Monday, January 16, 2023

2022 Modjeska Prizes Presented to Katarzyna Smiechowicz and Marek Probosz, 19 February 2023

Presentation of Modjeska Prize in 2021 by Maja Trochimczyk and Marek Probosz

Helena Modjeska Art & Culture Club proudly presents the 2022 Modjeska Prizes, named after the patron of the Club, actress Helena Modjeska (1840-1909), to two of its own, a Club member and Vice President, eminent actress Katarzyna Smiechowicz, and a great friend of the Club and frequent performer at its event, distinguished actor Marek Probosz. The award presentation will take during a dinner reception at the elegant and artistic residence of fiber-artist Monique Chmielewski Lehman and her husband retired NASA manager and Naval Officer, David Lehman in Pasadena.  The event is scheduled for the afternoon on Sunday, February 19, 2023, at 4 p.m. with the presentation at 5pm and dinner at 6 p.m. We had to reschedule the event due to the 50th wedding anniversary celebration of our most faithful members scheduled for February 18, our original date. The event, held in a private residence is open to Club members, their guests, and VIP honorees' guests. 

Anna Sadowska and Maja Trochimczyk present Modjeska Prize to Jan Englert

In 2010, to honor its patron and recognize acting talent of Polish actors, the Modjeska Club created the Helena Modjeska Prize for the Most Eminent Polish Actor. The prize was first presented to Jan Nowicki in 2010, then to Anna Dymna in 2011, and to Barbara Krafftowna in 2012. The prize was discontinued in the years 2013-2017 ; the 2018 prize was presented to Jadwiga Baranska, in 2019 the honorees were two emigre actress of the Polish Theater in Toronto, Maria Nowotarska and Agata Pilitowska, in 2020 the award was presented virtually to Andrzej Seweryn and in 2021, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Modjeska Club, the awards were presented in person to Californian actress Beata Pozniak and virtually to Director of Warsaw's National Theater, a legend of Polish film and tv, Jan Englert.  In September 2022, Jan Englert came to California to personally receive the 2021 award, and perform "Kwiaty Polskie" in Beverly Hills and Vista, San Diego County with his wife, talented and beautiful actress Beata Scibakowna. 


KATARZYNA A. SMIECHOWICZ sometimes acting as Kasia A. Leconte is a Polish actress who has been working in Poland and the USA. Katarzyna started her artistic career as a teenager studying acting with many excellent teachers. Initially, she was involved in ballet and theater; over time film and television have become the closest to her heart. Her passion for ballet and poetry turned to acting when a respected Polish actor, Wirgiliusz Gryn, discovered her acting talent and convinced her to pursue acting as a profession. 

Residing in Los Angeles since 2000, she studied acting at the Beverly Hills Playhouse and at the Margie Haber Studio. Throughout her career, she has appeared in over 30 feature films and television series having worked with such directors as Steven Spielberg, Krzysztof Krauze, Jacek Bromski, Tomasz Konecki, Andrzej Saramonowicz, and Olaf Lubaszenko.  

Selected film roles include: 
• 2020 -“BEZ SKRUPULOW”, dir. Jacek Bromski, TV series (Wanda)
• 2019- “SOLID GOLD”, dir. Jacek Bromski, Film (Wanda Szulc)
• 2018- “DR. SUGAR”, dir. Paul Saleba - Film (k.m.) (Boo Boo)
• 2015 - “ANATOMIA ZŁA”, dir. Jacek Bromski, Film 
• 2015 - “BILET NA KSIĘŻYC”, dir. Jacek Bromski, Film (Donata KRUGER)
• 2012 - “PARADOKS”, dir. Borys Lankosz, TV series
• 2011 - “WYGRANY”, dir. Wieslaw Saniewski, Film
• 2009 - “U PANA BOGA ZA MIEDZĄ” dir. Jacek Bromski, Film (Ludmiła Niedbałko)
• 2009 - “U PANA BOGA W OGRODKU", dir. Jacek Bromski, Serial TV (Ludmiła Niedbałko
• 2007 - “TESTOSTERON” dir. Tomasz Konecki & Andrzej Saramonowicz Film (Barbie)
• 2003 - “SZPITAL NA PERYPETIACH”, dir. Krzysztof Jaroszynski Serial TV (Monika)
• 2001 - “WIELKIE RZECZY”, dir. Krzysztof Krauze - GRA (odc.2), Serial TV 
• 2000 -“ CHŁOPAKI NIE PŁACZĄ”, dir. Olaf Lubaszenko, Film 
• 2000 -“ BARDZO OSTRY DYŻUR”, dir. Wojciech Mann & Krzysztof Materna, Sitcom TV 
• 1989 - “MDM”, dir. Wojciech Mann & Krzysztof Materna Program TV 
• 1998 - “TALK SHOW JERZEGO K”, dir. Jerzy Kryszak., Program TV
• 1997 - “CIEMNA STRONA WENUS”, dir. Radoslaw Piwowarski, Film 
• 1996 -“ EKSTRADYCJA 2”, dir. Wojciech Wojcik, Serial TV 
• 1996 - “GRY ULICZNE”, dir. Krzysztof Krauze, Film 
• 1996 - “PRZECIĄG” dir. Maciej Zak & Jacek Kecik, Program TV 
• 1995 - “DZIEJE MISTRZA TWARDOWSKIEGO”, dir. Krzysztof Gradowski, Film 

Beyond film and television, she has portrayed many great parts on stage, including Katharina in Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew", and Roza in Juliusz Slowacki's "Lilla Weneda." Kasia's U.S. theater debut was in the leading role of Carrie in "Cafe Hollywood."

In addition to acting in many critically acclaimed roles, Smiechowicz has written scripts and worked as a voice-over actor. She is the President of the Film and Television Studio Kasia Films, through which she aims to create international productions. She is also known for her charity work for the sick and those in need. Katarzyna constantly supports and promotes Polish culture in the USA. With a home on both continents, but a husband in the U.S., she spends most of the time in Los Angeles, but works both in Europe and the States. Her husband Dominik J. Leconte is an executive at Sony Pictures. On July 3rd 2010 Kasia and Dominik welcomed their identical twin boys, Antoni and Fabian at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. The multi-talented 12-year-old sons are gaining recognition as child actors and models.

Smiechowicz with Dominik LeConte and their sons, Adrian and Fabian

Ms. Smiechowicz became a member of the Modjeska Club in 2018, and was elected its Vice President in June 2022. She has appeared in many programs as a interviewer or being interviewed about her career highlights and artistic interests.



Marek Probosz, a Polish-American actor, director, screenwriter, author, and producer, has about 60 film roles to his credit. Many of these films have won awards at prestigious film festivals, such as, Cannes, Berlin, San Sebastian, Moscow, Karlovy Vary, Los Angeles, and Houston. Probosz emigrated to the U.S. at the peak of his career in Europe, invited by The American Cinematheque in Los Angeles in 1987, as the “Idol of his generation.” His film and television career spans roles in Polish, Czech, German, French, Italian, and American productions and co-productions. He has guest starred on the popular CBS TV series “Scorpion”; ABC’s “Scandal”; CBS’s “Numbers”; NBC’s “JAG” and USA’s “MONK”. Probosz had excellent reviews in The New York Times, Hollywood Reporter i Variety for his portrait of Roman Polanski, a world cinema legend, in the film “Helter Skelter”  by Warner Bros. TV 2004. The film “Once Upon A Time in November” directed by Andrzej Jakimowski, in which Probosz played a doctor of law, opened the International Film Festival in Warsaw. It received the main award at the International Film Festival in Taormina, Sicily in 2018.

In 2006, he starred in an unforgettable role as the Polish World War II hero and legendary volunteer to Auschwitz, Witold Pilecki, in the film “The Death of Captain Pilecki”, directed by Ryszard Bugajski. The film won the Special Jury REMI award at the 2007 WorldFest – Houston International Film Festival. Probosz has toured the globe with the film, participating in many international film festivals, screenings, and discussions at niversities, museums and embassies around the world. In 2012, he recorded the critically acclaimed audiobook “The Auschwitz Volunteer. Beyond Bravery” for, which is a collection of Pilecki’s reports from Auschwitz. The project received the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Silver Award in 2013 and the Best Prose Award in 2012. In 2018, Probosz directed the monodrama “Volunteer to Auschwitz: Captain Pilecki”, in which he once again transformed into one of the greatest war heroes of the 20th century. This spectacle, which he performed multiple times on Broadway for a sold out audience, won the Best Documentary Show Award 2018 at United Solo NYC Festival (best of 130 shows). 

In 2022, Probosz was honored by a prize for the Best New York Premiere at the United Solo NYC Festival for his performance in a play by Kazimierz Braun "Norwid's Return" (Powrot Norwida) based on poetry and life of a great Romantic poet Cyprian Kamil Norwid. The world premiere of this play was staged with music by Anna von Urbans and first presented in Poland at the Pola Negri Film Festival in Lipno. At the same festival Probosz received a lifetime achievement award POLITKA 2022 andhis name was inscribed on the Pola Negri Avenue of Stars. In 2008, Probosz played Odysseus in a classic play by Sophocles, "Philoktetes" playing along Henry Goodman at the Getty Villa Theater in Malibu. Another main role in a theater play was in "The Tower of Babel" at the Mark Taper Forum Theater in Los Angeles in 1990.  He directed and performed in his contemporary adaptation of the classic "Salome" by Oscar Wilde, this performance received an Award from Chech Critis as the best theater performance of 1986. 


Some of the acclaimed films which Probosz is most known for include: “End of the Lonely Farm Berghof” (Main Award at Karlovy Vary 1984); “The Shadow of the Ferns” (San Sebastian International Film Festival 1985); “Ferdydurke” (Venice Film Festival 1991); “Horizontal 8” (Main Award for Independent Film Venice Film Festival 1991); “Reverse” (Golden Lion Award Gdynia Film Festival 2009); “Janosik: The True Story” (Gdynia Film Festival 2009); “Boxer” (Golden Eagle Award at Los Angeles Film Festival 2011); “Closed Circuit” (People’s Choice Award Toronto 2013, Humanitarian Society Award Chicago 2013); “I Love Cinema” (KMTF Award Turin 1988); “Our God’s Brother” (Nominee at the Japanese Grand Prix Festival in Tokyo 1997, MFF Award Teheran 1999); “Players” (Gdynia Film Festival 1995); “Time of Maturation” (Special Jury Award San Sebastian 1984); “No More Dreaming” (Bronze Lions Gdansk Film Fetival 1982); “Moth” (Silver Medal MFF Figuiera de Foz 1980, Moscow Film Festival prize in 1981). 

In the world of documentary films, Probosz has directed the feature-length “Jan Kott: Still Alive”, about the world famous Shakespeare specialist, Jan Kott. His short film “Rebel”, a psychological drama delving into the problem of suicide among American youth, was a precursor to his U.S. feature debut, “Y.M.I.”, which he wrote, directed, produced and starred in (People’s Choice ABBOT Award, Los Angeles – 2004). Probosz is an Adjunct Professor at University of California, Los Angeles – UCLA, where he has taught theater and film acting since 2005. He taught at Emerson College in Los Angeles from 2000-2005, at Edgemar Center For The Arts in Santa Monica from 2008-2011, and at the Theater Academy of A. Zelwerowicz in Warsaw in 2016. As an acting expert, he has also been invited to teach film acting at the prestigious Williams College in Massachusetts in 2021. 

The actor, director, and professor is also a writer, an author of two books: Eldorado (Pub. Stentor, 2009) and Call Me When They Kill You (Latarnik, 2011). His publications include 11 original and adapted feature-length screenplays, such as “AUM, or the Torturing of Actors,” “Y.M.I.” (People’s Choice Award at The Other Venice Film Festival, Los Angeles 2004), or “Cruel Story.” He is the author of two theater play "AUM, or torturing of actors" and "Auschwitz No. 432" as well as six screenplays for short films, and dozens of essays, book chapters, and articles. Since 2018, Probosz is a regular contributor to literary artistic quarterly, Afront.  Frequently invited to serve on festival juries and give Master Classes worldwide, Probosz received his Master’s Degree in Fine Arts and Acting in 1984 from the Polish National Higher School of Film and Theater of L. Schiller, Łódź. He also earned a MFA degree in Directing from The American Film Institute – AFI, Los Angeles, in 1993. In 2018 he received the "Oscar" of Polish Diaspora -the "Golden Owl" for lifetime achievement in the category of film, presented in Vienna, Austria.  In 2011 he received the medal Mortui Sunt ut Liberti Vivamus in London, and gold medal Witold Pilecki - Faithful to the End in Oświęcim.


Maja Trochimczyk, Kasia Smiechowicz, Marek Probosz, Anna Sadowska, Beata Czajkowska

Beata Czajkowska, Smiechowicz, Probosz, Trochimczyk Anna Sadowska



Smiechowicz & Lehman

Slawek Brzezinski, Trochimczyk

Smiechowicz, Probosz and Inglis