjoy doing in your down time?
KB: I have many and varied interests. I belong to a Danish bookclub, which is important in order to keep up the language and relationships with fellow Danes here in the States. I also dance in a weekly sacred dance trupe (Ballet based) called Creation Dance and we perform in churches and other venues. Going to museums and live concerts or out to dance, be that classical or rock or jazz. New Age subjects and especially astrology has had my interest since I was a teenager and I am actually quite adept at looking at a horoscope/chart, but I still seek out a professional astrologer for a yearly up to date reading. I have a ‘Reiki One’ degree and like to heal family and friends.
I envision doing more volunteer work in the coming years especially within the Lexington, M.A. community, which I joined and was a big part of last year’s 2013 300-year anniversary. I am also involved with the local television station, LexMedia, as a reporter. I have done three interviews – “Dance Around the World,” as well as the “Patriots Day” parade, interviewing local onlookers. Last week it was about “Things Not Talked About in the Media.”
To keep up with this busy schedule, Hede-brierly stays very active athletically. “I belong to Boston Sports Club,” she says, “and take weekly/daily group classes in Pilates, Zumba, Yoga and classic Ballet, followed by a swim in the indoor pool and steam room. I love the Boston Ballet adult class at the Newton, MA studio…” She also takes daily long dog walks.
TS: Best vacation/travel experience?
KB: To travel is to live! I try to go and visit family and friends every year in Denmark. I have been to so many wonderful European countries, especially growing up but the 2 standouts are Israel, where I lived for six months, and volunteered in a Kibbutz Nachshon outside Jerusalem and traveled all over the country. The other country would be Iceland and its fantastic nature- geysers, waterfalls, volcanoes and glaciers. I plan to go back and do an Icelandic horse-travel adventure someday. For a USA destination favorite, our family loves Sanibel Island in Florida- truly a sunny and green tropical Paradise!
TS: Do you cook?
KB: I do make dinner every night. I learned how to cook both in elementary school, in Denmark, and at a summer cooking school. For Thanksgiving, I make a sumpteous huge roast turkey, with all the many side dishes and trimmings. At Christmas, my family celebrates both the 24th and 25th, with typical Danish Christmas dishes like roast duck, sugar glazed fingerling potatoes, and red cabbage. For dessert, a Ris A la Mande (rice boiled in milk with real vanilla bean and whipped cream) dessert. My favorite (healthy and pretty) Danish dish to make is a Stjerneskud- Shooting Star- a Smorrebrod layered dish. I wrote about it in a blog
TS: Do you have any pets?
KB: I have quite a menagerie of lovely, all rescued/adopted, pets! One dog named Swazey, a 75lbs mix of Gordon setter and Labrador retriver; unfortunately abused and mistrusting of people, except his family and vet, but he is a great guard dog at my house. Two cats – a Siamese called Mr. Fang, and a Maine Coon, Mr Kashmir; lovely and very sweet. Finally four birds; two cockatiels – Keho and Pretty Birdie – and two parakeets: Jack and Jill – they sing and one can even talk!
Born and raised in Aarhus, Denmark, the second largest city in Denmark, with about 300,000 people, Hede-Brierley says she remembers being shy as a young girl. “In order to break out of that,” she recalls, “I forced myself to get into the elementary student council.” She became the president and had to “make speeches and go to many meetings. In Dental Assistant and Hygienist School, I was also the president.” She has served on the board of The Danish Society of M.A., and has been president for two years. “Sometimes,” she offers, “you just have to jump into new things and so far it has always worked out fine!”
TS: What is your favorite holiday?
KB: I love Christmas time and the days with all the family together; all the decorations, food and cozyness. Add some beautiful Christmas music and carols – both in Danish and American – and some snow and a warm fireplace…
TS: Share your favorite quote
KB: Live well, laugh often
Love always, live simply
Speak kindly, care deeply
Love generously, laugh
As much as you breathe and
Love as long as you live
TS: What is the biggest piece of advice you have for other up and coming models/actors out there?
KB: To have a positive and upbeat attitude, do not fear rejection. Have lots of patience and be good at taking directions from photographers and directors. Be kind to fellow models/actors and everyone you meet in the business. Last, but not least, have an outlet or interest in other things in life so that your personality is balanced and enriched.