Resident Evil Village made Lady Dimitrescu an icon, as the 9’6″ vampire queen proved to be one of the franchise’s toughest bosses yet. In an exclusive interview with Dexerto, her face model Helena Mankowska reveals how she got the role and explains why she’s never played Resi games before.
If there’s one video game character that’s etched herself into the hall of fame, it’s Resident Evil Village’s resident bloodsucker, Lady Dimitrescu. Nicknamed the ‘tall vampire lady‘ the character has become a cult phenomenon, with even the world’s tallest supermodel donning that iconic white dress in this stunning cosplay of her.
But who is the woman behind that demonic exterior? Meet Helena Mankowska, a Polish-born actor and model now residing in the sunny city of Barcelona (and no, she doesn’t disintegrate when she goes outside).
In our sit down interview, the vampire queen’s face model opened up about Resident Evil, gaming, and charity work.
Becoming Resident Evil Village’s star, Lady Dimitrescu
Helena’s modeling journey began with humble origins. Traveling from her native Poland to the wintery planes of Norway to focus on charity work, she eventually found herself pursuing a career in modeling in Spain.
It’s here that her Resident Evil adventure began. “For that role, I didn’t have to do much… the agency found me,” she confessed. “I had to go through several castings, and then I was chosen as one of the first five, and I was like ‘AHH!’ And then you get that email back saying ‘you have been chosen.’”
She compares the moment to “when you watch actors interviews and, y’know, someone’s in a restaurant and the agent is at the next table and says ‘you look good for this role.'” While such stories are usually greeted with an eye roll and skepticism or, in Helena’s words, an exasperated “Oh my God,” she shakes her head in disbelief, stating “but that’s exactly what happened to me.”
Just as a clueless Ethan Winters traversed the cobblestone road into the bowels of Castle Dimitrescu, Helena had no idea that she had taken her first steps on the path to becoming the face of an everlasting icon.
Why Helena hasn’t played Resident Evil
Of course, we’re all wondering: has the iconic face model been terrified by the virtual Lady D’s vanishing acts and terrifying claws yet?
Interestingly, Helena has never played the games before.
Holding up a 0-shaped hair tie, she asked “does this remind you of a number? 0. I had 0 experience. Of course I had heard of it before, but that was it. As a teenager I played some old school games like Super Mario Bros, but also I am super afraid of horror. So I was always like ‘No’”
An Instagram Live video of her playing the game (and she stresses that “playing” in her case is too polite of a term) alongside her brother, Jacek, does exist, though. “The most exciting thing for me was to see all of the characters in the game, because with Lady D, I always portrayed her as a mother more than a vampire. A mother, a sad woman, so I was excited to see all of the characters, including her daughters.”
Her journey through the dusty streets of the Village ends up with her standing in front of Lady Dimitrescu herself in floods of joyful tears. “I didn’t expect it to be so emotional for me. Standing in front of it, just with all of the hype, felt big inside of me.”
It’s here once again that she’s at a loss for words. To epitomize the pure, unadulterated awe of seeing your own face staring back at you is clearly no easy task.
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Lady Dimitrescu’s face model on “beautiful” Resident Evil community
When asked how it feels to have become an overnight icon, she was at a loss for words. “I still don’t know. I’m still processing it,” she stated. “When people call her [Lady Dimitrescu] an icon it feels like they’re talking about someone else.
“Of course I am extremely happy, and so blessed, to be part of such a beautiful community. It’s such a blessing to be welcomed as part of a new family. The community is so talented, but not just in drawing, with writing, painting, musicians, directors – I get so many new messages from people every single day. And this, this is what matters the most.
“They’re all there to support each other. If someone posts a drawing and is like ‘I hope you like it, sorry it isn’t perfect,’ then you see comments like ‘that’s awesome, keep going.’ All that means so much to me. That’s the community that I love to watch, and also the fact that I can motivate someone brings me happiness.”
Vampire queen with a heart of gold
While Resident Evil’s tall vampire lady may seem pretty heartless, Helena is very much the opposite. Using her platform, she’s set up a GoFundMe for a young boy named Kiril, who suffers from Spinal Muscular Atrophy, or SMA.
“My friend knew of Kiril, and we noticed how slowly his GoFundMe was filling up, whereas others were filling up in a year, or half a year. His has already taken a year, and babies who suffer from SMA… it’s really terrible. Without medication, babies die before they reach two years old.”
The medication in question is Zolgensma, which Helena explains is “the most expensive drug in the world, costing $2.4 million US. When I heard about his case I felt inside me that I wanted to help someone, and it was this little boy,” she says.
Just as Lady D is a mother, Helena is too. Her generosity and empathic nature make her more than just a face: she’s an icon now, even if she doesn’t know it yet.
For more information, visit Kiril’s GoFundMe page here.
“I’m hungry for more!”
For many gamers Resident Evil: Village may be a distant memory, but for Helena it’s the launchpad for future work in the gaming industry.
“I loved doing this. It’s been another experience because it’s my first game and I just loved it. It’s opened another path, and I just want MORE! I’m hungry for more!” she enthuses, and her energy is so infectious.
Are you going to step in the path of this ravenous bloodsucking queen? We certainly aren’t! Either way, it’ll be exciting to see where she ends up next.