You may have seen Lena Hardt in a runway show, fashion magazine or in Céline campaigns. For the current print issue issue of Whitelies Magazine she visited the "Parque Natural de las Bardenas Reales" in Spain in company with her husband Richard Jensen to create an intimate and vulnerable story.
Hailing from a background of teachers, we sat down with the German born model to hear her take on existence, spirituality, as well as her ultimate failures and ambitions.
Hey Lena, how are you today?
I’m very good, thank you. I’m in Germany with my family right now.
Where did you guys shoot exactly?
In a desert in Spain. It was so beautiful. I’m trying to re- member the name. It was close to the “Parque Natural de las Bardenas Reales”. You have these beautiful stone transformations. It looks almost like if you are on the moon. The stones have different levels of softness and hardness so the wind and rain slowly makes them fall apart and shape them into arches and little funny towers.
I was just in white sands in New Mexico - talking about a moon landscape. I always get really attracted to otherworldly landscapes.
It somehow makes time pass slower. I guess we are too often surrounded by the big city craziness.
I couldn’t agree more. Where are you right now?
In Sinnersdorf, a village close to Cologne. Basically my entire family lives here which makes it very easy to see everyone and spend time with everyone in the little days I’m here.
Ahh Kölsch. Let me guess: you don’t come back home that often?
(Laughs) No, unfortunately I don’t come as often as I would like to. Although I live half time in Paris and it’s really not that far from here with the Thalys. I suppose I come for a week every two or three months.
It’s hard to find the time for a trip home when you are working all over the world I suppose.
It definitely is. Sometimes I just want to stay home in Paris and not travel in my free time.
Were you discovered around your hometown?
Yes, it was at the main train station in Cologne where my mother agent scouted me. I had never thought about modelling but I thought she looked so beautiful and nice so I told my mum about her weeks later and we went to see her. My mother really liked her too. They actually became very good friends over the years, which is really nice I think.
That’s beautiful. Ann is a great scout, she certainly has an incredible intuition - did she mentor you from the start?
Oh yes, she did. Since my parents are both teachers, they couldn’t ever take time off to travel with me, so Ann traveled with me. It was such a good time. It was very easy for me to have someone show me this crazy world and help me through castings, first shows and first shoots.
Definitely, especially at the age of fifteen proper guidance is vital. What subjects are your parents teaching?
Yes, especially because you don’t even really speak english that well - or maybe that was just me (laughs). My parents are both math teachers.
That’s interesting - given your parents are math teachers, do you have a more rational view on existence?
No, I’m a very very emotional person. I would always try to think rationally but then at the end it never really works. My emotions decide.
Are you spiritual at all?
Funny enough my parents were very religious and we went to church every Sunday when I was young. My mother used to teach religion as well. However they decided to not baptise me and my brother to let us decide on our own. Neither of us are religious. Although I do believe there is some- thing. You may call it God, I don’t know what it is. I guess you call that being spiritual.
I think it’s funny how most of us immediately think about religion when we hear the word “spiritual”. In our interview with Adrienne Jüliger the same thing happened. I would say spiritual is about believing in a higher power, a higher existence. Something more than we can see.
Yes, for sure. But I kind of see religion like that. The power is just named God.
I think religion and spirituality are entirely different things. To me religion is the organisation and the system around it - whereas spirituality is something without a system, without words even - just experience.
Yes. I think most of us can feel that there is something else, but human beings try to explain everything and be rational about it. That’s why I think they named the power God and made up all the stories around it.
I agree - humans are little “know it alls” and we canʼt enjoy and appreciate something entirely - we have to find a thousand stories and names for it.
Yes (laughs), that’s us. Great. I became more open to the idea of spirituality since I go to Brazil more often. German society is also not that open to it.
Your husband Richard is from Brazil, correct?
Exactly. In a country like that it’s much easier or common to have spiritual experiences because people around you are more open to it. It’s beautiful to hear and see.
We went quite deep very quickly, didn’t we? I wanted to talk to you more about failure, as our issue revolves around that. What does failure mean to you?
I guess the biggest failure to me is being unhappy. That’s also the most objective way to think about it. We all have different goals in life but at the end we all want to be happy.
But does failure even exist or is it just a phony concept that we made up to judge encounters and situations that we feel negative about?
I think it does exist - it’s just a very subjective thing. If you are ambitious and you set your goals high you will always go through some kind of failure. Life doesn’t always go the way you want it to. In the end these little failures make you appreciate your success much more.
Isn’t it actually vital to fail in order to succeed? I think they are a ying and yang and go back to nature’s most simple concept of two poles.
That’s exactly what I think. It’s a learning process.
The positive is only possible if the negative exists. The basic concept - phoenix from the ashes.
That said, failure is not just a phony thing we made up, but itʼs important for us to judge situations and encounters.
If you look back on your biggest failures, didn’t they all turn out very important lessons that made you grow?
Yes. Especially when looking at my modelling career. Since I started so young it was very important for me to experience failure. I had to work so hard on myself for my success. It helped me grow up.
There are ways to avoid failure, but I think if you try to avoid failure - you are avoiding success as well.
For sure, but I’m not sure if you can really always avoid failure. We are all not perfect. We make mistakes. We have moods. You can’t always get it right.
Failing is a test of strength - because pain is temporary but quitting lasts forever.
Good one. It’s not easy to forgive yourself for quitting - at least most people feel that way. I do. It all comes down to personal success. We all want to be great human beings and being ambitious and self-accomplished is part of that. Like being generous, kind, loving and empathic.
Both, success and failure are very subjective and personal topics. I suppose all that’s left to ask is, what’s the meaning of life anyway? Well, I really don’t know. I’m not sure we’ll ever find out. So I want to look back at my life and think of it as happy.
And we wish you all the success in the world with that.