Tricia Helfer – Model Turned Sci-Fi Star

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Spring 2024

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One chance encounter at the line of a movie theatre in Alberta, the province where model and actress Tricia Helfer grew up, marked the beginning of her remarkable career. At 17, she left her family’s grain farm, where she lived and worked, and stood in a line to see a movie. There she was discovered by a modelling agent scout, and she left her humble beginnings behind for a career of glitz and glam. 

In 1992, she was declared winner in Ford Models’ Supermodel of the World contest, but her official career in fashion modelling would be short-lived. Though she was successful, appearing on the covers of such magazines as ELLE, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and Flare and walking many shows for high-end labels, she retired in 2002, only returning to the modelling scene to lend her face to product advertisements—promoting brands such as Versace, Chanel, and Ralph Lauren. 

In 2002, the now-former model set her eyes on acting and chose to relocate to Los Angeles, where she would pursue a full-time acting career. Switching to acting would prove to be a wise choice. Since the beginnings of her career change, Helfer’s name has been attached to many television projects. More recently, from 2016 to 2021, she played Lucifer’s mother and “Goddess of All Creation” in the popular Fox TV series, Lucifer. Between 2019 and 2021, Helfer played Dracula on the SyFy series Van Helsing.

One of her first projects was to play a model in a 2002 episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Other credits include a recurring role in comedy show Two and a Half Men, an episode of beloved show Supernatural, a brief appearance on science fiction show Warehouse 13, a part as an alien queen in Falling Skies, and a recurring part in drama series Suits. 

She also gave her voice in a handful of projects including StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty with expansion packs Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void. Fans of Spider-Man may have heard her voice when she took on the role of Black Cat in The Spectacular Spider-Man, which she later reprised in video game Spider-Man: Web of Shadows

In the realm of non-fiction, Helfer also added some non-fiction credits to her name. In 2004, she portrayed actress Farrah Fawcett in a telefilm biography Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Charlie’s Angels. In 2006, she started hosting Canada’s Next Top Model—and she began briefly doing this alongside her most memorable role in the Battlestar Galactica franchise, where she dazzled sci-fi fans as the beautiful and mysterious bleached-blonde Cylon model Number Six, a humanoid robot operative often seen in a revealing red dress. Helfer was able to show off her acting skills in this role, seeing as there were many “copies” of her specific character and they all had distinct personalities. 

In 2003, Battlestar Galactica aired on the Sci Fi channel as a three-hour miniseries. Helfer continued playing Cylon 6 as a regular cast member in the subsequent Battlestar Galactica TV series, which aired between 2004 and 2009. In 2009, she returned as Number Six in Battlestar Galactica: The Plan, a television movie retelling the TV show from the Cylons’ point of view. In 2012, she once again joined the Battlestar Galactica franchise, but this time voiced a prototype Cylon in a prequel called Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome.

Her work in the franchise led to a win at the Leo Awards for “Best Lead Performance By A Female in a Dramatic Series” and Nominations at the Scream Awards for “Breakout Performance” and “Best Television Actress.”

In addition to her many acting roles in science fiction, she co-founded the charity website “Acting Outlaws” with her former Battlestar Galactica co-star Katee Sackhoff, which accepts donations for several causes and charity events. She’s a frequent activist on top of an accomplished actress and model—and has a soft spot in her heart for animals, once appearing in a PETA video campaign that urged cat owners to keep their pets indoors. Putting her money where her mouth is, she subscribes to a vegetarian diet. 

Jacob Carmichael | Staff Writer

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