Not Lost in Translation
Enjoy a movie in a language that’s familiar
Olenka Polak and her older brother, Adam, often witnessed dialog get lost in translation when their Polish immigrant parents tried to take in American movies. Then, in 2012 the siblings took cousins visiting from Poland to see Martin Scorsese’s Hugo. “That was the aha moment,” says Olenka, a 2011 Greenwich High grad and former Greenwich magazine Teen to Watch. “They didn’t like it and were so confused. And we thought, wouldn’t it be cool if no matter where you are, you could enjoy a movie in a language that’s familiar.”
Two years later, twenty-year-old Olenka dropped out of Harvard to focus her creative intellect on myLingo, a revolutionary smartphone app that allows viewers to plug into prerecorded movie voice tracks in thirty-two languages. For a modest per-movie fee, myLingo users can discreetly access proprietary technology developed by the Polaks, and listen in sync with what’s on-screen.
Olenka predicts myLingo, which received the Harvard Innovation Prize and $750,000 from Greenwich financiers, could revolutionize cinema experiences for more than 300 million people she describes as “language displaced.”
When Olenka told her parents she was abandoning Harvard three semesters shy of graduation, “My mother was like, ‘Are you serious?’ but I told her priorities change,” says Olenka, who doesn’t mind comparisons to fellow Harvard dropouts Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.
“I think it’s exciting that technology homegrown and financed in Greenwich—and born out of a childhood complicated by language barriers—could be the next big thing.”