An Interview with <br> Ellen Francis
Borgo Women

An Interview with
Ellen Francis


Ellen Francis is a name you need to know. A thriving model, talented actress, doting mother, and a firm Borgo de Nor muse! If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing her on screen yet, the Oscar-nominated short film now available on Netflix, ‘The After’, makes an exceptionally powerful watch. We had the pleasure of speaking with her about her unique style, her diverse career, the balancing act of daily life, and her perspective on womanhood.

Can you tell us about your journey into modelling and acting and what inspired you to pursue these careers?
My journey into modelling actually happened in reverse. Often you see people progress from modelling into acting, however I went the other way. I went to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and when I left I was working multiple jobs trying to find my feet. I quickly learned that theatre doesn’t pay that well! I suddenly thought ‘why don’t I go back to modelling’ and it became a saving grace as I could fluidly move between that and acting work.

Today, I think the attitudes towards model/actors have changed. When I started you were encouraged to keep a low profile so you didn’t become pigeon-holed as model, whereas I think today, you can still be a ‘talent’ in that industry and also enjoy a parallel career in acting. These days modelling gives people a lot more currency.

How have your personal experiences shaped your career choices and the roles you take on?
I had only been out of drama school for three years when Covid hit, followed by the arrival of my baby girl. So that really threw things up in the air. Suddenly the whole world changed, there were no acting roles available and I was living in the countryside. My daughter and I moved back to London last September, so I could focus on getting back into work. As a single parent, that comes with a different sort of drive and it’s something I take seriously.

Acting is fortunately very accommodating when you have had children. However in terms of modelling it has altered things, because as a parent your decisions regarding overseas work become much more considered.

In what ways do you feel your career has empowered you as a woman?
I think the combination of motherhood and juggling work as an actor has really changed things a lot. And that ability to adapt is the essence of being a woman, I guess.

Can you share a memorable moment or achievement in your career that made you feel powerful?
I felt very free working on ‘The After’, with Misan Harriman. For many years I had only played the tragic female figure – for example,  ‘the mum that had run away because she was in an abusive relationship’… However with Misan, we were only given one line each, playing antagonists to David Oyelowo.  We were given the complete freedom to improvise for over an hour. I was on set with people I very much admire, so it was such an empowering moment for the dialogue to be entrusted in my hands.

How do you define strength and feminine power in your personal and professional life?

I have recently adopted a don’t ask don’t get policy. Strength is knowing when to ask for things and advocating for yourself. Rather than being reticent and hoping an opportunity might come to you. It’s about self-belief!

How do you think the fashion and film industries can do better in promoting female empowerment?
I think it’s already underway. It’s not there yet but the wheels are in motion. If you go straight to the top of Netflix, I don’t think you’ll see as many women as you will in the middle. But things are continually changing. It’s so important for the film industry to continue promoting true parity. Hiring people on the basis of good work and bringing them up with you.

I think there are so many more women in the industry now, in terms of the casting and directing process. It’s a noticeable shift and it feels more like an even playing field.  As a young creative, working with scripts my whole life, I now feel much more empowered seeing how incredible casting directors, writers, producers are changing things. Not that long ago, the casting description of a female lead would say…  ‘Tara, 22, attractive’.  Whereas, now it might say ‘Tara, 22, thoughtful, conflicted, driven.’ Which is a huge shift. A description won’t touch on physical appearances anymore, unless it is absolutely necessary for the character, which as a female actress makes me feel less like a product and more like my own artist.

How does your personal style reflect your own individuality?
I very much have a daily uniform. A lot of the time I’m in Converse and a mac, and I adore old men’s tailored shirts, so I suppose I would call it a ‘clean girl’ aesthetic. But that can totally flip in the summer or for nights out. I have a wardrobe full of ridiculously fun things and I love to put on a Borgo de Nor outfit. It’s like trying on a character and dressing like that completely elevates your mood!

How do you express your creativity outside of your work?
I have started writing and producing things myself which takes up a lot of time. However, when I was living in Yorkshire last year, I got into weaving. It has given me a huge appreciation for the textile industry and allows me to use my brain in a very different way. I’m planning on getting a loom so I can take things further! I also love m

What do you love most about Borgo de Nor’s design aesthetic and how do you think Borgo de Nor embodies feminine power?
I think every season the aesthetic is growing stronger. The prints are undoubtedly beautiful, but also powerful and there is a tangible sense of humour there. The colour, the boldness, the shapes. I would describe it as hyper-fem.

What is your favourite piece from our collection.
It has to be the Tatiana dress in the Flower Pop print. It’s the most incredible colourway – it reminds me of images from Copacabana in the ‘70s. It’s feminine but there’s something so strong about it at the same time, with that unique colour combination of apricot and bottle green. There’s a real edge to the collection this season, which is so cool to see.

How would you describe the feeling you get from Borgo de Nor in three words?
Fun. Unapologetic. Joyful.



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