Helena Zengel is a German child actress who is popular for appearing in the German film System Crasher (2019) and the American film News of the World (2020).
Helena Zengel was born on Tuesday, June 10, 2008 (age 13 years; as of 2021), in Berlin, Germany.
Since childhood, Helena was a perky over-energetic kid. To channelize her flooding energy, her parents enrolled her in ice-skating classes, and they also encouraged her to try a hand in acting. In an interview, Helena’s mother, Anna Zengel, said,
She had to function in society, so we had to figure out how to redirect her energy.”
Helena paved a way into the entertainment industry through a friend of her mother who owned an acting agency, which led Helena to play minor roles in a few films and television shows. In an interview, Helena revealed that she has an inborn acting talent and also claimed that she never pursued any acting classes. She said,
Acting is actually normal for me…I never had acting classes or anything, so it’s just something natural I like to do.”
Hair Color: Platinum
Eye Color: Blue
Helena Zengel’s mother’s name is Anne Zengel. She works as a professional singer and a radio jockey at B2, a German radio network.
At the age of five, Helena embarked on the beginning of her acting career when she made an appearance as a little girl in the music video of the song “Streets” by the rock band Abby. Later, she booked roles in several projects of film school students belonging to renowned film schools of Germany.
In 2016, she made her film debut when she played the role of Lily in the drama film ‘Looping’ (2016). The film centers around three women who end up in a psychiatric clinic while searching for safety and security.
At the age of eight, she played the lead role of Luca in the 2017 German drama film, Die Tochter (Dark Blue Girl). The film’s central character is a seven-year-old girl named Luca who plays her parents against each other to intercept the reunion of her separated parents and become her father’s top priority.
She gained immense popularity with the 2019 German drama film ‘System Crasher’ in which she played the protagonist Bernadette (Benni), whose anger issues and past trauma hinder her from finding permanent care. In the film, Benni is a nine-year-old neurotic girl who bursts out if anyone, other than her mother, touches her face. Her outrageous behavior is a consequence of childhood trauma in which nappies were pressed into her face.
In 2020, she rose to prominence when she played the lead role of Johanna in the American Western drama film ‘News of the World’ in which she shared the screen with the established American actor Tom Hanks. The film is about a Civil War veteran Kyle Kidd who escorts a young girl named Johanna, who was stolen by the Native American Tribe Kiowa as an infant, to her last surviving family.
She made her television debut in 2014 when she played the role of Johanna in an episode titled “Mörderische Hitze” of the German crime series ‘Spreewaldkrimi’ (Spreewald thriller).
In the police procedural series ‘Die Spezialisten – Im Namen der Opfer’ (Never too late for justice), Helena made brief appearances in the episodes titled “Flowerpower” (2016) as Anja Rothmann and “Sommermärchen” (2017) as Lilly Weyer . The German television series follows the fictional Interdisciplinary Investigation Commission of the Berlin State Criminal Police Office in which the forensic doctor Dr. Katrin Stoll and Chief Detective Henrik Mertens open up unsolved criminal cases based on new evidence.
In 2017, she starred in the German crime television film ‘Der gute Bulle’ (The good cop) in which she played the role of Fabienne. The series is about a former police officer Fredo Schulz who quit his job following an alcohol addiction. Schulz is brought back into the police services to investigate the case of a wanted sex offender.
In July 2021, Helena Zengel started a podcast named Ein großes Z und ein kleiner Engel (A big Z and a little angel). A capital letter ‘Z’ is featured on the top of the website of her podcast. In one of her podcasts, she explained that the capital letter Z and wings together make Z+angel which denotes Zengel.
- Won the Creative Energy Award at the International Filmfestival Emden-Norderney (2019) for the film ‘System Crasher’ (2019)
- Earned the title of ‘Best Actress’ at the Santiago Festival Internacional de Cine (2019) for the film ‘System Crasher’ (2019)
- Earned the title of ‘Best Actress’ at the Palm Springs International Film Festival (2020) for the film ‘System Crasher’ (2019)
- Earned the title of ‘Best Actress’ at the Deutscher Filmpreis (2020) for the film ‘System Crasher’ (2019)
- Won the title of Best Performance by a Youth at Phoenix Film Critics Society (2021) for the film News of the World (2020)
- Film(s): What Dreams May Come (1998), Forrest Gump (1994)
- Singer: Lady Gaga
- Songs: Shallow (2018), Poker Face (2008)
- Food: Sushi with lots of wasabi
- Actress: Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin
- Since childhood, Helena Zengel is passionate about horse riding and also has an Icelandic horse named Hekla. In an interview, while talking about her love for horses, she said,
I’ve been riding for seven, maybe eight years. I’ve had my own horse for about four years. She’s an Icelandic horse named Hekla, and she’s 12 years old. I go to the barn six days a week.”
- Born into a musical family, Zengel is trained in pianoforte. In an interview, while talking about her proficiency in pianoforte, she said,
I also play the piano, at the level of “Für Elise”. My mum’s birthday is coming up, so I’m going to play a little concert for her.”
- The zestful and exuberant actress pursues various hobbies in her leisure time to use her energy productively. Her hobbies include athletics, figure skating, dancing, skateboarding, and sewing.
Her excellent skills in figure skating have garnered her prizes in various figure skating competitions.
- Her first English-language role in the film ‘News of the World’ (2020) earned her the nomination for the Golden Globe Award. The German actress didn’t have the strongest grasp of the English language until she auditioned for the film.
- For her role in the film ‘News of the World’ (2020) in which she played the role of an orphan girl raised by the Kiowa people, Helena spent six weeks absorbing the language and customs of the Kiowa Tribe. During her Kiowa lessons, Helena bonded with her elderly Kiowa linguistic teacher named Dorothy WhiteHorse who gifted a beaded cross and a little doll to the child actress.
- Helena lives her life with zest and high-spiritedness. In an interview, while exhibiting her overzealous attitude towards life, she said,
I’ll jump from a thousand feet into the water. I’ll be scared, but if you don’t do it, you can never say you did something.”
- The director of the film ‘System Crasher’ (2019), Nora Fingscheidt, mimed a little scene in which Nora held her hand like a showerhead and the child actor pretended to wash underneath it, to indicate her transition back to herself after each shoot. Apparently, they mimed this scene in order to help Zengel distinguish herself from the traumatized character of Bernadette (Benni).