Elena Aaron (Lena Oscar)
They say that growing up in Hells Kitchen
builds character...And it also
gives you characters to play when you become an actor. Such is the
Elena Aaron, the first child of a French/English mom and a father
from Spain. Spending her childhood in the inner city, Elena was
exposed to dubious neighbors, school punks and hustlers. Activities
like joining the Girl Scouts and learning to crochet at a local
YMCA kept Elenas mind occupied.
The saving grace for Elena may have been her
grandmother (Paula). Paula cared for Elena and her younger brothers
while her mom, a single parent, was
working. She cooked, washed clothes, and made sure Elena got to
church on Sundays. But Sunday afternoons was Elenas favorite
time. She remembers sitting down and watching Audrey Hepburn films
like Funny Face and Breakfast at Tiffanys.
I could watch Audrey have tea and toast
and be fascinated by it, states Elena.
Despite all the wonderful exposure to Hepburns
world, the acting bug did not catch Elena right away. She started
at the Fashion Institute of Design, moved into
fashion buying/merchandising and earned her degree. Then, she spent
time in Marbella, Spain with her fiancé, but decided to return
to New York. She worked at a costume jewelry company and as a bartender/cocktail
waitress in a billiards club.
One day, while chatting with a prince from Saudi
Arabia (honest to God), he encouraged her to go for her dream: to
become an actress. Elena auditioned and paid
her way through the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. While attending
school, she earned a theatre scholarship from the New York Times.
Elenas first stage performance was in
an Off-Off Broadway performance of It Begins With A Kiss.
This was followed by a production of: Superior Smoke.
Simultaneously, Elena was accepting model assignments
in billboard ads for Colgate and AT & T. For a while she was
the Lima Girl and then she became the
Macarena Girl (a step by step dance guide) in People
Magazine. It was featured in the special end of year issue.
New York Theatre jobs continued as she appeared
in productions like: Mrs. Bumpstead-Leigh
Pays To Advertise, and History Lessons. Even television
casting agents were taking notice of Elena and she had the opportunity
to do a stint on: As The World Turns. She played a make-up
artist named Monica.
As a result, auditions started coming fast and
furious (sometimes 7-8 in a week) for Elena. She began her search
for inner-peace. Her quest lead her to Shakti Gawains book
and she started studying meditation.
Now, before every audition, I close my
eyes and find my own sanctuary. Im with my higher self
sometimes, I think of Audrey Hepburn for solace,explains Elena.
In the summer of 2001, a refreshed Elena auditioned
for the film: By The Sea (a romantic comedy) and got the lead role.
She plays Lena Oscar, a feisty pastry chef
of a popular New York restaurant, who is fired by her boyfriend,
so she finds kitchen work at a turn of the century, ocean front
There, she meets the ghost of her grandfather who helps
her re-discover her Cuban heritage and coaches Lena on her love
Playing Lena was an intense and very physical
commitment for Elena. It demanded a full range of emotions from
despair to elation. The physical aspect had
Elena constantly fainting and dancing the Cha-Cha. It was a lot
of responsibility to place on the young actress, but maybe the most
meaningful compliment for her came from the Executive Producer
While on location in Rhode Island, Elena overheard
this producer touting about his lead actress to a local reporter
and calling her the next Audrey Hepburn. She shrieked
with joy and the film crew was surprised. The meditation was working!