Hélène d’Udekem makes her debut as a professional actress in Avignon

Hélène d’Udekem makes her debut as a professional actress in Avignon
Hélène d’Udekem makes her debut as a professional actress in Avignon

Countess Hélène d’Udekem d’Acoz makes her theater debut. The sister of Queen Mathilde of Belgium is starting her new career as an actress at the front door, since her first play Rollekebol is on the program at the Avignon Off Festival. The former lawyer radically changed career path, now devoting herself full-time to theater.

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Hélène d’Udekem d’Acoz makes her debut in the play Rollekebol

At 44, Hélène d’Udekem d’Acoz is starting a new life. It is in Avignon, on the stage of the Episcène theatre in Avignon that we can see, since June 22, the sister of the Queen of the Belgians playing a depressed mother. Hélène d’Udekem devoted a rare interview to Paris Match Belgium to talk about this unexpected professional reconversion.

Nicolas Godart and Lily Moreau with their mother, played by Hélène d’Udekem, in the play Rollekebol (Photo: Episcene)

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For her very first play as a professional actress, Countess Hélène has the chance to go straight on stage at the Avignon Off Festival. A few years ago, King Philippe’s sister-in-law was pleading in the courts. After pleading for a few years, Hélène joined a large financial firm, still as a lawyer. Hélène had always struggled with great shyness, even a fear of speaking in public. That’s when she decided to enroll at the Cours Florent in 2018.

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Queen Mathilde’s sister has put away her lawyer’s robes

Since 2013, the famous Parisian school Cours Florent has opened an establishment in Brussels. The Brussels school provides professional actor training over three years. Hélène discovers more than a passion, a vocation. What was simply supposed to help her overcome a fear, became a revelation when she felt the call of the stage. After her training, Hélène abandoned her life as a lawyer and devoted herself to theater, first joining the teaching team of Cours Florent, notably as an assistant, then she participated in the staging of play and joined a troupe.

Queen Mathilde’s sister plays a depressed mother in her first role as a professional actress (Photo: Episcene)

In 1999, Mathilde d’Udekem d’Acoz married Prince Philippe, Duke of Brabant, eldest son and heir of King Albert II of Belgium. On the occasion of this marriage, King Albert II elevated the family of his new daughter-in-law to the rank of count. Mathilde was born in 1973, the eldest of five children, of whom her younger sister, Marie-Alix (1974), died in a car accident with her grandmother in 1997. Elisabeth is four years younger than Mathilde, then comes Hélène (1979) and finally Charles-Henri (1985). Hélène was only 19 when her elder sister married the future seventh King of the Belgians. Hélène is also the godmother of her niece, Princess Elisabeth, Duchess of Brabant, eldest daughter of Queen Mathilde and future Queen of the Belgians.

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The new life as an actress of Countess Hélène d’Udekem d’Acoz

Countess Hélène married Baron Nicolas Janssen in 2011, from a large family of businessmen. Nicolas Janssen became a Walloon deputy in 2019. At the last election on June 9, 2024, he confirmed his place as a deputy within the Liberal Party (MR) for a new mandate in the Walloon Parliament.

Rollekebol tells the story of a sick father, a depressed mother, a son adrift and a daughter in search of independence. Hélène d’Udekem opens this piece with a masterful monologue which immerses us in the story of this mother on the brink of the abyss. The parents, although divorced, exceptionally reunite around their children for their son’s 30th birthday. Reunions are complicated. “Unable to love each other, unable to hate each other”we can read in the summary of the play which is being performed at the Episcène theater in Avignon until July 21. “While the mother tries to relearn how to live, the father must learn to die.” The show, created by Nicolas Godart, is directed by Clément Croiseau and Hélène shares the stage with François Hoffmann, Nicolas Godart, Lily Moreau and Camille Malnory.

Nicolas Fontaine

Editor-in-chief

Nicolas Fontaine has been a copywriter and author for many Belgian and French brands and media. A specialist in royal family news, Nicolas founded the website Histoires royales, of which he is the editor-in-chief. [email protected]

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