While living in the orphanage, Lena discovered what she wanted to be when she grew up: a scriptwriter. The inspiration? Old Russian and Ukrainian soap operas that Lena and the other children would watch over and over as a way to find relief and escape from their real life.
“You see, when you live in an orphanage, people keep telling you that the world outside is dangerous. Children become afraid of everything,” remembers Olena. “I needed to create my own imaginary world and put it out there, so I began to write.”
When she was seven years old, Lena moved to a boarding school for children with disabilities. There, she had two encounters that changed her life. At 13, she met a director who founded a theater company to work with marginalized children and young adults living on the street or in boarding schools like Olena.