The many facets of Klement Tinaj: Actor, Singer, Director and Writer
By: Prishtina Press, New York
Klement Tinaj is “art in itself” – a multitalented, brilliant actor who is dedicated to his craft. In New York he is known as a karate devotee, amazing actor, producer, gifted director and writer. As this is not ambitious enough, Tinaj strives to become a singer and he likes to write his own lyrics. Scientifically, there is a term for such multi-talented people – “polymath”, defined as a gifted person with knowledge in several areas. Benjamin Franklin, Da Vinci, Jefferson, Aristotle are a few famous intelligent polymaths who excelled in science, music, inventions, poetry, theatre, etc.
Klement Tinaj is potentially a modern-day polymath in the making, noticed as a martial arts instructor, an artist, an actor, theatre lover, who thinks beyond artist logic. His intellectual curiosity and imagination, characteristic of polymathic individuals, bring an insight to his life’s passions and perceptions.
The combining of business and art is evident at Klement’s high school studies, where he excelled ahead of his class. This interesting and innovative blend, a popular trend in today’s colleges throughout U.S., is preparing talents such as Klement Tinaj to be artist entrepreneurs.
“The world is like a stage and we have to play on it every day. Life does not have a remote, we have to get up and make a difference,” says Mr. Tinaj.
Klement Tinaj was born in 1990, in Selcë of Kelmend in Albania, also known as Great Highlands (alb. Malësi e Madhe). The breathtaking area lies north of the Albanian Alps. It is distinguished for its observable physical and cultural characteristics and frequented by adventure loving people. Festivals and celebrations, integral part of the local cultural heritage enhance the network of alliances with various highland tribes in the Kelmend municipality. Arts festivals are a tradition in many towns in Albania to celebrate the cultural richness. Despite the hybrid social traits, various dialects and cultural diversity Albanians have an immense sense of unity and national pride.
Exposure to such cultural traits at a very young age has shaped Klement’s ethnic identity and influenced his artistic persona. These traits he exhibits today vis-a-vie his artistic performances and cultural festivals for the Albanian community in United States.
Albanians are also exposed to learning foreign languages and understand about other cultures during elementary and middle school. Bi/Multilingualism is a European educational approach for young children, which defines their long-term abilities and learning capabilities.
Klement excelled in both English and French as an honor student at the Foreign Language Middle School “Shejnaze Juka” in Pijaz, Shkodër (Albania). “At a very young age, Klement was a very smart kid. His teachers praised him as a skilled and smart student with potential. He appeared in many local artistic productions and cultural activities,” said his father.
“My path to success will always reflect my heritage,” said Mr. Tinaj, “I am proud to be Albanian and a cultural representative of my country.”
A taste of the American Dream
At age 15 Klement Tinaj left his native country, Albania to chase the “American Dream”. He arrived in America in 2005 to pursue the fantastic possibilities of life in this country. Two days after his arrival, he joined a six-month English learning course (ESL) in Manhattan. In 2006 he attended “Lincoln High School” in Yonkers, NY. A year later he was recognized and named to the honor roll, as one of the top 10 students of the high school.
In 2009 Klement graduated with two diplomas: theatre and academy of finance. This academic achievement of dual diplomas was a first for Lincoln High School and the NY education system. Klement was congratulated by New York senator Andrea Stewart – Cousins who honored him with Certificate of Recognition. NY Assemblyman Mike Spano presented Klement with Certificate of Merit. County Executive Andrew J. Spano congratulated him for his creative arts success. Mark P. Baiocco, Assistant Principal of Lincoln High School recognized him with Certificate of Excellence in Drama.
“The high school years at Lincoln High are very memorable for me. It is encouraging to be part of such welcoming atmosphere and excellent student life which helped me feel at home in a new country,” said Mr. Tinaj. “I am thankful for the academic support and training I have received from the superb theatre team at Lincoln High. It was an honor to receive recognition from the New York political leaders, namely senator Stewart-Cousins, assemblyman Spano and county executive Spano, who support better education nationally. ”
Martial Arts Training
Klement Tinaj has mastered the discipline, respect, and confidence of Tae Kwon Do. In March 15, 2008, he won the Inter School Tournament in Sparing, Forms and Breaking. He also won three gold medals. He trained with Master Ho Lee in his Tae Kwon Do Academy in Yonkers, New York for four years. Klement not only learned about self-defense but also the history and the background of Taekwondo.
Master Ho Lee was Klement’s second parent. Klement spends most of his time with him training. He learned valuable life lessons from him. “My master not only taught me how to be a good martial artist but also how to be a good and well respected person in real life. My daily routine last summer consisted of training from 12:30 to 3:30 pm and then I would help him teach the classes till 9: 30 pm. I really love it. I learned more with Master Ho Lee then I ever expected,” said Klement.
After years of training and obtaining a black belt, Klement began to instruct his master’s students daily. Since 2009, Klement has been helping his master instructing.
“Being a martial arts instructor is about being a positive role model. I have worked with 300 students daily of different ages ranging from 4 year old children to 65 year old police officers who have an interest in martial arts training. It’s is not just about self-defense, but training your mind and body in a positive manner. The efforts one puts in the martial arts techniques can enhance self-confidence, self-esteem, with focus on personal developments and achievements,” said instructor Tinaj.
Klement has performed several Tae Kwon Do demonstrations with his master in New York. Klement also competed in the Tae Kwon Do Championships in October 2011 and won the second place. “My goal is to win the Tae Kwon Do Championships this coming October. With my master’s help and training hard I am confident I will come out a winner at the 2012 Tae Kwon Do Championship.”
Klement Tinaj has won several championships in different sports including Yonkers Championship in soccer, Taekwondo Championship, Athletic Achieving Excellence in 2008-2009, and was named distinguished Soccer Captain.
Klement took the leadership and the skills attained from Master Ho Lee’s superb teachings and established his own “Tae Kwon Do Club” at “Five Towns College” where he studies performance arts. He teaches 20 college students about the philosophy, meditation and basics of martial arts.
Early Career on Stage
Klement Tinaj began his acting career in 2006 in New York City performing in school theater productions. He studied acting in Lincoln High school, where he graduated with Theatre Arts diploma.
Klement was introduced to theater by Barbara Litt, who taught him acting during all four years of high school. “I have no words to describe what an amazing teacher, director, and actress Ms. Litt is. I have learned from her all the necessary skills to be a professional actor. Even though my English wasn’t that good back then she was confident that I can handle any role in any show from Shakespeare to Miller.”
Klement Tinaj starred in his first theatrical production at age sixteen “You Can’t Take It With You,” where he landed the main role. He also appeared in the stage production “Room Service,” where he played the role of the “waiter”. In 2008 he played the lead role in “Lysistrada“. His excellent performance in this play earned him a Gold Award.
Klement Tinaj established himself as a versatile character player earning widespread recognition in New York. He was chosen as the best actor of 2007-08, deserving the honor of “Drama Spotlight Award” for Talent, Creativity, and Performance Excellence, presented to him by his teacher, Ms. Litt. A year later she presented to Klement the “Superlative Performance Award” (2008-09).
“Acting is life to me. I couldn’t live without it. Once I get on stage I am very comfortable and I feel the immediate connection and response from the audience,” said actor Tinaj.
Klement stood out in local theatre productions at Lincoln High. He starred at “Julius Caesar,” where he played two different roles and played lead at “Cops for Sale”, which is a children’s play. He also produced a comedy film titled “Charlie Chaplin”, which was named “the most hilarious” at Lincoln High School Film Festival.
In 2009, Klement Tinaj was accepted at the theater arts program at “Five Towns College” in Long Island, NY. Within the first semester of his freshman year, Klement starred in three theater production shows where he impressed the directors. He starred in “Golden Parachutes” as “Sugarman”; in “Macbeth”, where he played two different roles “Lord 2? and “Menteith”; and in “The Full Monty” he played “Teddy”.
Klement Tinaj brings unique qualities on stage. As a versatile actor he plays multiple roles in a single production. In the children’s play, “Aladdin” the director thought him perfect for two parts “Prince” and “Drummer”. In “Dora”, another children’s play, he stood out for the role of “Drum” and “Band”. While “Dora” was in production, Klement also starred in “Twelve Angry Men” where he played the part of “Juror 11”.
The experience with Broadway director Barbara Simon
Klement’s big break as an actor came in the summer of 2011 when he was cast to play two different roles at Barbara Simon’s show “Stolen”. Klement played the two roles “Max” and “Street Performer”.
“It was amazing working with one of the Broadway’s well respected actress, director and dancer. My experience working with director Barbara Simon was absolutely amazing and rewarding” said the actor.
Director Barbara Simon is known in New York for her unforgettable shows. “Stolen” is a famous and innovative piece with an intricate plot full of twists and intriguing characters. The show will take you by surprise and it leaves the audience with the feeling of watching a show within a show.
In July 2012, Klement auditioned for the “Extra Special” show and he landed the role “Julius”. The production will be held at MCAP Theater (the best in LI. Original theatre) in Long Island on 23 September 2012. It is directed and written by John Blenn.
Next, Klement Tinaj transitioned to the big screen. He starred as lead in three films:
“Good Night and Good Luck” (2010), “My Diseased Love” (2011) and “Have You Ever Thought…?” (2012).
“It was very fun playing in these movies. ‘My diseased love’ is a great romantic film. The characters that I play both in theatre and film are physically demanding. I had the opportunity to work with a talented colleague of mine from Korea, Jaden Hwang, who came to one of my shows and liked my performance. He offered me a role for his action foreign movie, which he produced. I was excited to partake in this movie because of my martial arts training,” said Klement.
Klement is currently in filming for the movie “Bad Fate” which he directs and stars as lead character ‘Klodiani”.
Aspiring Director and Writer
Klement Tinaj wrote, directed and starred in his first film production “The Attacker”. The Attacker is a terrific martial arts epic with a comic twist. The film is shot in Long Island and Bronx in New York. It features an amazing cast, namely: Tatiana Coy, Jeff Hwang, Joe Adamczyk, Joe Piazza, James Russell, Tom Serabian, Anna Klindtworth, Melissa Vegas, Freddy Fernandez and Danni Christian.
“This project has been my favorite to write and direct. I started writing the script in 2010. It has a great cast. It has amazing fight sequences and is filled with outrages characters. I had the opportunity to work with the supremely talented and brilliant cinematographer, Phil Russell,” said writer and director Klement Tinaj. “I am thankful to two special people who have been my guidance and mentors in my life. The great Master Ho Lee has encouraged me to continue martial arts training and has given me the necessary skills for discipline and excellence in life. And the wonderful Patrick Shand (screen writer) who read my script and has supported me all the way. They have inspired me to create my first motion picture and given me the confidence as a movie director.”
The film was released on September 4, 2011 produced by the studio of Measureless Media Productions, and music of Mind!Control Entertainment and KlimbTree Productions. It was screened at Dix Hills Performing Arts Center and at Grassy Knoll, outside the dorms in a big screen at Five Towns College. “It was an amazing experience. We got so many good reviews, especially in the actions scenes of the films. What the audience liked about this movie is that we didn’t use any wire or green screen. Everything what you see is actually real. No special effects. Only experienced actors and action stars can do movies with no wire, no green screen, and no special effects. That’s the beauty of the action movie,” said director Tinaj.
Klement Tinaj is also an internet sensation as a musician. He is a gifted singer and prolific songwriter.
His debut single “Pa Mua” (Without Me) is an Albanian folk song which he recorded in 2012 in New York. The video clip is produced by Luigj Tinaj and Mind!Control Entertainment, with music by the famous and well-loved Albanian artists Alfred Popaj and Kreshnik Smajlaj.
Klement Tinaj is currently working on his second single “Leila, Leila” which is a love song.
It is produced by Jeff Hwang, with music by Mind!Control Entertainment and Luigj Tinaj as executive producer.
“Leila, Leila is more of an American style love song. It is shot in two locations, in Jersey Shore and Long Island. Singing is a hobby for me. My dad and my friends have encouraged me to sing. I gave it a try and people seem to like my music. I love performing for the Albanian community in New York during cultural festivals. It brings me closer to my community and it is my way of sharing my culture and tradition with the American community. My number one passion however remains acting,” said actor, singer, songwriter and director Klement Tinaj.