You most recently saw her in NBC’s The Cape, but Izabella Miko almost didn’t become an actress. Born in what was still Communist Poland to thespian parents, Izabella learned to dance at the same time that she learned to walk. At the age of 15 she was given a full scholarship to study in New York with the School of American Ballet, only to have injuries cut short her dance career.
Then, a fluke casting in a Lithuanian television movie took Izabella back to America again—this time to the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute—and roles in Coyote Ugly, Bye Bye Blackbird and HBO’s Deadwood shortly followed. We talked with Izabella from the Los Angeles set of The Cape, where she opened up about her obsessive environmentalism and non-profit EkoMiko Foundation.
EcoStiletto: The Cape is amazing. What was it like working on such a dark, comic-book style project? Did your dance background come into play at all?
Izabella Miko: It was different than anything else because it’s a character role for me. I play an animal trainer and a circus performer, and I actually not only have a dance background but I do trapeze and aerial. So the fact that I can use this odd skill while shooting something is really pretty incredible.
ES: So switching gears to your philanthropic side, what inspired you to start the EkoMiko Foundation?
IM: I was shooting in Poland about a year and a half ago and I saw how they’re not educated about the little things that we can do every day. I got started on my own set. I told everyone to bring their own [water] bottles. The paparazzi follows me there, so I was like, “Okay, great. If they take pictures of me, they’re going to take pictures of me recycling.”
ES: That’s a great idea! Good for you!
IM: They like to write about my love life. At least if they’re going to write about me, it should be about the plastic cans and bottles that I’m saving from the trash.
I created the non-profit EkoMiko Foundation—both here and in Poland—and a website that would inform people how to live a green life in a really fun and interactive way. We shoot webisodes every two or three weeks, interviews with celebrities, or green places, things that are green and fun.
I want to entertain people but at the same time feed them the green message in a different way. And the whole website is done that way, eco-news but nothing negative, we’re just focusing on positive things, trying to make eco very sexy.
EcoStiletto: The EkoMiko candles are absolutely gorgeous. How did you become such a green entrepreneur?
IM: We have so many different plans, like an EkoMiko school bus that will be traveling around the country and greening schools—all that stuff that I really want to do. So I was trying to raise money for the Foundation and I came up with an eco-candle line.
The candle is made out of coconut wax, something that you can actually put on your skin, and we came up with two different natural scents—Eko Hero and Eko Heroine. I really wanted to make this candle sexy so it’s a product that’s green but oozes sensuality.
It’s a recycled wine bottle that’s been cut in half and all the inserts are made out of stone paper using no water or trees, and the boxes is biodegradable with seeds in it so you can plant it. The wick is wooden; it crackles when it burns. I really made sure that every single element of the candle is as green as possible. Even the companies that we use, one is wind-powered and one has a zero carbon footprint.
Every candle is hand poured. Every single candle I touch with my own hands because I’m so detail oriented—you know, if it was too frosted I was there rubbing it with olive oil. The presentation has to be beautiful because it’s a luxury candle line. I’m really proud of it. It’s doing really well and all the proceeds go to the Foundation, I’m not making any money from it. It’s the first EkoMiko product but we have a jewelry line and a bag line that will come out this year.
ES: Did going green in your production mean the costs were higher? Why was that worth it to you?
IM: At this point, I invested my own money into it. It’s the same with the Foundation, it’s coming out of my own pocket because I really believe in being a responsible citizen of this planet. I grew up in the environment where my mom said that half of the day you should spend on yourself, and the other half on somebody else or the planet. So my friends laugh—when I make money instead of going on a vacation I’m like, “Oh great! Let me put more money into EcoMiko!”
But it’s hard when it’s an eco-production, it’s really, really hard—which is what I found out. When you’re using eco-ingredients it gets more expensive. I wish it were different because then it would be accessible to everyone.