Malena Belafonte (born Malena Mathiesen) is an international fashion model.
Malena Belafonte was a model with famed Wilhelmina Models. She appeared in magazines such as Elle, Bazaar, Shape as well as clients such as Manolo Blahnik and Neiman Marcus. She did runway shows in New York, Milan and Paris and appeared in commercials as well as small TV roles in television series such as Sunset Beach with Sam Behrens, as well as the soap opera "As the World Turns". Malena Belafonte has worked for designers such as Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Olec Cassini, Christian Dior and Bulgari. She started her career in Paris with famed avant garde photographer, Gunnar Larsen whose magazine GUNNAR featured Malena from her career start to his death. In Paris she appeared on numerous TV shows, in runway shows and did campaigns. She was chosen as one of the first blondes to be featured on the cover of "Fairuz" the Arabian Vogue. Famous French photographer Jean-Francois Jonvelle saw the potential in the sexy blonde and cast her in a big fashion spread alongside Supermodel Tod Gordon. Jonvelle and Malena did many other shoots and he choose her as one of his models for his popular photographer books. World-renowned American photographer Art Kane took a similar liking to the Danish model and cast her in his movie project, Paperdolls, Unfortunately Art Kane died before the project was completed. The celebrated jeweler, David Saity, a specialist in American Indian Jewelry, chose her for his campaigns and she worked for years for Calvin Klein Lingerie. She was signed by J. Michael Bloom and later to Innovative Artists.
Malena Belafonte did many music videos and appeared as the lead in Carole King's first and only music video "City Streets" which gave Malena a cultish status. She did the cover of Manhattan Bride the year she got married, and the Cover of Stork when she was 8 months pregnant with her second child.
As a child Malena Belafonte appeared with her parents on the Christmas Album, "Christmas in Vellerup". She sang 2 songs solo and appeared on several tracks in the choir. Music was part of her life growing up and Malena Belafonte performed from when she was 3. She did many concerts with her parents and started a band with her brother Marius. The band became known locally and performed in front of 1000 plus crowds. When Malena moved to Paris the band retired.
While modeling in Paris, music played a small part and Malena did background vocals for artists such as Jean Beauvoir, of Plasmatics and Crown of Thorns fame, One plus One, as well as jingles with Cool and the Gang. She was offered a record deal, but declined because the timing didn't seem right. In 1994 she was signed to the American record label Edel as singer in the all-girls group, Wilhelmina. She performed for 3 years with the group in both the US and Germany. While the group toured Germany, they performed on the famous TV Show Fernsehn Garden in front of a live audience of 10.000 people and 22 million viewers. The group performed for full houses in NYC. Malena Belafonte also sang at Cafe Wha and Wilson's in NYC. As a songwriter she worked with Warner/Chappell Music and was represented by William Morris and later ICM.
While modeling, she became involved with D.I.S.H.E.S (Determined Involved Supermodels Helping to End Suffering). A charity helping children with HIV and AIDS. She was asked to join the board run by Bonnie Pfeifer. Other models on the board of DISHES included Cindy Crawford. Malena Belafonte appeared with Claudia Schiffer, Linda Evangelista and skated with the New York Rangers to support and help raise funds for children. As often as she was in front of the camera, she worked endlessly behind the scenes to produce the often elaborate DISHES events. After Broadway Cares took over DISHES, Malena supported many other charities. She is on the board of The Speyer Legacy School, Time In for Kids, Danish American Society, The Hans Christian Andersen Storytelling Foundation, as well as an Ambassador for The Penguin Fund.
In 2006 she launched a cosmetics line for women on the go called Malena. In 2007 she launched a perfume called Dream by Malena Belafonte, donating the proceeds to charity.
She won second place in the Danish Version of Dancing with the Stars in November 2009. She danced with professional dancer Silas Holst.
Malena Belafonte and her team won 3 place in "Fort Boyard" in 2010, a game show shown in 30 countries, focusing on fear, endurance and mental challenges. Also in 2010 she appeared in a Danish dinner show, 4 Star Dinner, where she was pronounced the winner of her team. In 2011 Malena Belafonte appeared in another reality show series "Dining With...." and won the team challenge after taking her team mates on a private helicopter tour of Manhattan.
She was born and raised in Denmark but lives in New York. Her parents are Irmgard Mathiesen and Aksel H. Mathiesen. Irmgard is a soloist who was a docent at the Royal Conservatory of Denmark. Aksel was a composer who led the acclaimed orchestra Concentus Musicus of Denmark. Malena Belafonte toured with her parents and was taught to read and write music. Her father committed suicide in 1999 after battling depression.
Malena married David Belafonte in New York in 2000. He is a producer, son of entertainer Harry Belafonte. They have two children, a daughter Sarafina (born in 2003) and Amadeus (born in 2007).
According to the New York Times article on October 19, 2009, Malena Belafonte started The Speyer Legacy School with 4 other mothers, a private elementary school in New York for gifted and talented children from K through 8th grade. The school opened in September 2009 and is attended by her daughter. The Speyer Legacy School won best New School in 2009 by the Blackboard Awards, and Best Gifted and Talented Program in 2010.